Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Premium LTZ review: bow tie, dress for business – Reviews

If you’re in the market for a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium, you might like the American stuff, like pulling the big stuff, or love the big V8 petrol engine. Maybe a combination of all three.

The Silverado is a very normal pickup truck size and style in the US, but seems too big and cute for the Kiwi (by the way, the 1500 tested was a small one). This Chevrolet is one of the segment suppliers in New Zealand; one is Ram. Both are “remanufactured” to right-hand drive in Australia with the blessing and assistance of their respective manufacturers, so they come with the right parts/service warranty and support.

In the case of the Silverado, it was a factory vehicle. It came to NZ through General Motors Specialty Vehicles (GMSV), a division that partnered with the Walkinshaw Group in Australia for right-hand drive work.

Even when the creator’s own website says “Chrome takes center stage” on LTZ Premium, you know you’re up for it. The grille is a head-high wall of mirrors, which is all the more remarkable when you consider Chevrolet’s claim that it’s the most aerodynamic truck ever. In that case, okay.

It’s easy to be completely distracted by the Silverado’s spacious exterior dimensions (nearly 6m long and 1.9m high) and its massive 6.2 liter V8 petrol engine. But that’s not important. What’s truly outstanding about the Silverado is the feature set and well-fitting equipment that make it an excellent tray truck.

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The cargo bed is very spacious: 1.8 long, with Durabed spray coating, LED lighting and a tray camera as standard. The tailgate has both power-down and power-up operation – the latter only from the cab, but this feature according to Chevrolet is a first for this truck segment.

We’ve talked about the new Ford Ranger features like the box step, but of course it’s something US trucks have always had; The Silverado has thick treads in each corner of the rear bumper (yes, it’s called CornerStep) that lets you jump over high wells with ease for loading.

The Silverado upgrades the Ranger/Hilux one tonne class with a brake pull rating of 4.5 tons. Towing preparation is standard, including support cameras and in-vehicle “trailer” applications; there’s even a Trailer View option with an additional camera available to keep an eye on the horses. However, there is a slight opportunity cost with its payload: the Silverado only weighs 760kg.

If we keep talking about cameras, it’s because the Silverado has multiple cameras, offering 15 different views around the vehicle. This goes a long way to making big fellas a lot easier to handle in a Kiwi environment than you might think, even though LTZ still requires a lot of real estate.

The powertrain is the highlight: the 6.2-liter V8 and 10-speed automatic are a great combo, smooth and fairly efficient compared to other Silverado capabilities. It’s fast if you need it (0-100km/h in six seconds), but in normal driving, the engine is really unstressed. The 12.8l/100km consumption claim seems very optimistic on paper, but we averaged 13.5l/100km over the two weeks without doing too well, and with a lot of urban driving.

The LTZ Premium comes with a full suite of driver assistance features, including adaptive cruise control.

Far from being a smooth “freeway” (as they say at Americaland), the Silverado ride isn’t always pleasant on bumpy Kiwi roads. You can’t expect great things from a large pickup on a leaf-spring rear, but it’s not as supple as its rival Ram 1500 or smaller Kiwi off-road trucks like the Ranger and Hilux.

The Z71 suspension package and all-terrain tires, standard on the NZ Silverado model, may be a factor. But you want the bragging rights of an off-road package full of “Rancho” surprises, right? Also part of the Z71’s specs are a low-range transfer box, auto-lock differential and an air filter optimized for off-roading.

There’s nothing striking about the cabin architecture, but what stands out is the very impressive build quality of the GMSV right hook conversion; many of those who know say the fit and finish is superior to left-drive factory products.

There’s good technology everywhere, including wireless Apple CarPlay with a nice angled Qi charger that keeps your phone in place.

Needless to say there’s storage everywhere, from the big box between the front seats to the smart knobs attached to the backseats; they are big enough to hide a laptop.

The sheer numbers (capacity, dimensions, towing) make the Silverado something new in the New Zealand context, but there is genuine appeal and capability in the powertrain and packaging. It’s a machine that works and, we found, is quite endearing in the end. One downside to the way Australasia got the Silverados is that we’re often a step behind the US in model year; that’s the case here, with a facelifted model launched there last year.

Additionally, the new top-spec Silverado model in the US has GM’s Super Cruise technology, which allows legal hands-off driving on more than 160,000 km of highways across the country – even with a trailer in tow. Irrelevant for NZ of course, but it does show that this old-school truck has a great electronics architecture.

But back to the case for the NZ-spec LTZ Premium. The chrome wall style won’t be to everyone’s taste, though it goes well with the bow tie badge: it’s a business truck dressed up.

GMSV does offer a more traditional Silverado in Trail Boss form (top right): blackened and lifted. You do have to give up a bit of gear, though: the seats lack the leather, ventilation and memory upholstery, it lacks some driver-assist tech (no adaptive cruise, for example) and it drops a bit on the tow rating, at 4260kg. There are no power-ups in the tailgate either; sheesh.

Trail Boss has a certain visual appeal, but you can’t help but feel that LTZ Premium is the business.

MACHINE: 6.2 liter petrol V8
POWER: 313kW/624Nm
TOOTH BOX: Auto 10 speed, AWD
ECONOMY: 12.8l/100km
PRICE: $130,990


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