Compact trucks, crossover SUVs and small wagons are smart, but if there’s serious work to be done, there’s no better friend than a heavy-duty, full-size pickup. Chevrolet’s Silverado 2500 range is the right tool for the job.
What is it?
It seems like just yesterday that the Silverado underwent its latest transformation, but these trucks arrived at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit all the way back in 2012. The production trucks hit showrooms for the 2014 model year.
These full-size trucks come in three basic sizes: 1500 (1/2-ton) 2500HD (3/4-ton) and 3500HD (1-ton), in two drivelines (rear-drive and four-wheel drive) and three cab configurations (Regular Cab, Double Cab and Crew Cab).
For this review, Chevrolet sent along a 2500 4WD Double Cab, in LT trim. It’s has the long, eight-foot bed, which adds $195 to the price tag, but provides the ability to haul a full sheet of plywood with the tailgate closed, the mark of a true work truck.
Pricing and trims
We don’t have the space to provide an exhaustive list of the various prices and trims of every configuration, so we’re painting with broad strokes. In the configuration above, the Silverado 2500HD LT 4WD longbed comes in at $39,735.
Two things bump the price significantly. First is the engine. We’re evaluating the truck with a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel, which adds $9,340 to the bottom line. After that price jump, the $1,425 for the LT trim package — the mid-line trim between the WT and LTZ — seems like a bargain.
In total, our tested truck had $17,585 in options, for a final sticker price of $62,575.
In a decade, full-size trucks like this one have gone from having not much more than seatbelts to the full range of safety equipment you’d find on technologically advanced midsize sedans. Along with airbags for the front passengers, and side airbags for both front and rear passengers, this truck gets an advanced Stabilitrak stability control system that incorporates trailer sway control and hill-start assist.
As late as the early 2000s, drum brakes were the standard setup for pickups, but the rears are discs in the Silverado, and they’re regulated by a full antilock brake system.
The LT trim adds a significant piece of safety kit that make driving this truck a whole lot more convenient. The Rear Vision Camera shows a picture of the road next to you when you activate either the left or right turn signals.
The LT Plus package ($815) also adds rear park assist. We’re not crazy about a lot of flashing lights and beeping alerts, but in a truck this big, we’ll take all the help we can get.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety doesn’t rate trucks this large in its crash tests.
We’ve driven diesels in just about every full-size truck on the American market that offers one, and they’re definitely not all alike.
The two major competitors for diesel dollars are the Powerstroke at Ford, and the Duramax in this truck. Both trucks are fairly comparable in terms of horsepower (440 in the Ford, 445 in this truck) and torque (925-lb.ft. in the Ford, 910-lb.ft. in the Chevy). Yet this truck felt a whole lot more lively merging into traffic.
The answer why isn’t in the engine, but about seven feet to the rear, inside the differential pumpkin. The Ford we tested had a super-tall 3.31 rear axle ratio, great for highway fuel economy, but not so great for getting out into traffic.
Our tested Duramax-powered Chevrolet, though, comes thorough with a deeper 3.73 rear axle ratio. It’s not what you’re looking for if you’re hoping to maximize your highway fuel mileage, but it’s exactly what you want when you’re trying to push a parking lot full of snow, or haul a horse trailer up a steep grade. Fuel economy averaged about 15.8 mpg in mixed driving.
In single-rear wheel form, the Ford F-250 offers — at best — a 3.55 rear axle, which would offer better acceleration.
Selecting the Duramax also replaces the transmission with an Allison 1000 six-speed automatic, with two overdrive gears. The second overdrive reduced engine RPM by about 14 percent in highway cruising when it was introduced in 2006.
Ride and handling
You don’t expect a massive truck like this to offer a Cadillac’s ride or a Corvette’s handling. With the box empty, the truck handles on- and off-ramps well, without veering off-course even over the Boston area’s rapidly crumbling infrastructure at the end of winter.
What’s more important than ride quality and handling is maneuverability with a truck this large.
