It’s Christmas in, uh, February for heavy-duty pickup shoppers. Four out of the five brands that service this hard work/play segment are launching all new 2020 models. Chevy is the latest with fresh Silverado HDs, arriving at dealerships this summer.
The Silverado HD cornucopia includes a new 6.6-liter gasoline V-8, a new Allison 10-speed automatic transmission, fresh exterior design, a retrimmed and more spacious interior, and five distinct trim levels. The 2020 edition is slightly larger in every major dimension and available in three cab configurations, two box lengths, and with a regular or dual-wheel rear axle. The Crew Cab has been stretched three inches to provide additional rear passenger leg room. With a top payload rating of 7466 pounds (3.7 tons!) and a maximum trailering limit of 36,500 pounds (a whopping 52 percent increase), these Silverados are serious draft beasts willing and able to earn their keep. Frame rails are fully boxed for strength and stiffness while the bed is made exclusively of rolled steel.
In place of the previous 6.0-liter pushrod V-8, the new small block is a 6.6-liter long-stroke design with a cast iron block, aluminum heads, and a molded plastic intake manifold. The list of advanced features includes direct fuel injection, variable valve timing, forged crank and rod components, cross-bolted main bearings, and a variable displacement oil pump. Power rises by 11 percent to 401 horsepower, torque is bumped 22 percent to 464 lb-ft. This is the standard engine for both 2500 and 3500 models and it’s mated to a six-speed Hydra-Matic automatic transmission.
Two thirds of the buyers who purchase a Silverado HD go for the optional 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 which carries over with 445 horsepower at 2800 rpm and 910 lb-ft of torque at 1600 rpm and only one notable upgrade: a new Allison 10-speed transmission. The new gearbox is electronically controlled, with overdrive ratios in the top three gears. The hot-V Duramax engine has a variable vane turbocharger for quick response and four-valve combustion chambers for maximum efficiency.
The only piece of exterior sheet metal shared with regular duty Silverados is the HD’s roof. For the first time, cargo boxes are not shared between the two Chevy siblings. Twelve fixed tie-down rings are standard and an additional nine are available as optional equipment. An optional power up/down tailgate can be operated from the key fob, dash button, or rear surface switch. The maximum-available 83.5 cubic feet box volume tops every competitor. Steps built into the forward corners of the bed and the bumper ends are handy for lifting junk onboard.
Cameras configured to aid trailer towing offer 15 views including surround vision, bed view, and a ‘transparent’ mode allowing the driver to see through the trailer during cornering and backing via a remote accessory camera. The new trailer mirrors are larger and they extend further from their mounting surfaces.
Additional electronic aids hold the rig securely on grades. The stability control system is engineered to diminish trailer sway and any chance of rollover. The power steering assist automatically corrects for road crown and off-center pull. On 4x4 models, the two-speed transfer case is smart enough to automatically engage four-wheel drive only when extra traction is required.
The base Silverado HD Work Truck has a black grille with oversize CHEVROLET identification. The Custom trim level offered only on the HD2500 rolls on 20-inch wheels. The LT has a bright metal face and 17- or 18-inch wheels. The LTZ features more bright exterior accents, LED lighting, and 17-, 18-, or 20-inch wheels. The top-of-the-line High Country trim level has a two-tone grille with a huge Chevy bow tie, LED lighting, and polished 17- or 20-inch aluminum wheels. A functional hood scoop distinguishes diesel trucks from gas models. The diesel emission fluid filler is more conveniently located behind the main fuel flap. Active grille shutters are available for enhanced engine cooling and reduced aerodynamic drag. Seating positions are higher in this new Silverado HD. A head-up display is one optional feature no competitor offers.
In addition to the full HD redesign, GM has invested $1.5 billion to upgrade its Flint, Michigan, manufacturing plant. This 159 acre site has been making GM cars and trucks continuously for 72 years. Roughly 1000 employees will be added to build the redesigned Chevy and GMC HD pickups as well as a new 3.0-liter diesel engine for regular duty use.
HD pickups are cash cows that earn most of the profits booked by Ford, GM, and FCA each year. Let’s hope that well-heeled customers appreciate the new mix of country and rock-and-roll stirred into the 2020 Silverado HDs.