2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD. Click image to enlarge

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2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD

Kananaskis, Alberta – When a vehicle manufacturer introduces a substantially revised truck, such as the 2011 Chevrolet and GMC heavy duty pickups, it doesn’t go over very well to start off by saying “our truck is nearly as good as the competition.”

No, that would not do at all.

The words that marketers want to use are ‘class-leading’, ‘best-in-class’, ‘segment-best’ and, well, you get the picture – clear leadership in the heavy duty truck market backed up by the right numbers to prove your leadership.

And for a while, the new trucks from the General had the goods to best the competition: a new Duramax 6.6-litre diesel engine that generates a “segment-leading” 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque, “segment-best” fifth-wheel towing capability of 9,843 kg (21,700 lbs), “segment-leading” conventional trailer tow rating of 7,711 kg (17,000 lbs) and “segment-leading” payload capacity of 3,009 kg (6,635 lbs).

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD. Click image to enlarge

A short while, that is. Three days after driving the new segment-leading GM trucks, Ford issued a press release stating that its 6.7-Litre Power Stroke diesel is now rated at a “best-in-class” 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque! And to appease those Ford buyers who had already purchased an F-350 Super Duty for its “best-in-class” power only to be overtaken by GM’s “segment-leading” power, Ford will upgrade all 2011 Super Duty diesel pickups to the new standard with a free software adjustment to the truck’s powertrain control module.

Ford also announced plans, going forward, to boost maximum payload and fifth-wheel towing to “best-in-class” levels with higher strength steel in the truck’s frame.

But that will take more than a software tweak and for now, the kings of towing and hauling are the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD and GMC Sierra 3500 HD.

One thing is certain: stronger, tougher, more comfortable and more fuel-efficient trucks are welcome to anyone who spends the majority of their working day behind the wheel of a pickup. And the 2011 Silverado and Sierra HD trucks are all of those things.

2011 GMC Sierra 2500 HD
2011 GMC Sierra 2500 HD. Click image to enlarge

The big changes for 2011 begin with an all new chassis that is fully boxed from end to end with stronger cross sections and more high-strength steel. The fully boxed sections enhance torsional stiffness by a factor of five. Also, larger engine and transmission mounts, coupled with a much stiffer front frame structure, provide greater vibration control.

GM’s short-long arm/torsion bar independent front suspension has been retained, but changes to the design are significant. The new front suspension now features forged steel upper control arms that are stronger and lighter than their predecessors and lower control arms that are made of precision-machined cast iron to handle greater loads. Five different torsion bar rates support five different front gross axle weight ratings (a single torsion bar was previously used for all models). This helps stabilize the range of trim heights of various models under load, while enhancing appearance, handling, durability, tire wear and alignment. The trim height is adjusted on each bar via a single bolt, easily allowing the height to be changed to account for the weight of a snow plough or other accessories.

The new front suspension system offers up to 25 per cent greater front axle weight rating – up to 2,721 kg (6,000 lbs) front gross axle weight rating (FGAWR) – so a snow plough can be used on all 4WD cab configurations with the available snow plough prep package.

2011 GMC Sierra 2500 HD
2011 GMC Sierra 2500 HD. Click image to enlarge

A new rear suspension design featuring wider asymmetrical leaf springs helps minimize axle hop and enhances traction control. The larger leaf spring design supports increased rear gross axle weight ratings across all HD models, from 2,818 kg (6,200 lbs), up from 2,765 kg (6,084) on 2500 series models, to 3,204 kg (7,050 lbs) on single-rear-wheel models and 4,261 kg (9,375 lbs) on dual-rear-wheel models (previously 3,727 kg/8,200 lbs).

The stronger frame, and front and rear suspensions help give the Silverado and Sierra HD pickups some big capabilities: 7,727 kg (17,000 lbs) conventional towing capacity, 9,843 kg (21,700 lbs) fifth wheel towing capacity with the 3500HD crew cab/long box model and a maximum payload (3500 HD) of 3,009 kg (6,635 lbs).

Bigger loads require better brakes and controls to safely manage the weights being carried or towed and GM’s 2011 trucks have got that too. Larger 355 mm (14 inch) front and rear rotors, stiffer calipers and four wheel anti-lock brakes – four-channel on single-rear-wheel models, three-channel on dual-rear-wheel models – along with revised hydroboost brake booster calibration provide reduced pedal effort and smoother, more immediate and confident-feeling brake performance.

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