It’s fashionable today to criticize pickup trucks because they are not as dainty or fuel efficient as cramped minicars.
Critics conveniently overlook the fact that the larger vehicles can handle jobs smaller ones could never do. The Chevy Silverado 3500 4WD Crew Cab LT2 with four rear wheels is one such vehicle. It’s longer, wider, and higher than most pickups, so you have to watch turns more closely than in a car. The stretched cabin seats four comfortably and six with slightly less comfort. And the higher than usual cab gives an impressive view of the road.
The base vehicle features a V8 gas engine but ours was fitted with the optional Duramax V8 Diesel, an engineering marvel in itself. For instance, the 6.6-liter engine comes with a turbocharger nestled between the cylinder banks. The engine also sports four valves per cylinder. All this translates to 365 hp at 3,200 rpm and a whopping 660 lb-ft of torque at only 1,600 rpm. This gives the relatively heavy truck (6,694 lb) impressive acceleration. And it’s B5 biodiesel compatible. What could be greener than that? For comparison, in 3500HD models, the standard Vortec 6.0-liter V8 generates a more modest 312 hp at 4,400 rpm.
GM says the engine’s glow plugs warm up quickly, and indeed on a 3°F night, I estimate it took 2 seconds before the indicator light signaled it was OK to start. And it was. The engine started right up. The direct-injection system uses advanced electronics and pilot injection to improve fuel delivery and reduce emissions and combustion noise
GM says the Silverado’s sixspeed automatic transmission is the only one that comes standard on a heavy-duty truck. A control module monitors the transmission to ensure consistently smooth performance. Indeed, most shifts were undetectable. The company gives some credit for the smooth shifts to Dexron VI transmission fluid that delivers more than twice the durability and stability of previous fluids. GM says it’s “validated” for up to 100,000 miles, so under normal driving conditions, there will be no need to refill or replace the transmission fluid until after driving around the world four times.
This isn’t the truck for everyone, but for the right crew, it’s an essential tool. It’s packed with things you’d expect, such as front tow hooks, along with a few you might not, such as cargo-box lights and the EZ lift tailgate, a sort of spring loaded device that helps raise the tailgate. In a week of cold-weather city driving we calculated about 13 mpg. Base price with gas engine is just under $38k. But the $7,200 diesel option, heavy-duty transmission, and a few other items brought the total to $49,467.