GMC’s introduction of the company’s all-new Sierra HD was nothing short of impressive. We learned a lot about the new suite of advanced trailering technology that will be found in GM’s new line of 2020 model year HD pickups, and even watched as a Sierra 3500HD pulled a staggering 225,000-pound yacht-and-hoist combo across the stage besting Toyota’s Space Shuttle stunt from a few years back. However, other than an overview of styling and tech many of our deepest technical questions were left unanswered. Until now…
Best In Class
Unless you’ve been in hiding or on a technology-free sabbatical to a South American jungle for the past decade you should be well aware of the battle raging in the ¾ and 1-ton pickup realm. There is fighting on two fronts: engine power and towing capability. GM has historically taken a more conservative stance, letting the “others” fight amongst themselves. However, with the introduction of the L5P Duramax diesel engine for the 2017 model year GM bested the competition in horsepower, 445, for the first time. Seeing a newfound attitude emerging we knew it wouldn’t be long until they went after the top towing spot as well.
| 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD HighCountry 010
With the introduction of the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD GM has done just that. When properly equipped, a Duramax-powered Silverado 3500HD in a two-wheel drive, regular-cab, dual-rear-wheel configuration can tow a maximum of 35,500 pounds. And this figure meets the stringent SAE J2807 test specifications to boot. The new high water mark for towing capability is a whopping 52 percent increase over the previous generation’s maximum of 23,300 pounds. Also worth noting, all dual-real wheel configurations will be rated to tow more than 30,000 pounds. And when paired with the all-new gasoline engine the same two-wheel drive, regular-cab, dual-rear-wheel Silverado can haul up to 7,466 pounds of payload.
Wait, There’s a New Gas Engine?
Also introduced with the 2020 Silverado HD was an all-new 6.6L direct-injected gasoline engine. The new 6.6L gasser replaces the stalwart 6.0L that’s powered these trucks for decades. This new engine features direct-injection for precise fuel control, a cast iron block for long-term durability, and aluminum heads. Compression ratio is bumped to 10.8:1; the rotating assembly uses forged steel crankshaft and forged powder-metal rods; and the additional displacing over the outgoing engine comes by way of a longer stroke. All of this works together to churn out 401 horsepower and a stump-pulling 464 lb-ft of torque. That’s 21 percent more twist than the outgoing engine, and is best in class for ¾ and 1-ton gasoline engines. The 6.6L gasoline engine is paired with GM’s 6L90 six-speed automatic transmission.
One of the first bits of information offered about the 2020 Silverado HD was the fact that the established L5P Duramax diesel engine would carry over, however it would now be backed by the GM and Allison co-developed 10-speed automatic transmission. The Allison 10L1000, as it’s dubbed, is a key element in the truck’s ability to tow the massive amount of weight that it’s now able to.
Coupled with driveline improvements, which include larger and more robust front and rear axles; an 11.5-inch ring gear on 2500 models and 12-inch on 3500s; and 30-percent larger driveshafts, the truck is able to use all of the Duramax engine’s 910 lb-ft of torque in first gear. Gone are the days of managing torque output to preserve driveline components.
With more gears and closer ratios the new Allison 10-speed should enhance the overall driving dynamic and trailering experience with smoother gear changes thanks to the shorter steps between each one. This transmission also enables the use of smart engine braking, which in turn aides in reducing wear on components such as service brakes. Also enabled by the new transmission is the ability to drop to a numerically lower axle gear ratio, with 3.42:1 being standard. This reduces engine speed, which enhances refinement.
Factory-integrated, engine-driven, Power Take Off (PTO) is available with the Allison 10-speed, eliminating the need for an aftermarket unit. This is the first fully integrated PTO system of its kind in the HD truck segment, with the PTO’s drive gear operated via chain to direct engine power. And because it is engine-driven rather than turbine-driven, owners can use the PTO while the vehicle is idling.
Bigger Is Better
In addition to a new Allison transmission, new 6.6L gasoline engine, and taking the crown for best-in-class towing the new Silverado HD has also grown in nearly every dimension. Comparing crew-cab short-bed models, Silverado HD’s wheelbase has been lengthened 5.2 inches, overall length is 10.4 inches longer, overall width gains 1.4 inches, height goes up 1.6 inches, and rear track width extends by an inch. Helping to cool the Duramax engine is a massive 28-inch fan, which is 2 inches larger than the outgoing model. The signature hood scoop is now larger on Duramax models, as is the grille opening for increased airflow through the cooling stack. Crew Cab models also add three inches to the cab size for impressive legroom and occupant comfort.
| 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD HighCountry 011
The standard bed length has also increased to 6 feet 9 inches, adding 8.6 cubic feet of cargo volume. Long-bed models gain half-an-inch of length and 7.1 cubic feet of volume thanks to application of Chevy’s new Durabed, which was first seen on 2019 1500 models. For easier access bed lift-in height has been reduced nearly an inch across the lineup and the side rails have been lowered by about half-an-inch.
