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2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 4X4 Crew Cab LTZ Review

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2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500

SEE ALSO: Chevrolet Buyers Guide


SPECIFICATIONS: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 4X4 Crew Cab LTZ

Model: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 4X4 Crew Cab LTZ
Engine: 63.6-liter turbo diesel ($7,195 option)
Horsepower/Torque: 397 hp @ 3,000 rpm/765 lb.-ft. @ 1,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic with manual shifter on stalk
Wheelbase: 167.7 in.
Length/Width/Height: 259.0 x 80.0 x 78.0 in.
Tires: T235/80R17
Cargo volume: 6,635 lbs.
Fuel economy: 13.9 test
Fuel capacity: 36 gal.
Curb weight: 7,277 lbs.
Sticker: $58,980 (includes $995 destination charge and $14,035 in options)

The Bottom Line: The Chevrolet Silverado 3500 isn't your daily commuter and it's a bear to park. But it is a capable workhorse with enormous carrying and towing capacity. If you're in the market for something this size, it's hard to overlook.

When the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 (look for the rest of the name at the top of the specs) arrived in my driveway, it seemed as if it took the whole two-car wide spot. With dooley wheels in the back and a more-then 20-feet overall length, it just seemed enormous. It shrank (in my mind at least) over the week behind the wheel, but its size was still hard to overlook.

I thought, "Who'd want something this big?" Then I saw a similar vehicle fifth-wheel towing a trailer. Good answer. The 3500 can fifth-wheel tow almost 22,000 pounds, which will be most camping trailers on the market today. Regular towing is 17,000 pounds. With the crew cab, it's possible to carry five adults in comfort with the trailer following along peacefully behind.

And then I checked the payload numbers. The bed alone will haul 6,635 pounds, more than three tons. Now I saw the reason for the dooley wheels.

Part of the enormous capability of this truck is the 6.6-liter turbo diesel engine connected to a 6-speed automatic transmission ($1,200 option). While I didn't check it out, that commercial you see on TV with the Chevy towing a trailer and passing a semi uphill may not be far from accurate.

There's a price bogey for the engine, though - $7,195. And with the cost of diesel fuel 40 cents a gallon higher in my area (and a 36-gallon fuel tank in the truck), life can get costly. However, I talked with a car diesel owner when I was filling up and he claimed he got approximately 30 percent better fuel economy than the same vehicle with a gasoline engine.

The huge exhaust pipe is big enough to drive one of those minicars into - almost.

Getting into the truck is a challenge for senior citizens. There's a 25.4-inch step-in height that must be negotiated without assist handles. The driver has the wheel to help, but the passenger must fare for him/herself. A running board of some sort might help, and there's room for one.

Once in, however, ride quality is very good. Attribute that to the 167.7-inch wheelbase (longer than many small cars), the overall length and the 7,277-pound curb weight. Nothing makes for a good ride better than a long wheelbase and weight.

The truck still rides truck-like, but with all the "good ride" advantages, the "truck ride" symptoms are mitigated.

I was impressed with the smoothness of the engine. On one acceleration test, it pulled away so smoothly I had trouble believing it was a diesel. Also, there's very little "diesel knock" that intrudes into the cabin.

Parking is a bear of course. Parallel parking, with the dual rear wheels, is a challenge. Parking in slots at the mall is also tough because of the length. You're gonna take up a couple of spots no matter how hard you try.

Parking is aided somewhat by a rear view camera ($450 option) and huge exterior mirrors. These mirrors are flat on both sides, but both also have convex smaller mirrors underneath that allow you to pick up anything in your blind spots.

Nice features include Autonet Mobile, which makes the truck into a rolling WiFi. The bed liner (part of the $465 LTZ package) was great when I had to haul some dirt, although cleaning between the grooves required a lot of broom work and a couple of trips to the car wash.

A couple of options I thought were useless, but then I don't transport young 'uns that often. One is the rear seat entertainment system ($1,480) and the other is the power sunroof ($995).

For a work truck, or a fifth wheel camper hauler, you can't go too far wrong with the Chevrolet Silverado 3500 4WD Crew Cab LTZ. It has all the size and capability you'd ever want.

2010 The Auto Page Syndicate