When you need the space for your family but an impressive payload, you’re going to want a 2021 Chevrolet Silverado Duramax.
“What?” you might be asking. “A full-size pickup truck as a family car?”
It’s not as wild as you might think. The Silverado has been a great option for families for years, and it’s only getting better as time goes on. Now, for 2021, this beast has been refined to the point where you might mistake the interior and its amenities for that of a luxury SUV. But there will be no mistaking that bold Silverado exterior, nor the Duramax’s impressive payload and towing capacity. This is a full-size, heavy-duty truck that can quite literally do it all.
There are tons of different options for the Silverado, but we drove the 2021 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab with a Duramax (diesel engine), 4-wheel drive, and in the LTZ trim.
What’s New for 2021?
- Increased max-tow ratings
- Trailer-assistance technologies like jackknife alert and a cargo-bed viewer
- Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
- Optional Multi-Flex tailgate (our model didn’t have this option)
- More paint colors
A Capable Truck for Your Toughest Needs
I had this truck during some pretty apocalyptic thunderstorms in Texas, and while I tried to avoid driving in the worst of it, I did take the Silverado out for a drive on some back country roads two days later. If you’re not familiar with Texas, there’s not much topsoil, so when it rains, it floods—and for some reason, plenty of our rural roads are built almost on the level with smaller creeks when they’re low. When it rains, roads can get washed out. Even two days after a big rain, there was standing water in a lot of low places—and this Silverado blew threw them with ease. If it wasn’t for the sound of the spray under the truck, I’d have thought there wasn’t any water at all.
It has around 2,000 pounds payload, which means 2,000 pounds in the truck bed, and the diesel engine means you have a 9,700 pound towing capacity. That’s going to be enough to haul pretty much everything you need, from a bed loaded with tools to a trailer carrying a boat. Truck bed cameras mean you can keep an eye on everything back there, and there are tons of new technologies designed to make trailering easier, like a jackknife alert which will help prevent the trailer pushing your truck around.
In the LTZ trim, the Silverado is totally capable of anything you could throw at it, on asphalt or on the ranch trail. If you want more advanced off-road capabilities, there’s a dedicated trim and package options to help you out—but if you’re more about practical use than off-road fun, you’ll fare just fine.
And if that wasn’t enough, it just looks gorgeous, too. It has that beefy, full-size truck look that lets you know it’s ready to take on any task you throw at it, but there’s also a softness to the front end, as strange as it sounds. It looks capable but inviting, the same way my mom did after coming home to her kiddos after a long day at work; you knew she’d been through some rough stuff in the ER, but she always had a smile on her face.
I think a lot of that comes down to the well-placed chrome trim against the Northsky Blue Metallic paint. There’s just enough to convey a sense of luxury without making you fear you’re going to damage its good looks. The chrome trim under the windows has an especially stunning effect; it’s like a well-placed swipe of eyeliner that completely transforms the look of your face.
And Yes, It’s Family-Ready
I was really impressed by how spacious the interior of the Chevrolet Silverado was. Even adult rear-seat passengers had tons of leg room in which to make themselves comfortable, and everyone in the back has their own climate controls—something you need in a Texas summer. Smaller kids may need a boost to climb in, though, and you’ll definitely want running boards if you have a car seat to adjust.
One of my favorite features, though, was the absolutely massive center console. I mean, this bad boy was deep. Both my mom and I were able to fit our smaller handbags inside, and it was even large enough to store my 26-ounce Yeti water bottle upright and close the lid. It’s a great, hidden place to keep electronics or valuables while you’re out of the car, and it’s such a great place to keep your purse because it’s safely stored but easily accessible. The console even has a little light in it so that you’re able to see those tiny, pesky items that are hiding in the corners.
And that’s not even taking into consideration the rear seatback storage. The lumbar cushion on the two exterior rear seats pull open to reveal a small storage space for extra items like valuables, charging cords, tow straps, and more. It’s not a ton of space, but it’s just enough to stow some of the smaller stuff and keep the truck looking neat.
My only concern is that, if you’re using this vehicle to haul younger kids, you’ll likely want to opt for a different interior color. The light gray leather was heavenly in the Texas heat, since it kept the cabin from getting as steamy hot as it will with black leather—but it’s also going to show dirt and mess more quickly.
Not So Friendly for Short Folks
I only had one qualm with the Silverado: It was massive! I clock in at about 5’3″ on a good day, so I’m not the tallest person around—and that’s one reason I’ve always been hesitant about driving larger vehicles. But the Silverado was the first time I really felt like I was out of my comfort zone. The seat didn’t raise up high enough for me to fully read the head-up display; it was cut off. I also had a tough time climbing into the truck since there weren’t running boards. Even the handle on the A-pillar only helped so much on rainy days, when I just about slipped trying to get in. My mom, who is about three inches taller, also had a hard time.
It’s not too large to be manageable. But if you’re on the shorter side. I’d highly recommend really putting the Silverado through its paces in a test drive to make sure you feel comfortable and confident behind the wheel. Especially if you have kiddos whose car seats need to be strapped into the back or anyone in the family with mobility concerns.
- Standard vehicle pricing for LTZ trim: $52,400
- Technology package, which adds rearview and bed cameras, head-up display, eight-inch touchscreen: add $2,700
- Safety package II, which adds forward collision alert, lake keep assist, emergency braking, pedestrian braking, automatic high beam, and adaptive cruise control: add $1,095
- LTZ Convenience Package II, which adds bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, Bose sound system, wireless charging: add $1,070
- Duramax 3-liter turbo-diesel: add $995
- Spray-on bed liner: add $545
- Destination charge: $1,595
- Total price for the vehicle we tested: $59,770
The LTZ trim is the second-highest trim level offered on the Silverado. You can also opt for Work Truck ($28,995), Custom ($36,520), LT ($39,995), Trail Boss ($41,295), RST ($43,595) or High Country ($55,545). You can also add optional extras to all of these trims.
What You Need to Know
- Duramax 3-liter V6 turbo-diesel engine
- 260 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque
- 10-speed automatic transmission
- 4-wheel drive
- 9,700 lb towing capacity
- Around 2,000 lbs payload
- 22 mpg city / 26 highway / 24 combined
- Center stack: 1 USB, 1 USB-C fast charger, one 12v charger, one household plug
- Center console: 1 AUX, 1 USB, 1 USB-C fast charger, SD card, tons of room for purse
- Backseat: 1 USB, 1 USB-C fast charger, 12v charger, heated seats, and cup holders in center console
- 120v plug in truck bed
- Safety features like teen driver mode, rear cross traffic alert, lane change alert, blind spot alert, front and rear parking assist, rear seat reminder
- Heated steering wheel
- Wireless Android Auto/Apple CarPlay
- Seating for five, but more comfortable for four
What We Loved
- Tons of handbag space in the center console
- The breeziest ventilated seats I’ve ever touched
- Corner steps on the rear bumper to more easily access truck bed
- One-touch lowering and raising tailgate
- Wireless charging for your phone
- Rear seat storage in the seatback
Who Is This Truck For?
- Families who need a truck as capable at the ranch as it is in the middle school pick-up line
- Folks who use their trucks for both work and play
- Smaller families
- Anyone living in a rural area who needs a capable machine
- Horse girls and off-road girls who need that extra space to make their hobbies shine
- People who love antiquing, flipping furniture or other large goods, or making runs to the home improvement store
What to Listen To?
Looking for a little something to listen to behind the wheel of your Silverado? We’ve got you covered.
Disclosure: Stellantis lent me the 2021 Chevy Silverado for my test drive. All opinions are my own.