When you're literally within weeks of shutting the doors and turning off the lights permanently, tough and painful decisions often have to be made to help the business survive. Not to re-open the wound that was General Motors' bankruptcy and reorganization, but that chapter in the company's history likely has some bearing on how and when the new 2015 HD trucks came to market. You could say the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HDs are now fully all-new.

The Other Half of New

If you've followed the developments in the full-size truck market closely, you'll remember GM's HD trucks got a comprehensive under-the-skin update in 2011, with all-new frames and an updated, more powerful fifth-generation LML Duramax diesel. Only the Vortec 6000 port-injected gas V-8 carried over, and likewise carries over on non-diesel 2015 models. Outwardly, the 2011s looked nearly identical to the 2010 models, including the interior. Those in the know realized the importance of the updates, but those shopping just for the "latest thing" might have walked away disappointed. Well, if you liked the functional upgrades to the HD trucks in 2011, but were hoping for a little more style to go with the substance, your truck is now here.

Do you like the styling on the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1/2-tons? Then you'll probably like the HDs. Aside from a slightly more prominent front grille and bumper, and sitting a little higher on its frame, the styling on the 2015 HDs mirrors that of the 1/2-ton models closely. That includes the interior, which is unequivocally a good thing, with the materials, functionality, and technology being major improvements over the outgoing models. Although we didn't have a 2014 model immediately on hand to compare, the seating height on the 2015 HDs feels lower than last year's models. The higher, more prominent dashboard design could be a factor in that perception as well. While the H-point feels lower than the 2014, this is still one high-riding truck, and it takes a big step up to get in. Rear-seat room on our crew cab tester was exceptionally generous, with three-across rear passengers commenting on the spaciousness.

Duramax Delivers

When the 6.6 Duramax first debuted in 2001, it revolutionized the diesel truck segment, and completely reset expectations for refinement in the class. The competition has since caught up, and arguably slightly surpassed GM for overall refinement, with the Ford Super Duty's 6.7 "Scorpion" Power Stroke having a slightly quieter idle, and even the Ram's 6.7-liter Cummins closing the refinement gap considerably. Although not objectionably loud, there's no mistaking this engine is a diesel, with the characteristic clack clearly audible. Although Ford has done a slightly better job muffling the combustion noise, GM has the edge in terms of muting the turbo whistle and whoosh, which is more noticeable in the Power Stroke. With 765 lb-ft of torque on tap, this 7500-lb truck has no trouble getting up to speed, but throttle response is slightly less than immediate. Lean in to the tall pedal, and once pressure builds, you're wafted away on a tidal wave of torque. Unlike the Ram HD and Super Duty, which are available with multiple axle ratios, the Duramax is offered only with the 3.73 rearend. Seat-of-the-pants, the last Ford F-250 we tested felt a little sprightlier, but the Chevy outran it at the track from zero to 60 by almost a full second, 7.2 seconds, compared with the Ford's 8.0 flat. Braking and handling performance were also respectable for a truck of this size, with a 60-0 stopping distance of 134 feet, and maximum lateral acceleration of 0.70 g. Observed average fuel economy over the course of the week was a highly respectable 15.8 mpg, on par with many midsize SUVs we've tested.

Comfortable, Not Cushy

Whenever describing the ride quality of an HD truck, everything has to be viewed within the context of the class. Truth be told, no HD truck truly has what could be described as a pillowy ride. The 2015 Silverado 2500 is no different. Certain highway expansion joint patterns or small, sharp bumps can be clearly felt, attributable to the necessarily firm suspension to handle the payloads and towing jobs many of these trucks will likely be used for, as well as the 60+ psi tires. A few years ago, GM had a decisive edge over Ram and Ford in this regard. As with NVH isolation, the competition has narrowed the gap considerably. Road noise from the tires is minimal, with the muted clatter of the Duramax being the predominant auditory signature. One subjective area we prefer the GM trucks is steering weight, with effort being reassuringly, but not annoyingly heavy, like a firm handshake. At lower speeds, the Ford feels overboosted in comparison, and a little dartier and more nervous at higher speeds.

All of the HD models from the Detroit Three are capable trucks, and can be optioned up to lavish levels with features and trim. But whereas Ford and Ram have arguably gone over the top with their styling, GM has gone for the more restrained treatment. Some could see the styling on the new HD trucks as too conservative, but to others, it's tastefully restrained. If you like your HD capability and comfort without the cowboy filigree and foot-wide grille badge, the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD is the truck to get.


2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD LTZ
BASE PRICE $49,325
PRICE AS TESTED $61,310
VEHICLE LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD, 6-pass, 4-door pickup
ENGINE 6.6L/397-hp/765-lb-ft turbodiesel 32-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST) 7500 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE 153.7 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 239.5 x 80.5 x 78.2 in
0-60 MPH 7.2 sec
QUARTER MILE 15.6 sec @ 86.8 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 134 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.70 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT 29.5 sec @ 0.55 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON N/A