2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
October 1, 2020

Buying tip

The LT trim offers the best value, but we’d opt up for the LTZ and still keep it under $50,000.

features & specs

2WD Crew Cab 147" Custom
2WD Crew Cab 147" High Country
2WD Crew Cab 147" LT
20 city / 23 hwy
17 city / 23 hwy
20 city / 23 hwy

The 2021 Chevy Silverado offers ample power, cargo volume, and towing capacity, but it lags rivals in safety ratings and interior refinement.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Chevy Silverado is a full-size pickup truck that can be configured in enough ways to impress an algorithm. It seats six, comes in eight trim levels, seven powertrains, three cab sizes, three bed sizes and too many standard and optional features to count.

That’s par for the course of full-size American-made trucks such as the Ford F-150, Ram 1500, and its GMC Sierra sibling. The Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra provide alternative takes on America’s bestselling vehicles.

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Is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 a good truck?

The Silverado splits the difference between the top-ranked Ram 1500 and the bottom-dwelling Toyota Tundra. Its versatility, capability, and customization offset its uninspired interior and limited safety features. It earns a TCC Rating of 5.2 out of 10. (Read more how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500?

The Silverado’s smallest engines—a 2.7-liter turbo-4 and 3.0-liter turbodiesel-6—get boosts in towing capacity thanks to better-than-expected testing. Additions to the advanced trailering technology promise to make hauling that load even easier, when properly equipped, and the most voluminous beds on the market now come with an available 6-way tailgate taken from the GMC Sierra AT4.

The blocky truck with the workmanlike interior still comes with a base 4.3-liter V-6, a popular 5.3-liter V-8 that can be had with a 6-speed, 8-speed, or 10-speed automatic transmission, and at the top of the line, a 6.2-liter V-8 capable of towing 11,900 pounds. The turbodiesel excels in highway efficiency at 33 mpg, and the turbo-4 does pretty good around town. The Silverado comes in rear-wheel drive with available four-wheel drive, and every engine except the 4.3-liter can tow more than 9,000 pounds.

Capable of seating six but best for four, the Silverado does double duty as a heavy hauler and a family hauler with a roomy crew cab and large beds that are easy to access.

The Silverado’s basic interior pales the competitors, as does its subpar crash-test rating by independent and federal safety agencies. Driver-assist features have trickled down the lineup for 2021, but it still comes at a price.

How much does the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 cost?

Base work trucks start just under $31,000 with a standard cab and a long bed in rear-wheel drive. A more popular crew cab starts at about $37,000, and prices rise accordingly based on engine choice, cab and bed size, and trims such as Custom, LT, RST, Custom Trail Boss, LTZ, LT Trail Boss, and the upscale High Country model. Decked out in all of the Silverado’s finest, the High Country can flirt with $70,000, which isn’t as expensive as the ritziest Ford F-150 or Ram 1500.

We like the $51,000 LTZ, which upgrades to an 8.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility that doesn’t overwhelm the cabin. It also has heated power-adjustable front seats, six USB ports, keyless entry and start and other goodies, except for standard safety features.

Where is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 made?

The Silverado is made in Flint, Michigan; Fort Wayne, Indiana; and Silao, Mexico.


2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500


The Silverado is more square than hipster.

Is the 2021 Chevy Silverado a good-looking car?

If there were one word to capture the look of the Silverado it would be blocky. Chevy doubled down on the truckiness of the Silverado with a taller, broader, squarer front and rear. It’s a block on wheels, and the interior is equally masculine, functional, proletariat. 

It’s a solid 5, for being solidly average. 

The front and rear blocks are connected with long side panels and fenders that bulge above the wheel arches, which are the only rounded elements of the exterior design. Wheel sizes range from 17-inch steel wheels to 22-inchers in black, chrome, or a metallic finish. 

Inside is nothing remarkable, and that might be attractive compared to other truck interiors overwhelmed with massive touchscreens. The black on plastic chrome motif graces most Silverados, and a small touchscreen gets dwarfed by big vertical vents, large dials and buttons for audio and climate controls, and a two-tiered glovebox. Higher trims replace vinyl or cloth with contrasting leather and wood accents.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500


Towing capacity increases on the Silverado’s smallest engines could be compelling.

