The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD Is Smart, Burly, and Can Tow up to 35,500 Pounds

Daniel Golson, Mike Sutton
Photo credit: Chevrolet

From Car and Driver

After teasing us for months with scant details and a trickle of photos, Chevrolet has finally released full details for its all-new 2020 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD models. While Chevy's big rig can't boast the four-digit torque figure of certain diesel versions of Ram's equally fresh 2020 heavy-duty trucks, nor the similar rating that we expect to accompany Ford's refreshed 2020 F-series Super Duty-although the truck wars almost guarantee that GM will try to at least match its competitors' outputs down the road-the latest Silverado HD with its 35,500-pound maximum towing capacity nonetheless is a seriously beefy tool.

Hungry for Power

As is the case with GMC's latest and mechanically identical Sierra HD pickups, the Silverado HD is motivated in its base form by a new overhead-valve 6.6-liter small-block V-8 featuring a cast-iron block with aluminum heads, direct gasoline injection, a 10.8:1 compression ratio, and a forged steel crankshaft. Output is 401 horsepower and 464 lb-ft of torque-significant increases of 41 and 84 over the previous 6.0-liter gas V-8-with shifting duties handled by GM's familiar 6L90 six-speed automatic transmission.

The optional engine remains the largely carryover 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 turbo-diesel-445 horses and 910 lb-ft-but is now mated to a 10-speed version of the excellent Allison automatic gearbox, up from the previous six-cog unit; the additional gears helped allow GM's engineers to lower the HD diesel's axle ratio from 3.73:1 to 3.42:1 to reduce engine speeds for a quieter ride when cruising. Although the Duramax falls short of the Ram HD's available 1000-lb-ft rating, the 10-speed combined with stronger drivetrain components allows diesel Silverado HDs to utilize their full amount of twist in first gear, unlike the previous models which electronically limited the diesel's torque outputs. Among the myriad upgrades are larger, one-piece driveshafts and stouter axles with huge 11.5-inch ring gears on 2500HD models and full 12-inchers on the 3500HD.

The Duramax also gains an after-run feature that automatically keeps the engine running for up to 15 minutes after shut-off to help with cooling after hard use, as well as an available factory-integrated power take-off unit for driving bolt-on implements such as snow plows. Other updates include a new active two-speed four-wheel-drive transfer case that finally brings an automatic all-wheel-drive function to GM big trucks (the setting was previously limited to the 1500 models); a relocated, flush-mounted outlet in the front bumper for the engine block heater (standard with the diesel and available on the gas V-8); and a relocated diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) tank between the frame rails that includes a filler spout behind the fuel door and a DEF gauge in the instrument cluster.

Photo credit: Chevrolet

A Fortified Foundation

A fully-boxed ladder frame comprised mostly of high-strength steel-and sporting GM's segment-exclusive independent control-arm front suspension-underpins the Silverado HD and has been upgraded to support the truck's new maximum 43,500-pound gross combined vehicle weight rating. Rear-drive, regular-cab 3500HD models with the gas V-8 and dual rear wheels are rated to haul up to an absurd 7466 pounds in their cargo beds. Maximum towing capacities, for similar models with diesel power, are 20,000 pounds from the frame-mounted hitch and 35,500 pounds with the available bed-mounted fifth-wheel setup. Ford has yet to release towing and hauling figures for the its latest Super Duty models, but the Chevy's do top those of the new Ram HD (maximums of 6570 and 35,100 pounds, respectively).

Along with a range of standard and available driver assists-such as a driver-selectable engine brake, automatic grade braking, trailer-sway control, and an integrated trailer-brake controller-the Silverado HD aims to boost driver confidence when towing with powered and illuminated towing mirrors as standard, as well as up to 15 exterior camera views, including a surround-view monitor and a "transparent-trailer" view that stitches together images from the tailgate and an optional trailer-mounted camera to essentially see rearward through the trailer. By utilizing the myChevrolet smartphone app, operators can also store and share specific truck-and-trailer profiles and benefit from a host of available trailer diagnostics, such as monitoring trailer tire temperatures and even checking on a camper's water-tank level. The HD's jobsite credibility is further bolstered by its standard bedside cutout steps, a removable front air dam and skid plate for easy snow plow attachment, and a heavy-duty version of GM's DuraBed cargo box with an available power open/close tailgate, 120-volt outlet, and a host of lighting and tie-down options.

Photo credit: Chevrolet


Looking the Part

Dwarfing its half-ton sibling and dressed in almost entirely unique sheetmetal, the latest Silverado HD is unmistakable-for better or worse. Subtle it is not, and, like its Silverado 1500 brethren, the HD features several faces depending on the model: the base Work Truck sports a black grille treatment with a bold CHEVROLET bar across its snout; the new Custom model renders the look in body-colored paint; the LT and LTZ adopt a similar but chrome-plated maw, and the top-level High Country gets a unique chrome face with a gold bow tie and horizontal grille slats. Overall, there are 22 cab, bed, chassis, and drivetrain combinations. Wheel sizes range from 17 to 20 inches, depending on configuration. And as with new half-ton Silverados, the HD has grown quite a bit, with crew-cab models with the standard box riding on a 5.2-inch longer wheelbase (158.9 inches) and stretching 10.4 inches longer and 1.4 inches wider.

The interior trappings of the HD are new only if you haven't peered inside the latest Silverado 1500. It's a spacious and highly functional environment, although the ho-hum materials and design couldn't help the Chevy overcome its last-place finish in our most recent comparison test of half-ton models. Chevrolet has yet to release pricing on the new HD but we expect MSRPs to hew closely to those of the 2019 models, which range from $39,095 for a rear-drive, double-cab 2500HD with a gas V-8 to more than $70K for loaded four-wheel-drive diesel models. The Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD will make their formal debuts at the Chicago auto show, with production to be handled solely at GM's Flint, Michigan, assembly plant, its oldest continually operational production site. Deliveries commence this summer.


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