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When you need a heavy-duty truck for heavy-duty trailering, the 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD is the pickup truck that enthusiasts, contractors, and truck drivers turn to when they need a durable pickup that can haul literal tons of cargo without breaking a sweat. The 2021 Silverado 3500, in particular, has been buffed up to meet the demands of today's heavy duty truckers.
The 2021 model year comes in five trims, including the Work Truck, the Custom, the LT, the LTZ, and the High Country. The 3500 HD is available in several cab and drivetrain formats, including a Regular Cab, Double Cab, and Crew, with long or standard beds, and either two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, with an optional dual-rear-wheel drive. New additions, modifications, and some tweaks have been made to the popular heavy-duty line of pickup trucks, giving drivers plenty of reasons to be excited about the 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD.
The 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD's high-end workhorse performance is a returning staple of the long-running brand. At the heart of the Silverado 3500 HD's interior is one of two optional powertrains: a gasoline-based 6.6-liter V8 or a 6.6-liter Duramax Turbo-Diesel. Either of these two engines is going to get the job done, so it's up to preference which one you will want to get.
The gas option for the Silverado 3500 HD is the 6.6-liter V8 with direct injection and variable valve timing rated at 401 horsepower and 464 lb-ft of torque, and a 6-speed automatic transmission. The variable valve timing for the V8 gas engine helps improve fuel efficiency by optimizing the valve intake and exhaust timings to reduce the amount of fuel expended to maintain engine revolutions. The small-block aluminum engine produces a compression ratio of 10.8:1 to improve heat exchange and performance for maximum low-end, low-speed torque, perfect for getting off the line with a heavy load or large cargo haul. The improved crankshaft and durability-tested components within the engine all help it to last for as long as you're willing to drive the truck.
On the other side of the margin, for truckers who need more torque and heft out of their pickup, the Silverado 3500 HD also has a 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V8 engine option, which produces up to 445 horsepower and a whopping 910lb-ft of torque. The Duramax V8 comes with an exhaust brake, engine block heater, winter grille cover, and a fill for the diesel exhaust fluid located in the fuel door.
There are two defining differences between the Duramax V8 engine and the pas-powered V8. This includes the change in the rear axle gear ratio, which is 3.73:1 for the gas-powered V8 and 3.42:1 for the turbo-diesel Duramax. The additional increase in driveshaft rotation for the gas-powered V8 helps increase the torque output. For the Duramax, since it's already generating much more torque, the decrease in rotation means less work for the driveshaft, which means less torsional output from the transmission to the driveshaft, which means it reduces the amount of fuel expenditure for vehicular operation. This has always been a huge benefit for diesel-based engines because you not only have a considerable amount of access to torque, improved trailering, and higher tow ratings, but you also get the benefit of reduced fuel costs.
Another big difference between the Duramax V8 and the gas-powered V8 is the pairing of the Allison 10-speed automatic transmission with the Duramax. The Allison 10-speed is powered by four hall effect speed sensors and a speed range sensor that transmits data to the transmission's externally mounted TCM. This then goes through the process of efficiently matching the gear to the speed of the truck to optimize performance, improve fuel economy, and provide the best output of torque transfer.
The Allison 10-speed automatic transmission also provides overdrive support, a two-mode low-speed high-torque option in the form of the Tow/Haul mode that reduces cycling and gear scavenging in order to improve cooling, reduce strain, and improve towing/trailering capabilities. The addition of auto-grade braking also automatically downshifts and enables engine braking via Tow/Haul mode so that you don't strain the brakes while trailering or towing heavy loads on uphill climbs or downhill crawls.
There is one category that everyone keeps their eye on when it comes to the Silverado HD series, and it's the tow ratings and trailering capabilities. This is the bread and butter of the Silverado HD line, and each and every year, Chevrolet goes the extra mile to improve the heavy-duty truck's capabilities when it comes to towing and trailering or going out of the way to optimize performance in order to achieve maximum tow ratings. The 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500HD is no exception to this rule, and the engineers have gone all out to provide the best tow ratings in the history of the Silverado for the 2021 model year.