The 2021 Silverado offers five engines and three transmissions to combine for seven powertrains in rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. Each powertrain has a purpose to satisfy every need. The all-world capability and trucky ride quality cancel each other out, netting the 2021 Silverado a 5. 

Is the Chevy Silverado 4WD?

Does a pickup truck have a bed? Yes, the Silverado comes with rear-wheel drive but four-wheel drive costs $3,300 more with the 5.3-liter V-8.

How fast is the Chevy Silverado?

The smallest engine is the quickest in the Silverado lineup. The 2.7-liter turbo-4 makes 310 hp and 348 lb-ft with an 8-speed automatic transmission that helps get it to 60 mph in about seven seconds. Chevy buries the fact that it’s a 4-cylinder, but it doesn’t underperform. Torque comes on at low revs, providing plenty of off-the-line grunt and towing ability. Thanks to better than expected cooling, the towing capacity for the 2021 turbo-4 increased 2,500 pounds to up to 9,600 pounds and the max payload is 2,280 pounds. It’s available on WT, Custom, LT, and RST trims. 

The most efficient engine is a 3.0 turbodiesel-6 that makes 277 hp and 460 lb-ft at 1,500 rpm. Using a 10-speed automatic transmission, the turbodiesel in rear-wheel drive can tow up to 9,500 pounds for 2021 and get 33 mpg on the highway, though not at the same time. Chevy trimmed $1,500 off the diesel upcharge for 2021. It’s available on LT, RST, LTZ, and High Country trims. 

The base engine is a basic 4.3-liter V-6 with a 6-speed automatic transmission that has seen its day, especially in fleets. It makes 285 hp and 305 lb-ft, is as inefficient as the 6.2-liter V-8, and it tows up to 7,900 pounds. It’s available on WT and Custom models.

The 5.3-liter V-8 is the volume engine for the Silverado, accounting for 65% of annual sales, according to Chevy. It makes 355 hp and 383 lb-ft, and can tow up to 10,000 pounds. It’s available across the lineup and pairs with either a 6-speed, 8-speed, or 10-speed automatic transmission, though the 10-speed is only offered with four-wheel drive and has the same efficiency rating as the 8-speed.

At the top of the lineup and capable of towing 11,900 pounds is the 6.2-liter V-8 that makes 420 hp and 460 lb-ft. It only comes with the 10-speed automatic in four-wheel drive, and is available on RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country trims. 

The Silverado rides like a pickup truck, with plenty of unladen bounce from the rear thanks in part to a leaf spring suspension. The Ram 1500 rides softer like an SUV due to its coil spring rear suspension and front double-wishbone independent suspension.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Comfort & Quality

More practical than posh, the 2021 Silverado goes big on bed sizes and easy on bed access.

The Silverado might not measure up as the longest or widest full-size truck, but it has the largest beds and more cargo volume than the Ram 1500 or Ford F-150.

Large knobs and controls keep the switchgear easy, even if the interior comfort and seat quality aren’t as refined as the Ram 1500. 

The Silverado earns a 7 for its large bed, roomy crew cab, and overall utility. 

Regular cabs can seat three across, while extended and crew cab models can fit six, but it might turn the extended cab into a clown car. The front seats are comfy enough to accommodate a big and large frame but 4-way manual seats even on mid-grade LT trim limits the comfort quotient. 

An expanded crew cab improved the leg room for rear riders up to 43.4 inches, which is just one inch shy of front leg room. Flip up rear seats on most models make for good hidden storage.  

Bed sizes come in a 5-foot-8 short box, 6-foot-6 standard box, and 8-foot long bed. Regular cab comes with the long bed, extended cab with the standard box, and crew cabs with either the short or standard bed. 

Chevy claims best cargo volume and bed width, averaging about 10 cubic feet more than the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500. Cargo volume is 62.9/71.1/89.1 cubic feet by bed size, respectively. The bumper comes with a large integrated bed step, the bed has up to 12 fixed tie downs, and an available power folding tailgate keeps the up and down easy. New for 2021 is a 6-way configurable power tailgate taken from the GMC Sierra AT4 and made available across the Silverado lineup.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500


With poor crash-test results and no standard driver-assistance features, the 2021 Silverado pales to rivals.

