The Big Three are serious about the big-pickup market, with each manufacturer recently introducing upgraded heavy-duty trucks. The latest is Chevrolet’s 2011 Silverado Heavy Duty.
Chevy truck execs say this is a capable pickup for die-hard truckers. It’s the “heavier-duty heavy duty,” said Chevrolet General Manager Jim Campbell. This pickup, which Campbell said is built for hard-working Americans who depend on trucks daily for their livelihood, will go on sale this summer (pricing to be announced near the on-sale date).
Chevy’s 2011 Silverado Heavy-Duty lineup includes 11 models of the 2500HD and eight single- and dual-rear-wheel 3500HD models; Regular, Extended and Crew Cab configurations; WT, LT and LTZ trim levels; and two- or four-wheel drive. An added model is the 3500HD Crew Cab with a 6.5-foot cargo box. Silverado HDs also are available with standard (6.5-foot) and long (8-foor) cargo boxes.
“The 2011 Silverado HD is stronger, sturdier and more secure than any HD we’ve ever offered,” said Campbell.
Chevy Heavy Duty pickups get a totally new chassis with “segment-leading capabilities, and ride and comfort,” said Rick Spina, General Motors vehicle line executive for full-size trucks. “We’re talking about a maximum towing capacity of 20,000 pounds (with the Duramax) and a payload capacity of 6,335 pounds — that’s on a complete vehicle, with a box . . . and we call these 1-ton pickups, right?”
The 20,000-pound figure is for fifth-wheel towing, and the conventional towing max is 16,000, which is a 23 percent improvement. The new HDs also deliver what Chevy claims is segment-best in the following areas: Gross Combined Weight Rating, increases to 27,500 pounds; Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings, increases up to 17 percent to 13,000 pounds; and Front Axle Weight Rating, increases up to 25 percent, to 6,000 pounds.
Teaming with the chassis to boost workhorse capability are improvements in the Silverado’s 6.6-liter Duramax diesel and Allison 1000 six-speed transmission (final-drive ratio is 3.73). While output figures haven’t been announced, Spina said for 2011 engineers increased the Duramax’s horsepower and torque, upped fuel efficiency, decreased emissions by 63 percent and made its operation quieter.
“We also improved the highway fuel efficiency some 11 percent over the current model — making this the most fuel-efficient heavy-duty truck available,” he said. “Combine that improved fuel economy with our new 36-gallon tank, and the new Duramax-powered Silverado delivers a highway driving range of 680 miles.”
New technologies come with the Duramax-powered models that boost confidence when towing. A Trailer Sway Control detects when a trailer starts to move erratically and, using automatic power cut-off and the truck’s brakes, brings it back to the intended path. Adding to downhill trailer-towing stability and helping prolong brake life is a new “smart” exhaust brake.
“We call it `smart’ because it varies the amount of resistance delivered based on load and grade,” Spina said. “It’s much more sophisticated than a simple on/off system — and far less intrusive.”
The Vortec 6.0-liter gas engine returns for 2011 with upgrades and a stronger, quieter and smoother version of the Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic transmission. Chevy reports the engine produces more torque lower in the rpm band for an improved launch and greater feeling of confidence when towing a trailer at higher altitudes. The 6.0-liter powertrain is offered with a choice of 3.73 or 4.10 final-drive ratios.
Increased power and work capabilities call for beefier brakes, so front and rear rotors are larger in diameter, and calipers are stronger and stiffer.
Ride quality is enhanced with longer wheelbases and wider tracks, as well as with the stiffer frame structures, and re-engineered front and rear suspension systems.
The Silverado HD’s fresh muscular form is beefed up with a new-design power dome hood with black louvers, redesigned version of the signature Chevy grille and a full-width chrome front bumper.
Bulging front and rear fender flares shroud a new selection of 17-, 18- and 20-inch wheels, and the 2500HD can be upgraded with 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels. Extended-cab models provide the convenience of 170-degree-opening rear-access doors.
The 2011 Silverado HD’s more-refined interior spotlights office-away-from-home convenience. Storage compartments provide hideaways for “everything from work gloves to laptops” and the cab is set up to offer solutions for mobile workspace needs.
While Chevy’s mission was to create the ideal work truck, a side benefit to its Silverado HD’s more-refined character is the offering of more luxury than ever before. — Tim Spell, Motor Matters
(Tim Spell is editor of the Houston Chronicle InMotion section.)
Copyright, Motor Matters, 2010