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  • We Tow Heavy With A 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD

We Tow Heavy With A 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD

Making Good For Daily Driving Chevy’s Heavy-Hauling Dually

Oct 6, 2020
If you recall back to the beginning of September, the fine folks at Chevrolet reached out to us and asked if we wanted to drive the company's massively impressive 2020 Silverado 3500HD single cab dually. This is the truck that's rated at the company's maximum towing capability of 35,500 pounds (Chevy also held the title of highest towing ability for the better part of the first half of 2020). After giving a very enthusiastic "Yes!" we were asked what we planned to tow with the truck. A fair question, indeed. However, at the time, the truck didn't come with either a fifth-wheel or gooseneck trailer hitch.
So, both KJ Jones and I spent a week with the powerhouse of a tow rig and did little more than daily drive the truck. You can read those here and here. After reading our reviews, the fine folks at Chevrolet once again reached out to us. This time they wanted us to really experience what the truck is truly capable of. A plan was hatched, and a gooseneck hitch kit was shipped out to us.
We intended to load the truck up to the maximum, a full 35,500 pounds of trailer weight. Because neither KJ nor I possess a commercial driver's license (we're working on fixing that as we speak) we needed to call in outside help. Phil Morris has been driving professionally for more than a decade and agreed to help us with our experiment. To make the weight, we requested a "hot-shot" car hauler trailer that would be able to hold three pickups. We were assured this wouldn't be an issue and proceeded to queue up a 2020 Silverado 1500 RST, 2020 Silverado 1500 Custom Trail Boss, and a 2021 Colorado ZR2 Bison. The plan also involved loading these trucks to their maximum payload with ballast. By our calculations, this would have gotten us above 35,000 pounds when combined with the trailer weight.
Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. The trailer that arrived with both too short and too light duty (the GVWR of the trailer was about 10,000 pounds short of what we had intended) to achieve what we had planned to do. Being the resilient folks that we are, we forged ahead anyway and made do with the lemons that were dealt. We were forced to park the Colorado ZR2 Bison and instead loaded the beds of the two Silverado pickups with a touch more than their rated payload in concrete to make up the weight of losing the Colorado.
Photo 2/38   |   001b Towing Heavy With 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500hd Dually
With the pair of trucks loaded on the trailer, we crossed the scales at a combined weight of 30,025 pounds. The Silverado 3500HD had a curb weight of 7,650 pounds, which put our trailer weight right at 22,375 pounds. Although it was not quite the maximum the truck could tow, it was a pretty fair weight, nonetheless. For the record, the 2020 Silverado 3500HD in question had a GCWR of 43,500 pounds and a payload rating of 6,350 pounds. We already know with a gooseneck hitch it could tow 35,500 pounds, but with a fifth-wheel, it's capable of 32,000 pounds and can tow 20,000 pounds with a conventional hitch.
With the trailer loaded up and our professional driver behind the wheel, we headed north on the 405 freeway from our Truck Trend World Headquarters toward one of toughest grades California has to offer, the infamous Grapevine. Officially known as the Tejon Pass, this stretch of Interstate 5 separates Los Angeles from California's Central Valley. What makes the pass so intense for truckers is its reported 6 percent grade that continues for a punishing five miles. Known as the "Truck Killer," this grade would be the perfect proving ground for our loaded Silverado.
After making the 200-mile run up and over the Grapevine, and back again, Phil gave us some great insights into how the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD performed and how he thought it worked compared to all of the other trucks that he had driven (Phil tows over the Grapevine several times each week). One of Phil's first comments was how the truck handled the weight of the load very well. The suspension was actually quite smooth and very controlled. Power from the 6.6L Duramax diesel engine was found to be phenomenal, providing Phil with enough pulling power to easily maintain 60 mph or greater on even the steepest part of the grade. There were several times when semi-truck traffic slowed the Silverado to less than 40 mph, and Phil was able to easily merge and pass the slower traffic, while going uphill.
Phil reported to us that the new Allison 10-speed automatic transmission shifted perfectly and never did anything that would draw attention. On the steepest grades the transmission would shift between one or two gears, but Phil couldn't tell us which gears these were as Chevy doesn't provide an indication of which gear the transmission is currently in (a gripe we've had for some time).
Photo 3/38   |   001a Towing Heavy With 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500hd Dually
Heading back down the grade was a non-issue as well. With the exhaust brake engaged (via the dash-mounted button) the engine slowed the truck to 41 mph without ever touching the service brakes and held it there. Phil actually had to apply throttle while going downhill to overcome the exhaust brake and maintain speed. With cruise control activated along with the exhaust brake, the truck had no issue maintaining the set speed other than occasionally slowing too much.
When it comes to living with the 2020 Silverado 3500HD, we asked Phil to describe the comfort level of the interior. His answer was a bit surprising to us when he said, "It's almost a luxury truck." This speaks volumes to all the work Chevrolet has put in to make the new Silverado both quiet and comfortable even in the lowest Work Truck trim. Phil went on to say that there was almost nothing in the way of road, wind, or engine noise inside the cab. When asked if Phil would consider buying this truck his answer was an enthusiastic "in a heartbeat!" He did say, however, that it would have to be black or white instead of the Red Hot color that was delivered to us.
Although we're still a bit disappointed that we didn't make the full 35,500 pounds (hey Chevy, let's try again soon, OK? ) we ended the day quite pleased with the testing that we had accomplished (lemonade out of lemons, or something like that). The 2020 Silverado 3500HD far outperformed the expectations of not only our staff but also our hired professional driver. The truck pulled one of the toughest grades and barely broke a sweat. If we need to find something to complain about, it would be the fact that this Work Truck model truck didn't come equipped with the full suite of trailering camera technology, which is really quite wonderful. We would have loved to use the hitch view camera while hooking up along with the other views while on the road. We also aren't super fond of the regular cab truck's relatively small 26-gallon fuel tank. With 22,000 pounds in tow, we averaged 7.09 mpg. At this rate, the truck would have a theoretical maximum range of less than 200 miles per tank, which is painfully low for professional drivers like Phil.
At the end of the day, the 2020 Silverado 3500HD is a darn impressive truck. Although we've already proven it doesn't make the most practical daily driver, for those looking to haul super heavy loads on the regular, it's a hard bargain to beat.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD

Base price: $36,500
Price as tested: $51,175
Engine: 6.6L Duramax diesel V-8
Transmission: 10-speed Allison Automatic
Horsepower: 445 @ 2,800 RPM
Torque: 910 lb-ft @ 1,600 RPM
Towing capacity: 35,500 pounds (gooseneck)
EPA fuel economy rating: N/A
Actual calculated economy, 187.3-mile trip: 7.09 mpg

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