Chevy offers this truck in both diesel and gasoline versions, this time we got the gasser. Displacing 6.6liters, it is difficult to actually see the engine when the hood is opened as it’s well in there. To close the hood again required a mighty stretch by the way, if you are under six feet tall, do not let the hood just extend all the way up when opening it in public, you’ll be embarrassed and need to seek assistance.
This direct-injected, variable valve timed cast iron block engine provides 401hp @ 5,200rpm and 464lb-ft of torque @ 4,000rpm. Having driven the more or less equivalent model Ford F-250 with the 7.3l as well as the RAM 2500 with the 6.4l, this engine was no slouch comparatively, in fact I’d be hard pressed to choose between them when not literally driving them back to back or comparing published performance results.
In power, smoothness, and especially NVH, this in fact may be the best of the bunch as far as a combination goes, it was certainly quieter to my ears than each of the others. Just simple, smooth, strong, long-lasting waves of power whenever needed.
The transmission in this case was a 6-speed, and while that isn’t the latest tech (the diesel gets the 10-speed) it was well suited to the job with seamless shifts and really no way of telling in which gear it was in. At 80mph, the engine was turning at around 2000rpm, both fifth and sixth are overdrives.
This truck was equipped with a 3.73 axle ratio and with the wheels not being grotesquely oversized the combination worked well from a power and drivability standpoint. While driving on the freeway one morning I was on the phone with a friend near Chicago (via the Bluetooth of course) and mused that I would happily make a left turn and drive the 900+ miles in this truck and likely make it there before needing to rest.
Part of that random thought was borne of the suspension, while heavy enough to handle massive loads it was still composed enough to ride very well in town and on the freeway. Thinking back to the other trucks, this was no worse and in some cases, especially lower speed ones around town, seemed better in that aspect.
On the stretch of concrete freeway that caused the jiggles in the RAM and was relatively smooth in the Ford, the Chevy was somewhere in the middle, and on an absolute scale fell on the acceptable side whereas the RAM would have you really thinking about your actual need for this size of a truck if that particular stretch of road was a common traverse.
Tires of course matter too, and apples were not being compared to apples. Here, the truck was equipped with the Z71 package, which is Chevy-speak for off-road oriented. On top of that it was the Z71 Sport Edition (maybe that explains the red paint).
This means that along with the 18″ High Gloss Black Aluminum eight-lug wheels which were absolutely not my thing (but to each their own), also came equipped with Hankook DynaPro M/T2 tires in 275/70-18 sizing. M/T usually stands for Mud Terrain as it did on the Chevy’s Monroney sticker although the tires themselves said Maximum Traction.
Either way though, there were on the knobby side of All-Terrain tires and when setting off from a stop you could feel the treadblocks through the chassis which smoothed out quickly to be replaced with some noise, specifically that sort of howling noise we’ve all heard when driving next to a lifted off-road machine. To be fair it was very subdued inside, even at speed, but was the external acoustic element most readily notable from the inside.
It could have been better without it, but it was so well damped that it was no kind of deal breaker, I wouldn’t refuse the tires or the truck due to it. Perhaps it speaks more to the isolation of the cabin from the elements otherwise that it became noticeable. Even in corners on my little handling loop the truck acquitted itself quite well, certainly better than expected (as is becoming the norm with most trucks these days).
Heavy braking on a downhill with a corner looming as usual raised the pucker factor a bit as the weight becomes really apparent in a hurry but it all worked out yet again, the brakes are large, strong, and bite well, equipped with 14″ rotors on all four corners.
One thing I very much appreciated this somewhat snowy and slippery week was the fact that the drive selector buttons had not only 4Hi, 4Lo, 2Hi, but also 4Auto. I drove partly in 2WD, but then switched it to 4Auto as the roads were just mixed for most of the week, and being able to not think about that aspect is a huge boon.
4Auto allowed me to power out of deep snow, make U-turns and not concern myself (as much) with the pavement boundary and on the snowy highway be able to just forget about it.
The way this particular truck was equipped resulted in a GVWR of 10,650lbs, curb weight of 7,337 pounds, maximum payload of 3,313 pounds, conventional TWR of 12,000 pounds with max tongue weight of 1,200 pounds and a gooseneck TWR of 16,620 pounds with a max tongue weight of 2,490 pounds. I didn’t tow anything with it or load anything into the bed besides the snow that was in there all week.
Note that all of these particular numbers were specific to this actual truck, gleaned from the information sticker in the doorjamb, the actual maximum towing number for an HD2500 is over 18,000 pounds, but would require some different equipment choices including the diesel engine. (And a 1-ton could tow up to 35,500 pounds just for comparison when properly equipped)
I shouldn’t be shocked when a large truck that weighs 3.5 tons and can outrun many sports cars from not that long ago gets poor fuel economy but I suppose I’m spoiled by all of the relatively recent advances in fuel saving technology. Compared to even a decade ago this truck is quite good, but obviously not compared to a car whose weight can safely be put into the bed of this truck. I drove this truck a total of 276 miles which can be handily split into two segments.
