Dec
06
2016

A SERIOUS TRUCK FOR SERIOUS TRUCK OWNERS

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By Lesley Wimbush, Driving.ca – If you want to make a small fortune in horses, start with a big one, so the saying goes.

Most of the horse folks I know are completely obsessed with their four-legged charges to the exclusion of everything else.  Therefore, most of them regard everything in terms of how it will benefit them and their horses.

“Nice truck!”

“Is that yours?”

“You got the tow package on that things?” one asked.  “How much does it tow?”  As tested, this truck will tow up to 13,000 lbs.

“What kinda payload?  Can I put my ATV in it?”  “Yes, unless it weighs more than 2,500 lbs.

“What kind of fuel economy are you getting?”  I recorded numbers as low as 12 L/100 kilometres on the highway, all the way up to 19.7 with a bumper-pull trailer containing a single horse.

“What’s it like to tow with?”  Well, unlike the heavy duty Ram, which has a handy rear air suspension, the Silverado doesn’t lower to meet the trailer hookup, nor does it have automatic load leveling.  And hooking up isn’t nearly as easy as it is with the Ford F-Series’ camera technology.  And the Ford wins in trailer backing by a country mile.  But the Silverado boasts trailer sway control, engine braking with tow/haul mode, a trailer brake controller and proactive roll avoidance.

The turbodiesel produces 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque.  It’s a measure of just how crazy the ongoing numbers war between heavy duty trucks has gotten that its output doesn’t sound like that much.  With Ram boasting 900 lb-ft and Ford now offering an unbelievable 925, GM was getting left behind.  But it is rebounding quite nicely; when the 2017 Silverado HD arrives next year, its 6.6-L turbodiesel has been tweaked to put out 910 lb-ft, putting it squarely in the middle of the pack.

The current turbodiesel, however, is no slouch.  Despite the truck’s immense size, it still manages to blast from zero to 100 km/h in about 7.4 seconds.  For big-truck lovers, the whistling sound of its turbo is quite compelling, although on a number of occasions we noticed a slight diesel smell at idle – unusual in modern trucks.

While the exterior of the 2016 truck carries over from last year, the interiors have received numerous upgrades, reflecting the changing expectations of pickup owners.  Aside from all the plus leather, there are heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel – oh bliss! – plus power adjustable pedals, 4G Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

There are connection points everywhere throughout the cabin, with four auxiliary jacks, a 110-volt outlet, six USB ports and a wireless smartphone charging pad.  You could work from a Chevy truck if you had to.  I once did.

The centre console is more like carry-on luggage and is voluminous enough to hide by laptop and camera bags.  The huge glovebox boasts double doors, and there are map pockets and cubbies everywhere.  Despite its concession to upgraded technology, the Silverado’s engineers were still smart enough to leave the controls ergonomically simple; those big round knobs are easy to operate when wearing work gloves.

The optional rubber floor mats ($165 and installed at the dealer) are another favourite feature.  Even the best run stables are inherently messy, and it’s impossible not to track manure, straw and dirt back with you.  Carpet is disastrous in such a truck but these mats hose down easily.

This truck’s optional Z71 off-road package also gave it stiffer shocks and more underbody protection for heavy brush or forest roads.  As for the bed, this one featured a rugged spray-in bedliner to protect it while carrying dirty loads or heavy equipment.  Shorter folks like me will appreciate the bumper step.

The engine-braking feature of these big diesel trucks is a marvelous thing for those of us who deal with shifting loads prone to getting upset by jerky braking.  Using the engine to keep a smooth steady progress down a steep grade is not only safer, it also saves wear and tear on brake components.  All the extra technology and luxury features don’t come cheap, however.  This Silverado had over $20,000 in options.  That’s more than I paid for my first truck.

While it may not have had the attention-seeking factor of a Lamborghini, there’s an immense feeling of satisfaction when driving such a capable vehicle.  The Silverado 2500 HD is a serious truck for serious truck owners.