Getting past old perceptions can be tough. That's an especially big challenge when it comes to diesels-modern diesel cars and trucks don't spit out black smoke, and don't make a lot of rattling noise. So you can't really tell when a quiet, clean diesel is next to you on the road. The only diesels that stand out on the highway are the ones from 30- something years ago-and they're light years behind in technology.
But owners of the new, clean diesels are the ones who benefit, and they can change perceptions. We have tested out several diesels in the Truck Trend long-term fleet and are looking forward to our latest: a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD. And yes, our 2011 Truck of the Year is powered by the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel.
Our four-wheel-drive crew cab LTZ has the Z85 towing and handling suspension package, with heavy-duty shocks and front anti-roll bar, plus a full towing package and tow mirrors. This combination means the truck can do just about everything we'll need it to, whether carrying 2800 pounds of payload, conventionally towing 13,000 pounds, or transporting five people around in comfort, with leather heated seats, dual-zone climate control, touch-screen nav/XM/AM/FM/CD/iPod entertainment center, and more. Of course, all these amenities mean the truck's bottom line is steep-our long-termer has an as-tested price of $58,593.
Early impressions have been mostly positive. Editors have praised the comfortable cabin, with associate editor Scott Evans exclaiming, "I love these big, plush seats. They make me want to hook up a horse trailer and head off to the county fair...in Texas." Staffers also enjoy the torquey (765 pound-feet!) engine. And when you start the diesel up, it's quiet. Very quiet. Downsides? It's a big truck, and its turning radius isn't stellar (50.5 feet), especially when compared with our long-term Ram Heavy Duty 2500, which was also a crew cab shortbed (43.9 feet). It's not as easy to maneuver around town, and it has a firm ride.
Will the Duramax's quiet disposition and interior comfort win over non-truck people? How will the Silverado HD feel while doing hard work? Will the rising price of fuel be a problem? We have a year to find out.
| Our Cars |
| Base price || $45,055 |
| Price as tested || $58,593 |
| Vehicle layout || Front engine, 4WD, 5 pass, 4-door truck |
| Engine || 6.6L/397-hp/ 765-lb-ft turbodiesel OHV 32-valve V-8 |
| Transmission || 6-speed automatic |
| Curb weight (f/r dist) || 7417 lb (60/40%) |
| Wheelbase || 153.7 in |
| Length x width x height || 240.1 x 80.0 x 78.3 in |
| 0-60 mph || 7.7 sec |
| Quarter mile || 16.0 sec @ 87.7 mph |
| Braking, 60-0 || 156 ft |
| Lateral acceleration || 0.69 g (avg) |
| MT figure eight || 30.4 sec @ 0.51 g (avg) |
| EPA city/hwy fuel econ || Not rated |
| Energy cons, city/hwy || 246 kW-hrs/100 mi (MT observed) |
| CO2 emissions || 1.62 lb/mi (MT observed) |
| Total mileage || 1365 mi |
| Average fuel econ || 13.7 mpg |