Less than five years since the last new Heavy Duty Chevy truck debuted, the Bowtie boys have unveiled their latest road-crushing brute: the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD.
Everything is new, and in a big way. Frames have been stiffened, a new gas engine has been developed (replacing the old-as-Earth 6.0-liter motor), tow ratings have jumped up, and a heaping of modern technology now pervades throughout.
Yet the first thing anyone will notice about the new truck is the sheetmetal. For the first time, the styling makes a clean break from the light-duty trucks, with the roof being the only shared bit between them.
Unfortunately, this aesthetic exclusivity is only skin deep; the interior remains a near-clone of the Silverado 1500. This means it's saddled with the same less-than-stellar materials and conservative design that critics have been bemoaning in the light-duty truck.
Choosing Your Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
Chevrolet offers the Silverado 2500HD in five trims: WT, LT, Custom, LTZ, and High Country. The lineup includes Regular Cab, Double Cab, and Crew Cab models, as well as a 6-foot-9-inch standard bed or an 8-foot long bed. The long bed is an extra $200.
Pricing starts at $35,695 including destination for a base WT Regular Cab and ranges up to $62,695 for a High Country Crew Cab.
The big news underhood is an all-new 6.6-liter V8 gasoline engine, an overdue replacement for the venerable 6.0-liter gas motor that has been around in one form or another since 1999. Other than an enhanced cooling system, the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engine returns largely unchanged, yet it can tow significantly more than it was able to last year.
|Engine Type||Horsepower||Torque||Max Towing (traditional hitch)||Max Towing (fifth wheel/gooseneck)|
|6.6L V8||401 hp||464 lb-ft||14,500 lbs||17,400 lbs|
|6.6L Duramax Diesel V8||445 hp||910 lb-ft||18,500 lbs||18,600 lbs|
The 6.6-liter V8 is backed by a six-speed automatic transmission, while the diesel's enhanced capability is largely attributable to its new 10-speed Allison automatic transmission. The new gearbox represents a significant step forward for the class, as Ford and Ram continue to back their monster diesels with six-speeds. Four-wheel drive is standard on the High Country and a $2,800 upgrade across the rest of the lineup.
A quick glance at the specs chart suggests the diesel ins't much mightier than the gas motor when it comes to maximum towing. Don't fall for this. With that 910 lb-ft of torque, this oil-burner will make nearly any size trailer feel about as substantial as a Red Flyer wagon. Just be prepared to pay up for all this grunt: the price tag on the Duramax is $9,750 to $10,165 depending on the trim.
Note that the EPA does not test HD trucks for fuel economy due to their GVWR, or gross total weight that includes curb weight, passengers, and payload.
Passenger & Cargo Capacity
Three available cab styles mean that a Silverado 2500HD can haul anywhere from three to six people in varying degrees of comfort. In the two-door Regular Cab, expect a throwback experience to the days of sitting three abreast on a front bench seat.
The Double Cab grafts a pair of small front-hinged rear doors behind the fronts, expanding seating to six; the resulting rear leg room of just 35 inches will leave larger backseat riders intimate with their knees.
Crew Cabs alleviate this problem by boasting a limousine-esque 43 inches of leg room for rear passengers. On Crew Cab models, the traditional front bench can be swapped for available front bucket seats and a fixed console.
Standard-bed models offer 69.6 cubic feet of cargo capacity. The long bed now has 83 cubic feet of capacity, making it the largest in its class. Both boxes now incorporate nifty little steps carved into the bedside just forward of the wheel well for easier access to the bed.
Even a three-ton bruiser needs more than metal to cushion its driver in the event of an accident. To that end, Chevy has made available numerous active safety features.
Bundled in the $645 Safety Package II are lane keeping assist, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, and high beam assist. Disappointingly, this package is only available on the LTZ and High Country trims, leaving the lower trims to be content with available lane change alert, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.
The NHTSA hasn't yet tested the Silverado 2500HD, and the IIHS doesn't test trucks of this class.
In a segment where 90% of buyers do some sort of trailering, Chevy has endeavored to ease the task of towing through technology. Leading this tech charge is an available multi-angle monitoring system using a class-leading 15 camera angles, including a unique transparent-trailer view that shows drivers the view directly behind the trailer.
