By on June 26, 2019

In case you haven’t noticed, America’s truck wars are in full swing. Now, more than ever, the Detroit Three are gleefully beating each other over the head with a proverbial chair printed with towing and torque figures. Prodigious power? Sure. Enormous cabins? Yewbetcha. Grilles to the moon? They got ya covered, buddy.

Hot on the heels of a half-ton rethink, the crew at Chevrolet turned their attention to the Heavy Duty series of pickups. In a perpetual race with their competition, and the introduction of new engines and no fewer than fifteen camera views, you know this thing is going to haul trailers like a large poutine from Frank’s Diner turns your author’s bloodstream into artery putty.

[Full Disclosure: Chevy flew your author to Oregon and put us up in a hotel for two nights. We were permitted to bring a guest, someone unfamiliar with trailering who could provide a prole’s view of the HD’s hauling prowess. This was an offer we politely declined].

Let’s get one thing clear right from the start: the styling of any 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD is controversial, no matter the trim or weight class. From certain angles, there are a couple of models which simply look like one of those faceless Dr. Who monsters that exist simply to terrify small children. Others, such as the High Country model, wear the styling choices rather well. Like wasabi and cod liver oil, the front of this truck is an acquired taste.

Looks don’t haul trailers, though. Power does — and the Silverado HD has plenty of it. For 2020, there is a choice of two engines, both of which displace 6.6L of American freedom from their cast iron blocks. The standard engine is a new 6.6L V8 gas with direct injection making 401 horses and 464lb.-ft of torque mated to a six-speed automatic transmission. That’s an 11-percent increase in horsepower and a 22-percent increase in peak torque over the old gas burner, respectively, resulting in 18 percent more towing capability.

Most buyers, however, will check the box specifying GM’s Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8. This is an engine capable of cranking out 445 horsepower and 910 lb.-ft of torque. It’s coupled to an Allison ten-speed automatic, a marketing tie up going back to approximately the Jurassic era, despite this transmission being anything but prehistoric. GM engineers are proud to point out that every component between the transmission and the wheels has allegedly been upgraded to enable an available 52-percent increase in max towing capability, a number which now soars to 35,500 pounds.

Of course, that amount of hauling is approved for a single body style: a two-wheel drive Duramax dualie with regular cab seating. However, Chevy says that every single dual-rear wheel HD pickup equipped with the diesel is capable of hauling at least 30,000lbs. At base camp, a white Silverado equipped to tow the oft-touted 35,500lb weight limit permitted us the opportunity to haul the equivalent of six fully grown amphibious ungulate mammals.

The anvil on that trailer, a delivery for Wile E. Coyote, weighed about 1400lbs, by the way. The remainder of the weight was made up of steel plates laid flat on the trailer. As for towing this real-life panel from a Road Runner, the Duramax growled its way up to speed around an airport tarmac with nary a complaint. This was a closed course, though, and your author was anxious to hit the road.

Before we did just that, PR reps from GM were making lots of noise about their truck’s ability to best its competition in a 0-60mph drag race. This was an odd claim, as your author knows that heavy hauling is a marathon, not a sprint. It also helps explain why Dominic Toretto never once deployed a diesel dualie while dispatching Johnny Tran. In particular, the Chevy folks chose to beat up on Ram.

According to GM internal tests, an unladen diesel-powered Silverado 3500 DRW scoots to 60mph from rest in 7.4 seconds, two clicks faster than a comparable Ram. When burdened with an 18,000 pound trailer, that gap stretches to 2.6 seconds. Passing maneuvers — from 40-60mph — are allegedly within a second of each other between the two trucks. Reaching out to Ram about these claims, their response was as swift as it was predictable: “When making a long trip with grades, the initial 0-60 time is not a factor. A much more important factor is the ability to comfortably and confidently tow up to 35,100 pounds at speed on a steep uphill grade in all types of conditions.”

We’ll allow the reader to draw their own conclusions. Can the new Silverado HD pull a fast one? Sure. But with a myriad of trailering tech and a solid on-road feel as speed, The General didn’t really need to light the fuse on that particular 0-60 argument.

