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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Review

The Silverado is Chevrolet’s popular full-size truck. Revamped just two years ago, it still feels quite fresh and is more than ready to battle it in the competitive half-ton truck segment that includes the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500, not to mention the Toyota Tundra and the Chevy’s GMC Sierra sibling.

That’s strict competition for sure, but the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado remains an alluring choice. Some of its most appealing factors include a wide choice of engines that include a potent and efficient turbodiesel and a multicamera system that makes trailering easier.

For 2021, the Silverado also gets an option that so far has only been available in the GMC Sierra – a multi-function tailgate that can act as a workbench, step ladder, and more.

What’s New?

For 2021, Chevrolet has increased the towing capacity of two of the Silverado’s engines – the 6-cylinder and diesel and 2.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder. A new option is the Multi-Flex Tailgate, similar to the MultiPro Tailgate in the GMC Sierra. Also new is enhanced trailering tech such as Jack-Knife alert, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. An active safety system with automatic emergency braking is now available on base WT trims, and Custom trims get more standard features like EZ Lift tailgate and remote start. See the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado models for sale near you

What We Like

  • Broad range of powertrain options
  • Full-featured trailering technology
  • Superior ride quality, laden or unladen

What We Don’t

  • Expansive trim level and availability chart makes getting the right combination take some work.
  • Less tech-forward cabin than Ram 1500
  • No hybrid model like the one offered in new Ford F-150.

How Much?

$28,600-$57,200 (prices before options and $1,595 destination fee)

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado offers a wide variety of engines – five different options in all. To add to that, the popular 5.3-liter V8 is connected to one of three transmissions, depending on model. Take a long breath: Here’s how it all breaks down.

The base engine in the Silverado is a 4.3-liter V6 that makes 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque. It is connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Rear-wheel-drive (RWD) models earn an estimated 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway and 17 mpg combined. Four-wheel-drive (4WD) models earn 15 mpg city/20 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined. Trail Boss 4WD off-road models with this engine earn 14 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined.

The Silverado also offers a 2.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine that is peppier than you might think. It makes 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque. With RWD it earns 20 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined, while 4WD models are rated at 19 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/20 mpg combined.

With the 5.3-liter V8 that makes 355 hp/383 lb-ft torque and connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission, RWD models earn 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined. Four-wheel-drive models, including the Trail Boss, earn 14 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined.

With the 5.3-liter V8 and 8-speed transmission, the Silverado earns an estimated 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined. Four-wheel-drive variants earn 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.

A 5.3-liter and 10-speed transmission – only sold in 4WD – earns 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined, and Trail Boss models get 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.

For the power-hungry, there’s a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 hp/460 lb-ft of torque. It is connected to a 10-speed transmission and is only available in 4WD. This Silverado earns 16 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined. In Trail Boss form, this model earns 15 mpg city/19 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined.

Finally, the Silverado also offers a 3.0-liter inline turbodiesel. It is potent with 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, and is the Silverado’s most efficient engine. In RWD it earns 23 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined. With 4WD it is pegged at 22 mpg city/26 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined.

Congratulations — we just made it through this numbers soup.

Standard Features & Options

The Silverado’s powertrain choices play out across eight trim levels with regular, double cad and crew cabs and three bed lengths, with RWD as standard and 4WD offered as an option. Here’s a quick outline of what engine can be had with which trim.

  • 4.3-liter V6/6-speed AT: Standard on WT, Custom, Custom Trail Boss
  • 5.3-liter V8/6-speed AT: Available on WT, Custom, Custom Trail Boss
  • 2.7-liter turbo inline-four/8-speed AT: Standard on LT, RST; Available on WT, Custom
  • 5.3-liter V8/8-speed AT: Standard on LTZ, High Country; Available on LT, RST
  • 5.3-liter V8/10-speed AT: Standard on LT Trail Boss; Available on High Country
  • 6.2-liter V8/10-speed AT: Available on Custom Trail Boss, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, High Country
  • 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-six/10-speed AT: Available on LT, RST, LTZ, High Country

The WT (Work Truck) ($28,600) is pretty much as basic as you can get in a modern truck. It comes with 17-in steel wheels, automatic headlights, a corner bed step, manual windows and door locks (regular cab models) or power windows and locks (extended and crew cabs), a rearview camera, a 40/20/40-split front bench with 4-way adjustment, a tilt-only steering wheel, vinyl upholstery and flooring. Still, all models come with a 7-in touchscreen with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto integration and Bluetooth wireless connectivity, one USB port, and a 6-speaker sound system (two speakers in regular cab).

Newly available on the WT is the Safety Confidence package that adds forward-collision warning with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking. Unless you’re a fleet buyer, you’ll probably want to add power windows, door locks, and remote start if you go with the regular cab.

Note that this is the only 2021 Silverado available with a regular cab. All other trims have either a double cab or the roomier crew cab. Double cab models have a standard bed, while crew cab models offer a choice of standard or short bed. The long bed is only available with the regular cab.

The Custom ($35,900) adds 20-in alloy wheels, heated power mirrors, cruise control, cloth upholstery, and carpeting. New for 2021, Custom trims include the EZ Lift power lock and release tailgate, LED bed lights, remote start, and available satellite radio and OnStar telematics system. Custom trims also offer the Safety Package

The Custom Trail Boss ($40,800) has 4WD standard and adds a 2-in suspension lift, Rancho monotube shocks, special 18-in wheels, Goodyear Duratrac all-terrain tires, and a trailering package, plus the Z71 Off-Road package that includes a 2-speed transfer case, automatic locking rear differential, hill-descent control, and skid plates.

The LT ($39,600) includes 17-in alloy wheels and adds automatic LED headlights, automatic climate control, OnStar, and 4G LTE with Wi-Fi, Trailering Package, and auto-locking rear differential.

