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  5. 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71

Heavy-duty pickup trucks are expected to perform a variety of tasks, ranging from grunt work on the job site to long-distance hauling for work or play. As such, it's no surprise that modern trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD offer trim levels and packages to meet any customer needs.

My first go around with the new heavy-duty Silverado was in the gas-powered Custom trim level. But this time around, I tested the 2021 2500HD equipped with LTZ trim level, the legendary Duramax diesel engine, and the off-road-ready Z71 package. So I was curious to see how this truck stood up against three-quarter-ton off-roaders like the Ford F-250 Tremor and GMC Sierra 2500HD AT4.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71 Exterior

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71

The new Silverado HD lineup has been on the market for over a year now, but the styling is still very polarizing. The boxy body, massive grille and stacked headlights give the Silverado HD an imposing look that won't be mistaken for any other truck out there, including the Silverado's sibling, the GMC Sierra. As if the new Silverado HD's design wasn't noticeable enough, this truck was painted in an eye-catching bright red hue aptly named Red Hot.

The "CHEVROLET" name spelled out in the grille and tailgate adds a bold styling element to the Silverado HD, while the Z71 Sport Edition adds a more rugged and trendy appearance, as it boasts black exterior badges and side steps, body-color bumpers and grille, along with black 18-inch wheels wrapped in mud-terrain tires. This tire and wheel package look undersized for a truck this big, but it offers plenty of tire sidewall, which is perfect for off-roading.

Being a pickup truck, the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD packs plenty of cool features into the cargo bed. For starters, all models are equipped with side steps built into the front and rear corners, making it easier to climb over the bed rails to reach cargo. This Crew Cab short bed tester was also equipped with a $1,340 gooseneck/fifth wheel prep package that added a seven-pin wiring harness, spray-in bedliner and a bed view camera, while the LTZ Plus Package included a power up/down tailgate, which can raise and lower the tailgate at the push of a button in the cab or on the key fob. In the age of tailgate wars, this helpful feature is, by far, the most practical for everyday truck owners.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71 Interior

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71

My first test drive of the redesigned Silverado 2500HD last year was a more work-ready version with cloth interior and two rows of bench seating. But this 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71 brought a lot more content to the party.

Without stepping up to the luxury-themed High Country, the LTZ trim level offers plenty of convenience and technology for a reasonable price. Standard equipment on the Silverado 2500HD LTZ includes leather seating, heated front seats, a heated and leather-wrapped steering wheel, an eight-inch touchscreen infotainment display, a wi-fi hotspot and an abundance of charging and connectivity ports for mobile devices. The aforementioned LTZ Plus Package costs $2,645, and it brings even more content, like cooled front seats, heated rear seats, LED cargo bed lighting, and a power-sliding rear window to the cabin.

This trim level comes standard with a center console, meaning the Silverado HD Crew Cab has a five-passenger seating configuration. Similar to the Silverado 1500, the Silverado HD trucks have grown in size, and now offer three more inches of cab length compared to the previous generation. Obviously, that results in a roomier cabin experience. With dual glove boxes, a huge center console, hidden cubbies in the rear seat back, and plenty of secured storage under the rear seat, Chevrolet also upped the game when it comes to cargo capability inside the truck.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71 Performance

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71

The best way to enjoy a heavy-duty truck is with a diesel engine, and this 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD came to me packing a 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V-8. This engine is rated at 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft of torque and it pairs to a 10-speed automatic.

Now, it does cost an extra $9,890 over the base gas engine, so it's not exactly the cheapest way to enjoy a heavy-duty truck! The EPA doesn't rate fuel economy for heavy-duty pickup trucks, but I averaged 14.6 mpg over our week with this big truck, which is about 1.3 mpg better than I saw with the gas version of the Silverado HD Crew Cab 4x4.

For off-road enthusiasts who require the strength of a heavy-duty truck, the Silverado 2500HD's Z71 package provides plenty of content for not a lot of money. The $325 Z71 Off-Road Package gives the Silverado HD an off-road suspension with twin-tube Rancho shocks, skid plates, hill descent control, and upgrades the rubber to meaty 18-inch Hankook Dynapro MT2 tires. These aggressive mud tires are a bit loud at highway speeds, but they are perfect for driving over sandy or muddy terrain.

When I took the truck to some off-road trails, I was impressed by the articulation of the suspension and the traction of the standard locking rear differential. Of course, when towing is needed, the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD can haul up 20,000 pounds with a conventional trailer, and 18,510 pounds with a fifth-wheel/gooseneck trailer. This Crew Cab 4x4 has a max tow rating of 18,500 pounds for conventional and fifth-wheel/gooseneck duties.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71 Safety

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71

Heavy-duty trucks aren't crash tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD still comes with an impressive list of safety features.

The $645 Safety Package II includes Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Safety Alert Seat and Automatic High Beams, while the LTZ Plus Package adds Front and Rear Park Assist, Lane Change Alert, Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71 Overall

Exterior view of the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71

Today's pickup trucks have evolved into far more than the work-essential vehicles they once were, and the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71 is a perfect example of a versatile heavy-duty truck.

With a diesel engine, well-equipped trim package, and the off-road-ready Z71 bits, this Silverado HD really is ready for anything. The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD has a starting price of $36,995, with the LTZ trim is priced starting at $55,795. Adding the Duramax engine, Z71 package and all of the other goodies, the Silverado 2500HD used for my review had an as-tested price of $71,110.

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Jeffrey N. Ross | Jun 24, 2021

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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD LTZ Z71 Specs

Layout

4-door, 5-passenger, 4x4

Engine/Transmission

6.6L turbocharged diesel V8, 445hp, 910 lb-ft  Ten-speed automatic

Mileage

N/A

NHTSA Safety Rating

N/A


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*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending on specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.