To the tarmac then, where we hooked up an 14,000lb trailer to the back of a Silverado 2500 Duramax 4×4. Towing nerds take note: burly stabilizer sway control bars were deployed as part of a weight distribution system along with thick safety chains and a brutish-looking shank.

Chevy’s killer app in the trailer game is their ability to provide drivers with no fewer than fifteen different camera views, the most helpful of which must currently be plugged into the truck via cables. One of those two top cables shown in the photo above receive signals from the cam that’s mounted on the back of a trailer in order to provide the gee-whiz ‘invisible trailer’ view. This is an innovation which is supremely helpful in identifying tailgaters and random tins of Skoal dropped on the highway. The white truck shown in the picture below was not visible in the Silverado’s side mirrors, for example. The other cable runs a live from a camera placed inside the trailer, handy for keeping an eye on one’s Very Expensive Horse.

Seasoned haulers will note those two connectors supersede the traditional 4-pin harness which is generally used for small trailers that don’t have electric brakes. When asked, GM reps told me that a 4-pin connector can be swapped into place of the camera plugs. Those views are in addition to cameras offering sightlines down the truck and trailer’s flanks, images which instantly appear on the infotainment screen when one hits the turn signal. Some camera angles are able to be displayed there indefinitely (like the ‘invisible trailer’ view) while others time out after eight seconds. Why? Blame the bedwetting lawyers who insist certain views are driver aids while others are distractions.

Hammering up Mt. Bachelor in the state of Oregon, the Duramax hauled its 14,000lb load with élan, the ten-speed automatic shifting at the appropriate times and never feeling flatfooted in the wrong gear. The term effortless sprung constantly to mind, with the Duramax handily taking care of acceleration duties leaving your author to concentrate on proper towing etiquette and whether or not Kawhi Leonard is going to re-sign with the Raptors. With basically the same size brakes as last year, the tow/haul mode and exhaust brake kept us whoa’d up on long downhill slogs. The diesel option is about a $10k premium over the base gasser, by the way.

Note well: GM has finally moved the filler neck for diesel exhaust fuel from under the hood to inside the fuel flap where it belongs. A bigger engine fan and hood scoop helps to keep things cool, in addition to a new “after run” feature that automatically keeps the engine running (and eventually shuts itself off) after you’ve left the truck to properly cool it down after you’ve beaten on it all day.

Speaking of all things non-diesel, we also hooked a 12,000lb trailer (2500lbs under max for this truck) to a Silverado powered by the 6.6L gasoline engine. While the two mills share displacement, they certainly do not share power characteristics. In the Oregon hills, the gasser was content to sit near its redline at about 5000rpm while maintaining highway speeds climbing up a steady grade. This was in stark contrast to the easygoing diesel and predictably produced an indicated single digit fuel economy during our testing loop. You’ll also notice the gasser has earned the diesel’s hood scoop, foiling eagle-eyed truck spotters bent on spying Duramax-equipped GM trucks in traffic. While the scoop is functional on the diesel, it is equipped with a block-off plate on the gas truck.

If you’re considering a 2020 Silverado HD for frequent towing, pop for the Duramax. Full stop. Its ability to shrug off hills like Drake shrugs off criticism is matched only by its transmission’s aptitude to always be in the right place at the right time. You know this won’t be the last word in hauling, of course. Around these parts, the truck wars never sleep.

The 2020 Silverado goes on sale this summer.

 

[Images: © 2019 Matthew Guy]

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56 Comments on “First Drive: 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD – Pull a Fast One...”


  • avatar
    crtfour

    Damn….and not in a good way.

  • avatar
    loner

    14,500 lbs for gas and 35000 for diesel. That’s a significant difference..

    So, did I read it correctly that the trailer in the photo had 34,000 lbs on it NOT including the big fake anvil that weighed 1400 lbs? Really?

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I doubt that is the max gas capacity, just the limit for that particular truck which besides being SRW is also loaded down with a crew cab. The diesel on the other hand was the specific max trailer weight combination.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        The diesel 3/4 ton can tow about 1,000 lbs more than the gas V8 3/4 ton. Around 18K vs 17K max.

