“Work smarter, not harder.” It’s something we’ve all heard before. By finding easier, more efficient ways to do a task, it becomes possible to do more of that task. It’s a philosophy that’s embraced by Chevy in the 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD, which includes more advanced towing technology to assist drivers than ever before. When it comes to heavy duty work trucks, working harder is usually the point, but that doesn't mean a truck can't also work smarter, and the highest towing capacities ever claimed by a Silverado are proof that Chevy is keen on working smarter and harder.
The 2021 Silverado 3500 HD can tow up to 36,000 lbs with the proper configuration, a best-in-class figure. To make it easier than ever to take advantage of that capacity, Chevy has expanded the availability of the Bed View Camera and EZ Lift tailgate for 2021. Chevy’s Safety Confidence Package is available on all 2021 Silverado 3500 HD models. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connectivity are available and special editions like Midnight and Z71 Sport make the 3500 HD as personalized as any other Chevy truck.
The 2021 Silverado 3500 HDs pair of engine offerings mean business and the large Durabed in the back lets drivers make the most of it. The segment-first Advanced Trailering System makes it easier than ever to set up and manage any number of trailers, and further expansions of safety tech availability relieve the stress of managing a big truck with a bigger trailer. Put yourself in a 2021 Silverado 3500 HD to see what smarter and stronger feels like today!
The 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD is the most capable heavy-duty Chevy yet. With many configurations and capabilities depending on the choices, there’s a lot to think about like engine, drive type, single/dual rear wheels, cab type, and bed length. Altogether there are 22 combinations resulting in unique towing and payload capacities, so let’s dig in!
The 2021 Silverado 3500 HD offers two behemoth engines, a 6.6L gasoline V8 and a 6.6L Duramax V8 turbo-diesel. The gasoline engine produces 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission that can tow up to 17,370 lbs. The diesel, while more expensive, is hands down the most capable engine in the segment. With 445 hp, 910 lb-ft of torque, and a 10-speed Allison automatic transmission, this is the engine you need to realize the max trailering limit of 36,000 lbs.
It’s pretty simple here with RWD vs 4WD. 4WD costs about $3,000 more and delivers improved performance under low traction conditions. You’ll need RWD to maximize the gooseneck/5th wheel towing capabilities, but conventional towing limits are virtually unaffected by drive type. As far as the payload is concerned, single rear wheel designs are better off with 4WD, while dual rear wheel configs do better with RWD.
Speaking of which, almost every 3500 HD can be fitted with dual rear wheels to make the most of every last lb-ft of torque you’ve got (crew cabs with the standard bed do not get this option). The extra pair of wheels give Silverado 3500 HD a significant boost in payload and conventional trailering (on non-crew cab models). Gooseneck/5th wheel trailering limits are higher for single rear wheel designs with the gas engine but are maximized with the diesel engine and dual rear wheel loadout.
The 2021 Silverado 3500 HD can be had with three cab types – standard, double, and crew. The standard cab only seats 2-3 people, but by minimizing cab weight, it maximizes payload and gooseneck/5th wheel towing limits every time. This is what you need to squeeze every last pound of capability out of this truck. With 35” of rear legroom, the double cab is roomier than many small SUVs and sedans, but the upgrade cuts a sizable chunk out of the payload and gooseneck/5th wheel limits. Upgrading to the roomier crew cab only slightly reduces towing and payload capacities, so folks who’ll regularly have passengers will probably be best off here.
The 3500 HD has a standard and a long bed. The standard 82.25” bed (that’s almost 7’) is only available with the crew cab, while the 98.27” (over 8’) long bed is an upgrade with the crew cab and standard with other cabs. Conventional towing limits are unaffected by the bed length, but the standard bed supports a higher payload and marginally better gooseneck/5th wheel towing limits. Our take? If you’re leaning towards a crew cab and single rear wheel loadout anyway, go for the bed length that aligns better with what you expect to use it for – a short bed for heavier loads and easier maneuvering or a long bed for longer objects.
