New StyleThe first, and most obvious, are the two thick chrome bars that now adorn the grille of the Chevrolet HD. Although the front end appears to have more flat metal pushing through the air, this truck is actually more aerodynamic than the previous generation.
As for the GMC, the truck looks like a larger half-ton, that is to say, they look almost identical except for size.
And one last nice touch, the Duramax badges fitted to the hood have been redesigned and now rise off the hood a good quarter-inch, giving the diesel-powered trucks a chiselled badge.
Old Engines, Same Great Power
The 6.6-liter Duramax diesel still makes 765 lb-ft of torque and 397 hp and is mated exclusively to an Allison 1000 six-speed transmission. The base engine, which tends to be less popular, is a 6.0-liter gasoline V8 that puts out 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Chevy says that it mostly sells those trucks to fleet buyers interested in base trim trucks, as anyone interested in doing any especially heavy towing simply must bump up to the diesel.
Brake pedal feel has been improved and offers confidence-inspiring stopping power. The top of the pedal travel feels light, with the meat of the pedal being found halfway down with progressively increasing resistance. Heavy-duty trucks tend to have touchy brakes and Chevrolet did a splendid job of avoiding that without giving up the feeling of serious stopping power.
Help on the Hills
The updated exhaust brake, which is actually a variable vane turbocharger that acts as an exhaust brake, is among the quietest in any HD. It is also manually controllable, with a toggle switch on the center stack to activate it.
Uphill slogs are helped by the addition of hill-hold assist, which keeps the truck from rolling backwards when starting on an incline and is calibrated – like everything else on this truck – to hold back tons of weight… Literally. While I didn’t have the chance to tow with the truck at its maximum capacity, it felt strong enough with the trailer I did have to expect it would be totally capable of its rating.
The last update that actually changes the operation of the truck is a revised steering feel, which like the brake pedal is quite progressive. At the center, there is a large dead zone, which is actually too large for my taste, but as you turn into it provides more feedback, and mid-turn it feels solid.
The steering wheel-mounted controls have a tactile feeling thanks to the rubber that coats them and the 4.2-inch color info display between the gauges is simple to leaf through and understand. Another thoughtful addition comes to the info screen this year, a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) fluid meter. It is calculated in percentage, and the truck will begin warning you about low DEF 1,000 miles before it is time to fill up. It’s also worth noting that the tank is designed to be re-filled in conjunction with regular oil changes. The filler cap is underneath the hood, and isn’t particularly hard to get to, but it would be nice for it to be beside the fuel tank like in the competition.
2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD Fast Facts
- 1. Engine: 6.6-liter Diesel with 765 lb-ft of torque and 397 hp.
- 2. Transmission: Allision 1000 Six-Speed Auto.
- 3. Max tow ratings: 23,200 lbs. fifth-wheel tow, 7,374 lbs. payload, 19,600 lbs. rear hitch.
- 4. Price: Starts at $32,405. Tested at $66,160.
Interior changes aren't just cosmetic, as the rear seat has been made bigger, and the cab configurations have changed slightly this year. GM is replacing the old extended cab model with what it calls the new double cab, eliminating the suicide doors in favor of new front-hinged doors. The crew cab is the other model that grows, gaining two-inches of legroom, which provides a huge backseat.
Two new bed configurations, a 6.5- and eight-foot version are now available, and they are fitted with the latest in bed tech from the general, including bumper integrated steps, LED lights in the bed, and a spray-on bed liner available right from the factory.
Comfortable and Quiet
Hundreds of miles melt away behind the wheel of this truck, even with 13,000 lbs hitched up to the fifth wheel. That is about half of the truck's 23,200 pound fifth-wheel tow rating, and it feels light on the back. Pushing that weight to the limit likely wouldn't elicit any worry either, or that is at least how confident this pickup felt while towing.
As for payload, the GM HDs can handle 7,374 pounds, while the trucks are rated to pull 19,600 on the rear hitch. Nothing we threw at the truck seemed to upset its powertrain or handling.
Base pricing stays almost stagnant for the trucks, starting at $32,405, a nice touch considering the new content. Some packages in the higher trim levels have jumped up by a larger margin, again because these trucks are packed with more technology than ever before.
For example, the four-wheel drive Silverado 3500 LTZ used to tow the trailer mentioned above costs $66,160 as tested, including delivery.