        However the gas 3/4 ton has about a 1,000 lbs advantage in payload since it’s much lighter.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Sounds very disappointing for people that aren’t interested in a diesel.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      I’ll reserve judgement until I test drive a 6.6 gasser. But it would be easy to drive a Duramax with 12,000 lb behind back to back with a gas truck and trash the gasser in a review. I just have two questions afterwards:

      1) How many people regularly pull 12,000 lb up mountain passes? Gas engines are designed to rev, even in HD trucks. I wouldn’t be the least bit concerned with spending a few minutes straight at 5,000 RPM once in a while.

      2) Have the same journalist spend several hours back to back in an LS Duramax and an LTZ gasser. That $10,000 up front that is so easily shrugged off in the review buys a LOT of other features if you skip the diesel.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Latest rumor: for white collar workers using this as a commuter vehicle, Chevy throws in a lifetime supply of Brawndo.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    That ‘invisible trailer’ feature is the bomb. But I hope it shuts off when you’re in reverse, or at least shows some indication of the end of the trailer. Otherwise, your invisible trailer might generate a very visible insurance claim.

  • avatar
    statikboy

    Hippos?

    Also, Did we give it enough Grill? No, I don’t think we gave it enough Grill… Give it a bunch more Grill…

    Am I the only one who thinks that it shouldn’t be legal for punters to be able to tow anywhere near that much?

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Three grilles, three sets of foward lights, three horizontal chrome bumper-like bars, and a big glob of shiny gray plastic as an afterthought on each of the lower corners.
      They’re distracting your attention from something that they don’t want you to pay any attention to (possibly the Monroney sticker.)

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Remember when we all thought the grille on the Jeep Cherokee was so awful, remember? Chevy doesn’t

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    No doubt that an impressive amount of engineering goes into each and every one of the 3/4-ton-and-up trucks. None of them is really a loser, and even though the manufacturers’ pissing contests would have you believe otherwise, each is a worthwhile choice.

    Meanwhile, the one styling detail that really bothers me here is the shape of the wing mirror mounts. I can think of about ten ways GM could have better integrated them.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      Those mirrors look awful, what’s the point in removing them from the corner of the window only to replace them with a black plastic triangle? Why not extend the window, it’s one of the many issues with this truck.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        To take the window all the way to the corner (nerd-out alert), its track would be against the front ‘cavity’ wall.

        There needs to be room for the wiring harness and hinge hardware. And if you’ve ever replaced a pickup window, they don’t just drop in “level”, straight down. They have to come in tilted forward dramatically, since the upper track is rigid.

        The corner is wasted space anyway so it’s curious they chose a door-panel mounted mirrors. Also the mirror bolts would be blocked by a window going all the way to the corner, since windows actually extend quite a few inches below what you see.

        And it’s a pedestal mount which brings the arms back up to window level. Seems silly.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          The H2 and H3 all have windows up to the corner so it’s certainly possible. But I feel if they wanted a body mounted mirror they shouldn’t have halfarsed the design.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            It’s made possible on the Hummers since the windows (going from front to back) don’t start until several inches past the front door’s leading edge. Like around 7 inches. That’s an extraordinary think window frame.

            On the new GMs it’s about 2 inches from the potential window corner to the door’s leading edge, minus about an inch for the skin wrap.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    I don’t see why this engines power numbers are so low. Ram has had 410 HP and 429ft-lbs for several years now in its 6.4L. Is the best the King of V8s able to do is top the torque by 35lbs? Not to mention being down 9HP.

    They literally took a clean sheet engine and produce power numbers that are comparable to a 10 year old engine. Bore out the Hemi 0.2L and I’m sure you would reclaim every one of those 35lbs.

    This seems like a pretty poor effort, Ford is about to throw a 7.3L engine on the table. GM should have went Big Block and no less.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Well sometimes it isn’t a bad strategy to start a little low and see how the competition goes. Leaving several HP or TQ on the drawing board for a year or two means that the marketing department can later make a fuss about higher outputs.

