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Car reviews - Chevrolet - Silverado


We like
Intimidating front-end, massively improved dashboard, screen functionality and clarity, V8 performance and richness, ZR2’s vast off-road capability and technology, handling fluency
Room for improvement
Centre-console gearshift wastes space, doors won’t take large bottles, cabin lacks overhead grab handles, undersized rear-seat air vents, LTZ’s more brittle ride, even ZR2’s trick dampers can’t disguise its rudimentary truck underpinnings

New dash, tech and off-road-focused ZR2 variant headline Silverado updates

16 Mar 2023



THREE years since GMSV introduced the fourth-generation Chevrolet Silverado to Australia and New Zealand, re-engineered locally for right-hand drive following its US introduction in early 2018, an extensively updated MY23 model is now on sale – turfing the previous dashboard and introducing an off-road-focused ZR2 variant for the first time in a Silverado.


Chevrolet invested heavily in updating its top-selling truck line in an attempt to out-fox Ford’s unstoppable F-Series – seeing the Ford pick-up remains the clear sales champion in its home market, despite its lead shrinking to just 130,000 units in 2022. And now roughly 18 months later, this comprehensively refreshed Silverado has completed its Australian re-engineering process for right-hand-drive.


Two variants are being offered for 2023 – the luxury-focused Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium ($128,000 before on-road costs) with standard Z71 package to enhance its off-roading capability and the new Silverado 1500 ZR2 ($133,000 before on-road costs) offering a Ford Raptor-style boost to its all-round driveability courtesy of lifted suspension, bespoke dampers, additional off-road-focused drive modes and unique styling details that butch up its look and improve its approach and departure angles.


Beyond the updated Silverado’s deeper grille, higher-mounted Chevrolet ‘bow-tie’ logo, restyled bumpers and brighter C-shaped LED running lights, the ZR2 incorporates a unique black-chrome grille with a ‘flow-tie’ emblem (open for improved cooling), a raised black bonnet insert with ZR2 badging, wheel arch flares, unique gloss-black 18-inch wheels with chunky 275/70 Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tyres, and two-tone black/grey leather-appointed upholstery with dark trim.


It also gains driver-selectable ‘E-locker’ electronic locking differentials front and rear, instead of the auto-locking rear diff in the LTZ Premium.


Raising the ZR2’s ride height to a towering 296mm (from 228mm in LTZ Premium) and incorporating a new three-piece black front bumper (to enable easier replacement if damaged) with a silver bash plate and red tow hooks dramatically improves its approach angle – from a modest 21 degrees in LTZ to 31.8 degrees. The ZR2’s breakover angle rises from 20 to 23.4 degrees while its departure angle goes from 21 to 23.3 degrees.


Uniquely, the LTZ Premium features bright-silver 20-inch alloys with 275/60 Bridgestone Dueler tyres, an all-black leather-appointed interior, adaptive cruise control, a (relatively small) glass sunroof, and a Technology Pack that includes a full-colour 15.0-inch head-up display, a rear camera mirror and a bed-view camera.


Aside from the MY23 Silverado’s more imposing front end and muscular new ZR2 variant, it’s inside the cabin where the upgrades are glaringly obvious. A completely new dashboard replaces the over-styled previous effort with a clean, horizontally configured layout dominated by a vast, crisp 13.4-inch centre touchscreen, joined by a configurable 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster.


While the previous analogue dials were neat and attractive, the centre stack was inexpensive-looking – even on top-spec GMC variants in the US – and the technology lagged way below the class best. Now the MY23 Silverado is arguably the leading full-size pick-up for cabin tech, and when you’re paying well into six figures for the privilege of owning this enormous 5900mm-long, 2500kg dual-cab, that’s the stuff that will get well-heeled truck punters to sign on the dotted line.  


Driving Impressions


If the physical size and heft of the MY23 Chevy Silverado 1500 sparks a degree of trepidation, then the driving experience should put you surprisingly at ease.


For all its obvious limitations – starting with overall dimensions (5931mm long, 2074-2086mm wide, 1930-1991mm tall) and compounded by a massive 14.4m turning circle – the MY23 Silverado isn’t the land yacht you might think it is. Sure, there’s an enormous bonnet expanding ahead of you, particularly in the snouty ZR2, yet the breadth and clarity of the Silverado’s 13 camera views go a long way to compensating for the space it occupies.


The ZR2 even includes a grille-mounted camera with a water-repellent coating and its own washer to enlighten the driver about any obstacles that may be far below on the trail in front. If it sounds gimmicky, then bin that judgement – it’s excellent, particularly when guiding the ZR2’s enormous nose along the tight inclines and declines it’s capable of traversing. But more of that shortly.


On the road, where the MY23 Silverado will spend most of its time, there’s a quietness and a level of refinement that befits this vehicle’s price and goes beyond what you might expect from a US truck still sporting a separate-chassis design and a live rear axle with leaf springs.


