2011 CHEVY HEAVY DUTIES
GM’s new pickups lay claim to most power in the heavy-duty segment; better fuel economy an added plus
If you are a Chevy lover thinking about stepping up to a new heavy-duty GM diesel pickup, instead of looking at a 2010 model consider the new 2011 GM models. Sure, the two may look identical, but they’re not under the skin.
The Bow-Tie camp unveiled the 2011 Silverado Heavy-Duty pickups earlier this year at the 2010 Chicago Auto Show.
The 2011 Silverado HD and its GMC Sierra counterpart have received enough technological advancements in the frame, engine, braking and suspension areas to make it tow, haul, ride and perform much better than the previous (current) model.
Those who like the performance of the current Duramax/Allison package will love the new setup, which is said to be stouter, more powerful and more efficient.
GM’s 2011 6.6L Duramax turbodiesel is the new power leader in the heavy-duty pickup arena with 397hp at 3,000 rpm and 765 foot pounds of torque at 1,600 rpm, besting Ford by just a few ponies and pounds.
Furthermore, the 6.6L Duramax is 11-percent more fuel efficient than the outgoing model and far cleaner, reducing NOx emissions by up to 63 percent.
The standard engine in Sierra HD trucks is the Vortec 6.0L small-block V-8, which is rated at 360hp at 5,400 rpm and 380 foot-pounds at 4,200 rpm in Sierra Denali HD, 2500HD and 3500HD pickup models.
In chassis cab and box-delete models, as well as pickups with a GVWR greater than 10,000 pounds, it is rated at 322hp at 4,400 rpm and 380 foot-pounds at 4,200 rpm.
One item among the many catching the public’s attention is fuel economy.
Although none of the pickup manufacturers are required to post fuel economy numbers on their heavy-duty pickups, GM all but says the new Duramax/Allison 1000 combo will deliver 18.9 mpg on the open road. (Their claim: The Silverado’s 36-gallon fuel tank will take you 680 miles.)
Another area of importance to the working/recreational diesel pickup user is what’s under the body. GM went to a fully boxed frame and a heavier independent front suspension, both of which contribute to the new GM Heavy-Duty pickup’s class-leading load-carrying and towing capacities.
The design upgrades are also said to deliver a smoother, quieter ride and more precise handling—especially under heavy load situations, such as carrying big slide-in campers or towing travel and equipment trailers.
That leads to the biggest news of all: The 2011 Chevy Silverado HD doesn’t require a weight-distributing hitch to up to its maximum 16,000-pound trailering limit on the Dually and 13,000 pounds on single-rear-wheel models.
The weight-carrying and weight-distribution limits are the same. (Check out our towing story on pg. 26 for more on these limits.)The maximum towing capacity (13,000 to 16,000 pounds depending on model) is the result of using the protocols for the upcoming SAE J2807 testing standards, which will be put into play in 2013. This puts GM trucks two years or more ahead of the new towing certification program.
“You can tow up to 16,000 pounds [3500 model] in the conventional weight-carrying mode, which is towing on the ball and shank,” says Jim Mikulec, lead development engineer for GM HD trucks said during a recent press briefing.
“In short, the consumer no longer needs to use a weight-distribution hitch.”
In the world of towing, this is huge news.
Eliminate the hitch
In years past, to have your pickup properly-equipped as stated in the owner’s manual, all GM H-D pickups required the use of a weight-distributing hitch when trailering more than 7,500 pounds, while the majority of other manufacturer’s pickups required a W-D for trailered loads weighing more than 5,000 pounds.
Through the chassis, brakes and drivetrain changes GM engineers have found a way to eliminate the need for an aftermarket weight-distributing hitch. The new pickup’s door tag will probably show both the “weight-carrying” (trailer hitched straight to the ball/shank) and “weight-distributing” ratings being one and the same. (See SAE J2807 for details.)
Although GM marketing has overlooked this point, it’s probably the biggest news of all as GM becomes the first manufacturer to build a pickup and hitch package capable of towing this much weight without requiring the use of a weight-distributing hitch assembly.
This should great news to those who tow travel trailers and heavy equipment trailers on the factory hitch because this eliminates 1) having to deal with the set-up and expense of a W-D hitch, and 2) removes any confusion as to having the vehicle properly equipped when it comes to towing limits and related vehicle operator liability issues facing older pickups.
All in all, it appears GM thought out the redesign of the 2011 Silverado Heavy-Duty quite well. We haven’t had an opportunity to drive one yet. But if it’s as good as they claim, the Chevy HD pickups should be stiff competition for the 2011 Ford Super Duty and 2010 Dodge Ram HD.
TOP OF THE ROCK
2011 GMC Sierra Denali Crew Cab HDs bring new level of luxury to the work truck market. The Denali badge has always been the moniker of luxury in the GMC pickup line, but it was only offered to the ½-ton buyers. That’s no longer the case as the 2011 Heavy-Duty GMC Sierra pickups roll into dealers this summer: There’s now a Denali HD Crew Cab, which is great news for those corporate executives who like to visit jobsites and show up at contract signings riding in heavy-duty opulence.
The extra level of luxury in the Denali Crew Cab, with a small bump in price over the lesser appointed GMC Sierra or Chevy Silverado counterparts, of course, is GM’s way of distinguishing between its two brands, which are built one behind the other on the assembly lines at Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Flint, Michigan.
Other than the nicer in-cab amenities, slightly different badging and body trim, the 2011 GMC Denali Crew Cab shares every other component of the 2011 Sierra and Silverado.
But the Denali Crew Cab’s amenities are worth mentioning. It includes Denali-specific brushed aluminum trim, power-adjustable pedals, a Bose premium surround audio system and 12-way power seats.
And for those of you who like your tush toasty on cold mornings and cool on hot afternoons, it’s also available with a heated steering wheel, and heated and cooled leather-trimmed seats. But there are far fewer choices when it comes to the new Denali HD’s body color: Black, Stealth Gray and White.