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First Look: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado Heavy-Duty

The heavyweight pickup battle continues with GM’s significant frame, suspension, towing and torque upgrades.

by on Feb.10, 2010

King of the the heavy duty hill?

There’s barely a change on the outside, but Chevrolet is betting that significant upgrades underneath will allow it to take the heavy weight pickup belt for 2011 when the line goes on sale this summer. Maybe the new chrome bumper is a good omen.

The Silverado heavy-duty line now has 11 2500HD models, and eight single- and dual-rear-wheel 3500HD models – including a new 3500HD Crew Cab with a 6.5-foot cargo box.

All of them add greater capability, and what’s said to be improved ride and handling.  And Chevy is finally putting its durability claims to a real test with a new 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Depending on the model, other claims are also significant, and will likely be challenged by Ford and Dodge, the other heavy weight contenders.

Chevy’s list of accomplishments includes:

  • Segment-best fifth-wheel towing capacity of 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg)
  • Segment-best conventional towing capacity increases up to 23 percent, with a maximum of 16,000 pounds (7,272 kg)
  • Segment-best payload capability of 6,335 pounds (2,873 kg) on a complete vehicle
  • Segment-best Gross Combined Weight Rating increases to 27,500 pounds (12,500 kg)
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings increases up to 17% 13,000 pounds (5,909 kg)
  • Front Axle Weight Rating increases by up to 25% to 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg)
  • Snow plow capability is now possible for all 4wd cab configurations

HD Aware!

Several unseen changes are key to the improvements – new fully-boxed frames, beefed up front and rear suspensions, and revised gas and diesel powertrains.  

A 680 mile highway range is projected.

First there’s an improved Duramax 6.6-liter diesel with an Allison 1000 six-speed transmission. Preliminary testing shows it  will produce more torque – as yet unspecified – with an 11% increase in fuel economy. Trucks equipped with it have the exhaust brake system, an improved brake system, hill start assist, and trailer sway control.

The longstanding “big gas” engine, the Vortec 6.0-liter returns with more low-end torque and strengthened Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed.

As it stands now,  Chevy Duramax has a towing advantage of 1200 pounds more than comparable Ford trucks, and 2500 pounds above Dodge Ram. Payload numbers are also strong; plus 600 pounds compared to Ford, and 1200-pounds above Dodge.

A Silverado 3500HD crew cab/long box can tow up to 20,000 pounds (9,091 kg) with a fifth-wheel hitch. The 2010 Ram 3500 has a maximum rating of 17,600 pounds (8,000 kg) and the 2010 Ford F-350 is rated at a maximum of 18,800 pounds (8,545 kg).

Ford has also claimed segment-leading trailer towing and payload during its recent announcement of the 2011 Super Duty models. However, no towing ratings were issued.

Towing and payload are said to be best in class.

The maximum payload of the Chevy 3500HD is 6,335 pounds (2,873 kg) – that’s nearly 11% greater than the 2010 Ford F-350’s 5,730-pound (2,604 kg) rating and about 24% more than the 2010 Ram 3500’s 5,130-pound (2,331 kg) ratings.

“We sought the input of our customers during the development of the 2011 Silverado HD to deliver a truck that meets or exceeds their every need,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet general manager. “It offers greater strength and capability – including class-leading fuel economy, trailer towing and payload ratings – and has more power, accelerates quicker and has lower emissions. That sounds like the very definition of no compromises.”

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3 Responses to “First Look: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado Heavy-Duty”

  1. Bryan Morris says:

    Wow! This is great! Many of my neighbors will want to trade in their F-350s to buy this supertruck. After all, they need all that extra heavy dutiness for their daily trips to the grocery store and Blockbuster. And yes, that is what they use them for mostly.

    • Ken Zino says:

      Bryan: I laughed at your quip, but there remains a real market for people who actually use trucks as trucks.

  2. Bryan Morris says:

    Agreed, my dad used his 1973 GMC 3500 Sierra crew cab as a work truck. But we also used it as the family car (to say it was unwieldy in city driving is an understatement – I once backed it over a Fiat X1/9 that I couldn’t see behind me). But come on, most people who buy these behemoths today don’t pull large campers or horse trailers very often. And hauling a load of concrete blocks would mess up the bed. They use them essentially as a fashion/lifestyle statement that resonates with a certain demographic.