2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD Review

The Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty family of trucks is brand new for 2020.

Longer, wider and taller than the preceding generation, these rigs offer more features and capability than ever before along with plenty of in-your-face style, though the overall design certainly isn’t for everyone.

Enabling many of these enhancements is a redesigned frame with boxed rails for an extra helping strength. The wheelbase on crew-cab models has been increased by more than 5 inches (132 millimeters), which provides nearly 3 additional inches (76 millimeters) of rear-seat legroom.

Taking the fight directly to Ford and Ram, a properly equipped 3500 model with the available Duramax diesel engine can tow up to 35,500 pounds (16,103 kilograms), 400 (181 kilograms) more than the best FCA’s truck can do, the reigning champ in the heavy-duty-pickup segment.

Providing a version for practically every kind of buyer, five different models of the Silverado HD are available including Work Truck, Custom, LT, LTZ and High Country. Base price for a 2500 model is around $35,695; a similarly entry-level 3500 is $1,200 more. Both figures include $1,595 in delivery fees.

Under-Hood Updates

Enabling that capability, two powertrains are offered in this truck range. The standard one consists of an iron block 6.6-liter gasoline V8. It replaces a 6.0-liter unit found in the outgoing pickup. Augmented with direct fuel injection, it delivers LOADS more power and torque: 401 horses and 464 pound-feet to be precise. Rather disappointingly, it’s matched to a six-speed automatic transmission. The 6.2-liter V8 available in Silverado 1500s is paired with 10-ratio unit, which makes the most of its stable of ponies. More gears would certainly be nice in this HD rig.

Optionally available is a proven 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8. It’s good for 445 horsepower and 910 torques, the exact same amount of each as in past model years. But making better use of this giddy-up is an efficient 10-speed transmission.

Diesel-powered models also feature a MASSIVE 28-inch-diameter (711 millimeter) mechanical fan to keep temps in check while the truck is running hard. A new after-run feature is also included. It allows the engine to idle for up to 15 minutes after parked so it can properly cool down after a strenuous workout.

For added strength, engineers increased the size of the axles both front and rear. They also fitted these trucks with huskier differential gears and a driveshaft that’s a whopping 30 percent larger in diameter!

Select diesel-powered models can also be fitted with a brand-new power take-off (PTO). This factory-integrated unit eliminates the need to install an aftermarket one.

Made for Work

Like the smaller Silverado 1500, HD models also feature a version of Chevy’s new DuraBed, which offers significantly more overall storage volume since inside they’re nearly 7-inches (170 millimeters) wider than before. Two cargo-box lengths are offered, one measuring six-feet-nine inches (2,057 millimeters), the other eight feet (2,438 millimeters).

These beds also benefit from 12 fixed tie-down points. The robust corner rings are rated to hold up to 500 pounds (227 kilograms) apiece. Additionally, a max of nine accessory tie-downs are available. In short, your cargo should never ever slide around in the new Silverado HD.

 

For added convenience, steps have been added to the bed sides, making it easy to access items stored in the box. Chevy’s familiar rear-bumper corner steps are also included. They support up to 500 pounds apiece and can fit a size-12 boot. A class-exclusive power-up-and-down tailgate is offered.

For effortless towing these trucks offer up to 15 different viewable camera angles, which are displayed on the infotainment system screen. There’s even one that makes trailers invisible! How cool is that?

Further easing the burden of towing, there’s an auto parking brake, which keeps the truck from rolling forward or backward when put in park. Trailer tire-pressure monitoring, trailer theft alert and much more is also offered.

The Drive

In many ways, the Silverado 2500 feels much like Chevy’s “half-ton” 1500 model. It’s refined and smooth, light and maneuverable, surprising adjectives to describe a heavy-duty truck.

On the road this new HD is quiet and reasonably comfortable. Both powertrains are hushed and practically vibration free. If you expected these work-focused machines to feel completely agricultural you’re going to be sadly disappointed by their impressive sophistication.

Ford’s Super Duty range and the new Ram HD family of trucks feature either solid or live front axles, depending on drivetrain configuration. This arrangement is generally simpler and, ostensibly, more robust than an independent front suspension design, something GM has used for years on its HD rigs. Ford and Ram’s latest trucks are also remarkably refined, despite their cruder underpinnings, but the Silverado HD has a slight edge in smoothness, thanks to its independent front suspension.

Inside, the Silverado HD features the same underwhelming interior and seats found in the 1500 model. The trimmings and comfort are fine, but they certainly could stand to be improved. You can decide if these are deal-breakers or not.

The new 6.6-liter gasoline V8 engine is incredibly smooth and quiet, in fact, a little more exhaust rumble would be nice. We tested this truck at altitude in eastern Oregon, something that certainly diminished its acceleration. Unladen, its performance is nothing to sing about, but with a 12,000-pound (5,443-kilogram) trailer in tow, it’s ability to move was tremendously reduced. Even the slightest of grades were too much and the truck would lose velocity. Foot-to-the-floor driving did nothing to prevent the speedometer needle from gradually trending downward. In Chevy’s defense, this performance is likely no better or worse than what Ford and Ram’s gasoline-powered trucks deliver. At least these trucks are stable and confidence inspiring. It never feels like the tail is wagging the dog, the trailer is moving the truck.

Dragging 14,000 pounds (6,350 kilograms) in a model fitted with Duramax engine immediately revealed why so many heavy-duty truck customers opt for diesel engines. Also incredibly smooth and hushed, this compression-ignition V8 moved that one-ton-heavier load with ease. It had no trouble gaining speed on even precipitous hills, seeming to laugh at the mountainous topography.

The Verdict

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty is a worthy rival to similar HD offerings from Dearborn and Auburn Hills. No, its interior isn’t the best, but it should be built for the long haul and offers a host of intelligent features. These pickups are assembled in good ol’ Flint, Michigan. Look for examples at dealerships shortly.

a version of this review first appeared on AutoGuide

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