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2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD Review

This review was written when the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD was new.

The redesigned 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD is bigger and badder than ever, with improved power, handling and a greater towing capacity. Whether you’re looking for a simple but capable work truck or a comfortable daily driver, the Silverado HD should be at the top of your shopping list.

The Chevrolet Silverado HD received a serious overhaul for 2011, and reviewers in the changes shine through in nearly every respect. The two engines get power upgrades, the steering feel is improved, the new exhaust braking system wins praise from nearly every reviewer, and its towing capacity is near the top of its class. But, the base model starts at $28,415, the second-highest sticker price in the category. Keep in mind, though, that even the highest and lowest prices out of all four heavy duty trucks are within $660 of each other. Overall, reviewers recommend the Silverado HD as a work truck worth taking a long hard look at. "The Silverado HD's redesign for 2011 burnishes the line's sterling heavy-duty credentials,” writes Consumer Guide. “These big rigs boast car-like driving characteristics with impressive hauling and towing capabilities, along with class-exclusive features such as all-surface 4WD. They're a must-see for heavy-duty pickup shoppers."

The 2011 model’s redesign didn’t touch the interior, though, and reviewers say it shows. Many writers mention the abundance of hard plastic and Spartan standard features list. This is fairly typical for heavy duty trucks, since many shoppers would prefer an interior that’s easy to clean over an interior full of high-tech gadgets. "We only wish that GM’s trucks received more extensive exterior makeovers and all-new high-quality interiors with modern information technology,” says PickupTruck.com. However, if you prefer comfort and technology, you’re still in luck with the Silverado HD. Its high-end LTZ trim offers a mobile Wi-Fi hotspot, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, leather-appointed seats and a navigation system that reviewers find intuitive and easy to use.

Along with its comfortable ride and impressive acceleration, the high-tech features help to make higher trims of the Silverado HD good for commuting, even if the gas mileage doesn’t. The EPA doesn’t rate work vehicles, so it hasn’t provided fuel economy ratings for the Silverado HD. Chevrolet estimates that the Duramax diesel engine has a highway cruising range of 680 miles, which on a 36-gallon tank would be fuel economy of about 19 mpg with strictly highway driving. They haven’t mentioned any city numbers or stats for the gas-powered V8, so consumers should expect them to be par for the class, which tends to be pretty dismal.

All in all, if your livelihood depends on your ability to tow an 11-ton trailer between work sites, or if your happiness depends on having the biggest truck on your block, the Silverado HD shouldn’t disappoint.

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Other Trucks to Consider

Although there are only four trucks in heavy-duty pickup category, the race to the top continues to escalate. With automakers competing for consumer dollars, this is great news for you because no matter which you choose, you’ll still get a good truck. Reviewers say that while the Silverado HD’s interior is acceptable, it’s surpassed by all of the competition, especially the Ford Super Duty. The auto press loves Ford’s SYNC and Work Solutions infotainment systems, and the Super Duty has the highest tow rating in the class (24,400 pounds). It also starts at $28,505, which puts it at the top of its class, although it’s still only $90 more than the Silverado HD.

The 2011 Ram Heavy Duty has a ride that some reviewers have call car-like, high praise for a work truck. The 3500 HD can tow up to 22,700 pounds, and at $27,845 it’s the least expensive model in the class. Its optional 6.7L turbodiesel inline-six engine makes a huge 650 pound-feet of torque, clinching another class-leader title. The Ram 2500 and 3500 HD also have cool interior tech features, including an available 3G Wi-Fi hotspot. The bottom line is that while the Silverado HD is a macho workhorse of a truck, others provide better interior quality and tech, and slightly better towing capacity.

Details: Chevrolet Silverado HD

The Chevrolet Silverado HD received a serious overhaul for 2011, with an upgraded drivetrain, braking system, engines, and even a few tweaks to the exterior. The auto press is unanimous in its praise for these improvements, which they say have improved power, acceleration, steering, braking, ride comfort and stability. Chevrolet gave both gas- and turbodiesel-powered V8 engines more horsepower and torque, and tweaked the gear ratios to increase towing capacity to a maximum of 21,700 pounds. The turbodiesel engine is now B20-biodiesel compatible.

Chevrolet offers two different heavy-duty models, the 2500HD and the 3500HD. Each model comes in WT, LT, and LTZ trims, which range from pure-pickup utilitarian to upscale-sedan quality interiors. The 3500HD is also available with dual rear wheels if you opt for the “Big Dooley” trims. Dual rear wheels, sometimes called “duallies” or “doolies,” add increased traction and towing power. The base two-wheel drive, 2500HD WT starts at $28,415, and the most expensive 3500HD LTZ starts at about $30,000 and can be optioned to more than $63,000.

  • "The Silverado HD's redesign for 2011 burnishes the line's sterling heavy-duty credentials. These big rigs boast car-like driving characteristics with impressive hauling and towing capabilities, along with class-exclusive features such as all-surface 4WD. They're a must-see for heavy-duty pickup shoppers." -- Consumer Guide
  • "There is no denying that the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD is a great truck. The things that matter most in this segment -- engine, chassis, suspension -- have been thoroughly upgraded under the skin. It's nothing less than a heart-lung-brain-skeleton transplant, with stitching so expert we can't see the Frankenstein seams.” -- Edmunds
  • "The new frame, ride and handling and diesel powertrain improvements have class-leading performance and are certain to work well in almost every situation we can imagine, unless you’re a swamp road logger and need a solid front axle for that extra bit of off-road capability.” -- PickupTruck.com
  • "What may tilt the scales toward GM, however, is its superior ride quality, engine refinement and features like smart exhaust braking. We suspect anyone who needs this kind of truck is unlikely to be disappointed by either of these leaders, but they might find themselves feeling a bit more refreshed after an extended stint in a Sierra or Silverado HD" -- Autoblog
Review Last Updated: 5/26/11

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