Cowboy Cadillac: The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado Crew RST 4WD

Five years ago, the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado Crew RST 4WD would have been a truck-owner's dream. It's a good-looking, highly capable truck for on and off-road with a ton of content. None of that can be taken away from it. But what's it like to be a Cowboy Cadillac when the cowboys have started buying Benzes and Bentleys?

Two years ago, RAM set the truck world on its ear by building a pickup so luxurious, so opulent, in its top-level trim, that it was literally a game-changer. This year, Ford has debuted an all-new F-150 that is a clear and on-target response to the threat posed by RAM.

The fundamentals are absolutely there in the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado Crew RST 4WD. There are five engine choices. Standard is a 2.7-liter four-cylinder turbo with 310 horsepower and 348 pounds per foot of torque. Our tester had the optional at extra cost 3.0-liter diesel inline six. Horsepower drops to 277, but torque leaps to 460 pounds per foot. The transmission is a ten-speed automatic. The EPA fuel economy estimate is 22 city/26 highway.

What doesn't it have? Luxury vehicle materials. A huge touchscreen and other epic tech. Make no mistake---the Chevy is a very nice truck---a premium truck. Five years ago, it would have been a stunner. Ten years ago, it might have been considered excessive. The base price for the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado Crew RST 4WD is $46,400. The window sticker is at the end of this review so you can see for yourself, but among the standard equipment highlights are an automatically-locking rear differential, Stabilitrak with trailer sway control and hill-start assist, a trailering package with hitch guidance, dual-zone climate control, a ten-way powered and heated driver's seat and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The touchscreen and switchgear? I first saw it ten years ago in GM products. I'm sure there have been refinements since, but RAM and Ford have leapfrogged them in terms of aesthetics and functionality.

Our tester also had $9,105 in extra-cost options. It's a long list, so I'll refer you to the window sticker at the end of review for specifics. With $1,595 destination charge and a $250 "All-Star Edition Plus" discount, the as-tested price for the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado Crew RST 4WD is $56,950.

That price is a breath of fresh air---made possible by the fact that RST is a mid-level trim. It may seem unfair to compare it to the loaded upper level trim trucks from RAM and Ford that we've reviewed---until you realize that the places where the Silverado is behind are not things that are fixed by moving upstream in trim levels or adding extra-cost options. These are things that are baked into the design of the current-generation Chevy (and GMC) pickups. These are the moments that as an automotive journalist, I struggle. On the one hand, the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado Crew RST 4WD is a perfectly fine truck. I am thrilled to find a well-equipped truck under $60,000 as the competition routinely crowds $70K. But the fundamental fact is that Ford's F-150 stole Chevy's longtime truck leader crown many years ago, and it's gotta be somewhere on the GM bucket list to get that back. Meantime, RAM is jockeying to pass Chevy for second place. Long-term, Chevy needs a game-changer in pickup trucks.

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