First I drove a total of 86 miles around town and the hills to run errands, get a feel for the thing, and take pictures. At the end of that the display showed an average of 9.3mpg. The remainder of 190 miles was done in one day and consisted of mainly freeway driving to Denver and its environs with a little higher speed highway mileage mixed in. Much of the last fifty miles though was in very snowy conditions on the freeway that reduced speeds significantly as compared to normal. With all of that said and the first 86 miles included as well, the overall mileage figure for the week and 276 miles was 12.9mpg.
At the end of the snowy freeway drive, I checked the rolling figure which I had set for 25 miles (it can be set for much longer ones as well, an interesting feature), and that showed 17.0mpg. So steady motoring with light throttle at speeds of 50-60mph can in fact be very economical. Everyday errand running with lots of cold starts and some idling are murder on the pocketbook though. The tank holds 36 gallons, I did not need to refill it before returning it.
What’s it all run? Well, I’m once again astounded that a Heavy Duty truck isn’t really much costlier than a half-ton (and it explains why they sell quite well). This truck in CrewCab 4×4 LTZ trim starts at $53,700. That includes (in their listed order on the Monroney) a Teen Driver Mode, Auto-locking Rear Diff, Trailer Sway Control and Hill Start Assist, Trailer package with Hitch Guidance, and Trailer Brake Controller (besides Toyota, I believe all of this is not standard in most half-tons).
Continuing (deep breath and off we go…), there is also the 8″ Touchscreen with the tech mentioned earlier, OnStar and in-vehicle 4G LTE WiFi, Satellite Radio, 120V power outlets in bed and dashboard, various USB ports, Color Driver Info Center (between the gauges), Keyless Open and Start, Remote Start, Dual Zone HVAC, 10-Way Power Heated Seats, the folding Rear Seat with Storage Package, Memory for Driver’s Seat and Mirror, Heated Leather Steering Wheel (heater button is on the wheel, the best place for it), Rubberized Vinyl Floor Mats, Exterior Steps, 12 Tie-Downs, Power Adjustable Heated Trailering Mirrors, LED headlamps and fog lights, Rear Window Defogger and Rear Wheelhouse Liners.
To that in this case was added the LTZ Plus Package for $2,645 which included Front Ventilated Bucket Seats with Center Console, Rear Sliding Power Window, Universal Home Remote, Heated Second Row Outboard Seats, Power Up/Down Tailgate and Lock, LED bed lighting, Front/Rear Park Assist, Lane Change Alert with Blind Zone Alert, and Rear Cross Traffic Alert – so the big trucks when properly equipped can look out for other road users.
The Z71 Sport Edition Package for $1,470 added Black Badging and Trim as well as Body Color Bumpers, Door handles and Grille (yes I know the door handles are black instead, I don’t know why), the black wheels and M/T tires, as well as black assist steps.
The Gooseneck/Fifth Wheel package runs $1,340 for which you receive Stamped Bed Holes with Caps, 7-Pin Trailer Harness, ChevyTec Spray-On Bedliner, and a Bed View Camera feature so that you can keep an eye on the hitch while in motion if need be. Safety Package II includes Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Auto High Beams, Following Distance Indicator (a light that changes from green to orange if you follow too close), and the Safety Alert Seat – this package runs $645 although I strongly believe it should all just be standard.
On top of all that, the Z71 Off-Road Package for $325 includes Off-Road Suspension including Twin Tube Shocks (they are white and red, presumably Rancho), Hill Descent Control, Skid Plates and the all important badges on the fenders.
The Destination Charge is a further $1,595 but there is an LTZ Plus Package discount of $500, taken altogether resulting in a final price of $61,220 as shown and equipped.
I’ll admit this was one of the harder trucks to like, at least initially. I suppose I was guilty of judging it from the outside at least a little bit, perhaps more. Over time though, as limited as that was and without actually being able or needing to use it to its fullest capabilities, it proved to be a very good truck. While the design and some of the features weren’t what I myself would have chosen, what was under the skin absolutely impressed.
Were I to have a need for something like this right now and be able to utilize the existing best parts of it, I think I’d probably want to look at the GMC fraternal twin version, but a more basic Chevy version without the bling factor might fit the bill as well. It seems that the public has become more accepting of the new Chevy half-ton trucks over the last couple of years (I know I have), time will tell if the same will occur with the HD series.
What’s fairly certain though is that I doubt GM will rest and call it a day, likely there will be improvements made. A little plastic surgery could go a long way here, and likely be far easier to accomplish than a heart transplant or similar, which is thankfully not needed. Perhaps it’s a bit shallow of me, but the truck has a great personality as well as much capability, if it could just tone down the costume a little it’d be an all around winner.
A great big Thank You to Chevrolet for letting us sample one of their big boy (and girl) toys this week and supplying it with a tank of fuel to boot!
Pages: 1 2