By KBB.com Editors
Chevrolet's Sliverado 2500HD and 3500HD heavy-duty pickups are all-new and substantially improved for 2011, yet they don't look much different from the 2010s they replace. Most of the available investment budget went into all-new, much stiffer and stronger frames (fully-boxed, high-strength steel) and suspensions (front independent, rear asymmetrical leaf-spring) and the new Duramax turbo diesel V8/Allison 1000 six-speed transmission powertrain, and little was left for styling changes. But these new Silverado HDs boast an impressive array of segment bests, beginning with that new Duramax diesel, which is not only more powerful but also 11 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor. Given the new 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).
If you are a satisfied past or current Silverado HD owner, you will love these much-improved new ones despite their mostly carryover styling. Their performance, capabilities, refinement and fuel efficiency have improved, especially with their new, surprisingly quiet available Duramax turbo diesel V8.You May Not Like This Car If...
If you are a loyal and satisfied Ford or Dodge (now Ram) HD pickup owner, you may not find sufficient reason to switch to a new Chevy. The Ram was new for 2010, the F-250/350 for 2011, and both are fully competitive in most areas.
The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD's Duramax turbo diesel's power, torque, maximum conventional and fifth-wheel tow and payload ratings are best in class. Its fifth-wheel tow capability is 21,700 pounds, it can tow up to a 17,000-pound conventional load with its factory-installed hitch, and the Duramax is fully B20 biodiesel compatible.Driving It Driving Impressions
We found towing a 9,500-pound trailer with a 2011 Silverado 3500HD relatively easy due largely to its new 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 and Allison transmission powertrain. Its massive (segment-best) 765 pound-feet of torque got that hefty rig rolling with ease, and its (segment-best) 397 hard-muscled horses kept it moving surprisingly smoothly and quietly. The ambience inside the Silverado's nicely-appointed cabin was a pleasant surprise – so quiet at any speed that we could easily chat with passengers in the crew-cab's back seat. Another plus is the highly-effective, engine compression-assisted brakes. New for 2011 is "smart" exhaust braking that progressively restricts the diesel's exhaust, depending on speed and grade, to help slow the rig with added compression braking – especially useful on down-hills. Other Silverado HDs we sampled also showed marked improvements in ride, handling, steering and brake feel due mostly to their new, much stiffer frames and redesigned suspensions.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 2011 Silverado HD Work Truck and uplevel LTZ interiors are little changed in appearance but more refined in quietness and attention to detail. A variety of useful compartments provides out-of-sight storage for everything from work gloves to laptops. These new trucks can be highly capable mobile workplaces with mobile WiFi, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, XM Satellite Radio and GPS navigation, plus multiple charge points for multiple devices to operate simultaneously. XM NavTraffic, which comes with the available navigation system, provides real-time traffic updates (in selected areas) that can help plan the most time-efficient routes.Exterior
The 2011 Chevy Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD models sport a bolder, tougher, flashier version of the signature Chevy truck face thanks to a new grille, full-width chrome steel front bumper and a new louvered power-dome hood. A new lineup of 17- (dually), 18- and 20-inch wheel/tire combinations is available, and 20-inch polished forged-aluminum wheels are available on the 2500HD.Notable Standard Equipment
Four-wheel-disc brakes with ABS and Intelligent Brake Assist and six-speed automatic transmission are standard on all 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HDs, while StabiliTrak electronic stability control, Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start Assist (but not Hill Descent Control) are standard on single-rear-wheel (non-dualie) models and new "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 new high-strength tubular steel frame crossmember that improves crashworthiness.Notable Optional Equipment
Optional (or unavailable) on the base Work Truck are such basic amenities as cruise, 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 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 2011 Duramax turbo diesel offers significantly more power and torque, 11 percent better fuel efficiency, 30 percent less engine noise, improved strength and durability, new "smart" exhaust braking with the Allison 1000 six-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.
360 horsepower @ 5400 rpm
380 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
6.6-liter turbocharged diesel V8
397 horsepower @ 3000 rpm
765 lb.-ft. of torque @ 1600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: N/A
The 2011 Silverado HD is offered in work truck, LT and LTZ trim levels with prices starting at a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of just under $29,000. The available Duramax turbo diesel V8/Allison transmission combination lists for just over $8,000 – unchanged from 2010 despite substantial upgrades in power, torque and fuel efficiency and new B20 biodiesel capability. MSRPs of the popular 2500HD crew-cab models are slightly higher than those of comparable 2010 (Dodge) Rams and slightly lower than 2011 Ford Super Duties. To get the best deal on your Silverado HD, check Fair Purchase Prices to see what buyers are actually paying in your area. Five-year resale values should be roughly comparable to the Fords and better than the Rams.