If heavy-duty towing and payload are your requirements for a new truck, then a diesel-powered pickup is the way to go. And Chevrolet seems to have won the war on power, torque and towing capability over its competitors.
The 2011 Silverado 2500 HD with new 6.6L Duramax V8 diesel tops the competition with 397-hp and a whopping 765 lb/ft of torque at a low 1,600 rpm (up from 365-hp and 660 lb/ft on 2010s).
While you think diesels are slow and cumbersome, Chevy says he 2500 HD can do 0-60 in less than nine seconds with the standard Allison 6-speed automatic transmission. This power spike translates into a 17,000 pound tow capacity and an increase from 13,000 in 2010.
Need even more capacity for towing a horse trailer or bulldozer? Chevy’s 5th Wheel version is rated for 21,700 pounds, an industry high at the moment.
Silverado HD 2500’s payload has also increased and is now rated for up to 4,192 pounds, or, more than, says Chevy, than Ford’s F-250 or Ram 2500. Its GVW garners a 10,000-pound rating.
A whole host of improvements and upgrades were made on the 2011 2500 HD. The new Duramax gets 11 percent better fuel economy over its predecessor and can run on B20 Biodiesel fuel. It also runs cleaner with 60 percent reduction in NOx emissions.
Then there’s an upgraded front suspension that is now rated for 6,000 pounds (a consideration when attaching a snow plow); the rear suspension now has three-inch wide rear leaf springs; and a new independent front suspension allows each wheel to react independently over rough terrain while keeping each wheel planted on the road.
Offered too as standard is a new exhaust brake system that creates backpressure to slow the vehicle, which reduces brake fade and prolongs brake life. And Auto grade braking automatically downshifts the Allison 6-speed transmission to help slow the truck when you apply the brakes while descending long, steep grades. This is especially important when towing a heavy trailer.
As for its ride, the 2500 HD is surprisingly smooth for a ? ton truck. Shod with LT-285/70R18 Wrangler SR/A tires, the truck rides better than many SUVs. And it rides even better with a load be it mulch or patio pavers. It’s planted and quiet with only a tad of exterior diesel rattle. With the cab windows closed, its hush quiet.
Handling is impressive for a HD. However, the long four-door Crew Cab I tested made parking in a tight spot tough. If there’s one option that was missing, it was the rear view camera system that would not only make for safer backing, but would ease aligning a trailer coupling. That, and a locking tailgate is needed as they have a tendency to get stolen for resale.
Inside the cabin, which requires a high 25.5-inch step-in, the cloth seats were soft, comfy with decent lateral support. With the huge center armrest/console flipped upward, there’s room for a third passenger. All total, six occupants can sit comfortably.
Silverado’s entire décor is sedan-like and all instrumentation is easy to use. Its 4WD system is activated by turning a dash knob for traditional 2H, 4H and 4L settings.
Rear seats too are comfortable and are set at a comfortable angle. Flip the 60/40 seat bottoms up against the bulkhead and there’s ample room tools and gear.
With far too many standard features to list, the options list on my test truck had an interior package costing $745; HD trailering package for $780; On-The-Job Package (bed liner, protectors, hooks), $495; the Duramax diesel, $7,195; 6-speed automatic trans, $1,200; 18-inch forged aluminum wheels, $545; and rear window defogger, $175, that brought the base price of $38,860 to $50,990 including delivery.
The HD 2500 is available in Regular, Extended and Crew Cab models, and in WT, LT and LTZ trim levels. And it comes with steel chromed bumpers. Remember those?
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All photos by the author