Speaking of Durabed, the new Silverado HD’s bed now features an innovative bedside step, 12 fixed tie down locations, the ability to add nine additional tie downs, an available 120-volt power outlet, and an available power lift and lower tailgate.
Tech For Towing
We dove deep into the suite of towing technology coming to GM’s HD pickups for 2020 when we saw the Sierra HD, so for Silverado we’ll just give a brief overview and refer you back to the Sierra piece if more is desired. Visibility is pivotal to an improved trailering experience and the new Silverado HD features up to 15 different camera views including surround view, bed view, and an industry first transparent trailer view.
The powerful in-vehicle trailering app returns and is now accessible from the myChevrolet mobile app. An enhanced Tow/Haul mode remains engaged on the next key-on cycle, for up to four hours and includes a reminder that the feature is engaged. Also available are auto park brake assist, park grade hold assist, an enhanced integrated trailer brake controller, trailer sway control, auto grade braking and diesel exhaust braking, and enhanced digital variable steering assist.
The 2020 Silverado HD also includes a VIN-specific trailering information label that clearly lists the truck’s specific trailering metrics including curb weight, gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), gross combined weight rating (GCWR), max payload, max tongue weight, gross axle weight rating (GAWR) and fifth wheel and gooseneck ratings. This feature has yet to be matched by the competition.
It’s In The Details
We could spend days recounting the innumerous small details that have gone into creating the newest generation of Silverado HD. Instead of getting bogged down in the details we’ll hit the high points. Those in cold climates will appreciate that the engine block heater plug has been relocated and is now integrated into the front bumper. With this setup there are no more dangling cords or popping the hood to plug the heater in.
Everyone that’s filled a previous generation Silverado with diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) will appreciate that the fill location has been moved from under the hood to next to the fuel filler. And a new digital gauge is available in the driver information center to keep you apprised of the tank’s level.
New trailering mirrors are larger and more useful than ever before. They now feature power fold and telescope, incorporate a new forward-facing spot lamp, along with housing two rear facing spots as they did before and the side view cameras.
A new Autotrac two-speed transfercase automatically controls a “4-Auto” setting previously only found on 1500 models. This mode allows the transfercase to seamlessly transition between two-wheel and four-wheel high range as conditions warrant.
And the design of the new 2020 Silverado HD is the most unique from light duty in Silverado’s history. The only sheet metal shared between the two is the roof.
Five Distinctive Personalities
The 2020 Silverado HD will be available in five different trim levels, with three cab options, two bed lengths, and with the option of single or dual-rear-wheel on 3500 models. Included in the trim walk are Work Truck, Custom, LT, LTZ, and High Country. Only High Country receives a gold Chevy bowtie on the front grille, with the other four trims wearing the new flow-through CHEVROLET lettering. Wheel sizes range from 17 to 20-inch, and from steel to high-polish aluminum. LED lighting is available on LTZ and High Country, while Custom trades chrome for body color accents exclusively on 2500.
Inside, the Silverado HD offers a roomier, more spacious, work-focused cabin with class-leading front head and legroom while also offering more innovative storage options. A higher seating position complements the truck’s taller profile and an available head-up display keeps the driver informed while keeping eyes on the road. A new infotainment system houses the new trailering app system along with supporting SiriusXM’s next-generation user experience, 360L.
Better Than The Rest
Best in class claims are a hallmark of the pickup industry, and nobody is immune from it. Aside from having the highest towing, 400 pounds more than Ram’s 2019 3500, Chevy also has a sizeable list of features not claimed by the competition. These include a 10-speed transmission with factory integrated PTO, an automatic 2-speed transfercase, most bed volume, power lift and lower tailgate, bed-mounted 120-volt outlet, cargo box integrated steps, head-up display, 15 camera views, and a VIN-specific trailer label. Also interesting, tow mirrors are standard, which apparently is not the case for the competition.
Claims aren’t worth more than the paper they are written on: talk is cheap. That said we’re excited to drive, and tow with, the all-new 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD. If everything Chevy has told us about the company’s new working class pickup is true it’s going to be very hard to beat. And we’re excited to see that Chevy has broken away from the conservative practices of old and have taken the spot at the top of the class.