Chevy 1500HD: The First 1500 Silverado Crew Cab Was Weird but Cool
All you need to know about this heavy half-ton unicorn.
When we saw an early Crew Cab Chevy Silverado truck with 1500HD badging on its door, we supposed we were seeing things. When we started checking the door badging on other Chevy trucks we saw on the road, we were astounded to see more of these Chevy 1500HD trucks cruising our local streets. Then our minds were blown when we saw a 1500HD Quadrasteer truck towing a travel trailer. We told the tale of our 1500HD spottings in the pages of 8-Lug HD Truck magazine, and much to our surprise—or not—our inboxes exploded with proud, enthusiastic 1500HD owners telling the story of their unicorn 1500HDs. Our eyes had been opened to a whole world of Chevy 1500HD fanatics, and we're still getting emails about these rare trucks.
What is a 1500HD?
It was Chevrolet and GMC's smallest heavy-duty truck, labeled as a -ton pickup and offered from 2001-2006. It was a heavy -ton, kind of like the modern-day Nissan Titan XD, tailored to customers who wanted more towing capacity without stepping up to the rougher-riding -ton or 1-ton classes. Its 1/2-ton competition would have been the Ford F-150 SuperCrew equipped with a Max Trailer Tow Package or the Dodge Quad Cab.
We collected a few fun facts about GM's heavy-duty -ton truck of the early 2000s in a quest to find out what made it such a special mashup, a jack of all trades, that was labeled as a -ton but identified more with its -ton brethren.
What's the difference between a 1500 and 1500HD?
Model Years Offered: The Chevy Silverado 1500HD was offered from model years 2001 through 2006—minus 2004, when the nameplate took a hiatus. Apparently there was a 2007 Silverado 1500HD Classic, as well. Whereas the Silverado 1500 took root in 1999 and continues today, the days of the Silverado 1500HD are long gone.
One Configuration: The two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive 1500HD was offered exclusively in a four-door Crew Cab with the 6.6-foot box. That was a big deal since the Silverado 1500 didn't get the four-door Crew Cab until model year 2004 (when the 1500HD nameplate took a year off). And when the 1500 did get a Crew Cab in 2004, it was mated to a 5.7-foot bed and not the 6.6-foot bed.
Lacking a Crew Cab in 2001 was problematic for GM since its competitors were coming out with larger-cabbed, full four-door trucks, including the SuperCrew F-150 in 2001 and the Quad Cab Ram 1500 in 2002. Basically, the 1500HD was a shortcut for GM to enter the four-door -ton market with essentially a long-ish bed Crew Cab "1500".
The Chevy 1500HD's 153-inch wheelbase is about 10 inches longer than the 1500's Extended Cab, 6.6-foot bed wheelbase at 143.5 inches. The Crew Cab offers about five inches of additional rear leg room compared to the Extended Cab and came with the added perk of two additional traditional doors. To help with maneuvering its longer wheelbase trucks, GM offered Quadrasteer, a four-wheel steering system, on its 2002 through 2005 full-size trucks and 2500 HD SUVs. These rear-steer trucks could be recognized by their bulging rear fenders.
One Engine and Transmission: The Chevy 1500HD's only engine offering is the beefy 6.0-liter V-8 that makes 300 hp at 4,400 rpm and 360 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm. This engine wasn't offered in the 1500 trucks at the time; 1500 engine offerings were the 4.3-liter V-6, 4.8-liter V-8, and 5.3-liter V-8. The 6.0-liter V-8 was part of the 2500HD engine lineup, along with the 6.6-liter Duramax and 8.1-liter V-8. The 1500HD's transmission is the 4L80E four-speed automatic.
More Capacity: The Chevy 1500HD retaines various aspects of the 1500—including the -ton hood appearance, non-tow side mirrors, lower ground clearance, semi-floating rear axle, and the transfer case with AUTO 4WD—while adding just a little more grunt to its hauling and towing capacity thanks to its detuned 2500 chassis and 2500 running gear. The 1500HD is an 8-lug truck, not 6-lug, and apparently has the same brake pads as the 2500HD.
The 2001 1500HD can tow (about 10,000 pounds vs. 9,600 pounds) and haul (3,321 pounds vs. 1,624 pounds) more than the 2001 1500 Extended Cab. And thanks to its beefier engine, chassis and cab, its curb weight dwarfs the 1500 Extended Cab by over 1,000 pounds. The GVWR of the Chevy 1500HD is about 8,600 pounds, while an Extended Cab 1500 is about 6,400 pounds. As another comparison—but not available until 2004—the 2004 Silverado 1500 Crew Cab has a curb weight of 5,244 pounds (about 600 pounds less than the 2005 1500HD), GVWR of 7,000 pounds, payload of 1,756 pounds (2,754 for the 2005 1500HD), and max towing capacity of 8,500 pounds (7,900 for the 2005 1500HD, interestingly). These specs varied per model year and configuration .
Conclusion: Was the Chevy 1500HD a true -ton truck? By the numbers, no, not quite. Was the 1500HD a true 1/2-ton truck? By the numbers, the 1500HD is more akin to its bigger 2500 brother. It definitely blurs the line, and contradicting information abounds.
No matter its classification, the 1500HD was an oddball Chevy; the GMC version was even more rare. Rare, oddball trucks are perfect for customization because they come from the factory already unique and distinguishable from most of the generic trucks on the road. If you keep your eyes open for the 1500HD, you're likely to spot some now. You're welcome.