GM Increases Towing and Hauling Figures for 2011 Heavy Duty Trucks


The battle royale among the titans of trucks continues. , General Motors is upping the previously announced capability ratings of its new 2011 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Heavy Duty pickups to reclaim several best-in-class towing and hauling figures from Ford's 2011 F-Series Super Duty lineup.

The two giants have been playing a fierce game of one-upmanship as each has slowly revealed the awesome capabilities of their 2011 HD pickups.

In a matchup of series versus series, GM says it now leads all HD segments in maximum conventional towing, with the one-ton Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra 3500 able to pull up to 17,000 pounds (up from 16,000 pounds) compared with the identical 16,000-pound max conventional towing rating for the one-ton Ford F-350 and one-and-a-half-ton Ford F-450. The Ram 3500HD is rated at 12,000 pounds.

GM's HD twins also claim series-best payload ratings across all segments. It's now able to haul up to 6,635 pounds (up from 6,335 pounds) compared with a maximum 6,520 pounds for the F-350 and 4,920 pounds for the F-450. The Ram 3500HD can carry up to 5,130 pounds.

Ford still holds onto the best overall fifth-wheel towing figure. The F-450 is rated to tow up to 24,400 pounds compared with a new maximum 21,700 pounds (up from 20,000 pounds) for the Silverado and Sierra 3500. Comparing apples-to-apples, the F-350 is only rated to tow up to 21,600 pounds.

Ford also retains the largest gross combined weight rating, at 33,000 pounds for the F-450. GM's one-ton 3500 trucks, however, are now rated at 29,200 pounds max GCWR vs. 29,100 for the F-350 and 25,400 for the Ram 3500 HD.

How has GM upped its work ratings after announcing lower numbers during the Silverado's reveal at the Chicago Auto Show? It's all about improved confidence in the 2011 HD pickups, according to Rick Spina, GM's full-size truck vehicle line executive.

“Our focus has consistently been on delivering customers the most capable heavy-duty trucks in the market," Spina said. "The first set of capability tests confirmed that the team had exceeded the payload and towing targets by a significant margin. Ongoing testing demonstrated a clear opportunity to increase the true capabilities of these trucks. Even pulling a combined weight of nearly 15 tons seems easy behind the wheel of a 2011 Silverado HD 3500 with the proven Duramax Diesel."

But it's not just extra testing and (ahem) that's giving GM its confidence boost. GM is also making further hardware changes underneath, in addition to the previously announced all-new fully boxed frame, updated suspension and bigger brakes. Stronger steel is being used in the cargo box cross sills that run transversely beneath the bed to handle greater payloads.

GM also continues to hold onto best-in-class power figures for its 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 diesel engine, which is rated at 397 horsepower and 765 pounds-feet of torque.

Production of the new 2011 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HD pickups is expected to start May 25 at GM's plant in Flint, Mich, where regular and crew cab models are assembled.

Carl Hillenbrand, Chevrolet Silverado product manager, says it won't be too long afterward that the first trucks should arrive at dealers.

"We'll hold the first [2011] trucks for a three day inspection period after they come off the line," Hillenbrand told "If there's no issue, it's possible that nearby dealers may have trucks for sale by the end of May. That's the tentative plan right now."

We'll find out how the latest crop of HD pickups performs in the near future during our 2010 Heavy Duty Shootout in Michigan. And we'll wonder what Ford to do between now and then.


Latest expert reviews