2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD: Introduction
Truck people know there is something great about a diesel pickup. It goes well beyond the extra torque and the extra ability that comes with it. The diesel just makes a low level rumble like it is an animal lying in wait. So if all costs were equal (which they are not,) there would quite likely be a long line for big diesel trucks like this 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD.
Our 4x4 crew cab retails for $44,645 in top-of-the-line LTZ trim. Once just about every option box was checked on out tester, including $7,195 for the 6.6-liter turbo diesel, and our truck topped out to $62,189 as tested. Although part of our testing was to understand what features on this high-spec truck are essential, there is also another major factor to investigate.
A diesel truck like this Silverado 2500 HD (and its twin the GMC Sierra 2500 HD) is a great workhorse, and the automakers like to showcase this in their advertising. Still, most of these trucks are not going to spend their whole lives carting around a team of polo horses. They are also going to be used as grocery-getters and basic transportation. So while each automaker has shown that its truck can handle moving small mountains, we want to know how it is going to behave the rest of the time.
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD: Exterior
Unlike the difference between the Ford F-150 and F-250, Chevrolet makes it somewhat difficult to tell the difference between the standard full-size truck and the heavy-duty line. The elongated grille, chrome front bumper, and bigger power bulge on the hood are the largest indicators that there's a lot more power behind this truck.
While both the 1500 and 2500 line of Silverado trucks are the same initial width, the HD line is larger in the rest of the dimensions. Our 4x4 model had nearly half a foot height advantage over a comparable 1500. Also, the 2500 HD crew cab will always be at least ten inches longer than a 1500 crew cab. This is because the short bed is the only option for the 1500, and the standard and long beds are only available on the 2500 line. The upgrade from 1500 to 2500 crew cab yields an extra 1.400 lbs in payload capacity.
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD: Interior
General Motors shares component pieces across similar car and truck lines. So anyone who has spent time in a premium Chevrolet Suburban or Tahoe will feel right at home inside the upgraded interior of our Silverado HD. The rear seats also keep similar dimensions to the Suburban, including a welcomed 39 inches of leg room.
Plenty of features come standard in the LTZ package like dual-zone climate control, Bose stereo, and leather seats with front heaters. As mentioned before, this truck has plenty of extra options. Ours was upgraded with over $5,500 worth of interior features that included a touch screen navigation system, sunroof, and rear DVD entertainment system. So those looking to get their price out of luxury vehicle territory can skip a few options and still have a nice truck.
The overall appearance of the interior is plainly good. It is unfair to try and compare this truck with all the other diesel machines in the $62k price bracket. After all, that kind of cash could also pick up diesels like the BMW X5 xDrive35d or the Mercedes E250, both equipped with plenty of goodies. Those vehicles have much more comfort and technology packed inside than the Silverado HD, but just try and place a load of rock in the trunk of the Benz.
Instead, the only similar vehicles to compare are the high-option, heavy-duty trucks from the other domestic automakers. Similarly equipped versions of the Ford F-250 King Ranch and RAM 2500 Laramie Longhorn reach into the same price bracket as our Silverado 2500 HD. The main difference between those trucks and the GM one is that Ford and Ram add some nice interior badging at this level, while our Chevy rides a little more incognito.
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD: Driving Impressions
Those who need a powerful truck love diesels. The 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel V-8 makes 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque. Anyone not used to this kind of engine may have to warm up to the idea of not coming off the line quite as quick as a gasoline unit. The much broader torque curve will make up for any disappointment by pulling harder and longer than any gas burner.
This truck is by no means awkward running through the suburbs, and there are a few components that really help it survive on the pavement. The 3.73 ratio rear axle give this a much better feel for everyday driving that the optional 4.10 ratio meant for those who are always carrying a big load. The optional 20-inch wheels ($850) were also a big help to keep the truck feeling decent on the road. The added bonus of these wheels is that they do a good job of filling in the large wheel well gap created by the off-road Z71 suspension package.
Even the axle and wheels could not completely hide the truck's workaholic nature. The purpose of a truck like this is to carry heavy loads, which means the suspension is built to be under stress. On the occasions when there is only a truck bed weighing down the rear wheels, getting creative with the throttle can cause the traction control system to be on high alert. This is not a quality isolated to just this truck but to most high-torque machines.
A $55 option was the "camper style" side mirrors, and they are worth every penny. This feature extends the side mirrors away from the truck body and includes an integrated convex mirror. Anyone who has a trailer knows how this second mirror is invaluable for keeping track of what is in tow. These are also exceptionally useful at eliminating blind spots in closer spaces. This Silverado is so tall and wide that small cars can actually get lost if they pull up too close behind. This makes the inexpensive camper mirrors very useful ($450 backup camera is handy, too.)
Anyone who spends most of his or her time in an urban area needs to have a good reason to own this truck. It may handle well on pavement, but it is hard to escape its actual physical size in smaller driving spaces. For example, the same camper style side mirrors that do wonders for visibility create nervous moments when trying to fit through tollbooths.
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD: The Diesel Decision
The Environmental Protection Agency currently lists this category of truck as exempt from its fuel economy testing. So it was important for us to keep track of our diesel consumption.
During a measured test, our Silverado consumed 29.5 gallons over 569 miles driven mostly on back country roads as well as some interstate and urban driving. Achieving 19.3 mpg in the diesel truck is impressive, but it loses some ground when understanding how diesel fuel impacts the wallet. During the last full week of July 2011 the national price for diesel was $3.949 and gasoline averaged $3.699. If we would have achieved similar mileage in a gasoline powered truck, we would have saved $7.38 when filling up.
The more significant expense is the initial cost of buying the diesel engine. On our Silverado, the Duramax diesel engine and mandatory Alison six-speed automatic transmission add $8,400 to the purchase price. The benefit of this upgrade is 37 more horsepower and 385 lb-ft of torque.
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD:: Summary
The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD works fine as a grocery-getter. There is enough room to carry the family up the front, and there is plenty of space in the rear to haul the entire chore list, but it would be a shame if that was all anyone purchased this truck to do.
The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD with the 6.6-liter turbo diesel is a lot of truck for a lot of money. The diesel engine is more expensive to purchase and more expensive to run, but those who need maximum power should find the value in this engine.
Chevrolet provided the vehicle for this review
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