Most people who buy heavy-duty trucks are buying them for work purposes rather than a daily driving vehicle. That's the key thing to understand about the new Chevrolet Silverado HD line with the new generation of the Duramax diesel engine.
Because these trucks are made for a working life, Chevy has redesigned the 6.6-liter turbocharged Duramax engine to provide more horsepower and torque than ever before. The new LP5 Duramax engine delivers 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. The last generation Duramax made 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet.
The reason for the upgrade is towing capacity. Chevy's research found that about half of heavy-duty truck buyers regularly tow at or near their truck's maximum capacity. So Chevy raised the maximum towing capacity to 18,100 pounds for the 2500HD and up to 23,300 pounds for 3500HD with dual rear axle.
To test the Duramax engine and the Silverado HD, I went to Moline, Illinois and visited the John Deere factory. While I was there, we loaded up some trailers and took off on Interstate 80 to pull some heavy equipment in real-world conditions. We had about 13,000 pounds on a flatbed trailer behind the 2500HD on the Class III hitch, and 21,669 pounds on a Gooseneck hitch behind the 3500HD dually.
I won't say that you couldn't tell the weight was back there, but the Duramax accelerated both trucks to freeway speeds with no trouble at all, and maintained the speed effortlessly. The EPA doesn't rate fuel economy on heavy-duty trucks, but I saw about 12 MPG when towing, and up to 20 MPG when the trucks were unladen.
The really amazing part was how quiet the trucks were inside. Chevy has really done an excellent job soundproofing the cabin. With the Silverado, getting a work truck doesn't mean you have to give up luxury. If you select the High Country or LTZ trim, you'll get every modern feature, including GM's 4G/LTE system with wifi, a full set of outlets from USB up to 120V, navigation, OnStar, and leather seats with both heating and ventilation.
One feature to call out is the new trailering camera option. It costs $999, but gives you side cameras that display a blind spot view on the 8-inch video screen in the dash. You can even mount a wireless camera on the trailer for a rear view.
As tested, the 2017 High Country 2500HD has a retail price of $70,025. The 3500HD dually in LTZ trim with a Gooseneck hitch retails for $68,605. If you're looking for a truck that can tow anything and be your mobile office, the 2017 Silverado HD is a great choice.
2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD
Base price: $34,905
Price as tested: $70,025
Type: Full-size pickup
Engine: 6.6-liter turbocharged diesel V8 (445 hp, 910 lbs-ft)
Transmission: 6-speed Allison automatic
Road noise: Very quiet
EPA estimated mileage: N/A
Overall length: 224.4 inches
Curb weight: 6,689 pounds
Final assembly: Flint, Michigan