2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 Heavy Duty Extended Cab Road Test Review

Arv Voss - CAP staff
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With the new Heavy Duty pickup trucks from Chevrolet, you cannot only "Drive your Chevy to the Levee," you can haul a good portion of the Levee along with you. The new Chevrolet Heavy Duty trucks are all new – only the stabilizer bar link is carried over, and there are a host of significant improvements.

The Chevy Silverado Heavy Duty lineup comes in a variety of configurations – virtually something to suit everyone's taste and requirements. In terms of cab offerings, there is a Regular Cab with two doors, an Extended Cab with two full front doors and two "suicide-style" doors for rear seat access, and the Crew Cab with four full-sized doors. Extended Cab versions feature new doors with fully retractable power windows that open 170-degrees for easier ingress and egress. There are also two bed lengths: a standard bed with a 2.0 m / 6.6-foot / 78.7" bed length or a long box with a 2.5 m / 8-foot / 97.6" bed length.

Two powertrains are available to carry the mail – standard is a 6.0-litre Vortec V8 fed by gasoline. Optionally available is a 6.6-litre Duramax direct injection diesel V8. The gas engine produces 360 horsepower at 5,400 rpm along with 380 pound-feet of torque at 4,200 rpm, while the Duramax diesel cranks out 397 horses at 3,000 rpm, while developing a whopping 765 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm. Log hauling anyone? The gas fed V8 mates to a Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic transmission with Tow/Haul Mode. The big 6.6-litre Duramax diesel couples to an Allison 1000 six-speed automatic, also with Tow/Haul Mode.

The Silverado comes in either a 2500HD three-quarter ton series or a one ton 3500HD series. Both trucks are available with either engine, and both are available in either rear or four-wheel drive, with either length bed. There is also a Dual Rear Wheel version. Trim level offerings include WT (Work Truck), LT and SLT.

Silverado frames are new and fully boxed. The bending and beaming stiffness has been increased 92 percent and 20 percent, respectively, with the fully boxed sections enhancing overall stiffness. Larger engine and transmission mounts -- coupled with a 125-percent-stiffer front frame structure -- provide greater vibration control, while hydraulic body mounts are incorporated under the cab section on extended and crew cab models for a more isolated feel inside.

The front axle weight rating was increased by 25 percent to allow snowplow capability on all four-wheel drive models. The rear suspension's larger asymmetrical leaf springs support heavier loads while improving ride and handling characteristics. 2500HD models feature a two-stage leaf-spring design, while 3500HD models have a three-stage design. All models feature 3-inch wide (76 mm) leaf springs that are 20-percent wider than previous models.

The Silverado 2500HD's towing capacity has been increased to 7,711 kilos (17,000 pounds) with a conventional receiver/ball hitch, and given the cost of the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel/Allison transmission combination ($9,670), if you don't require heavy towing potential, the gasoline V8 serves up admirable capability.

The base Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD WT Regular Cab sticker reads $35,600, but my test Heavy Duty hauler was hardly entry-level. Finished in Victory Red with a Light Cashmere and Ebony interior that featured faux polished wood trim accents, my 2500HD series came in Extended Cab, four-wheel drive configuration and LT trim, plus it included an HD trailer equipment package with locking rear differential and integrated trailer brake controller; snowplow prep package with roof lamp provision, 160 amp alternator and off-road skid plates; 17-inch all-terrain tires; and an electric rear window defogger.

Pickup truck preference is a highly subjective issue. There are actually several truck camps. There's the General Motors crowd that exhibits divided loyalty between Chevrolet and GMC haulers, the Dodge truck enclave has its devotees, there are the Ford pickup faithful, and there are also Asian truck fans. Chances are that cross-shopping will be fairly rare, since all have their individual reasons for preferring their particular brand. The truly wise however, will be unbiased enough to recognize superior benefits and advantages. And, the Chevrolet 2500HD gas powered pickup has a lot to offer in terms of unique features and equipment.

The longer wheelbase and wider track provides a solid, smooth and isolated driving experience. New shocks are specially valved to support the 2011 trucks' weight ratings, while balancing excellent ride characteristics.

Also enhancing the driving experience is a revised steering system that was designed to support the trucks' greater front gross axle weight rating. It includes a new, larger steering gear, power steering pumps and linkages. The pumps deliver greater pressure for reduced steering effort in low-speed and parking maneuvers in addition to being quieter.

GM's StabiliTrak electronic stability control system is now standard on all single rear-wheel models. Larger, four-wheel disc brakes come with standard four-wheel ABS. The new high-strength steel tubular frame cross member enhances safety and improves crashworthiness. Seat pelvic/thorax and head curtain side airbags are available on 2500 HD models. A rear backup camera is also available. Other beneficial features include segment-exclusive OnStar 9.0 telematics, Trailer Sway Control System on all single rear-wheel models and hill start assist, also on single rear-wheel models.

The Trailer Sway Control System gives an added measure of confidence when towing. The system senses conditions of trailer sway and intervenes with braking and/or reduced engine power, bringing the trailer under control and keeping it on its intended path. The system uses electric trailer brakes when a trailer is plugged into the standard wiring harness of the truck and its performance requires no input from the driver.

All in all, the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Extended Cab is a confidence inspiring and capable workhorse, while being equally suited to recreational service. Acceleration is more than adequate and the truck rides more like a sedan than a truck, even without a load. Chevy fans will be delighted with its prowess.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Pickup, 4x4, Chevrolet, 2011, Silverado 2500, $30,000 - $39,999, $40,000 - $49,999,

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