The ZR2’s knobbly 33-inch tyres proved subdued and compliant on Brisbane’s gritty concrete freeways, and its valveless ‘DSSV Multimatic’ dampers smoothed terrain in much the same way as the trick Fox dampers achieve in the (much smaller) Ford Ranger Raptor.


Ultimately, though, the Silverado betrays its truck origins to an extent. There’s still a degree of patter from the suspension that rarely exists in a coil-sprung Raptor, and the 20-inch-wheeled LTZ Premium (with its Z71 suspension featuring twin-tube, fixed-rate Rancho dampers) ramps that up further, with a slightly brittle firmness – even when carrying three occupants and towing a huge 3500kg caravan – that shows that this Chevy pick-up clearly favours dynamic control over American-style cushiness.


In corners, the Silverado is a cinch to guide – even when towing more than 3000kg (maximum is 4500kg braked in LTZ Premium; 4200kg in ZR2). There’s a fluidity to its steering, and a consistency of weighting, that makes it quite enjoyable to hustle quickly. And even with 3.3 turns lock-to-lock (spanning that vast turning arc), it points promptly and smoothly. No wonder GMSV goes to such pains to dispel any negative connotations about it being a ‘conversion’ to right-hand drive – the MY23 Silverado feels all-of-a-piece, as if its right-hook configuration was engineered in from the design stage.


Perhaps its brakes (330mm front discs and 345mm rear discs) could feel a bit stronger and less wooden under foot –– even though they manage to haul this 2500kg beast to a halt reasonably well. And we wish Chevrolet had retained the previous column shifter for the GM 10-speed automatic – despite its dodgy tip-shifter being mounted on the shifter itself – because the new L-shaped console set-up, while looking and feeling more expensive, eats into the front storage space of this vast pick-up unnecessarily.


Right-hook Silverados continue to be offered solely with GM’s excellent 313kW/624Nm 6.2-litre petrol V8 with ‘Dynamic Fuel Management’, meaning it will operate on just two cylinders under a light throttle load – and hence why its ADR81/02 combined fuel figure is a not-so-shabby 12.2L/100km. Trying to replicate that figure in the real world may prove difficult, however.


Milking its 10 sweet-shifting ratios to good effect, unladen performance is strong without feeling neck-snapping – backed by a mellifluous V8 rumble – but it’s the effortless grunt and abundant torque when either pottering or towing that defines this definitely American drivetrain.


Inside the MY23 Silverado’s vastly improved yet still vast cabin, this enormous pick-up delivers on its promise – very comfortable 10-way electric front seats with heating/cooling, an impressively ergonomic driving position, and a more absorbent rear-seat cushion offering superior comfort than the previous model, as well as outboard heating and a near-flat floor that greatly benefits legroom.


Yet for all its interior expanse, Chevrolet doesn’t include overhead grab handles for any seating position – just large ones on the A- and B-pillars (which you’ll need every time you climb on board in the side-step-less ZR2) that are located too far away to be genuinely useful otherwise – and door bins designed for several cans, rather than anything beyond a one-litre camping bottle (that will need to be jammed into the front pockets).


While the ventilation up front is terrific, with neat chrome ‘bow-tie’ adjusters on each air vent, the rear-seat pair are undersized and mounted low in the centre console. And while we could probably also criticise the switchgear placement for the drive-mode dials and such (on the door side of the steering column, which is powered in the LTZ Premium), the general switchgear layout requires minimal time to acclimatise to.


It’s the 13.4-inch centre screen and all its accompanying technology, however, that GMSV seems most proud of. Beyond new features such as wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, it’s the superb clarity of the multiple camera views – even covering such things as a ‘hitch view’ to assist when aligning a trailer – that literally shrinks the Silverado’s huge footprint and makes it incredibly manageable when manoeuvring at all speeds.


There’s even an on-screen checklist that you can tick off to make sure you’ve covered all the towing bases (such as ‘hitch securely mounted’ and ‘trailer connected to hitch and locked’, plus an automatic light-test sequence), while the towing mode integrates the braking system of whatever you’re pulling with the Silverado’s stability-control system.


Yet it’s the considerable all-surface ability of the new off-road-focused ZR2 that defines the MY23 Silverado. With its unique Terrain and Off Road modes, plus having front and rear locking differentials, only tightness of space is going to hold back the ZR2. Its hill-descent mode works seamlessly and its ‘one pedal’ mode (which allows the driver to just use the accelerator in off-road situations, bringing the Chevy to a stop when you ease off the right pedal) makes punting this beast in rough terrain a relatively effortless pursuit.


Combine that with its expanded dynamic envelope (on-road tyre grip apart!) and towering off-road ability and you can see why GMSV expects that at least 50 percent of Australian Silverado orders will be for the tough-looking ZR2.


GMSV wouldn’t provide sales projections for the MY23 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 but having expanded its Victorian re-engineering/production facility in late-2022, there’s a strong chance this MY23 model will comfortably outperform the 1823 sales its predecessor managed in 2022.

The Silverado 1500 LTZ Premium is priced from $128,000 (+ ORCs) and the Silverado 1500 ZR2 from $133,000 (+ ORCs).

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