Silverado Heavy Duty: King of the Chevy Stable

By Sue Mead, January 6th, 2018

Light the birthday candles -- Chevrolet celebrates 100 years of building trucks. Chevy is touting its evolution from making practical parts haulers used around the automaker's factories to full-blown workhorses capable of tackling demanding duties.

The 2018 heavy-duty Silverado 2500 is the king of Chevrolet's stable, thanks to a sixth-generation 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V-8 that boasts a horsepower increase of 19 percent for a best-in-class 445 hp, elevated torque by 12 percent to 910 lb.-ft. -- plus a 35 percent improvement in emissions. The six-speed Allison 1000 transmission received minor tweaking to mesh with the new diesel engine that was upgraded for 2017.

We drove both gasoline and Duramax-powered 2500 heavy-duty trucks but concentrated our review on the diesel pickups that sport new hood scoops as a part of GM's patent-pending cold-air intake system, since up to 90 percent of heavy duty buyers chose diesel. The revision brings performance improvements that include faster acceleration, better performance when towing up steep grades, as well as stronger passing and merging performance.

The updated engine launches the truck from 0-60 mph in 7.1 seconds -- 0.3 seconds quicker than the previous-gen model -- and allows it to tow up to 18,100 pounds when equipped with available gooseneck/fifth-wheel hitch trailering package. A selectable tow/haul mode adjusts the transmission to reduce shift-cycling when towing or hauling heavy loads or driving on steep grades.

Our favorite takeaways were the quietness of the diesel and the collection of technologies that made towing heavy loads in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado an easy task and confidence-builder.

General Motors says the upgrades improve the real-world towing for "the heart of the HD market." GM claims that 89 percent of all HD customers purchase trucks rated less than 25,000 pounds of towing capacity. The new turbocharger not only produces more power, but also allows for lower exhaust emissions, improves exhaust braking, and reduces diesel noise both at idle and under power. New first-in-class ceramic glow plugs give a faster cold start and promise to be service-free for the life of the vehicle.

Completely redesigned in 2014, the recent update of the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 kept the interior and exterior largely the same. Trim levels include Work Truck (WT), LT, LTZ, and High Country, as well as several special-edition models and appearance packages. The LTZ trim is offered on double cab and crew cab models, while the High Country -- Chevrolet's premium heavy-duty pickup -- is offered exclusively on the crew cab body style.

The most notable exterior updates for 2018 include new exterior colors (Cajun Red Tintcoat, Havana Metallic, and Iridescent Pearl Tricoat), new grille designs on the High Country and Z71 models, as well as revised "Z71" and "4x4" graphics. Out back, the versatile cargo box features two-tier loading capability, integrated tie-downs, and accessibility via the CornerStep rear bumper and EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate; spray-in bedliner and LED cargo box lighting are optional.

Inside, MyLink 7-inch-diagonal color touchscreen radio is standard on WT trim levels, while an 8-inch system is standard on LT and LTZ; navigation is standard on High Country and available on LT and LTZ. A rear-vision camera is now standard on all models with the cargo box, and the tire pressure monitoring system now includes tire fill alert. Convenient wireless device charging is standard on High Country and available on LT and LTZ; heated and cooled front buckets and heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel are standard on High Country and available on LTZ.

As towing and hauling are the "go-to" for most buyers in the heavy-duty pickup market, Chevy made things easier and safer, with integrated cruise control, auto grade braking, and diesel exhaust braking for greater driving control and reduced brake wear on steep and long grades. Digital Steering Assist power steering promises easier handling and maneuverability, greater steering response, greater road-holding capability, and greater stability control assistance (included on LT, LTZ and High Country crew cab models and double cab models with the Duramax engine).

Pricing starts at $35,455 for a two-wheel-drive regular cab, standard bed Work Truck, powered by a 6.0-liter V-8 gasoline engine, and ranges up to $68,500 for four-wheel-drive crew cab, long bed High Country powered by the Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel V-8 engine.


Base price $50,170 (as tested: $51,365)
Curb weight 6,242 lbs.
Displacement 6.6-liter
Engine type Duramax turbodiesel V-8
Epa mileage rating N/A
Fuel capacity 36 gal.
Horsepower (net) 445 at 2800 rpm
Overall length 239.5 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 910 at 1600 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 6-passenger AWD heavy-duty pickup
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