2020 Chevrolet Silverado Z71 2500HD 4x4, sort of vs. the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel Crew Cab: Two ways to the big boys.
This week: Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
Price: $73,265 as tested ($9,890 for the 6.6-liter diesel engine; $7,805 for the LTZ Premium Package; $1,080 for the Z71 Off-Road and Protection Package: $545 for the Fifth Wheel hitch; and $495 for red paint).
Conventional wisdom: Motor Trend liked the acceleration, transmission, and interior, but dinged the 2500HD for its weak braking and for the near $10,000 price tag for the engine alone.
Marketer’s pitch: “The strongest, most capable Silverado HD ever.”
Reality: The Incredible Hulk but watch out for Hulk smash.
Meet the big fella: The familiar tapping of a diesel greeted me as I walked to my driveway to meet the fleet driver with the latest heavy-duty Chevrolet pickup. (This happened during pre-coronavirus days.)
It towered over me, taking up far too much space in the narrow lane to my house, and the hood sat above my sight line.
The huge lights and grille made an imposing face as I walked past.
“It looks like a semi parked there,” Sturgis Kid 4.0 said.
That’s the idea.
Heavy Duty: This model is all new for 2020. It can tow up to 18,510 pounds (up to 35,500 if you opt for the 3500). It’s longer, wider, and taller than before. Tech geeks will enjoy new technology allowing use of a smartphone to monitor the trailer.
Behind the wheel: If you don’t have a trailer, it’s almost not worth the trouble.
I worried I’d be hard pressed to fit it into the country lane that leaves my neighborhood. I prayed I could find an end space on the street when I arrived in Center City later that day (my Monday was seriously improved when that did happen).
The Silverado was a daunting handler, but then I remembered to try automatic 4wd mode for improved ride and handling in GM’s offerings, and my memory was correct.
Up to speed: The Duramax 6.6-liter V-8 turbodiesel (again, that’s $9,890!) creates 445 horsepower and a whoppingly whopping 910 pound-feet of torque. Forget stumps; this baby can probably pull a live oak out of the ground. (Though a tree hugger such as Mr. Driver’s Seat might be chained to it, weeping softly.)
The engine definitely moves this beast as well as possible. It goes from 0-60 in 6.5 seconds, according to Motor Trend.
Back down again: Stopping the 7,721-pound beast required a ton of pedal pressure at a first stoplight at the bottom of long hill. Then I spied a switch labeled “Exhaust Brake.” After I bit of research, I learned this featureless engine braking whenever the gas pedal is off, helping slow the big boy down. While it’s designed for towing, I left it in exhaust brake mode for the rest of the journey.
Shifty: The Allison 10-speed automatic transmission serves the vehicle unobtrusively. Shifting happens with buttons on the shift lever, so don’t expect any fun there. (I still think the price of admission to the Big Boys Club should be a big shifter and a heavy clutch.)
On the curves: If you’re buying the 2500HD for the slalom, you need a smack. It handles nicely enough for its size.
On the road: The two-stage side mirrors take a bit of practice, though. I could never quite figure where things were. They also sat in the way when looking left and right at intersections. Be patient.
Driver’s Seat: It’s a long climb up, of course, but the accommodations are nice. A comfortable seat, easy gauges, and switches that are easy to find. Even the switches to the left of the steering wheel are right in Mr. Driver’s Seat sight line.
Friends and stuff: Tons of leg room kept all 6 feet 2 inches of Sturgis Kid 4.0 pleased in the back seat of the Crew Cab. The seat back did not sit too upright, as many crew cabs do.
Creature comforts abound with the LTZ package, including front heated and ventilated seats; rear heated seats; many driving assist systems; bed camera; and 8-inch infotainment screen.
The seat bottoms fold upward when a big cargo space is needed, as well, always the best solution.
The Crew Cab bed is almost seven feet long, but we never did get a chance to haul anything with it. A full-size eight-foot bed is available, as well.
Play some tunes: The Bose Premium sound system features a center dial for volume and buttons for home, up and down, and return. Like most GMs, the touchscreen is easy to navigate.
Sound was only a B+, with treble, midrange and bass controls that didn’t improve the playback noticeably.
Keeping warm and cool: The heater worked just fine, controlled through dials for temperature and buttons for everything else. Heated and cooled front seats and heated back seats made for comfy tushies in a January cold snap.
Night shift: The interior lights cast a fairly dim glow, and certainly did not interfere with the headlights.
Fuel usage: The fleet driver reported averaging 23 on the highway. My results were not so astounding — just 16.2 in a mix of highway and suburban driving. Feed this version diesel only.
Where it’s built: Flint, Mich.
How it’s built: Consumer Reports had no reliability score for the 2020 model. The 2019 got a 5 out of 5 rating, but three previous model years were a 2 out of 5.