2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

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2020
The Car Connection
2020
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
October 12, 2020

Buying tip

For trailering convenience and creature comfort, the LTZ trim packages all the good stuff.

features & specs

2WD Crew Cab 159" Custom
2WD Crew Cab 159" LT
2WD Crew Cab 159" LTZ
MPG
NA
MPG
NA
MPG
NA
MSRP
$41,300
MSRP
$42,600
MSRP
$50,900

Big, bold, and massively capable with gas and diesel engines, the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD gets the job done.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado is a heavy-duty pickup truck offered as a 2500 or 3500 with available dual rear wheels. Gas or diesel V-8 engines can haul the heaviest loads behind it or in the largest beds in the class or in regular, extended, or spacious crew cabs. It competes with other heavy-duty trucks from Ford, Ram, and GMC. 

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD a good truck?

Review continues below

The Silverado 2500 and 3500 are solid, capable trucks that can tow anything and have plenty of interior space, even if it’s dull. It earns a TCC Rating of 6.3 out of 10, which is a shade off the rivals mostly for the subjective category of Style. Like other heavies, it lacks a Green fuel economy rating and a Safety rating that would lower the overall score considerably. Keep that in mind if comparing full-size half-ton trucks. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD?

After being redesigned to be bigger and bolder for 2020, the changes for 2021 are limited to more available trailering technology and five appearance packages, including the Z71 Sport, Z71 Chrome Sport, Midnight Edition, Texas, and Carhartt special edition. 

The big, blocky front end houses either a gas 6.6-liter V-8 with a 6-speed automatic transmission that can tow 14,500 pounds or a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8 with an Allison 10-speed automatic that can tow up to 36,000 pounds when equipped as a dually. Rear-wheel drive is standard but four-wheel drive is more popular. 

Big beds with integrated bed steps give way to big crew cabs with room for six. A small 7.0-inch standard touchscreen and limited available safety features pale to the competition, but easy-to-use switchgear and a no-frills truck feel can appeal to many. 

How much does the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD cost?

Available in Work Truck, Custom, LT, LTZ, or High Country trims, the 2021 Silverado 2500HD can start under $40,000 in regular cab and rear-wheel drive with the gas engine. Equip it with the top High Country trim with a crew cab, long bed, diesel engine, four-wheel drive, and dual rear wheels, and it reaches $75,000. 

The LTZ trim makes a big jump of $9,000 over the LT trim, but for about $53,000 it balances advanced trailering technology with creature comforts such as heated seats and steering wheel to strike the sweet spot for what we’d want out of a truck expected to make long, frequent hauls.   

Where is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD made?

It’s built in Flint, Michigan.


5

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Styling

The Silverado 2500HD flexes its muscle outside but takes a rest inside.

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD a good-looking car?

It has a face made for the rail yard. Improbably, the Silverado 2500 and 3500 HD grew even bigger and bolder when they were redesigned for 2020. The flat steep face can be polarizing but the interior fails to make any impression. It’s a 5.   

Stacked vertical headlights bound together by a chrome bar looks like a barbell for only the heaviest lifters. The various metal grilles stretch as wide as they stack high, and are sandwiched between a massive chrome bumper and a hood vent. Engine cooling is key. Chevy wanted to have a locomotive look, and the scale is intimidating in rearview mirrors. It would be hard for the average person to rest an elbow on the hood of the big blocky front end, and checking the fluids might require a step stool.

Along the sides are flat panels over square wheel arches that house 17-inch to 20-inch wheels. Even with side and rear bumper steps, peering over the high walls into the bed might require tippy toes. Chevy says the roof is the only panel that carries over from the old model. 

New Z71 Sport and Chrome Sport appearance packages complement Midnight and Carhartt special edition models for greater customization that we cover in the Features section.

The interior tends to the bland side, but with large knobs and buttons that are easy to use with gloves, that may not be a bad thing. Plastic panels dwarf the 7.0-inch touchscreen standard on the Silverado 2500HD.

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6

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Performance

Excessive capability in the Silverado 2500 HD does not come at the expense of comfort.

Though locomotive breath doesn’t issue from the locomotive grille, the 2021 Silverado 2500HD needs all the air it can get for either of its massive 6.6-liter V-8s, one powered by gas, the other, diesel. The turbodiesel is the towing king, with a 3500 dually that can tow up to 36,000 pounds, good enough to tow the Jethro Tull tour bus, flute and all. Prodigious power and surprising acceleration earn a point, as does its ability to tow anything, but the rougher handling characteristic of any truck takes a point away for a 6.   

Is the Silverado 2500 and 3500 4WD?

You betcha. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and four-wheel drive adds $2,800 to the price. The 3500 can add even more wheels, with dual rear wheel trucks, or duallys, that cost $1,200 more. 

How fast is the Silverado 2500HD?

The big truck is surprisingly light on its wheeled feet, like an interior lineman chasing a taco truck. More importantly for most shoppers, the Silverado 2500HD can tow many, many tons. 

The base 6.6-liter V-8 gas engine with a 6-speed automatic transmission makes 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. The 6-speed strains and could use a couple more gears to stay lower in the rev range until called upon. It can tow 14,500 pounds in most configurations, but can haul up to 17,370 pounds with a gooseneck or fifth-wheel mount in the bed. Pulling a load from a stop is no problem, and won’t make you think twice about turning onto the divided highway. 

The 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8 with an Allison 10-speed automatic transmission makes 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm. It’s a beast, with a 28-inch fan to cool the beast even after you’ve shut off the engine while it’s still hot. Straight-line speed is impressive for a vehicle weighing anywhere from 6,100 to over 8,000 pounds. 

