2009 Silverado 3500HD New Car Test Drive
Chevy Silverado HD heavy-duty pickups are about real work and serious play. The 2500-series is often used like a car and charged with pulling the boat or trailer on weekends, while the 3500 usually sees hauling and pulling duty on a routine basis and tows fifth-wheel RVs and six-horse trailers. With a trailer of 5,000 pounds or less, or infrequent carriage of building materials, you'd be better served with a Silverado 1500.
But for those who need it, the Silverado HD models are the only heavy-duty pickups with independent front suspensions on four-wheel-drive units, for better ride and steering than the competition.
The 6.0-liter gas V8 is among the strongest standard engines, while the 6.6-liter Duramax is the most powerful diesel. And the standard six-speed automatic one-ups the competition. The Silverado is well finished, inside and out.
After a mid-2007 debut for the new Chevy Silverado HD, the 2009 models get some minor yet worthwhile upgrades. These include a rearview camera system for longer-cab models, electronic stability control on more models, Bluetooth wireless connectivity, XM Satellite Radio with real-time traffic reporting, and OnStar 8.0 with turn-by-turn navigation and destination download.
A choice of interiors is available, with different dashboards rather than merely varied finishes. You can have it sweep-out simple, or served up with heated leather, navigation, and an expensive-looking opaque shade for the moonroof.
Regular cabs are roomy enough for three, extended cabs are ideal for younger families and have a thoughtful new rear door design, while the crew cab is suitable for four or five big athletes or pony-sized dogs.
The Silverado HD is the most car-like of big pickups, whether referring to interior appearance or driving feel. Yet it carries and tows as well as other heavy-duty pickups. With close to 100 derivatives in cab/box/trim/drive choices and option sheets to fill many pages, there should be an example to fit your tastes and requirements.
2009 Chevy Silverado HD pickups are offered in 2WD and 4WD versions. Three cab styles are available, Regular Cab, Extended Cab, and Crew Cab, along with two box sizes. They come in 2500 (3/4-ton) and 3500 (1-ton) versions; the 3500-series is available in single-rear-wheel and dual-rear-wheel versions. Cab and chassis models, suitable for fitting a custom work or tow body on, are also available.
Trim levels vary from vinyl-floored Work Truck (WT) models through LT to plush LTZ, the latter using a unique interior design.
WT comes with six-speaker AM/FM/XM stereo, ABS, air conditioning, tire pressure monitors, 40/20/40 vinyl front bench with armrest, and six-speed automatic with tow/haul mode and dual overdrives.
LT adds auto-dimming mirror and compass, cruise control, driver lumbar, locking seat cushion storage, leather-wrapped steering wheel, electronic shift 4WD, and chrome wheel trim. LT2 (about $1800) adds better upholstery, power-adjustable front seats, fog lamps, and audio controls on the steering wheel.
LTZ includes an upscale dashboard design, leather upholstery with 12-way power and heated seats in front, two-person driver memory, Bose audio system with subwoofer, locking differential, remote start, trailer package, 17-inch aluminum wheels, and heated windshield washer fluid system.
The standard engine is an iron-block 6.0-liter V8 with variable cam timing and 360 hp; on duallies (GVWR less than 10,000 pounds) the engine is de-rated to 322 hp. The Duramax diesel, at 365 horsepower and 660 pound-feet of torque, is optional (about $7200) and requires the Allison six-speed automatic transmission (about $1200).
Options range from working gear such as the integrated trailer brake controller, dual alternators on diesels, remote start, and a snow plow prep package to satellite radio, heated seats and a moonroof. Many options are interrelated so check everything carefully.
Safety equipment includes frontal airbags, front seat belt pretensioners, ABS, and OnStar.