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2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD Performance

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

No matter which engine shoppers pick, reviewers say they’ll have plenty of power and a comfortable ride. Writers are impressed with the Silverado HD’s smooth ride, new exhaust braking system, and class-leading steering feel.

  • "Silverado HDs are surprisingly pleasant and manageable for such large, hefty vehicles. Straight-line stability is excellent, though Silverado's significant size and weight limit cornering speed, as does the expected big-truck body lean." -- Consumer Guide
  • "For one, they're surprisingly civilized, especially for anyone with experience in similar rough-and-ready trucks as recent as two generations ago.” -- Popular Mechanics

Acceleration and Power

The 2011 Chevy Silverado HD offers two engine options, and reviewers love both of them. The first is a Vortec 6.0L gas-powered V8 that makes 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. Reviewers say that this engine performs admirably, and is a good option if you don’t want to fork over the extra $8,395 for the diesel. However, opting for the upgrade will get buyers a Duramax 6.6L V8 turbodiesel engine that makes 397 horsepower and an absurd 765 pound-feet of torque, significantly more than the base model. Reviewers are happy with both the gas- and the diesel-powered engines, with the diesel winning by a nose because of its ridiculous amount of torque. They also praise Chevrolet for keeping the diesel so quiet, a tough feat to accomplish on an engine that’s usually loud and rumbly. Writers say that the ride is comfortable on the highway as well as on bumpy or twisty roads. While each trim level comes standard with two-wheel drive, opting for four-wheel drive will add $2,955 to the price tag. Keep in mind that four-wheel drive also tends to decrease fuel economy, so choosing 4WD will add to your annual fuel costs as well as its up-front sticker price.

The EPA does not rate the fuel economy of work vehicles, which includes the Silverado HD. Chevrolet estimates that the diesel engine has a highway cruising range of 680 miles, which combined with the standard 36-gallon gas tank would be fuel economy of about 19 mpg with strictly highway driving. Remember that this number has not been double-checked by an objective third party like the EPA. No information about the fuel economy of the gas-powered engine or either engine’s city mileage has been released.

  • "Either engine provides confident acceleration in both around-town and highway driving. Both engines haul light loads with ease, but the diesel gets our nod for towing and heavy hauling thanks to its massive 765 pound-feet of torque. Automatic transmissions are smooth and quick to kick down for more power." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The 6.0-liter gasoline V-8 is essentially carried over from 2010, but it has a new camshaft and remains a very solid engine choice for those who don't need (or can't afford) a diesel... We also noticed the Duramax was quieter and more refined than ever during our drive.” -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The engine is rated for 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque and didn't have any problems keeping up with traffic, but the 6L90-E [transmission] did do a bit of gear hunting up steeper grades with some rough shifting between Three and Four.” -- Motor Trend
  • "It took some adjustment to get used to the entire pedal stroke, but once we did, the Duramax’s wide power band was there for the asking. Demands for increased power were always met without noticeable turbo whine and little turbo lag.” -- PickupTruck.com
  • "Throttle response isn’t as instant as on Ford’s PowerStroke [engine], but the torque builds rapidly and during our evaluation, there wasn’t anything that seemed to phase this stout powertrain.” -- AutoGuide.com

Handling and Braking

Reviewers gush over both the 2500HD and 3500HD when it comes to steering feel and braking. They are particularly pleased with the siblings’ new smart exhaust brake system, which Chevy says will provide greater control on inclines and reduced brake pad wear. The auto press is also blown away by the steering in the Silverado HD, with some saying it’s the best in its class of heavy-duty pickups.

  • "Another standout feature is that the steering feel is vastly improved over the previous generation.” -- Motor Trend
  • "It was the brakes that gave us a pleasant surprise… Turns out Chevy engineers didn't like last year's long, soggy brake pedal any more than we did, so they made welcome improvements to the pedal ratio and the hydro-boost assist characteristics to improve response." -- Edmunds
  • "It’s the best steering we’ve ever experienced in GM’s HD trucks and compared with other heavies, and it’s near perfect. The feel is firm but not too heavy, and there’s less play than we’ve felt in the 2011 [Ford] Super Duty...” -- PickupTruck.com
  • "The Generals have a new larger recirculating ball steering gear, which, in tandem with the improved contact patch control of the revised front suspension, results in steering response that's better than some cars we've driven.” -- Autoblog
  • "The brakes furnish stable, relatively short stops with fine pedal feel. Plus-size exterior dimensions make close-quarters maneuvering a challenge.” -- Consumer Guide

 

Towing and Hauling

When properly configured, the Silverado HD can tow up to 21,700 pounds and haul a maximum of 6,635 pounds. For 2011, Chevrolet has added a host of optional trailer braking assist features like trailer sway control and an integrated trailer brake control to improve the safety of conventional and fifth-wheel towing.

  • "As we drove through more rolling hill country, it was tough to tell we had 1.5 tons in the bed. The truck rode extremely well. At one point, we went wide-open throttle from a full stop up about a 4 percent grade, and the Silverado quickly passed slower traffic and changed lanes without complaint.” -- PickupTruck.com
  • "Later, I also drove a 2500 Crew Cab with the Duramax after we hooked up a 9000-pound travel trailer to the bumper (weight-distributing hitch, of course) and was even more impressed with its performance as it seemed to adjust to the load rather quickly and provided a more nimble ride.” -- Motor Trend
  • "When towing, we noticed that with the factory integrated trailer control, there was generally little drama, though, when towing a 20-foot camper, we still felt slight buffeting when braking from highway speeds." -- AutoGuide.com
Review Last Updated: 5/26/11

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