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The refined and efficient new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 deserves all the attention it's getting this year. But serious haulers still have their eye on the stout 2500HD and 3500HD models, which soldier into 2014 virtually unchanged.
In terms of sheer capacity for work, the 3500HD is the undisputed leader of the Chevy truck clan. Even without optional equipment, payload capacity stands at about 4,600 pounds. Order the available dual rear wheels and that balloons to 7,222 pounds. Although most buyers don't need that kind of capability, those who do will appreciate being able to get it right off the dealer lot -- and equipped as indulgently as they wish.
The standard 6-liter V8 is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and produces 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. So equipped, the Silverado pulls up to 13,000 pounds. With a fifth-wheel connection, towing capacity grows to 14,500 pounds. Interestingly, the 6-liter can be equipped to operate on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG), which burns cleaner and costs less. In CNG mode, engine output drops to 301 horsepower and 333 pound-feet of torque.
For those who need even more grunt, Chevy again offers the Duramax Turbo Diesel with a heavy-duty Allison transmission. The 6.6-liter V8 cranks out 397 horsepower and a massive 765 foot-pounds of torque for a maximum towing capacity of 18,000 pounds, or a whopping 23,100 with a fifth wheel. Models powered by the Duramax also get an exhaust brake, a 730-amp battery and an engine block heater. When not hauling a load, the engine provides exceptional acceleration for this class. Zero to 60 mph comes in just 7.5 seconds.
As before, the 3500HD comes in three trim levels: the basic Work Truck (WT), popularly-equipped LT, and luxury-themed LTZ. Four-wheel drive is available across the board and includes an automatic setting on LT and LTZ models. The WT, with its vinyl interior and lack of ornamentation, is the daily laborer of the lineup. Buyers looking for a truck they can hose off and take on the town will be more at home with the LT. At the top of the line, the LTZ offers premium style and comfort for those who might otherwise opt for a luxury vehicle if they didn't need the muscle of a heavy-duty pickup.