Either engine can be had in the 2500 and 3500, but the 3500 has a greater payload capacity, especially as a dually that you can’t option on the 2500. 

Equally impressive is a relatively quiet cabin. The independent front suspension and stiffer body smooths out some big truck bounce, but with an unladen load the rear can bop around.

Review continues below

7

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Comfort & Quality

A huge crew cab and beds with the most cargo room in the class make up for a lack of refinement in the Silverado 2500HD.

A massive crew cab appeals to most shoppers, but extended and regular cabs are available. The ability to seat six and the expansive cargo volume in either long or standard bed earn a point each for a 7.

Heavy duty trucks make for heavy duty heaving, and that includes getting into the crew cab. Chevy made it easier last year by lowering the lift-in height an inch, and larger integrated bumper steps make it easy to haul yourself up onto the bed. A new side step in front of the rear wheel enables an easier climb up the large bed wall to secure items in the front of either the long 8-foot-2 bed (83.5 cubic feet of cargo volume) or the standard 6-foot-10 bed (69.9 cubic feet). 

In gas models, the 2500 has a payload capacity of 3,800 pounds in the crew cab long bed, while the 3500 dually tops out at 6,894 pounds. To fill the bed and cab to those weights would require some heavy-duty Tetris. An available power up and down liftgate activated from the fob or the gate simplifies part of the process. 

Wide but high points of entry open into an enormous crew cab, but the refinement found on some rivals is withheld until the top trims. A 40/20/20-split bench front seat greets all but High Country trims, but on LTZ trim that center seat doubles as an armrest with storage. The rear seats have storage available underneath for a cost. 

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Safety

Advanced safety features aren’t standard even on the highest trims, which smells like a money grab.

How safe is the Silverado 2500HD?

It’s as safe as a tank. Being the biggest has advantages when it comes to collisions. Chevy finally gave all trucks the option of avoiding collisions, with a safety package featuring automatic emergency braking available on WT and Custom trucks. 

The 2500 and 3500 exceed a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds, so the NHTSA deems them safe enough to not need crash testing. We can’t assign a rating. 

Available features such as front and rear parking sensors, blind-spot monitors with rear cross-traffic alerts, active lane control, automatic high beams, and advance trailering tech with up to 15 camera views and bed hitch guidance to help hook up a fifth-wheel trailer make driving and hauling easier and safer. 

Review continues below

7

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Features

The basic truck presents a towing value but all the options, packages, and special editions can make your head spin like a pinwheel in a storm.

Offered as Work Truck, Custom, LT, well-equipped LTZ, or high-falutin’ High Country trim, the 2021 Silverado 2500HD comes with plenty of features and even more options and special editions. Like the 1500, the interior is basic with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, two USB ports, power doors and locks. 

The 2021 Silverado 2500HD is a relative value starting under $40,000 for the 2500 regular cab and long bed or $43,000 for the crew cab with a regular bed in four-wheel drive, which adds $2,800 across the board. The 3500HD doesn’t come in Custom trim, and it’s about $1,500 more than the 2500HD across the board. 

The advanced trailering technology headlines an extensive options list that includes a 15-inch head-up display and wireless smartphone charging. Each of those assets earn it a point to get a 7 total. 

Which Silverado 2500HD should I buy?

Five appearance packages bundle some popular options in the name of simplicity.

The Z71 Sport Edition available on LT and LTZ models blacks out the grille inserts, skid plates, hood vent, and 18-inch aluminum wheels, and body-color bumpers. The Z71 Chrome Sport Edition does pretty much the same thing but with chrome and comes with a spray-on bedliner and black running boards. Midnight Edition has the Chrome Sport equipment but painted—yeah, you guessed it—black. The Carhartt Special Edition mixes the black and chrome, adds 20-inch aluminum wheels, Carhartt badging, interior trim accents and all-weather floor liners. Then there’s the Texas Edition available only on the LTZ trim and sold only in Texas and surrounding states. It bundles convenience and safety packages for a High Country feel but with Texas badging.

To simplify, LT comes well-equipped but since HD customers buy HD for the extra towing capability, we’d opt up to the LTZ and its advanced trailering system and creature comforts. It costs $9,000 more to about $53,000, but adds keyless start, power tailgate, power trailering mirrors, 10-way power adjustable front seats, heated front leather outboard seats, heated steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, 120-volt power outlet, low-speed transfer case, and the larger 8.0-inch touchscreen. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD?

Ah, you want all the bells and whistles til the cows come home with the kitchen sink? High Country trim, with $9,800 extra for the diesel, a long bed, and four-wheel drive with a crew cab starts at more than $73,000. Even then it doesn’t come with advanced safety features. That would require the Deluxe package, and tip it over $75,000. Without it, it comes with 20-inch wheels, Bose sound system, cooled front seats, running boards, bedliner, and more. Figure about $80,000 for a 3500 High Country diesel dually.

Review continues below

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD

Fuel Economy

The EPA doesn’t test heavy duty trucks, so we don’t rate it.

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD good on gas?

No, but it’s good for gas companies. The EPA doesn’t require heavy-duty truck makers to report fuel-economy estimates, so we don’t rate it without that measuring stick.

The 2500 and 3500 with single rear wheels feature active aero shutters in the big grille to improve efficiency. Diesel models with a 10-speed automatic are more efficient on the highway, but gas models only get in the mid-teens at best. A 36-gallon tank with crew cab models at least stretches out the distance between gas station stops.

Review continues below

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$34,700
MSRP based on 2WD Reg Cab 142" Work Truck
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6.3
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 5
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety N/A
Features 7
Fuel Economy N/A
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