The RST ($43,200) adds 18-in wheels, LED foglights, a power-locking tailgate, keyless ignition and entry, and two extra rear USB ports.

The LT Trail Boss ($48,000)  builds on the LT’s features with the off-roading equipment from the Custom Trail Boss. It shares the RST’s upgrades as well.

The LTZ ($49,100) has more premium amenities such as leather seating, dual-zone automatic climate control, 10-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, a heated tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, 8-in touchscreen display with wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, high-def rearview camera with hitch guidance, heated side mirrors, 120-volt outlets, and integrated trailer brake controller.

The High Country ($53,400) adds parking sensors, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic assist, upgraded digital gauges, a power tailgate, ventilated front seats, navigation, Bose audio, navigation, wireless smartphone charging, and a spray-in bedliner.

Options and packages abound for the Silverado and vary by trim and configuration. Among them are navigation and 8-in touchscreen, a slick multicamera trailering system that even gives views inside and behind the trailer, wireless phone charger, and active safety and driver-assistance systems. For the first time, High Country models can be had with Adaptive Ride Control, a sophisticated suspension system. A new feature that could prove popular is the Multi-Flex Tailgate, similar to the GMC Sierra’s MultiPro tailgate. This is to be available in early 2021 on all Silverado models.


Standard safety equipment includes dual-stage front airbags for driver and front passenger, seat-mounted side-impact for driver and front outboard passenger, head-curtain side-impact for front and rear outboard seating positions, the Passenger Sensing System, StabiliTrak electronic stability control with rollover mitigation, trailer sway control, and hill-start assist, and a rear vision camera.

Now available starting on base WT trims is the Safety Confidence Package (late availability) that adds forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Other trims can be had with blind-spot monitoring. The Sierra High Country can be optioned with the Safety Package II that adds adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning/lane-keeping assist, safety alert that vibrates the driver’s seat when sensing danger, and IntelliBeam automatic high-beam control.

Behind the Wheel

Be sure to check the badges on the exterior of the Silverado before you drive. You may not be able to immediately identify the powertrain under the hood by sound or even unladen performance. Unless you only need the most basic of work trucks, most buyers will probably skip the base V6 engine in favor of GM’s robust and well-respected 5.3-liter V8. The turbocharged 2.7-liter it also an intriguing choice. It may only be a 4-cylinder, but it’s a big one, and it’s power output makes the Silverado feel frisky. On the other end is the 6.2-liter V8 that is a well of seamless power. The 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline-6 is also a wonderful choice that has the torque of the 6.2-liter V8 and the best fuel economy of the bunch.

If budget allows, the 10-speed automatic transmission, when paired with any engine, is a marvel that makes everything better.

The Silverado’s recent makeover made it tougher-looking than before and freshened every aspect of its exterior. Interior design details get better toward the upper end of the trim levels, and interior comfort is good all the way around, but even the upgraded 8-inch screen can’t match the huge 12-inch tablet-style display of the Ram 1500. For high-end truck buyers, the Ford F-150 also offers luxurious amenities not found in the Silverado, such as massaging front seats.

We found the Silverado’s ride quality impressive, and the factory 2-in lift on Trail Boss models adds compelling off-road chops.

For 2021, the Silverado’s towing ability has been improved. The 2.7-liter now has a max rating of 9,600 pounds, while the diesel Silverado is rated up to 9,500 pounds. The 5.3-liter V8 model can tow up to 11,500 pounds, while the 6.2-liter V8 is rated up to 13,300 pounds. As with other trucks, towing capacity varies with configuration.

Other Cars to Consider

2021 Ford F-150 – All new for 2021, the best-selling vehicle in America returns with the latest technology, improved performance, sophisticated powertrains with on-board generators, and a hybrid model with 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque.

2021 Ram 1500Ram is riding a sales surge with its new generation of production. This truck boasts great technology and also offers a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6.

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 – This GMC sibling to the Chevy Silverado has similar powertrains and was the first to get the multi-function tailgate.

Used Chevrolet Silverado – This generation of the Silverado has been out since 2019, meaning you can find one that’s a couple of years old but still has great features.

Questions You May Ask

What cabs and beds are available with the 2021 Chevy Silverado?

Regular, double, and crew cabs. Beds measure 5-feet-8, 6-feet-6, and eight feet. Not all beds are available with all cabs. Maximum payload is 2,280 pounds.

What is the RST package on the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado?

The RST package gives the Silverado a more aggressive, street-inspired look with blacked-out badging and other darkened aesthetics, while still serving as a capable and versatile pickup.

What do LT and LTZ stand for?

They’re the names of two 2021 Silverado trim levels. LT is mid-pack, while LTZ is higher up the order. Even higher is the appropriately named High Country.

Autotrader’s Advice

Unless budget is the biggest concern for your purposes or business or you must have a regular cab/long bed, you’re best skipping the base WT in favor of at least a Custom or LT. Those desiring more amenities will be happier in an LTZ, and if you want to play the part of well-to-do cowboy, the High Country has plenty of premium features. As for engines, we’re happy to recommend all of them except the vase V6. Also, choose which options best suit your needs, but we do recommend a safety package that includes automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring. If you plan to tow a lot, the multicamera trailer system helps a lot. Find a new or used Chevrolet Silverado 1500 for sale here on Autotrader.

Matt Degen
Matt Degen
Matt Degen is an author specializing in interesting news and features about cars. Matt is a longtime lover of both cars and news, as well as the latest technology. He was the past automotive editor of The Orange County Register newspaper and a former board member of the Motor Press Guild, the nation’s largest automotive media association. He holds degrees in Communications and Culinary Arts.... Read More about Matt Degen

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