After selling millions of copies over the last several years and watching Ram and Ford roll out improved heavy-duty pickups, Chevrolet’s bigger Silverado is hittin’ the ol’ dusty trail with some shiny new tech, as well as new powerplants and a complete redesign from Bowtie badge to tailpipe. And now, there’s optional Tech Package that brings buyers eight cameras to help see better and is certain to de-stress greenhorn haulers and have veteran ones thinking: Where has this been all my life?
The Good: Heavy Duty models come in five different trim levels, with additional options galore. The Tech Package is a must, if you’ve got deep pockets. And in terms of powerplants, the turbodiesel V8 is 100% the engine of choice.
Who It’s For: Silverado HD buyers typically haul the heavy stuff like it’s their job — and often enough, it is. It’s a tool for the job site, the perfect mate to a racecar’s trailer, and in some cases, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class of the Florida-Georgia line.
Watch Out For: Different trim levels yields different front fascias, which in turn alter the truck’s personality; it ranges from ho-hum fleet spec rental rig to confident luxo-truck with color-matched body panels and bowtie grille. (Also, that front end is very much a matter of taste.)
Alternatives: Ram 2500 ($33,645+), Ford F-250 Super Duty ($33,150+), Nissan Titan XD ($32,990+)
Review: A pickup truck’s job is never done. Their mission, which they have no choice but to accept, is to act as a multitool on wheels and a mobile office, as well as as a status symbol veiled in brand loyalty. Every fascia chiselled into every heavy-duty truck on the market is big and brash. They unapologetically stroll through tollbooths chest first. It’s what they do.
The Silverado’s bisecting horizontal-bar-behind-the-bowtie is the rig’s signature, and just like the evolution of automotive design, it’s become, well, more. Whether or not you agnostics happen to like it is largely irrelevant; most pickup truck drivers are Big Three party loyalists, so aesthetics matter far less than the brand.
Of course, you’ll still want to peek over the fence at what your rival is working with under the hood. Which, in this case, maxes out at an optional turbodiesel V8 twisting out 910 pound-feet of torque at 1,600 rpm, mated to a 10-speed automatic.
We started driving the Silverado HD Duramax at 3,600 feet above sea level, in the high desert of central Oregon. The forced induction made short work of getting us up even higher, as we quietly chugged up another 2,000 feet to Mount Bachelor while dragging a trailer packing 9,300 pounds of weight. Without cargo in tow, the truck will get up and move if you’re heavy with your right Wolverine; floor it, and the 10-speed blips through gears with ease as the RPMs slowly rise and the next gear, ready for acceleration, engages to sends you on your way to extralegal speeds — a little too effortlessly for a heavy-duty truck.
Inside the cabin, there’s almost none of the audible clacking and tapping you’d expect from diesel engines of yore. At speed, the Silverado is poised, shrugging its shoulders at bumps, humps and ratchety railroad crossings. The side view mirrors, each the size of twin iPads, are mounted to the door, not the A-pillar (a feature exclusive to the HD model), which makes visibility even more clear. That’s important for towing, obviously; a critical component to familiarizing yourself with all your sightlines is knowing your surroundings.
Which brings us to the optional $2,125 Advanced Trailering System technology package, available on the fancier LTZ and High Country trims. Think of it as Xanax for novice haulers. It utilizes six cameras around the truck and an additional two accessory cameras for the trailer (one for insid-the- trailer view and one for behind the trailer), for a total of eight cameras that unlocks a suite of 15 camera views. There’s even an “invisible trailer” feature, which makes whatever you’re trailering “disappear” by stitching together images from two cameras to make it look as if you can see through your trailer via the 8.0-inch infotainment screen. Overkill much? Well, consider this: Considering the sorts of camping trailers, boats and horses this Chevy will tow, the cargo is probably worth than the truck itself.
Does the tech in our lives make the routine easier? Not always. But in this case, it allows for the utmost situational awareness. However, it’s not a cure-all; when parking, for example you still need to know the basics of towing. Otherwise, solely relying on the cameras is like trying to shave in the mirror with your opposite hand.
Verdict: Chevy’s new heavy-duty pickup truck may not be the most handsome big rig on sale, but its sheer breadth of capability means those GM lifers won’t be missing out when it comes time to tow or haul. Indeed, the standard and optional tech and potent power means heavy duty truck life could be easier than ever. (And hey, you can’t see the front from inside.)
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD Diesel Key Specs (as tested)
Powertrain: 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8, 10-speed automatic, four-wheel-drive
Torque: 910 pound-feet
Max Curb Weight: 10,650 lbs
EPA Fuel Economy: Don’t ask
Chevrolet hosted us and provided this product for review.
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