First Test: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD
Race on Sunday, Tow on Monday
As you've surely seen by now, the new 2011 Silverado HD lineup looks a lot like the old one. But don't let that fool you-Chevrolet made several significant changes to its heavy-duty line of trucks, which make the pickups run cleaner, tow more, and allows them to be more capable. The new Silverado 3500HD can tow as much as 21,700 pounds with a payload capacity of 6635 pounds. GM also redesigned the independent front suspension, increasing the front axle weight rating and making all 4WD models snowplow-ready. And with all of the performance, ride, and capability changes for the 2011 model year, we were eager to find out how the new pickups perform. Chevrolet provided us with a four-wheel-drive 2500HD LT extended cab with the 6.0-liter Vortec V-8 and a rear-drive 3500HD LT crew cab dualie with the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel.
The first thing we noticed was how much quieter the cabin was than in past models. Part of that is thanks to the use of hydraulic body mounts under the cab, and part is due to the use of new fully boxed frames. The frames also use more crossmembers, with hydroformed front frame segments. These changes increased bending, torsional, and beaming stiffness and helped reduce vibrations. Another benefit was how much better ride comfort and handling are in the new model. Both trucks have nicely weighted steering, too, making the 2500 and 3500 ride and drive like smaller trucks. However, the cabins of both trucks were definitely less luxury-biased than other heavy-duty models on the market. Styling was pretty boring inside, which is fine for most truck people. For the big-belt-buckle crowd, though, the conservative cabins may prove too bland.
While the 6.0-liter gas engine didn't change all that much (it remains a 360-horsepower, 380-pound-foot V-8), new regulations required a reduction in diesel emissions. GM integrated a selective catalytic reduction aftertreatment system in diesel-powered trucks, which squirts a urea/distilled water mix into the exhaust. The chemical reactions that occur there reduce NOx emissions by 63 percent over those of the 2010 Duramax. GM also increased the 6.6-liter's horsepower to 397 and torque to 765, up by 32 and 105, respectively. These numbers are big improvements, but not as good as the Ford Super Duty's 400 and 800.
At the track, the performance was an interesting mix. The 2500HD gained some weight since the last time we tested it, which was for the 2008 Truck of the Year event. That HD weighed 6068 pounds; the 2011's curb weight was up to 6488. No surprise, then, that the new gas-powered 2500HD reached 60 in 8.3 seconds, as opposed to the 2008's 7.7, and took 16.3 seconds at 86.2 mph to complete the quarter-mile. The 2008 2500HD completed the quarter-mile in 15.9 seconds at 88.0 mph. However, in the case of the turbodiesel, performance improved dramatically, despite a 109-pound as-tested weight gain. (Keep in mind, though, that the 2008 3500HD we tested was a 4WD, while the 2011 was a 2WD.) The 2011 Silverado 3500HD dualie reached 60 mph in a mere 7.0 seconds, significantly faster than the lighter-weight 2011 gas 2500HD and blowing the doors off the previous Silverado HDs. The diesel truck finished the quarter in 15.4 seconds at 87.9 mph. Braking was greatly improved, too; the 2500HD stopped from 60 mph in 145 feet, while the 3500HD only needed 137 feet to stop. (In 2008, the 2500HD stopped from 60 in 160 feet, the 3500HD in 156.) The six-speed automatic's shifts, the Hydra-Matic with the gas and the Allison 1000 for the diesel, proved consistently smooth.
Despite the weight gain, and the new equipment added to adhere to new diesel regulations, the Silverado HD line is faster, more capable, and more comfortable than before-and the diesel is significantly faster. People who are shopping for a truck with hard-core towing and payload capacity would be very happy with these models.
|2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD SRW LT 4WD|
|Drivetrain||Front engine, 4WD|
|Engine||6.0L/360-hp/380-lb-ft OHV V-8|
|Curb weight (dist f/r)||6488 lb (57/43%)|
|Length x width x height||230.6 x 80.0 x 77.8 in|
|0-60 mph||8.3 sec|
|1/4-mile||16.3 sec @ 86.2 mph|
|EPA city/hwy fuel econ||Not rated|
|2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD DRW LT|
|Drivetrain||Front engine, RWD|
|Engine||6.6L/397-hp/765-lb-ft turbodiesel OHV V-8|
|Curb weight (dist f/r)||7681 lb (56/44%)|
|Length x width x height||259.0 x 95.9 x 77.8 in|
|0-60 mph||7.0 sec|
|1/4-mile||15.4 sec @ 87.9 mph|
|EPA city/hwy fuel econ||Not rated|