There are a ton of considering factors to think about when buying your new truck.
In this TFLtruck episode, Andre and Nathan break down all the differences when cross-shopping the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 and the beefier Chevy Silverado 2500 HD. From the available engines to their corresponding payloads, towing capability, fuel economy, design, interior accommodations, general practicality and pricing, we’re aiming for a comprehensive approach to cover which truck is the right one for you.
You may not expect it, but depending on how you spec it you can get a light duty or heavy duty Silverado for the same price. Well-equipped versions of both trucks can set you back around $60,000 on average, though there are some differences here. The half-ton Silverado we have here today is a LTZ model with the Z71 4×4 package and the Max Tow package, as well as a 420 horsepower 6.2-liter gas V8 with 460 lb-ft of torque.
The HD is also an LTZ with the Z71 package, but packs a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel. That gets you 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque, mated up to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Even with all the extra weight, the mountain of torque means the diesel Silverado was only half a second slower to 60 mph than the gas-powered light duty truck (8.71 versus 8.29 seconds at a mile above sea level).
Payload, towing and suspension
Depending on your hauling and towing needs, the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 may be enough truck without needing to upgrade to a heavy duty. The truck we have, for example, sports a 1,865-pound payload capacity. Crew cab models have a 69.92 inch bed as well, which is a good, usable amount of space compared to a midsize option.
Now, you can change your truck’s load-out to accommodate one of five different engines and three different transmission options, as well as three different box lengths. Between all that choice and two- or four-wheel drive, that could change up your payload and towing capacities either up or downward. Towing capacity in the 1500, as equipped here, is 11,900 pounds.
The 2021 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD, on the other hand, offers up a foot more bed length (82 inches) over the 1500. The payload capacity in this specific configuration is 3,056 pounds. Thanks to the option to mount a gooseneck hitch, as well, the heavier truck can tow up to 18,500 pounds in the configuration we have here.
As far as ride comfort is concerned, the Chevy Silverado 1500 is significantly more comfortable for everyday use. Of course, that mainly comes down to differences in suspension, as the 2500 HD is designed for the sort of hauling and towing its owners will ask it to do. To that end, this 2500 is a bit more comfortable with the Rancho shocks as part of the Z71 package. GM’s heavy duty trucks also use independent front suspension — currently the only HD trucks to forego a solid axle setup.
Interior layout and features
Both the interiors in the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 and 2500 trucks are highly functional, if a bit dated against Ram and Ford’s offerings. Keep in mind on that last point: Updated models are coming to address that issue, so we will have more even more feature-rich options on GM trucks in the near future. Right now, though, both trucks offer nearly identical interiors, save the diesel exhaust brake on the HD, and a single-button rolldown feature for the windows in the 1500.
GM trucks have a great thing going when it comes to visibility, thanks to all the onboard cameras. The digital rear view mirror is available, as is a host of camera views covering all angles in the truck. Step up to the 2500 trucks, and you get power-folding mirrors with extending capability for towing.
Finally, there’s fuel economy. The 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 manages 21 mpg on the highway according to official EPA figures (18 mpg combined). Heavy duty trucks actually aren’t rated, but Andre managed 19.9 mpg with the 2500 HD Duramax. That said, with all things considered — including maneuverability, which is more of an issue in the larger heavy duty truck — we at TFLtruck would stick with the half-ton.
Fortunately, you do get more engine options there too. Nathan and I prefer the small 3.0-liter Duramax diesel, while Andre would go for the 5.3-liter gas V8 hooked up to the 10-speed automatic transmission. Unless you need to tow a great amount of weight over long distances, the half-ton truck should do you just fine. If you are in the band that needs to tow heavy trailers cross-country, then definitely consider upgrading to the heavy duty Silverado.
Check out more in the video below: