Throughout the years, pickup trucks have become as culturally iconic as Thanksgiving dinner. More than 8% of all drivers in the US choose a pickup thanks to continually improving capabilities, fuel efficiency, and luxuries. In fact, in 2016, the most popular vehicle in 30 of the U.S states was a pickup truck. The lion’s share of the market is full-size light-duty pickup trucks, the vast majority of which are the Big 3: the Ford F-150, the Ram 1500, and the Silverado 1500. These trucks are constantly vying for the best-in-class status; perhaps this year, the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 will take the crown.
The 4th generation of the Silverado 1500 was introduced in 2019, marking 20 years of excellence from the iconic nameplate. Since 1999 the Silverado 1500 has been a perennial contender for the highest power, largest towing capability, and max payload capacity crowns among light-duty pickup trucks. Chevy brings additional value to the 2021 Silverado 1500 by adding user-friendliness features to make towing and cargo loading easier than ever. The best-selling Chevrolet model is well-equipped to deserve all the attention it gets.
The 2021 Silverado 1500 is visually similar to the 2019 and 2020 versions except for the back end. The introduction of a Multi-Flex tailgate, based on GMC’s 6-function Multi-Pro tailgate, gives the Silverado 1500 the most versatile cargo bed in the segment. Under the hood, the 4-cylinder and diesel engine options have been improved for excellent fuel efficiency and trailering capability. The interior updates are primarily technological, with enhanced camera trailering technologies added for the most comprehensive tech suite in the segment. Finally, new packages like the All-Star Edition Plus and LTZ Premium Texas Edition make your Silverado 1500 more personalized than ever. Today, we are going to take a closer look at this.
The Silverado 1500 is offered with five engines in 2021, including improved 4-cylinder and diesel offerings. Fuel efficiency, payload, and towing capacity are all in the mix when picking the right one for you. Let's take a closer look.
The base engine on the Silverado 1500 is a 4.3L V6 making 285 hp and 305 lb-ft torque output. As one of the lighter engines, it offers an excellent payload capacity of 2,250 lbs, but the towing capacity still reached 7,900 lbs. Fuel efficiency is average at 16 MPG in the city and 21 MPG on the highway. This is an excellent first engine, but there is more to offer.
The Silverado 1500 offers a 4-cylinder engine, a rarity among full-size pickups, and it’s improved for 2021 to punch well above its weight. Its turbocharger boosts it to make 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque, good enough to tow up to 9,600 lbs. This is also one of the most fuel-efficient options, getting 20 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway.
The Silverado 1500’s diesel engine is improved for 2021 as well. By far the most fuel-efficient full-size pickup in America, the diesel burns only 23 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway, delivering long-term economic and environmental savings to its owners. Torque output is excellent at 460 lb-ft, and despite only 277 hp, it can tow up to 9,500 lbs. The payload capacity is only 1,870 lbs, so drivers with a lot to load up should consider another engine, but fans of fuel efficiency are sure to love it.
The 5.3L V8 engine is an upgrade over the V6 that’s well worth it for any driver who intends to put their truck to work. At 355 hp, this is a major power upgrade, and 383 lb-ft of torque output helps deliver a max towing capacity of 11,500 lbs. Paired with an 8-speed transmission and 2WD, this engine can supply that max towing limit, a payload capacity of 2,190 lbs, and fuel efficiency of 17 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway. There are 6 and 10-speed automatic transmissions available as well, making this the most versatile engine in the lineup.
The engine that was the segment’s most-capable V8 gas burner in terms of power and towing in 2020 is back in 2021, the crowning jewel of this diverse lineup. It matches the diesel’s 460 lb-ft of torque and delivers 50% more power at 420 hp while still making 16 MPG in the city and 21 MPG on the highway – the same efficiency as the base V6. Properly equipped, payload can reach 2,060 lbs, and max towing is 13,300 lbs – this is by far the best engine for any driver with serious towing demands.
Intelligent design features integrated into the cargo bed and infotainment suite make hauling and trailering easier than ever before with the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500. The following features and configurations are perfect proof of this pickup's greatness.
