Test Drive: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab trucks car test drives reviews auto articles chevrolet
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab. Click image to enlarge

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Chevrolet Silverado HD on Autos.ca

Manufacturer’s web site
General Motors Canada

Review and photos by Jil McIntosh

Photo Gallery:
2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD

If there’s anything General Motors has learned from the tough times it faced in the past, it’s that you need to spend the money where it counts. So while the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD (heavy-duty) is a new model, you’ll probably say it doesn’t look much different from the 2010 version, apart from a new domed hood and chrome bumpers. That’s because the cash was channelled into the stuff that really matters on a heavy-duty: beefier frame, stronger suspension and more diesel power. It worked: the new model was named Motor Trend’s Truck of the Year for 2011.

The 6.0-litre gasoline V8 carries over, making 360 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque, but my tester was powered by the big news, a new 6.6-litre Duramax turbodiesel producing 397 horsepower and 765 lb.-ft. of torque. The block is the same as last year’s oil-burner, a 6.6-litre making 365 horsepower and 660 lb.-ft. of twist, but the guts are new, providing more power, quieter operation, and what GM says is improved fuel economy. We’ll have to take the company’s word on it, since the 2500 HD is large enough that published fuel figures aren’t available, but I noticed a considerable difference between this truck and one I’d driven in the past.

Test Drive: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab trucks car test drives reviews auto articles chevrolet
Test Drive: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab trucks car test drives reviews auto articles chevrolet
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab. Click image to enlarge

When Chevrolet first announced that new 765-torque benchmark – and the Detroit Three keep that magic number quiet to the absolute last second – the company leapfrogged over Dodge, which had revealed 650 lb.-ft. for its Ram Heavy-Duty, and Ford, which had subsequently grabbed bragging rights with the Super Duty’s 735 lb.-ft. It turned goofy after that as the Torque Wars started, with Ford retrofitting an upgrade to 800 lb.-ft. Ram countered, also going to 800 lb.-ft. and announcing a 10,296-kg (22,700-pound) towing capacity with its “High-Output Cummins.” (Heavy-duty trucks are strictly domestic; none of the Japanese automakers offer anything larger than a half-ton.)

Suffice to say that once it gets up into that territory, it’s about measurement all right, but the tape measure is assessing something other than the truck. The diesel Silverado 2500 and single-rear-wheel 3500 will tow a maximum of 5,897 kg (13,000 lbs), while the dual-wheel 3500 will go as high as 7,711 kg (17,000 lbs) on a ball hitch. For a fifth-wheel, you’re looking at a maximum of 8,074 kg (17,800) with single wheels and 9,843 kg (21,700 lbs) with the 3500 dually. Of course, it isn’t so much the pulling power, since a truck can haul just about anything. At a Ford demonstration event I pulled almost 36,000 kg of construction equipment; the problem was that I couldn’t have stopped it. Towing and payload are really all about braking and handling, and if you’re genuinely moving the highest possible numbers around on a regular basis, it’s probably time to start prowling the lots for used versions of the now-defunct Chevrolet Kodiak and GMC Topkick.