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