Other available technologies include an enhanced integrated trailer brake controller and a hill-hold assist feature that will exert braking force to all four wheels when the truck is parked on a grade. New software programs can monitor trailer conditions and systems from either inside the truck via the touchscreen or on a mobile device using Chevrolet's own app.
Base WT models now come standard with a 7-inch color touchscreen; the LTZ and High Country boast 8-inch units. Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto are standard across the range, and wi-fi is standard on all but the WT. Navigation and wireless charging are standard on the High Country.
Though it's certainly more luxurious than grandpa's old farm rig, the entry-level WT is still a rather spartan machine by today's standards. Notable amenities are limited to a 3.5-inch driver information display and the 7-inch touchscreen. A vinyl floor and vinyl split bench seat highlight the workaday intentions of this truck.
Buyers can make things less austere with the $1,185 WT Convenience Package that adds cruise control, a power-locking tailgate, remote keyless entry, a rear-window defroster, tinted glass, and, for Regular Cab models, power windows and locks.
Safety feature upgrades that include blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, lane change alert, and front and rear park assist require the $1,090 WT Safety Package.
The LT is another trim that is modest in its list of standard equipment. For the premium over a WT, buyers get a 4.2-inch driver information center, wi-fi capability, OnStar, and an integrated trailer brake controller. Cloth seats, cruise control, and keyless entry are all standard as well.
With 4WD, Chevy's popular Z71 Off-Road Package is a familiar sight on the options list. For $575, it includes skid plates, hill-descent control, an off-road suspension, and all-terrain tires wrapped around 17-inch wheels.
The $745 Advanced Trailering Package includes the 8-inch touchscreen embedded with the Advanced Trailering System in-vehicle software. The package also provides multiple USB ports, hitch guidance, a power lock and release tailgate, and an HD rearview camera.
LTZ luxury on an LT budget is made possible by the $2,440 Convenience Package. Among the goodies it includes are a 10-way power driver's seat, heated steering wheel and heated front seats, remote start, LED bed lighting, and dual-zone climate control.
The Custom is a new trim for 2020, and is perhaps most notable for what it does not offer: the Duramax engine and the Advanced Trailering System. The fact these two features – both highly desirable by the HD crowd – are unavailable underscore the Custom's intentions to be more of a style leader than a heavy hauler. This point is driven home by the standard 20-inch wheels and exclusive body-color trim. It also isn't available with the Regular Cab.
Despite the curb appeal, interiors aren't much better equipped than a WT model, though they do come with cloth seats, carpeted floors, and cruise control. Popular options such as heated seats, a center armrest, and the 8-inch touchscreen are unavailable.
Breathing a bit of luxury into this truck is the Custom Value Package. It costs $1,075 and includes remote start, a rear-window defroster, a power tailgate, and a trailer brake controller.
Things get glamorous with the chromed-up LTZ. Its list of standard luxuries include Chevy's Infotainment 3 Plus software with Advanced Trailering System, dual-zone climate control, and a rearview camera with hitch guidance. Seats are upholstered in leather and heated up front.
Of all the available packages – and there are a lot – only a few are really worth considering. These include both Safety Package I and II, detailed in a prior sections, and the Technology Package, which costs $2,125 and bundles a rear camera mirror, an 8-inch driver information center, a 15-inch head-up display, and the snazzy 15-camera Surround Vision setup.
A $2,065 LTZ Plus Package is the best deal on the options sheet, as it combines the contents of the $895 Safety I Package and the $1,625 Convenience Package. The latter includes heated rear seats, a front console, and heated and ventilated front bucket seats.
The top of the range High Country is loaded up with most of the features Chevy offers on these trucks. Highlights include the 8-inch information center, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, navigation, and heated and cooled front bucket seats.
The only major option packages are the $645 Safety Package II and the $1,875 Technology Package. Both are largely similar to those that are offered on the LTZ.
The Custom is the one trim of the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD lineup we'd avoid, and the reason is its bare-bones interior. If you like the look, you're better off buying an LT and shopping Chevrolet accessories for a grille and rims. You'll end up with a nicer equipped truck for not a lot more money.