Later, I also drove a 2500 Crew Cab with the Duramax after we hooked up a 9000-pound travel trailer to the bumper (weight-distributing hitch, of course) and was even more impressed with its performance as it seemed to adjust to the load rather quickly and provided a more nimble ride. It didn't take long at all to forget the trailer was there while cruising along the highways or navigating the back roads and small towns of West Virginia. The only issue we need to be mindful of was our length and width of the roads during corners. We especially liked the fact the Allison transmission continues to offer manual shift capabilities on the column, and found the 1000 plenty smart enough on its own to make proper downshifts early enough to keep us in control yet not too early when coasting over a hilltop. In unloaded testing performed by GM, the new Duramax and Allison combination showed 0-60 mph times to drop by 0.3-seconds, with quarter-mile times dropping by more than 0.5-seconds. We'll find out for ourselves when we get one to test.

Still, we like the focus and enthusiasm the GM engineers have shown with this next-generation execution -- we're guessing this platform will have to last a while. In fact, by not spending the cash needed to more thoroughly redesign the interior and exterior of the pickup, you can expect this foundation to last for at least two or three (maybe more) model upgrades. But, of course, everything depends on what the competition does. By taking the lead in several key categories for HD models (highest conventional towing, highest payload, and most horsepower and torque for a turbodiesel), they've addressed some of the key complaints as Chevy and GMC loyalists have had to sit on the sidelines and watch the competition come out with their new products. It's not the Full Monty but what we've seen, we like.

Bottom Line: If we had to guess how these new HD pickups are going to be received by the marketplace, we'd guess GM is going to be pleased. There is real under-the-skin substance here -- and it's the right kind of substance: more capability, more control, more confidence, and more efficiency. We're guessing truck guys will appreciate that GM put the bulk of the money in all the right places -- frame, suspension, diesel engine, brakes, steering, and towing technology. How that compares to the extensive work done to the new Super Duty and Ram HD remains to be seen, but from where we sit, the race just got tighter. Expect to see a full towing, hauling, and track test with all these impressive trucks in the near future.

The fully-boxed frame (Super Duty and Ram HD are not) is completely computer-designed and all-new, providing 92-percent stronger bending and five times more torsional stiffness. The front frame structure is 125-percent stronger than the previous model.

(Above Right)
The front suspension continues to use torsion bars, but can now offer a snowplow option package on all 4x4 models across the range, from base 2500 HD up to fully loaded 3500 HD Dually.

(Above Left)
Effectively the same rear axle housing in both 2500 HD and 3500 HD configurations as previously used, GM engineers did find a way to shave 35 pounds from the Dually axle, effectively bolstering its payload capacity.

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD 4x4 Extended Cab
Base price $37,600
Vehicle layout Front-engine, 4WD, 6-pass, 4-door pickup
Engine 6.0L/360-hp/380 lb-ft OHV16-valve V-8: 6.6L/397-hp/765 lb-ft OHV 32-valve TD V-8
Transmission 6-speed auto
Curb Weight 6600 (mfr)
Wheelbase 158.1
Length x Width x Height 249.5 x 80.0 x 77.6
0-60 MPH 9.0 (mfr est)
EPA City/Hwy Fuel Econ 12-15/17 (est)
CO2 emissions 1.40 lb/mile (est)
On Sale in U.S. Currently