For the maximum payload capacity of 7,442 lbs, you’ll need a gas engine, RWD, dual rear wheel regular cab model, and you’ll get 16,800 lbs towing capacity to boot. Any other dual rear wheel design achieves a payload of at least 5,662 lbs, so stick with that if the raw payload is critical.
Conventional towing limits are virtually immune to cab type, depending primarily on the engine and the rear wheel type. The max capacity of 20,000 lbs applies to any 3500 HD with a diesel engine and either dual rear wheels or a crew cab. These models have max payloads of 4,013 – 6,523 lbs and max gooseneck/5th wheel capacities ranging from 21,040 – 36,000 lbs. Every Silverado 3500 HD model can pull at least 14,500 lbs, though, so there are no poor showings for Chevy in the conventional towing department.
The gooseneck/5th wheel trailering limits are Chevy’s crowning jewel. The 36,000 lbs limit is only achievable with the diesel engine, RWD, dual rear wheel regular cab model, with a conventional towing limit of 20,000 lbs and a payload limit of 6,523 lbs. Any changes to the configuration eat away at the gooseneck/5th wheel capacity big-time – 2nd and 3rd highest are the 4WD version at 31,760 lbs and the double-cab version at 31,500 lbs. The range extends as low as 16,120 lbs for the gas engine, 4WD, dual rear wheel crew cab model, so if you’re looking to make use of a gooseneck or 5th wheel hitch trailer, you need to pay close attention to this limit when building your truck.
The segment-first Advanced Trailering System is the current benchmark for trailering technology in the industry. Highlighted by an in-vehicle trailering app and 15 unique camera views, the system is standard on LTZ and High Country trim and available for $440 on LT trim. It makes the Silverado 3500 HD the best truck on the market for trailering veterans and newcomers alike!
The system specifically includes customizable trailer profiles, a pre-departure checklist, trailer maintenance reminders, trailer security alerts, trailer mileage, tow/haul reminder, trailer electrical diagnostics, and a trailer tire pressure monitoring alert. Accessible through the Infotainment 3 system or an app on your smartphone, the highlight of the system is the customizable profiles. This allows you to save details like integrated trailer brake controller settings to a profile so that the next time you hook up a trailer, tuning the truck’s performance to match is push-button easy. The other features make it easier than ever to ensure that your trailer is in tip-top shape and that you don’t forget anything before you hit the road.
With 8 cameras fitted to the exterior, the 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD boasts up to 15 camera views, virtually eliminating blind spots. Hitch and bed views help you line things up just right, check on cargo, or monitor obstacles close to the hitch area. Parking views include split-screen front and rear side views showing where the tires are and top-down views for preventing bumper scratches (or worse).
There are even a half dozen views available while driving! A rearview camera mirror gives a wider field of view, and a front-mounted camera provides a clear display of what’s just out of sight below the hood. The highlight, though, is the accessory trailer camera. Mount it inside the trailer to check on the interior now and then. Mount it on the rear of the trailer to produce the novel “transparent trailer” view that delivers a rearward look “through” the trailer right to the console screen.
The safety of every Chevy driver, their passengers, and everyone around them is paramount, which is why Chevy proudly widens the availability of new and established driver assistance and active safety features year after year. This is exemplified by the expansion of the Safety Confidence Package availability to the 2021 Silverado 3500 HD Work Truck model.
This package is a $615 add-on that includes Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, cruise control, and steering wheel audio controls. A rearview camera is standard on every 2021 Silverado 3500 HD, as is Hitch Guidance, which displays a guideline on the camera display to help line your hitch up to your trailer from the driver’s seat. Teen Driver is also standard, allowing owners to set up driver profiles that limit certain vehicle features and record driving habits for safer operation by student drivers.
The Safety Package is another add-on, available with different costs and accessory features at different trims, built around the following key safety features: Front and Rear Park Assist, Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. At LTZ trim and higher, drivers can also opt for the Safety Package II, adding automatic high beams and a following distance indicator to the Safety Confidence Package benefits. There’s no reason for any Silverado 3500 HD driver to stress about safety, thanks to Chevy’s comprehensive feature packages!