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First Drive: 2015 Chevy Silverado 2500: Let’s build something

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A trip to one of those oversized home improvement behemoths scattered around suburbia mixed among fast food joints, Chinese takeout restaurants and grocery stores can sometimes be an intimidating experience. After all most of us spend our work days behind a desk; we sell, or put together widgets or some sort of thing that doesn’t involve much in the way of manual labor. In fact the only time we have a tool in our hand is when we need to hammer a nail to hang a picture on the wall.

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It also means, at least for a man, that we must pretend that we know what we are doing. “Why um yes, obviously you use a pipe wrench to work on pipes, not as a substitute for a hammer” of course we know that pipe dope doesn’t mean a “dumb plumber” and an “O” ring isn’t an adult love toy.

The truth is that for most jobs that require tools or materials that come from one of those oversized home improvement stores there are people who make their living doing such things. They don’t spend their working days behind a desk, they build things. And there are those of us who are happy to pay them to do so.

Those folks who wield the hammers, turn the pipe wrenches and build our houses need a way to carry or tow everything. That’s why you won’t see them in a small four-door sedan or some such other vehicle; you’ll see them in trucks, not small ones mind you, but big ones. For these handy folk, Chevy has a truck. It’s a big truck, a really big truck.

The Silverado line has always been one of the favorites among those who need a big truck. Yes Ford, Toyota, Dodge, even Nissan have their big trucks, but for this lesson the focus is on Chevy and its new 2015 2500HD Silverado. Pick-up trucks sell; in fact, the top three selling vehicles in America are trucks. Ford leads with its F-150, Chevy with its Silverado followed by Dodge and its Ram.

Big chunks of those sales are to fleets, but the competition between Ford and Chevy for the top spot is apparent with Ford the current king of the hill. After spending a week with Chevy’s latest entry however, it appears they may just have what it takes knock Ford from its lofty perch.

The 2015 Silverado HDs are the heavy lifters in Chevrolet’s three-truck strategy, which includes the Silverado 1500 and, later this year, the 2015 Colorado midsize truck. The Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD models are available in Work Truck (WT), LT and LTZ trims, and offered in regular cab, double cab and crew cab configurations (regular cab available only in WT and LT trims). The new double cab model replaces the previous extended cab and has forward-hinged rear doors, which allow easier access in tight parking spaces.

The trucks are available with all new, and Chevy says stronger, 6’6”and 8’ cargo boxes with standard CornerStep bumpers, and EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgates.

Other updates for 2015 include new exterior styling with enhanced cooling airflow, which according to Chevy will enable Silverado’s 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel and 6.0-liter Vortec V-8 to better maintain full power, even under heavy loads and high ambient temperatures. Chevy points out that the new front end is designed to deliver more efficient airflow to the cooling system and engine air intake, helping maintain power when towing under adverse condition.

All new cabs and interiors on the Silverado have increased space and comfort, with extensive storage space, the Chevrolet MyLink system; integrated cruise control, auto grade braking and diesel exhaust braking (on diesel models). There is also an expanded lineup of bi-fuel trucks that run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG). And standard StabiliTrak with Trailer Sway Control on all models including the 3500HD dually.

Make no mistake about this is a big truck. For those of us who haven’t driven a truck in a few years, it does take some getting used to. This isn’t your daily commuter after all, this truck is designed to do things far beyond getting from point A to point B. It almost feels out of place when not towing something. No wonder; towing capacity is rated at 19,600 pounds with the available factory hitch – up from last year’s 18,000 pounds and add a fifth-wheel and towing rises to 23,200 pounds, also up from last year’s 22,500 pounds. Though we never towed anything, the LTZ Crew Cab with the 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel we had for the week was more than able to hold its own in traffic.

Yes there is the 6.0-liter Vortec V-8 which takes regular fuel, but here is something about hearing that Duramax 6.6L turbodiesel and Allison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission combination that’s rated at 397 horsepower and 765 lb.-ft. of torque. It says this truck is a serious machine ready to go to work. While the suits at the EPA don’t provide MPG estimates for this class, we calculated an eyebrow raising average of 18-20 miles per gallon during our week in mixed conditions.

The sturdy chassis and heavy-duty suspensions found in all models mean greater payload and towing capabilities, compared to previous models. The sturdy chassis and heavy-duty suspension also deliver a surprisingly smooth ride. On the road, the Silverado offers a very commanding view of the road and while it certainly isn’t a speed demon, the power is more than adequate for everyday use.

At the end of our week with the Silverado, we were eager to jump back into something a wee bit smaller. That’s no dig against this truck. Chevy has done very well; it’s just that for the average driver a huge truck such as this is the last thing we’d want in our driveway. However, for those who actually enjoy visiting those home improvement warehouses, make their living wielding a hammer, pouring concrete or laying pipe, the Chevy Silverado is a great choice.

So let’s build something, or for most of us let’s pay someone to build it for us.

The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500

MSRP: $48,130

MSRP (AS tested: 6.6L Diesel 4WD, LTZ Crew Cab, Z71 off road package): $62,925

Engine (As tested)

Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V-8 (LML)

6.6L V-8

HP: 397@ 3000

Torque 765 @ 1600

MPG as tested (Not rated by the EPA): 19 MPG in mixed conditions

Engine Oil Cooler Yes

Exterior Dimensions

Wheelbase 133.60 in

Length, Overall w/o rear bumper 258.4

Width, Max w/o mirrors 80.5 in

Height, Overall 77.9 in

Ground Clearance, Front 8.78 in

Ground Clearance, Rear 8.78 in

Step in Height: 25.9

Interior Dimensions

Passenger Capacity 5

Front Head Room 42.80 in

Front Leg Room 45.3 in

Front Shoulder Room 64.8 in

Front Hip Room 60.7 in

Second Head Room 40.5 in

Second Leg Room 40.9 in

Second Shoulder Room 64.3 in

Second Hip Room 60.2 in

Trailering

Dead Weight Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. 5897 lbs

Dead Weight Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. 500 lbs

Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Trailer Wt. 16400 lbs

Wt Distributing Hitch - Max Tongue Wt. 6577 lbs

Maximum Trailering Capacity 16400 (W/Fifth wheel or gooseneck hitch) lbs

Warranty

2yr/24,000 mile scheduled maintenance

3yr/36,000 new vehicle limited

5yr/100,000 powertrain limited

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