2012 Silverado 3500HD New Car Test Drive
The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD is a substantially revised pickup truck that resets the bar in cargo ratings. You may recognize much of the interior and some of the body work but for pickups the latter is only important for keeping mud off your trailer. In the realm of HD pickups what matters is underneath and everything there has been gone through with a big torque wrench.
The standard gas engine and transmission have been mildly revised while the diesel gets a serious upgrade to 397 hp and more than twice the torque of the 6-liter gas V8, giving GM the strongest diesel and the least-powerful gasoline engines in the segment. Apart from two very small front suspension pieces everything in the suspension, steering, brakes, frame and ancillary systems have been redone. As a result, anyone with $40,000 and a driver's license can buy a pickup capable of towing a 10-ton trailer.
Silverado HD can also be configured to carry more than 6,500 pounds in dual-rear wheel configuration or 4,600 pounds in single-rear, so if you don't spend the winter plowing, routinely pull a heavy trailer or only need that load capacity once or twice a year a Silverado 1500 and occasional utility trailer rental make a lot more sense.
Although it's a work truck, the Silverado HD offers many conveniences some require as part of work, including Bluetooth, USB inputs, rear cameras with or without navigation, and navigation through a built-in system or OnStar's turn-by-turn directions; one requires a subscription, the other may require annual updates.
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, while the crew cab is suitable for work gangs or full-grown families.
A well trimmed 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 or better than other heavy-duty pickups. With plenty of cab/box/trim/drive choices and option sheets to fill many pages, there should be an example to fit your honest needs and preferences. Alternatives are limited to the mechanically identical GMC Sierra HD, Ford Super Duty, and Ram Heavy-Duty pickups.
The 2011 Silverado HD offers five wheelbases in 2500 (3/4-ton) trim. It comes as a Regular Cab long bed (8 feet), an Extended Cab with standard bed (6-foot, 7-inch) or long bed, or Crew Cab with standard bed or long bed. The 3500-series (1-ton) is all long-bed except for a Crew Cab standard bed without dual-rear wheels. Some models are available with a pickup box delete for mounting your own or aftermarket body on. Fuel capacities range from 26 to 63.5 gallons with 36 gallons standard.
Standard Silverado HD power is a 6-liter gasoline V8 rated 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque in 2500 pickups and 322 hp, 380 lb-ft in all 3500 and box-delete 2500. It comes solely with a six-speed automatic transmission and 3.73:1 or 4.10:1 ($100) axle ratio. A 6.6-liter diesel (LML) is optional ($8395) for all but regular cab 3500 2WD and rated at 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque, with a required Allison six-speed automatic transmission and 3.73:1 axles only. A 6.6-liter (LGH) is rated at 335 hp and 685 lb-ft and offered only on box-delete trucks. Both diesels are B20-biodiesel approved.
There are three trim levels of WT, LT and LTZ, but some configurations and trims can't be combined; LTZ is limited to Extended and Crew Cab models. Expect to add $2,000-$3,000 to move from regular cab to Extended or Extended to Crew Cab, about $200 from standard bed to long bed, and about $3,000 for 4WD.
Silverado HD WT models ($27,965-$36,920) are work and fleet trucks. They come with gray vinyl upholstery, rubberized floor covering, black door handles and mirrors, steel wheels and floor-shift for 4WD. They also include air conditioning, AM/FM stereo, driver info center (trip computer, etc.), 40/20/40 manual-recline front seats, rear bench seat (60/40-split Crew Cab), tilt wheel, chrome grille and bumpers, tow hooks, intermittent wipers, and dual dash power outlets. Options on WT include cruise control ($250), radio upgrade, OnStar 9.0 ($295), 18-inch wheels, camper mirrors, locking differential ($325), trailering equipment ($455-$780), power windows, power mirrors, power locks, integrated trailer brake controller ($200), deep-tint glass.
Silverado HD LT versions ($31,160-41,490) improve on WT with cloth upholstery, carpeting (the WT floor is available), 40/20/40 front seat with locking console storage, split-fold rear seat, AM/FM/XM/CD/MP3 RDS stereo, OnStar with six months' service, cruise control, aluminum wheels, power heated mirrors, power windows, power door locks, visor vanity mirror/lights, side moldings and electric-shift for 4WD. LT options include everything available on the WT not already standard, plus a convenience package ($545) with adjustable pedals, rear park assist, universal remote, remote start, electric rear window defrost), bucket seats and console; an interior plus package with 6-way power driver seat, USB input, steering wheel audio controls, Bluetooth, locking EZ-lift tailgate, fog lamps, dual-zone climate control, backup camera in mirror ($450), navigation/backup camera ($2,250-$2,850), power passenger seat (3500 Crew), steering wheel controls, power sliding rear window ($250), power heated camper mirrors ($243), 20-inch wheels and tires, locking differential, Z71 off-road package ($180-$275) with special shocks, bump stops, 36-mm front antiroll bar, and skid plates.
Silverado HD LTZ ($38,190-$44,950) upgrades to leather upholstery, 10-way power heated front seats and two-person driver memory, dual-zone climate control, Bose DVD audio system, Bluetooth, console, auto-dimming mirrors, steering wheel controls, fog lamps, paint-matched trim, power folding mirrors w/signals, 18-inch polished forged aluminum wheels, locking differential, trailer equipment and integrated trailer brake controller. LTZ options include a universal garage door opener, locking EZ-Lift tailgate, adjustable pedals, rear park assist, rear wheelhouse liners, navigation/camera, rear-seat entertainment system ($1,480), moonroof ($995), power sliding rear window, power heated camper mirrors and 20-inch wheels on 2500.
Optional on all trim levels are roof marker lamps ($55), skid plates ($150), snow-plow prep for 4WD, fast-idle switch ($200), camper/fifth-wheel wiring ($35). Dual 125-amp alternators ($270) and radiator covers ($55) for cold states are optional on diesel models.
Safety equipment includes frontal airbags, front seat belt pretensioners, and StabiliTrak on single-rear wheel models. Optional equipment includes front-side airbags and front side-curtain airbags (2500), OnStar, backup cameras and integrated trailer brake controller.