Chevrolet’s Silverado is a heavy hauler.

Story Bruce McMahon

The Chevrolet Silverado is a mighty big ute and it will do a mighty big amount of work.

The four-door, four-wheel-drive Silverado 2500HD weighs around 3.5 tonnes and extends six metres long on an old-fashioned ladder-frame chassis. With a big diesel V8 up front, the Chev will carry up to eight tonnes and tow 4.5 tonnes. 

This American ute, or pick-up, is a common workhorse in its home country like its rivals the Ford F-250 or Dodge Ram; all continue to be big sellers in the United States. Yet there’s a market here in Australia, too. There are people who need a large and tough truck-like ute for all manner of jobs – from hauling horse floats to carting construction crews. Some like these machines for big-time recreation, towing caravans or trailering boats.

So Queensland-based Performax International has created a solid business from converting these left-hand drive vehicles to right-hand drive. Based in Gympie, around two hours’ north of Brisbane, Performax began as a niche firm converting Chevrolet Corvette sports cars in 1989; growing demand for American pick-ups saw that morph into an extensive operation converting Silverados, Ford F-250s, GMC Denalis, Dodge Rams and Toyota Tundras to Australian needs.

The company now has extensive expertise in this area and it is difficult to see – or feel – that the Performax Chevrolet Silverado was not factory built as a right-hand drive machine.

There is a mass of metal here, much of it squared-off panels with splashes of chrome to add touches of style. The grille is imposing but those 20-inch (50-centimetre) wheels look a tad undersized for the Chevrolet and deliver 24.5cm of ground clearance. It is a lot of vehicle to handle around town, yet aside from leaving enough room when pulling back after overtaking, quite stress-free on an open highway. It also appreciates extra room between the trees when in the bush.

Up in the cabin, all controls and instruments fall to hand with ease. There is little complication here, even with the Allison six-speed automatic being controlled by a gearshift on the steering column and the park brake operated by the left foot. In this 4WD version of the Silverado there is a dashboard rotary switch for four-high and four-low on the right, perhaps a little close to the headlight switch until familiar with the layout.

Standard convenience equipment for the Chevrolet includes Bluetooth connectivity, dual zone air-conditioning, Bose stereo system, trip computer and 10-way power adjustments for the driver and front passenger’s leather-clad seats. The satellite-navigation system works through Apple or Android devices.

A driver sits high and handsome, with the big bonnet stretching out in front and tonnes of head, shoulder and elbow room for all. Visibility ahead and to the sides is good; care needs to be taken to allow for the length and breadth of the Silverado, and those twin exterior mirrors – one for distance and another for close work sitting on top of each other – may need time to appreciate.

What is appreciated is the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD’s enormous grunt. The 6.6-litre turbocharged diesel V8 puts out 296kW at 3000rpm and 1037Nm at a handy 1600rpm, all of this delivered with surprising smoothness through the auto transmission. This powertrain allows the pick-up to get off the line as smartly as most passenger cars and to overtake with ease; plus there’s that carrying and towing ability. The Duramax V8 should deliver around 15 litres per 100 kilometres with a steady cruise; working the Silverado would see that consumption grow. (The next Silverado will boast more than 300kW and 1200Nm.)

On good bitumen, the Chevrolet is an easy cruiser. Once roads turn ragged, a driver needs to steady up, for this is a heavy-duty ute, with the suspension here more suited to work than play. The independent front end and leaf-sprung rear axle also need patience on rough bush tracks when the big American is unladen; load it up for a more settled ride. Helping out on the open road or bush tracks are the Silverado’s stability control, traction control, roll avoidance system and trailer-sway control. 

The Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD is a large and expensive machine. Yet there are few vehicles here – aside from American cousins such as Ford’s F-250 – that offer this much working ability with reasonable comfort and road manners.

Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, four-door, 4WD ute is priced from $115,000. For more information phone 1800 737 367 or go to

This story excerpt is from Issue #115

Outback Magazine: October/November 2017