2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD review
By Kirk Bell of MSN Autos
Chevrolet updated its heavy-duty pickups for the 2011 model year, giving them a sturdy new frame that improved capability. However, the sheet metal and interiors remained the same, making it seem as if Chevy only had enough money to update the bits under the surface. In the meantime, Chevy redesigned its light-duty full-size pickups for the 2014 model year, giving them the bold styling and refined cabins the HDs lacked. For 2015, the HD pickups get the same treatment, placing them at the top of the competitive work truck market.
Trim levels include WT (Work Truck), LT and LTZ. The WT is sparsely appointed, with vinyl floors instead of carpeting. It does, however, have air conditioning, an AM/FM stereo with 4.2-inch MyLink screen, a trip computer, power windows and locks, cruise control and 17-inch steel wheels. LT trims get floormats and carpeting, Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player, satellite radio, OnStar assistance, remote keyless entry and alloy wheels. LTZ trims add leather upholstery, 10-way power adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, a Bose audio system, an 8-inch MyLink screen with access to Pandora Internet radio, a locking rear differential and an integrated trailer brake controller.
Notable options consist of 20-inch wheels, power-adjustable pedals, a Bose audio system, a navigation system, heated and cooled seats, skid plates, off-road suspension, a snow-plow prep package, a sunroof, rear DVD entertainment, power rear sliding window, a tonneau cover and a plastic bedliner. A Driver Alert package adds lane departure warning, forward collision alert, General Motors' Safety Alert Seat, and front and rear park assist.
Under the hood
The majority of buyers will spend the $7,195 for the optional 6.6-liter Duramax turbocharged diesel V8. It churns out 397 horsepower at 3000 rpm and 765 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm. It is paired with an Allison 6-speed automatic transmission — also with manual shift capability and a tow/haul feature — that adds another $1,200.
Maximum towing capacity for the 2500HD is 14,500 pounds with a ball hitch or 17,900 pounds with a fifth wheel. Those numbers are 19,600 and 23,200 pounds for the 3500HD. Maximum payload is 4,306 pounds for the 2500 variant, 4,682 pounds for a 3500 with single rear wheels, and 7,734 pounds for a 3500 duallie. The conventional towing and payload numbers are at the top of the class, but the fifth-wheel towing capacity is bested by the Ram 3500's staggering 30,000-pound capacity.
The base 4-wheel-drive system works part time, so it shouldn't be used on dry pavement. Chevrolet also offers a full-time 4WD system that can be left engaged on dry pavement. Both systems include low-range gearing to aid off-roading and towing.
The controls are straightforward, with large buttons set high and easy to use even when wearing work gloves. Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system also becomes available this year. It comes standard with a 4.2-inch touch screen in the WT and LT trims, and an 8-inch version is standard in the LTZ and optional for the LT. MyLink can also be controlled by voice commands, by knobs on the dash, or even with steering-wheel buttons. It provides access to the Pandora Internet radio app through owners' smartphones, and also serves as the hub for audio and communications features. We find Mylink to be one of the simpler and therefore better infotainment systems on the market. It is easy to understand and reacts quickly.
The cab is comfortable, too. The front seats are improved this year, and they should provide better long-trip comfort than in the past. The double cab will accommodate up to six passengers, although with limited rear leg space, and the crew cab has a roomy rear seat. Our favorite configuration is the crew cab with front bucket seats. This version comes with a deep center console that can hold file folders. It also features an easy-to-access media hub with USB ports and 115-volt outlets.
The Silverado HD gets the same bed treatment as the 2014 Silverado 1500. That means it adds rear bumper steps to ease access to the bed, a damped tailgate that is easier to open and close, LED bed lighting, and four lower and nine upper tie-down hook locations to help secure cargo. The box is also designed to alloy two-tier loading. These are all smart features that help buyers use the Silverado HD as a work vehicle.
On the road
Steering and braking are all well controlled for a pickup of this size. The steering isn't as direct as in most cars. It has some play on-center and is rather slow, but it's much improved from GM trucks of the past. The brakes are responsive and predictable, without a mushy pedal feel.
The most annoying trait of the Silverado HD is its sheer size. This thing is a behemoth, especially the crew cab with the long bed.
Chevrolet's two engine choices are both quite capable. The 6.0-liter 360-horsepower gasoline V8 is strong and reliable, and it emits a proper V8 burble. However, buyers interested in ultimate capability should opt for the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel. Unladen, it's not much quicker than the gas engine in a drag race, but it pulls stronger when towing a trailer or hauling a load. It's also more fuel efficient.
The diesel engine comes with a gradient cruise control system that uses the transmission, cruise control and a diesel exhaust brake to help the Silverado maintain a constant speed. To show off the prowess of this system and the diesel engine itself, Chevrolet had its Ford and Ram competition on hand at the press drive to participate in two exercises. Pulling a 10,000-pound trailer, the Chevy pulled faster uphill than both rivals and maintained a more constant cruise-control speed heading downhill. Set at 55 mph, the Ford accelerated up to 70 mph on a 6 percent downhill grade, the Ram hit 65 mph, and the Chevy kept a more controlled speed of 60 mph. The effectiveness of this system means the driver has to do less work and it also helps reduce brake wear.
Right for you?
(As part of a sponsored press event, the automaker provided MSN with travel and accommodations to facilitatethis report.)
Kirk Bell has served as the associate publisher for Consumer Guide Automotive and editor of Scale Auto Enthusiast magazine. A Midwest native, Bell brings 18 years of automotive journalism experience to MSN, andcurrently contributes to JDPower.com and Kelley Blue Book's kbb.com.