Pickup Review: 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country Duramax

A handsome and useful hard worker awaits the new interior

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Humans are the only animals that have a chin. This might explain why the wild kingdom doesn’t have the four-legged equivalent of Jay Leno or Ben Mulroney, although the attention-seeking Indian Peacock could easily be a substitute for the latter.

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All of this is running through your writer’s muddled brain as he lies sprawled on the cold concrete garage floor, massaging his own chin which had just been given a meteor-grade divot, thanks to the metal accessory bracket that had skyrocketed from the bottom of his GMC Sierra while mounting the off-the-shelf gear. aftermarket road. Hearing the commotion, the Significant Other appeared at the door and heard muttering about why I was trying to add this equipment in the first place.

“It’s not a truck if you don’t use it like that,” he said before heading back home, leaving me to grapple with the 5/8 bolts that refused to line up with their mounting points.

He is (as usual) right. Testing a full size pickup truck by stopping by the store for some milk is like testing a Panzer tank by driving to school. This costs you, the reader, and robs your author of the opportunity to load a press vehicle under the guise of conducting Critical Research. With this in mind, we put a 500 pound John Deere lawn tractor on this Silverado bed and cracked the measuring tape.

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If you fall asleep on Transport 101, we’ll give you a quick overview of the basic terms. Payload is the total weight of cargo that a pickup truck can safely carry, including passengers in the cabin. This figure also calculates the amount of weight that the truck trailer hitch carries (called tongue weight) when towing. Tongue weight can be estimated to be about 10-15 percent of the total mass of the trailer; if your Jayco hits 4,500 lbs, it’s safe to assume the tongue weighs around 450 pounds.

Payload ratings also take into account the weight of the factory-installed options on a particular truck. This is why the 2021 Silverado 1500 with our test Duramax 3.0L diesel engine delivered a maximum payload of 1,870 lbs compared to the 6.2L V8 which can withstand a load of 2,060 lbs. This may seem counterintuitive to those who don’t know (after all, isn’t diesel meant for transport?) until someone understands that diesel engines are heavier than gasser. Payload is total total weight, ‘members? With that lesson in mind, know that our test truck was rated for a maximum payload of 1,520 pounds.

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We drove unloaded, with tanks full of fuel and tonneau covers in place, on a 98km round trip, about three-quarters of which was at constant highway speed. Topping off at the pump after the drive reveals a fuel efficiency of 9.4 L/100 km, with a shout out to the official NRCan rating. GM engineers have told us in the past that there are a few aero tricks to that square nose, including functional vents that dribble air along the sides of the truck to create a subtle atmospheric curtain. Diesel engine rotation speed also does not hurt.

So how will the truck respond to a 500 pound load in its bed? We refueled and took the same detour in the same weather conditions, this time with the tonneau cover replaced with a John Deere lumpen. Filling the tank after this trip shows an efficiency of 10.3 L/100 km, calculated based on the amount of fuel consumed and not the on-board truck computer.

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Not bad, then—and roughly represents the amount of extra work done by the truck. The Duramax tachometer is slightly higher under load, but not too high and certainly not enough to affect the noise level in the cabin. Interestingly, at nearly 20,000 km, this is the highest mileage of the 3.0L Duramax your writer has ever driven. Loyal readers (thanks you both) will remember my testing of the same Tahoe on the same engine and how I noted it was much noisier at startup and at low speeds than the near-new version we usually test. This Silverado exhibits much of the same fuss, reinforcing my belief that this machine will become noisier over time. Keep this in mind when you test your new drive.

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How much of a delta of fuel economy the extra weight creates and how much can be attributed to poorer airflow over the truck at speed is debatable. Remember, a bed full of John Deere is much more aerodynamic than a slick tonneau cover. By the way, removing and installing this GM brand cover is very simple, it only takes a 3/8 second wrench and a few minutes. It beats tar from other aftermarket units that I had no luck wrestling with.

Adding weight tends to make things droop (insert childish joke here), so loading 500 pounds on the back of any truck will strain the rear suspension to some degree. Unloaded, this Silverado measures 17.0 inches below the exhaust tip and 38.75 inches above the rear wheelwell. With the John Deere ship, those measurements were reduced to 16.5 and 38 inches, respectively. That’s an acceptable amount of squat, which prevents the Silverado’s headlights from sending a signal to astronauts on the International Space Station.

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Another trick from GM? Pushing out the walls of the cargo bed to increase the volumetric space of the area without physically making the truck bigger. This allowed us to load the John Deere on top of this short-bed Chevy and close the tailgate, a feat we couldn’t achieve with any other short-bed truck tested this year. The sheer number of tie downs can’t be overlooked, as it makes tying a lawn tractor a simple task, nor can the dead simple steps on a rear bumper have no moving parts to rust and seize a decade from now.

It is these kinds of practical features that greatly enhance the usability of the machine. After all, it’s not a truck if you don’t use it that way.

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