2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500 HD: First Drive


We first saw the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado Heavy-Duty pickup trucks at the State Fair of Texas and found out that the interior, cab and bed changes on the 2014 Silverado 1500 would carry over to the 2500 and 3500 pickups as well.

Now that we've had a chance to get behind the wheel of these new trucks, our first impression is solid; they (we won't call them "all-new," but this is more than just a refresh) are quite a bit better than the previous models and will push the segment competitors to be better. And we like that the GM engineers didn't just focus on the big details like new double-cab and crew-cab configurations, improved interior designs and bed features, but they also focused on key integration improvements with braking and towing technology, and how to present more information to the driver. Maybe this isn't as far as GM could have gone, but it focused on all the right pieces.

As a quick recap, we'll remind you nothing has changed on the HDs' frames, suspensions or powertrains, with the exception of a beefed-up bumper hitch that is now rated higher than any other pickup in the segment at 19,600 pounds. Payload (also segment leading, for now) and fifth-wheel towing numbers are up slightly as well.

We recently had our first chance to get behind the wheel of various gas- and diesel-equipped Silverado HDs in the mountains outside Phoenix, where we were able to gather some preliminary impressions (no testing was conducted). We also drove a 2014 Ford Super Duty F-250 and Ram 2500, both with their highest-output turbo-diesel engine option, for comparison.

We spent a short amount of time in a 6.0-liter V-8 2500 Silverado HD LT double cab and were reminded of how nice this classic GM engine (still overhead valve) can be. At 360-horsepower and 380 pounds-feet of torque, the engine output is comfortable and responsive. On our city and highway tour on the fringes of Phoenix — driving an empty, untrailered truck — we found it nimble and without any of the chattery ride qualities some three-quarter-ton pickups can have. Chevy says it mostly sells the gas engine to fleet buyers at the lower end of the trim package spectrum, but it is still an engine Chevy will keep around for a while. There are no high-tech capabilities here like Ram's new 6.4-liter Hemi, but the 6.0-liter block does allow GM to offer bi-fuel capability, using compressed natural gas for commercial and fleet buyers interested in extended range and potentially huge cost savings. Chevy didn't have any of the bi-fuel models on hand, but it will offer the trucks in all three cab configurations — regular, double and crew.

The stout 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel is also unchanged, but that doesn't mean it feels the same in this new truck. Once you're driving, the first thing you'll notice is that there is practically no engine noise (with the windows rolled up). Not that the engine was noisy before (we have found it to the be the quietest of the three big competitors), but the new cabs have more sound insulation and tighter door seals, making the interior much quieter and more isolated from outside wind or engine noise. The idea here, we're told, is to make the truck interiors more comfortable and quiet so you can more easily hear your passengers or the radio. After putting several hundred miles of mountain highway driving on these trucks, we can say that works pretty well. We were able to yack (uh, converse) the whole way at easy volumes.



The engine handled towing a 28-foot Airstream (see our video) without any problem, averaging about 10 mpg over a two-hour tour that took us above 5,000 feet elevation. The trucks — when compared directly from configuration to configuration (2014 to 2015) — have gained about 100 pounds of weight but it's completely unnoticeable with the Duramax's 765 pounds-feet of torque. Yes, that is a carryover number but with the improved brake pedal feel and smarter exhaust brake applications, the overall feel of the engine and chassis is a major improvement over the 2014 models. And when compared to the current-generation Ram and Ford Super Duty diesel three-quarter-ton trucks, the Chevy Silverado 2500 did an excellent job of holding the truck-trailer combination on the long downhill 6 percent grade where we got to drive each of the trucks back-to-back. The Chevy grade braking with the Allison 1000 transmission and exhaust brake (which is actually a variable vane turbocharger) work together exceptionally well. We can't wait to get a heavier load on these trucks and get them to Davis Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border and Colorado's Eisenhower Pass grade.

Trim levels are relatively unchanged but there are some differences that will allow buyers to better order exactly what they want and stay away from those features they don't. There will be two levels of the Work Truck package, two levels of the LT trim and the top-of-the-line LTZ. Each trim level will have an additional Convenience Package along with a Driver Alert Package that includes high-tech safety technology like lane departure warning, forward collision alert, vibrating seats, and front and rear park assist. There will be no High Country option package for Silverado HDs.

Although it might take us a while to warm up to the new exterior styling, we have no such problems with the interiors. It was pretty tough for us to tell the LT and LTZ interiors apart, but both are huge improvements. The new gauge layout and center information screen are clear and simple to use, providing more information about what's going on with the engine and cooling systems, as well as delivering dozens of selectable screens for tire, fuel economy and audio data. Our only disappointment here was not seeing more screens dedicated to towing information. Additionally, we would have liked to have seen some upgraded towing mirrors (maybe with push-button extendability?) instead of the carryover manually extendable types. The climate controls and bank of toggle switches are our favorite improvements as both are easy to find and read at a glance.

Pricing is out on all 2015 Silverado 2500 and 3500 models. Although the base pricing for select models are right on top of last year's models, there have been increases on some models because of content changes and trim adjustments. Generally speaking, most of the middle and top-level packages have increased slightly over 2014 models.

We'll have more when we test the new Silverado HDs along with new Super Duty and Ram HD trucks later this summer. Let us know how you think we should spec out the trucks for testing or what packages you'd most like to see go head-to-head.

To see the most up-to-date specifications for the 2015 Chevy Silverado 2500, .

To see the most up-to-date specifications for the 2015 Chevy Silverado 3500, .



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