By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 12/8/2011
Fresh from last year's overhaul that brought a stiffer frame, more powerful Duramax turbodiesel engine and a revised suspension, the Chevrolet Silverado HD trucks continue into 2012 little changed. In the world of powerful work trucks, the domestic manufacturers monopolize the field. The Ram HD and Ford F-Series HD trucks are equally capable, with one or the other claiming best-in-class in any number of categories, separated by no more than a few horsepower or couple more pounds of towing capacity. For many, the choice of an HD pickup truck comes down to a personal preference based on past experiences. If you're a Ford guy, you'll swear you'd never touch a Chevy, even though the 2012 Chevy Silverado HD can out-tow and out-haul the F-350.You'll Like This Car If...
If you've been a longtime Chevy HD fan and it's time to trade-in your old outfit, the 2012 Chevy Silverado HD's numerous improvements will help keep you a Chevy loyalist. If you're an old Ram (formerly Dodge) or Ford guy and you aren't happy with your current rig, you might be pleasantly surprised just how capable the Chevy Silverado HD really is.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for the most powerful diesel engine in an HD truck, Ram's Cummins diesel engine takes top honors (torque, not horsepower). Those who like a little more upscale flair in their trucks might find the 2012 Chevy Silverado HD's styling and interior décor somewhat on the conservative side. A Ram Longhorn or Ford F-350 King Ranch might be more to your liking.What's New for 2012
The 2012 Chevrolet Silverado HD trucks make new strides for 2012, with Chevy claiming best-in-class accolades for maximum fifth-wheel towing, conventional towing and payload.Driving It Driving Impressions
Thanks to its torque-heavy 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8, we found that towing a 10,000-pound trailer behind the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD truck posed absolutely no challenge whatsoever. The 2012 Chevy Silverado HD's available Duramax diesel develops 397 horsepower and 765 lb-ft of torque (that's more horsepower but less torque than the Ram HD, and less horsepower and torque than the Ford PowerStroke diesel). Despite the difference in power from its main rivals, the Silverado HD still takes top honors in fifth-wheel and conventional towing, as well as payload figures. The Duramax diesel is a bit loud, but you wouldn't know it from inside the passenger compartment. One of our favorite features on the diesel truck is the "smart" exhaust braking setup. The system works by progressively restricting the diesel's exhaust, depending on speed and grade, to help slow the rig with added compression braking. We tested a number of 2012 Chevy Silverado HD trucks, with gas and diesel engines, long and short beds, and basic to plush trim levels. We found all exhibited a firm suspension, good steering ability and fairly compliant ride.Favorite Features
This system progressively restricts the diesel's exhaust – depending on speed and grade – to help slow the rig with added compression braking.
A favorite on any vehicle, this available feature is especially appreciated on working trucks that operate in hot and cold weather extremes.
The 2012 Chevy Silverado HD Work Truck has a more utilitarian interior intended to take a bit of a beating, as well as be more user-friendly to glove-clad hands and dirty work boots. The LTZ trims feature a more upscale dash, door panel and seat design better suited to the foreman than the roughneck. The 2012 Chevy Silverado HD truck's interior is peppered with storage compartments of varying sizes, including a big center armrest/console with a flip-up lid on bucket seat-equipped trims. Bench-seat models have a folding center section with storage and built-in cupholders. When properly equipped, a 2012 Chevy Silverado HD truck can serve as a mini rolling office, with such available features as a mobile WiFi hotspot, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, GPS navigation and XM Satellite radio with NavTraffic traffic updates. Multiple power points throughout the cabin ensure you'll be able to power all of your mobile devices.Exterior
The 2012 Chevy Silverado HD trucks are comprised of the 2500 and 3500 (three-quarter-ton and one-ton) models. Both trucks feature a beefed up version of the 1500 truck's grille and front end, with a larger chrome grille and bumpers, and a raised power-dome hood with integrated louvers. The 2500 models offer the option of 20-inch polished-aluminum wheels, while the 3500 can be equipped with a dually rear end. Tire sizes range from 17-inch (dually, or as Chevy spells it, "dooley") to 18- and 20-inch wheels on standard-chassis trucks.Notable Standard Equipment
Standard equipment on all 2012 Chevrolet Silverado HD trucks includes 4-wheel-disc brakes with ABS and Intelligent Brake Assist and the 6-speed automatic transmission, while StabiliTrak electronic stability control, Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start Assist (but not Hill Descent Control) are standard on single-rear-wheel (non-dually) models and "smart" exhaust braking comes with the Duramax diesel. Also standard are chrome front and rear bumpers, engine and transmission oil coolers, a driver information center, tilt steering wheel, automatic headlamps and front tow hooks. Standard safety features include front-seat airbags and a high-strength tubular steel frame crossmember that improves crashworthiness.Notable Optional Equipment
Optional (or unavailable) on the base 2012 Chevy Silverado Work Truck are such basic amenities as cruise control, power locks, windows and mirrors and a rear-window defroster. The next-level LT trim provides most of those, plus remote keyless entry, a CD player and more, but the rear-window defroster remains optional. The top-of-the-line LTZ trim (available on Extended and Crew Cab models) adds that plus leather trim, power seats and much more. Option packages are available, and other major options include navigation, a CD changer, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, remote start, premium wheels, a sunroof, a rear backup camera, an integrated trailer brake controller and pelvic/thorax and head-curtain airbags.Under the Hood
The 2012 Chevrolet Silverado HD truck's standard heavy-duty Vortec 6.0-liter gasoline V8 has a cast-iron block, aluminum heads and cam-in-block variable valve timing (VVT), which allows the engine to use late intake valve closing to improve efficiency and achieve an optimum balance of low-rpm torque and free-breathing, high-rpm horsepower. The 2012 Silverado's 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel offers significantly more power and torque, "smart" exhaust braking, the Allison 1000 6-speed automatic transmission, and full B20 biodiesel capability. Its NOx emissions are reduced by some 63 percent via a selective catalyst reduction after-treatment system that uses urea-based diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) in a 5.3-gallon tank that needs to be replenished about every 5,000 miles. Given the Duramax's standard 36-gallon tank, you can theoretically drive up to 680 miles between fill-ups, which equates to almost 19 mpg on the highway (unloaded).
360 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm
380 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
6.6-liter turbocharged diesel V8
397 horsepower @ 3,000 rpm
765 lb-ft of torque @ 1,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
The 2012 Chevrolet Silverado HD truck is offered in work truck, LT and LTZ trim levels with prices starting at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $30,000; the available Duramax turbodiesel V8/Allison transmission combination adds another $7,100 to the bottom line. The MSRPs of the popular 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD crew-cab models are slightly higher than those of comparable 2012 Ram HDs and slightly lower than 2012 Ford Super Duties (we are talking a difference of a few hundred dollars, if that.) To get the best deal on your 2012 Chevy Silverado HD truck, check our Fair Purchase Price to see what buyers are actually paying in your area. The 5-year resale values should be roughly comparable to the Fords and better than the Rams.