With an extended cab and an increase in wheelbase to accommodate the long bed, a truck like this has a gargantuan turning circle. A foot here and there might not seem like it matters, but if you’re plowing a commercial lot, the difference can mean getting home an hour earlier when you’re turning the truck around. Similarly equipped, the Chevrolet beats the Ford F-250 with a foot smaller turning circle, at 53.1 feet.
That’s also key when wiggling a truck this big into a parking spot. Along with hauling home supplies around, we spent a day with it in Boston, and managed to corkscrew it up the Museum of Science’s parking ramp without issue. In the city of Cambridge, we parallel parked it four times, and the side-view and rear-view cameras with park assist were essential to getting it in a spot in one pass.
Double cab pickups don’t have the massive legroom of Crew Cabs, but there’s plenty of room back there, especially if you’re toting kids around instead of fully grown adults. The key dimensions are head and legroom. The Chevrolet offers 38.67 inches of headroom in the rear, compared to the Ford’s 40.3. You make up for that lack of headroom with an inch more legroom in the Chevrolet (34.63) versus the Ford’s 33.5.
The LT features what looks to be a durable cloth material, covering comfortable, supportive seats in all positions. We’re not big fans of replacing the center front seat with a space-eating console, but that seems to be standard fare now for pickups. At the very least, the gearshift is still on the column, which opens up a lot of storage space in the console.
This is a work truck, so you’ve got a full eight feet of cargo box to work with. All of our biggest complaints with trucks this size have to do with access to that box, and it applies to all full-size trucks, not just Chevrolet. The bedsides are so far off the ground, it makes throwing a loaded trash barrel over the side a real problem.
Other manufacturers have gone through all kinds of hoops to provide access at the rear of the bed. Nissan has a spring-loaded step that booings out from under the bumper. Ford has a neat, but complicated set of stairs that comes out of the top of the tailgate, along with a rod for a handhold. Chevy and GMC make the complicated simple by just integrating a step into the end of the bumper. Problem solved.
Infotainment and controls
The LT trim features the Chevrolet MyLink audio system with an eight-inch diagonal HD, full-color touch screen to navigate the AM/FM stereo, XM Radio and whatever audio source you have streaming through the USB ports, auxiliary input or Bluetooth streaming audio.
That eight inch screen also manages phone and navigation functions. We used the voice input functions for navigation and they worked perfectly, even though we didn’t use exactly the right terminology to initiate the system. When prompted by the system, we asked for “directions” instead of “destination,” but the system was smart enough to understand what we wanted, which isn’t the case with a lot of other voice-activated systems.
Our only complaint with the eight-inch screen came — ironically — from one of our favorite features. We mentioned the side-view camera that showed the lane next door whenever you activate the turn signals. That’s a great feature to avoid merging into the car next to you.
However, when the navigation system is active, that camera view replaces the navigation screen. Yes, the turn-by-turn navigation directions display redundantly between the speedometer and tachometer on this trim. However, you don’t get the detailed map, which is helpful when navigating tight streets in the city.
The Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Double Cab 4WD is precisely the truck required to haul trailers and plow snow. The diesel adds a ton to the bottom line, but its trailer-hauling capability is hard to argue with, especially with the availability of a 3.73 axle. Its smaller turning circle and slightly longer legroom in the rear give it a leg up over its most natural competitor.
2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Double Cab 4WD
Base price: $43,795
Price as tested, including $1,195 destination charge: $62,575
LT Convenience Package: $1,425
Duramax Diesel/Allison six-speed transmission: $9,340
18-inch Chrome Wheels: $1,295
Power Front Cloth Bucket Seats With Heated Cushions: $960
LT Plus Package: $815
Tubular Chrome Assist Steps: $750
Trailering Equipment Package: $575
Spray On Bedliner: $495
Siren Red Tintcoat: $495
8-inch Touchscreen: $495
5th Wheel Prep: $370
Power/Heated Mirrors: $310
LED Cargo Box Lighting: $125
Movable Upper Tiedowns: $60
Radiator Cover (Diesel): $55
- Titanic power from the Duramax Diesel
- Knob controls for audio and heat
- Surprising maneuverability
- Side view camera override of navigation system
- Lack of a split bench seat option up front
- Tall hood blocks view ahead