      It will be interesting so see Ford’s new 7.3l and how it does in the real world, both how hard it works and how well it sells.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I’m betting there’s more in this engine than they let on, I certainly expected over 420HP and closer to 480Lbs. But there’s also no where near the capability built into this one that someone could expect for a modern BBC.

        Alas, GM seems contempt on being marginalized and being king of no mountain. This is a huge change in stance over the Lutz years.

  • avatar
    Rocket

    You know how sometimes you see a new vehicle, and you’re like “ewwwww!”? But then you see it again and again, and before you know it, the ewwwww-factor is gone snd it’s just another vehicle? Well this is absolutely NOT one of those times. I swear this beast gets homelier every single time I see it.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Heh, I consider it less whacky looking than my 2016 Prius. Styling is low on my list when buying a machine in any case.

      My biggest gripe about this truck is that one of those 15 camera views better be on the front, because the hood is inexcusably high and flat. WTF?? Why can’t the hood line be a bit lower and slope towards the front so it can be seen past?

  • avatar
    James2

    I think the fundamental design problem is that they gave it a needlessly high hoodline. Lop off those first few inches and make the front end a touch more pointy and they would have saved themselves a world of criticism.

    Instead, they designed an ugly beast only a Toyota/Lexus designer could love. Mothers run in the other direction.

    • 0 avatar
      TS020

      You’re definitely right about the hoodline, and that’s also one of the reasons I like the Mercedes G-Series even though I can’t stand modern SUV’s and utes/small trucks; a high hoodline makes the vehicle look like it’s trying way too hard to be tough and I’ve always got them tailgating me in my hatchback because I have the audacity to be sitting on the speed limit.

      While we’re here, having the front bumper in black instead of that horrendous chrome would make some positive difference to the styling.

      • 0 avatar
        ttiguy

        If you’re in the left lane then you deserve it. MOVE OVER!!!

        • 0 avatar
          ttacgreg

          Here in Colorado, doing the limit or even five over in the right lane invites tailgaters even when the left lanes are wide open. They are apparently too lazy to change lanes.

        • 0 avatar
          TS020

          Sure are a lot of assumptions there, ttiguy.

          -Where I live we drive on the left, steering wheel on the right.

          -I never mentioned where I’m being tailgated (99% of the time it’s on a 35MPH/30MPH road in the suburbs, where there’s no overtaking laws like there are on freeways/highways).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    This is one truck where a front end collision would improve it looks.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    0-60 times are relevant. They indicate how they’ll compare, once loaded down and or towing, from a dead stop to highway speeds.

  • avatar

    Our boat dealership has in its fleet a 2016 RAM 2500 Tradesman 4×4 with a dealer-installed ‘Outlaw’ Katzkin leather package we acquired brand-new and a 2006 Silverado 3500 DRW crew cab 4×4 I acquired as a straight-trade for an ’07 Wrangler (go figure…) with 181k miles. Now, it has about 260k and the RAM 110k.

    I would trust the Chevy any day and twice on Sunday. For ride, power, and dependability.

    P.S. The is the new HD’s grille inspo sesh, fwiw…
    https://www.trucksplanet.com/photo/chevrolet/series_40_50_60-67/series_40_50_60-67_15201.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I consider 2006 GM to be peak truck GM, I personally love the styling, experience has told me that they are extremely reliable and easily fixed when something goes wrong. 2006 is also peak diesel for GM the Duramax is coveted for being the best iteration before emissions strangled them. The two gassers are both stellar engines that can go high miles. The Allison behind the gas and diesel trucks was a good unit. Fuel economy hadn’t strangled the half tons yet, no DOD or other engine tricks.
      You cannot base these trucks off of an 06 is what I’m saying. That was an entirely different generation of GM where bread and butter was done right no matter the cost.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        The Duramax is great for the private owner, weekend warrior and whatnot. For commercial use it’s a different story. They wear out around 200K miles.