One of the most significant changes for 2021 is the upgrade for the maximum towing capacity. In 2020, the 3500 HD could tow up to 35,500 pounds, and the 2021 model can now tow up to 36,000 pounds. This tow rating applies to the Silverado 3500 HD Work Truck, Regular Cab, dual-rear-wheel, two-wheel drive configurations that are equipped with the 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V8 engine.
The 36,000-pound rating is achievable when the Silverado HD is equipped with a 5th wheel or gooseneck trailer hitch and the Max Tow Package, which comes equipped with an integrated brake controller and an advanced hitch guidance system, with heavy-duty cooling. The Silverado 3500 is also capable of a maximum payload capacity of 7,442 pounds, with a maximum cargo bed volume of 83.5 cubic feet of space.
Enhanced trailering technology has also been included, most notably being the 15 new camera views so drivers can see the trailer and truck at nearly every angle when prepping for trailering and towing. Other enhancements such as the trailer length indicator inform drivers where the trailer is positioned when performing lane changes, perfect for ensuring that you don't change lanes where another vehicle is occupying the space where the trailer would be located. The jack-knife alert system is also present to ensure that the truck isn't turning at such a sharp radius that it ends up in a jack-knife position relative to the trailer.
Other technologies to help with trailering and towing include an enhanced camera zoom view of the cargo bed, which also comes with bed hitch guidance, making it easier to align the truck for trailering or attaching a gooseneck. There's also an enhancement to the rear trailer camera view, which now comes equipped with visual guidelines and a trailer-angle indicator, so you know when backing into a compatible trailer and how to align the truck and trailer correctly. Another enhancement is the rear-side view enhancement, which offers drivers a split view of the truck and trailer from both the left and right sides, both when driving forward and in reverse. With all of these new features and enhancements, you can finally take trailering to the next level with the Silverado 3500 HD.
The 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD also comes equipped with a lot of the standard technological amenities. On this model, you will find 12-volt auxiliary power outlets, available 120-volt box-mounted outlets, multi-speaker audio system, available 4G LTE Wi-Fi support, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, USB ports, OnStar connected services, remote keyless open, manual tilt and telescoping steering, and the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system with up to an 8-inch LCD touchscreen. Other convenience and comfort features are available such as 10-way power front driver and passenger seats with lumbar support, Teen Driver mode, and safety alerts such as lane change alert, side blind zone alert, lane departure warnings, and six standard airbags.
Apart from the expected features are some other notable options available for the 2021 Silverado 3500 HD, such as the LTZ Texas Edition. This special trim selection comes with the LTZ Convenience Package that includes heated and ventilated front seats, a rear sliding power window, a universal home remote, two additional USB ports, and a power-up/down tailgate with LED cargo bed lighting. A safety package is also included with front and rear park assist and rear cross traffic alert. Some trims are also available with a snow plow prep package or a camper package, depending on what you plan to use the 3500 HD for.
Alternatively, there are also special edition packages for specific trims, such as the Z71 Off-Road Package, the Z71 Sport Edition, and the Z71 Chrome Sport Edition. The Z71 conversions feature special bowtie badging, a special black livery, a body-color grille, and either specialized 18-inch or 20-inch wheels. The Z71 Off-Road Package, in particular, comes with skid plates to protect the undercarriage, hill descent control, and off-road suspension with Rancho twin-tube shocks. The Z71 Chrome Sport Edition swaps many of the black trimmings with chrome trimming, as well as chrome door handles, chrome hood vents, chrome steps, and 20-inch machined aluminum wheels.
For those who decide to use the 2021 Silverado 3500 HD for commercial trucking, there are also upfitter switches available across all the trims, with programmable components for commercial equipment such as exterior lighting, plowing, and snow removal utilities. There are also upfitting switches installed within the cab to operate outside equipment from within the cab. Additional 3-30 amp and 2-20 amp configurable circuits are included, along with the availability of aftermarket accessories provided via upfitters.