How safe is the Chevy Silverado?

A four-star rating from the NHTSA and mixed crash-test results from the IIHS result in the Silverado trailing the full-size truck competition. More safety technology made available across the lineup helps, but automatic emergency braking is still optional. 

The 2021 Silverado rates at a 3 for the subpar crash-test ratings and expensive options. But at least those options are available this year, boosting it a point. 

The NHTSA’s four-star rating is surprising since the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 earned five stars in certain configurations. The IIHS confirmed that rating with a “Marginal” score protecting front passengers in a head-on crash. The “Poor” standard headlight rating isn’t helping. 

Standard safety features also lag the competition. A Safety Package adds front and rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitors on the top High Country trim, but at least the base WT and Custom models can get a Safety Confidence Package with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection. It’s a start for the Silverado, but not enough.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500


Eight models and all the options present an array of choices, but LT packs a value while LTZ swaddles in comfort.

If you can dream it, chances are the Silverado can configure it. Eight trim levels, ranging from just over $30,000 in the base Work Truck (WT) to nearly $70,000 in the tony High Country trim with all the fixings, give shoppers quite a spread. 

Those options, as well as an intuitive infotainment system, and overall value under $50,000, earns the Silverado an 8 out of 10

Standard features include a 7.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone compatibility and 17-inch wheels, but that’s on the base WT mainly sold to fleets. It gets much better from there. 

Which Chevy Silverado should I buy?

Our pick for best overall value would be the LT trim with chrome bumpers and accents, LED headlights, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and an available wi-fi hotspot, but it comes standard with the 2.7-liter turbo-4 for about $42,000. That might not seem like enough torque for towing, but a 9,300-pound capacity with the crew cab and short bed should handle most needs. The 5.3-liter V-8 is also available for $1,400 more.  

If you can’t reconcile a turbo-4 on a full-size truck, or if you’ll be towing frequently, we’d opt up to the LTZ for about $51,000. It comes standard with the 5.3-liter V-8 with active fuel management and an available 10-speed automatic to further increase efficiency. It also comes with an external engine cooler, integrated trailer brake, an advanced trailering system, and two 120-volt outlets with one in the bed and the other in the cab. 

Creature comforts include 10-way power adjustable front seats that are heated and trimmed with leather, heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, 8.0-inch touchscreen, six USB ports, HD rearview camera with parking lines and hitch guidance, keyless entry and start, remote start, wireless smartphone compatibility, and more available safety features.  

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Chevy Silverado?

Head to the High Country for the highest price tag. In rear-wheel drive with a crew cab and standard bed, it starts at about $57,000 and adds to the LTZ a power-up and -down tailgate, LED headlights, 20-inch wheels with blackwall tires, trailering package, 8.0-inch digital instrument cluster, seven-speaker Bose sound system, navigation, heated rear outboard seats trimmed in leather, cooled front seats, and a power rear window. 

Standard safety gear includes front and rear park assist, as well as blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts. 

Upgrade to the most expensive 6.2-liter V-8 with 10-speed automatic in four-wheel drive, add a package or two, and it jumps to $70,000.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Fuel Economy

The Silverado has a powertrain to solve most efficiency-capability problems.

Is the 2021 Chevy Silverado good on gas?

It depends. The diesel bests the bunch with an EPA-rated 23 mpg city, 33 highway, 27 combined—but that’s diesel, not gasoline. 

The more popular gas V-8s cede about 1 mpg highway to the competition, even when equipped with the 10-speed automatic transmission and a fuel management system that shuts down cylinders during highway cruising. 

We rate the Silverado 3 out of 10. 

The 5.3-liter V-8 in four-wheel drive with the 10-speed gets 16/22/19 mpg, which is 1 mpg better than with the 8-speed. 

The 2.7-liter turbo-4 gets 20/23/21 mpg with rear-wheel drive, and 19/22/20 mpg with four-wheel drive. It’s best for trucking around town. 

The 6.2-liter V-8 stays with the pack at 16/20/17 mpg with its standard 4WD and 10-speed automatic.

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MSRP based on 2WD Reg Cab 140" Work Truck
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Expert Rating
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Styling 5
Performance 5
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 3
Features 8
Fuel Economy 3
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