        Look around. Hotshotters and those tugging big loads with heavy duty pickups daily stick to Ram and Ford almost exclusively. The rest might not know any better, should’ve asked.

        • 0 avatar
          bullnuke

          DenverMike – I always wondered about Duramax longevity. The farmers around here (wealthy and less wealthy) drive Fords and Dodges/Rams almost exclusively. Duramax trucks (Chevy/GMC) are not often seen a 50-mile radius of me in West-Central Ohio/East-Central Indiana.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          The Duramax was given a rather substantial redesign in 2017 so maybe it will hold up better commercially now?

          Personally, there is no way I’d be signing up for any diesel truck (I’m gasoline or bust), but I’m not a commercial driver either.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        “That was an entirely different generation of GM where bread and butter was done right no matter the cost.”

        I don’t have any experience with the HD trucks but on the half ton side that was the era of 4L60s that blew up at 125K, rusted out brake lines, leaking steering racks, dead gage clusters, and cold start piston slap. GM beancounted the chit out of those trucks.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Specifically the 06 trucks, I agree the 4l60e and 4l65e that I’ve blown up in two different model year 2003 trucks both around 130-150k doesn’t help my case

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            The 4L80/85Es and Allisons were solid, but the rusted lines (trans cooler in my case), dead gauge clusters, and piston slap were all present in my HD.

            World class powertrain with a 2 bit truck surrounding it.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Whew.

      motorsportsflorida.com/2001-BMW-7Series/Used-Car/PalmHarbor-FL/12918576/Details.aspx

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    My god that’s hideous. I want to say peak ugly but there’s always tomorrow.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      Fortunate that GM kept GMC. The GMC pickups look good. In fact, the GMC, Ford, and Ram pickups all look good. It is just the Chevy pickups that have a problem. I would guess GM is already rushing a fix .. at least I hope.

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        This isn’t a bug it’s a feature. It’s still the 1980s in the RenCen. Hideous Chevys sell expensive GMCs instead. That hideous Chevys might instead sell a Ford or a Toyota would require crediting that Ford and Toyota exist.

        As if!

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    The 2018 Chevrolet trucks are such nice looking vehicles … very popular on the west coast. Many sit in Newport Beach driveways.

    I am having a hard time with the looks of the 2019 Chevrolet trucks. In my opinion, I think they made a mistake. I think a lot of people are shifting to the F150 because they very look good.

    A guy who lives by me rushed out and bought a brand new 2018 Silverado when the 2019 model came out.

  • avatar
    RedRocket

    At some point I hope manufacturers realize that building pickups with 35,000lb towing capacity and engines with torque ratings over 900 lb-ft are getting into the territory where the potential customer would be better served buying a Peterbilt.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      They are encroaching on Peterbilts/Class A “payload”. 50% or more in some cases.

      Of course it looks strange seeing a “pickup” towing a Class A motorhome or Peterbilt.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      On the west coast, I see more and more of these “Peterbilt” pickups being used as daily drivers. Some even have custom wheels and accessories. They are detailed like a fine super car.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    “both of which displace 6.6L of American freedom from their cast iron blocks”

    Can someone tell me what is this American freedom that is being displaced at 6.6L per revolution?

    Btw, that “power” difference you experienced between gas and diesel engines is called torque, not power.

    Where do you get your writers, TTAC, Walmart cashiers pool?

  • avatar
    Jon

    Matthew,

    Any indication from GM about if or when they will offer the 8 or 10 speed behind the 6.6L gas?

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    “a new “after run” feature that automatically keeps the engine running (and eventually shuts itself off) after you’ve left the truck to properly cool it down after you’ve beaten on it all day.”

    Factory turbo timer, lol. But I suppose GM is overboosting these things enough that they need one.

  • avatar

    What a disgrace!

  • avatar
    geo

    Chevy designers were trying to emulate the double-decker grille from those of the early sixties, trucks many consider to be some of the most beautiful of all time. I think it looks quite okay and matches the rest of the truck.

  • avatar
    millmech

    Another horizontal windshield, silly. Suspecting any mpg gain offset by extra load on AC. Great for the tan!


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