2011 Chevrolet Silverado and 2011 GMC Sierra - Heavy Duty Still Not Dirty Words in Texas
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By Marlon Hanson
Bumper to Bumper
Texas Auto Writers Assn.
The President may be talking about grading vehicles according to fuel economy and the world may be heading toward more and more ways to save every drop of fossil fuels it possibly can but in Texas “Heavy Duty” are still words dear to the hearts of many ranchers, cattlemen and construction crews (as well as more than a few ‘folk’ with large boats and travel trailers).
I got my first look at the new 2011 General Motors Heavy Duty trucks this month, even getting to race a Silverado against a King Ranch Ford. I’m normally loathe to participate in such exercises because I find that (miraculously) the company sponsoring the event always seems to win the competition. Logically, were they not likely to win, I doubt they would stage such events.
Nonetheless, I participated and my Heavy Duty Silverado cleaned the clock of the F-350 not once,but twice with me at the wheel. Similarly, when I took the wheel of the King Ranch I was eating the dust of the Silverado (although I do love being enveloped in those KR seats).
The trucks each pulled a trailer with enough heavy duty construction equipment on it to single-handedly build the Trans-Texas highway so there is no doubt they can handle any task a typical Texas rancher throws at them.
In the truck wars that have dominated the Texas market each manufacturer tends to leapfrog the others on alternating years and the 2011 model year is right on schedule of GMC and Chevrolet.
The newest Silverado heavy-duty lineup is broader than ever, with 10 2500HD models and eight single- and dual-rear-wheel 3500HD models – including a new 3500HD Crew Cab with a 6.5-foot cargo box.
WT, LT and LTZ trim levels are offered, and popular features such as the EZ Lift tailgate and rearview camera system return. All models bring greater capability, improved ride and handling and a greater feeling of driver control. Highlights include:
• Increased towing capability (21,700 pounds/9,843 kg) and payload (6,335 pounds/3,009 kg) supported by all-new fully-boxed, high-strength-steel frames and strong suspensions for maximum capability and exceptional ride characteristics
• The new 6.6L Duramax diesel delivers up to 11-percent greater highway fuel economy and up to 63-percent lower emissions, along with B20 biodiesel capability and quicker acceleration
• A larger gas tank coupled with fuel economy improvements allow up to 680 miles between fill-ups with the 6.6L Duramax turbo diesel, soething dear to the hearts of all of us who hate stopping by gas stations (especially if we are hauling and having to maneuver tight spaces getting into and out of the station)
• All-new “smart” exhaust brake feature provides greater control on grades and reduced brake pad wear
• An array of control features, including trailer sway control, integrated trailer brake control, hill start assist, automatic grade braking, intelligent brake assist and larger brakes
• Purposeful technology, including available mobile WiFi, USB connectivity, Bluetooth connectivity, XM Satellite Radio, OnStar 9.0 and navigation.
Outside, the 2011 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD models are distinguished by a power dome-style hood with a new, louvered design, as well as a new grille and full-width chrome steel front bumper. A new lineup of 17- (Dually), 18- and 20-inch wheel/tire combinations is featured, too (20-inch polished forged aluminum wheels are available on 2500HD).
Engineers developed 18 all-new, fully boxed frame assemblies to improve durability and ride while also supporting increased capability. Truck frames have increased cross sections and use more high-strength steel for greater durability, higher towing capacity and improved ride and handling; the front sections are hydroformed.
The bending and beaming stiffness of the frames is increased 92 percent and 20 percent, respectively, with the fully boxed sections enhancing torsional stiffness by a factor of five. Also, larger engine and transmission mounts, coupled with a 125-percent-stiffer front frame structure, provide greater vibration control, while hydraulic body mounts are incorporated under the cab section on extended and crew cab models for a more isolated feel inside.
Engineers even added access holes to the rear frame section to enable easier installation of fifth-wheel/gooseneck-style hitches. The frame-mounted hitch is stronger as well with a box-tube design. One can now tow 17,000 pounds with this truck and new hitch (21,700 with the Duramax and a gooseneck or fifth wheel).
The popular diesel model, a Duramax 6.6 liter, boasts 397 horses and a mind-boggling 765 lbs ft of torque to provide instant movement (is that why I always won the race!)
Over a million Duramax engines are on the road and with the refinements in this new model, the 2011 truck is billed to be even more durable.
Other work and control-related features include trailer sway control, integrated trailer brake control, hill start assist, automatic grade braking and intelligent brake assist – all exceptionally important in making heavy work both safer and easier.
Regardless of how expensive fuel becomes, regardless of how many mandates are forthcoming, a large share of Texans will still need exceptional capabilities in their trucks.
General Motors now has it’s turn in the barrel with the Silverado and Sierra Heavy Duty workhorses as the industry constantly improves for us all.