The Silverado 1500 is offered with a 5’, 6’, and 8’ cargo bed in 2021, and each is the highest-volume bed for its length in the segment up to a maximum 89.1 cu.ft from the long box. After all, what’s the point in having payload capacity over a ton if you can’t fit a ton of stuff in the truck?
The follow-up question is, what’s the point of a huge bed if you can’t reach inside it? We’ve all felt the struggle of trying to lean in over the open tailgate or reach over the side of the box – we’ve even carried a step stool along just so we can get into the bed when needed. The 2021 Silverado 1500 goes farther than ever before to eliminate these issues.
The CornerStep bumper has been a cornerstone feature of GM trucks for a while now, giving you an accessible place to get up to where you can reach inside or climb into the bed from. New for 2021, however, is the Multi-Flex tailgate. A Chevrolet re-skin of the 6-function GMC Multi-Pro tailgate, this versatile tool is basically a tailgate on a tailgate with an extra folding flap.
First, by dropping the second tailgate, you get a useful flat surface for putting stuff like tools, laptops, or food at chest level. Then open the folding flap to provide an upper-level extended bed. Drop the main tailgate open, and you now have a sturdy staircase leading up into the bed. Close the flap – now you can walk right up to the back of the bed without the tailgate being in the way. Finally, close the second tailgate and open the flap back up to create a fully extended bed. Basic tailgate functionality with five additional configurations is how GM is revolutionizing the task of cargo loading. Loading cargo has never been easier.
Chevy’s Infotainment 3 system is one of the most responsive touchscreen systems in the industry, something that Silverado 1500 capitalizes on with up to 15 camera views and the segment-first Advanced Trailering System. This available tech package includes an in-vehicle app for saving customized trailer profiles for a one-time trailer setup. All the mundane but important details of trailering are accounted for by the app – diagnostics, checklists, system status checks, and more are all managed through one channel.
The 2021 Silverado 1500 boasts 15 unique camera views for unprecedented visibility. Four hitch views include a close-up hitch view, a bird’s eye surround-view, and a bed view with bed hitch guidance for 5th wheel and gooseneck hitch hookups. Five parking views include side views for the front and rear tire areas and a top-down view of the front of the truck. Finally, six driving views are available, including a front camera, a rear camera mirror, an inside-trailer cam and the revolutionary “transparent trailer” view. And with all of these views, trailering is made simple.
The 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 is offered with several special edition packages to further customize your ride with factory-installed appearance kits bundled with premium features. Let's take a peek at what each bundle has to offer.
Available on Custom and RST trims, the Rally Edition features black nameplates, tailgate lettering, hood and tailgate rally stripes, assist steps, and painted wheels. Black chrome exhaust tips and hood badging, plus the bed protection package for RST trim, round out a look that’s right at home at a dirt track or out to dinner.
When dark isn’t dark enough, look for the Midnight Edition. Available on the Custom Trail Boss and LT Trail Boss trims, the Midnight Edition delivers black everything. Black paint, badging, and exhaust tips along with the already-black wheels and grille make the truck blend into the night. A Chevytec spray-on bedliner and premium interior dressings round out the package. Trail Boss is off-road oriented, and owners will be hard-pressed to find a more intimidating getup on any trail.
Distinctive 20” wheels on the outside plus the Convenience Package II on the inside makes a Silverado 1500 All-Star Edition Plus. That means amenities like a rear power sliding window, a pair of 120-volt outlets, and a universal home remote are added to the Silverado 1500 LT or RST. For drivers who think “All-Star” isn’t big enough, opt for the Texas Edition Plus to get the same features with Texas Edition badging.
Special badging, a power sunroof, and the LTZ Convenience II and Safety II Packages make up this great bundle. Wireless phone charging, a Bose sound system, and a suite of safety technology are all included. Special safety features include Adaptive Cruise Control for easy highway cruising and forward collision avoidance technology to automatically apply the brakes when human reaction times just aren’t quick enough. With this package and the others, the Silverado 1500 can be customized to fit anyone's wants and needs.