Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD
GMC Sierra 2500HD
GMC Sierra 3500HD
General Motors did not get to stay top dog in the torque war for very long. This past summer it introduced the updated line of Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD trucks with the best towing and payload capacities in the segment. But this February that all changed. First, Ford reconfigured its diesel engine for more torque in the Super Duty line and beefed up the frame to regain the tow king crown. Then only a few weeks later, (Dodge) Ram announced upgrades on select trucks that could occasionally beat Ford as well as place the GM twins in the tow/haul basement.
Chevrolet decided that, despite the lower power figures, it had the best truck on the market. So, it enlisted the independent testing arm of the firm ACMI, and it dragged spokesman Howie Long out to a remote area of California for a series of tests. "We wanted to get away from spec-sheet comparisons and show how these trucks perform in the real world," said Rick Spina, global vehicle line executive for full size trucks.
The main competitors in the series of tests were the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD vs. the Ford F-250 Super Duty, and the Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD vs. Ford F-350 Super Duty. All trucks featured turbo diesel engines, four-wheel drive, crew cabs (four full doors), and both of the one-ton trucks (Silverado 3500 and F-350) were dualies. The Chevy used the 6.6-liter V-8 engine that makes 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque in all tests. The Ford used the 6.7-liter Power Stroke V-8 that produces 400 hp and 800 lb-ft of torque.
For those in the market for a new HD diesel truck, the videos of the evaluation in action are worth viewing. The tests include the exhaust brake function, suspension sag during heavy loads, brake fade, and performance at sea level and at altitude.
An interesting comparison simulated maneuvering an uneven ditch with 3,000 lbs in the truck bed. Not only did the Chevrolet demonstrate less chassis flex, but also the test ended with the Ford damaging its tailgate due to the stress of the bending.
An essential test for performance cars, but possibly less useful for these trucks, was the 0-60 mph run. Loaded with 1,500 lbs the Silverado 2500 hit the mark in 7.66 seconds, which was 0.7 second quicker than the F-250. That means the Silverado is about as fast to 60 mph as a 2012 Ford Focus while also hauling half the weight of a Focus. That seems like an impressive figure, but those who need a diesel 3/4-ton truck usually place pure acceleration low on the necessity list.
The acceleration advantage was much more practical during a test that had the one-ton trucks pass a tractor trailer while going up hill. To make it slightly more interesting, the trucks were towing 16,500 lbs and a slow-moving snow plow was placed in the passing lane to block any truck taking too long to accomplish the task. Despite the F-350's power advantage, the Silverado 3500HD was the only truck able to complete the pass. "We worked hard on the Duramax-Allison combination to deliver torque smoothly throughout the entire power band," explained Spina. "That is what gives us class-leading acceleration."
The Ram 2500 and 3500 trucks were only occasionally used in these comparisons. The Rams were excluded during some tests using payloads that were over the Ram's maximum capacities, and the tests that the Rams did participate in, they came in last place. The Ram 2500 and 3500 featured in the comparisons did not have the High Output diesel engine or the Max Tow package. Those two components will give certain versions of the Ram HD a slight overall fifth wheel towing advantage when they become available this summer.
Chevrolet did not challenge Ford's claim of best fuel economy in its class, and all of these vehicles are exempt from EPA rating. While that may seem only like a minor point, it may be a timely one considering Ford has shut down some F-Series Super Duty production because of higher fuel prices.
Remember when watching these videos that Chevrolet was only interested in showing tests that it knows the Silverado HD has the advantage. Still, the assessment featured legitimate situations faced by those who use 3/4-ton and one-ton trucks. So, go ahead and be impressed by the accomplishments of the less powerful Chevrolet Silverado HD (and its GMC Sierra HD twin,) but make sure the qualities featured in these comparisons are the qualities you also need in your truck.