Chevy has been building trucks since 1918, and their latest heavy duty (HD) models are facing fierce competition from old foes. For buyers who need more towing ability and beefier components in their full-size pickup, the new three-quarter-ton (2500 Series) HD models from Chevy and GMC outperform most 1-ton (3500 Series) pickups of recent years.
Our test vehicle for the week was a Victory Red 2015 Silverado 2500 4WD LTZ Crew Cab. If you think the name is long, the cargo box is a full 8 feet, pushing overall length to 258 inches, or almost 22 feet. Chevrolet builds the Silverado in regular, extended and crew cab lengths, with 6-foot and 8-foot long cargo boxes. With several other drivetrain and trim level options, there are more than 150 possible combinations when ordering the new Silverado.
In the world of HD trucks, the new body styles usually follow a year or two after the half-ton body style changes. The 1500 series Silverado/Sierra was a clean sheet redesign for 2014, with the HD models being carryovers. This year, the 2500 and its 3500 brother are bestowed with all the new technology and good looks.
Underneath, the hydroformed frame receives forged steel control arms up front and 3-inch wide rear leaf springs. The Stabilitrak stability system now integrates a trailer sway controller to keep your payload behind you where it belongs. Hill descent control combines the ABS system with an exhaust brake to prevent the brakes from overheating on steep grades. Each time we drove this truck, we discovered more great features, such as LED bed lighting and a backup camera that estimates your available parking space.
Silverado’s two rivals are the Ram 2500 and the Ford F-250. From time immemorial these three have been locked into a bloody game of one-upmanship, and the name of the game is towing. The F-250 is rated to pull 15,900 pounds, the Ram 2500 is at 17,150 pounds and the Silverado is at the top, with 17,300 pounds, respectively. The two engine choices for the 2015 Silverado were carried over from the previous generation. The 6.0 liter LS-based Vortec V8 produces 360 hp and 380 ft-lbs, and the stump-puller 6.6 liter Duramax Turbo Diesel is rated at 397 hp and 765 ft-lbs.
Make no mistake, this is a huge truck. Our preconceived notions of how rough a big truck would feel had us dodging potholes and searching for smooth pavement. To our surprise, the ride quality of this brute is quite comfortable. The optional Rancho shocks are monotubes and keep the unhappy motions at the road. You feel the suspension working, not the truck moving. With the front suspension being a Torsion Bar I expected a rough ride, but the increased length of the bars allows them to be more compliant than in Chevys of the past. Another glance underneath and you will see that everything is a bit larger this year.
That hints at the real dilemma in driving this truck: its size. It is the largest truck we have ever tested. Not well designed for use in parking garages, drive-thru restaurants or bank tellers, this truck is better left to the countryside, the construction site or the highway. On smooth roads, the ride is very compliant and quiet. Acceleration is not earth shattering, but we were amazed by the average fuel economy of 22.7 MPG.
For 2015, the cab is completely new, from floorpans to headliner. A majority of the interior is shared with the 1500 model, but the proportions are larger. Controls and buttons are well laid out and easy to use. We like the deep center console; a great hiding spot for valuables or protection devices.
For being a work truck, no expense is spared with the LTZ package. Some of the added features include heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, MyLink/Bose Audio, XM, OnStar, 4GLTE Internet, Bluetooth and an 8-inch color touch screen. With the ability to power everyone, we found five USB ports, three 12 volt sockets, an SD card slot and a 120 volt AC power outlet. Often overlooked by many manufacturers, the console lid/armrest has two slots for routing charging cables when the lid is closed.
With every option included, the sticker price tips the scales at $62,925. As a long term investment, the great fuel mileage of the Duramax combined with the rugged chassis can justify the cost.
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