GM Silverado, Sierra Heavy Duty pickups built for work

April 4, 2009/Steve Tackett

MOTOR MATTERS TRUCK TALK BY TIM SPELL

Ruggedness and refinement continue to describe General Motors’ Heavy Duty pickups. Silverado and Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD are available for 2009 in three cab styles — regular, extended and crew cab; 2WD and 4WD; dually rear-wheel configuration; two cargo-box lengths — 6-foot-6-inch short box and 8-foot long box.
These boxes are about 30mm taller at the front, 48mm taller at the rear than past-generation beds and feature an available lockable EZ Lift tailgate with torque-rod assistance for a lighter closing effort ($585 option).
Key to the trucks’ workhorse grunt (off-road and on-road) is the engine sitting beneath the power dome hood. The Silverado and Sierra can be powered by a 6.0-liter gas V-8 or stump-plucking Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 turbodiesel.
The Vortec 6.0-liter V-8 gas engine is assisted by variable-valve timing that helps optimize performance and fuel economy. The 6.0-liter delivers up to 360 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque. Bolted to a six-speed heavy-duty automatic transmission with overdrive and tow/haul mode, it provides the power to tug a 13,000-pound conventional trailer.
For bigger towing demands, the Silverado and Sierra are offered with the optional $7,195 Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 turbodiesel, paired with a $1,200 Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, electronic engine grade braking and tow/haul mode.
This turbodiesel produces 365 horsepower and 660 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s enough muscle to pull conventional trailers up to 13,000 pounds and rigs up to 16,700 pounds with a fifth-wheel/gooseneck hitch.

Both engines come standard with a 3.74 ratio rear axle and a 4.10 ratio rear axle is a $100 option with the Vortec 6.0-liter. The potent engines and enhanced frame allow the GM heavy-duty trucks to be fitted with a larger 2.5-inch trailer-hitch receiver platform.
Along with delivering more towing power, the 2009 Duramax is a clean diesel. It’s fitted with a new particulate filter system that GM reports provides a 90 percent reduction in particulate matter and a 50 percent reduction in nitrogen oxide.
Pricing starts at $27,220 for regular-cab Silverado and Sierra 2500HD (long-box only) pickups. Extended-cab 2WD Silverado and Sierra short-box pickup prices began at $30,520. Upgrading to a 2WD short-box crew-cab bumps pricing to $31,970.
Getting beefier with a 3500HD long-box pickup ups starting prices for Silverado and Sierra to $31,265 for regular cabs (4WD only), $31,600 for extended cabs (2WD) and $32,960 for crew cabs (2WD). All models include a $975 destination charge.
The options list grows for 2009 with more electronic convenience and safety options. The pickups can be equipped with the new-generation OnStar 8.0 system, which offers Turn-by-Turn Navigation and new Destination Download that automatically downloads requested directions to the navigation system. The pickups’ standard XM Radio service can be upgraded with the new-for-’09 NavTraffic, which provides real-time traffic advisements via the navigation system. The touch-screen navigation system and NavTraffic are packaged with the audio system and digital clock for $2,250.
Available on trucks with OnStar 8.0 is a $480 Bluetooth connectivity option, enabling hands-free calling and other wireless functions, with controls on the steering wheel.
Extended-cab and crew-cab models are available with the convenience of a $795 rearview camera system. A display in the interior rearview mirror (or nav screen, if equipped) provides a view behind the vehicle.
A “stadium-style” 60/40-split rear-seating configuration is available with extended cab and crew cab models. It enables you, with one-handed pull-up operation, to split the use of the seats for carrying people or cargo.
Accessing the rear compartment is notably convenient on extended-cab models with 170-degree-opening rear doors, complete with retractable power windows.

A stiff frame allows engineers to tune the new pickups’ coil-over-shock suspension for optimum ride and handling without creating shake or hardness. GM’s Heavy Duty pickups’ ride quality is a world apart from the past-generation models.
New for 2009, the 2500HD with single wheels comes standard with a vehicle stability enhancement system. The smooth-riding Z85 suspension is standard on 2WD and 4WD models. An optional $275 Z71 OffRoad package beefs up the suspension with extra chassis and suspension equipment, and adds skid plates.
Pumped-up power and plushness elevate GM Heavy Duty pickups to a prestigious spot atop the world of work trucks.

(Tim Spell is the editor of the Houston Chronicle InMotion section.)

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009

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