Review: 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 4WD Crew Cab LTZ

By Charles Krome

I can still see it sitting in my driveway, “a creature so fearsome, so terrible, so mind-bendingly large that those of you with weak constitutions may want to leave the—” … oh, wait a minute … that’s actually from an episode of Spongebob Squarepants. But it does give you a hint of the kind of thing that was running through my head when the friendly folks from Chevrolet dropped off my latest tester.

This was the biggest of the big boys, a heavy-duty Silverado 3500 dually with a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8, four-wheel drive, a crew cab and the 8-foot-long bed. All told, the monster stretched 259 inches in length—essentially a Honda Fit parked in front of a Smart fortwo—and weighed in at a tidy 7,878 lbs.

But it was a surprisingly different story when actually sitting in the driver’s seat. Despite its dimensions, the big Silverado was relatively light on its feet, and with that Duramax engine making 765 lb.-ft. of torque, acceleration was never a problem. The truck gets from 0-60 in a brisk 7.5 or so seconds. And going in the other direction, the brakes provided a very car-like experience, with more feel than plenty of cars I’ve driven. They were plenty effective as well; I was never less than confident I’d be able to bring the truck to a stop, even coming up quickly on a sudden red light. The truckiest part of driving the Silverado HD was the steering, which was much lighter and more disconnected than would be acceptable in a car.

On the other hand, there’s no getting around the diesel soundtrack; it was clear one of Audi’s TDIs wasn’t under the hood. This wasn’t a bad thing, though, and I suppose that—metaphysically speaking—you can equate it to the rumble of a gas V8 in a Camaro.

And you also can’t get around the fact that, no matter how agile the truck felt, it was still more than 21 feet long and more than 8 feet wide. Fitting it in one lane was, admittedly, a bit of a challenge at first, and fitting it in one parking space was physically impossible. The large, dual-level side mirrors, easily and automatically adjustable, helped immensely, however, and never was I more happy to have a rearview camera system on board.

That was just where the option list started, too. On top of the premium LTZ content, the truck added the LTZ Plus option package, which brought rear park assist, a locking/EZ-lift tailgate, and adjustable pedals. Then there also was a DVD rear-seat entertainment system with rear-seat audio controls, a touch-screen navigation setup, power sliding sunroof and chrome assist steps, and Duramax engine and Allison six-speed automatic are actually optional as well. The financials here showed a $44,945 vehicles with $14,779 worths of options (the powertrain accounted for $8,395) and a $995 destination charge. The bottom line: $60,719.

That’s a truckload of cash, but you do have to remember you’re getting the most luxe version of the most capable pickup on the market. Which brings us to an interesting question: What exactly is the target market for a truck like this? The cabin is so nice that I wouldn’t think anyone would use it for a full-time work truck—although the trip to and from the job site would be a thoroughly enjoyable one—yet failing to take advantage of things like the truck’s 17,500-lb. payload would seem like a bit of a waste of both engineering and diesel fuel. Although truth be told, its fuel efficiency is relatively impressive.

The truck is so big that it doesn’t require EPA ratings, but Chevy claims it has a highway cruising range of 680 miles and a 36-gallon fuel tank, which works out to just under 19 mpg.

I suppose the trick here is to consider the vehicle to be sort of a truck lover’s version of a Lamborghini Gallardo. After all, the Lambo and the up-level Silverado HD are both expensive, big-time fuel guzzlers—the former gets an EPA rating of 20 mpg highway, essentially the same as the latter—that showcase extreme exterior styling and are packed with performance-enhancing technologies that their owners rarely take advantage of to their fullest. It’s just that the pickup offers a different kind of performance than the Italian supercar.

From that standpoint, the only flaw I found in the Silverado HD was that its bedliner was poorly installed (and who knows whose fault that was) and that the back section of the top of the dash exhibited some pretty poor fit and finish. And even that wasn’t noticeable unless I actually pushed on it. As far as the rest of the package here, this was clearly a well-put-together vehicle.

Now, I haven’t really mentioned much about the truck’s incredible towing and payload abilities, but I’ll be frank: I didn’t do any towing with it and the only things that ever made its way into its bed were my kids—who only did so when the truck was safely parked, with its engine off and me joining them. Yet I’ve got no reason to doubt Chevy’s claims for its capabilities, and if you’re interested in this kind of thing I suggest you check out the brand’s new-ish “HD to HD” Youtube videos, like this one.

In the final analysis, while I don’t see myself ever buying a Silverado 3500HD, I can certainly understand why a fair number of other folks would.

Author: Charles Krome

Charles Krome is a long-time automotive journalist who spent more than 10 years on the inside at General Motors and Ford, and also has corporate communications experience with Audi, Porsche and BASF Automotive Refinish. As a big motorsports fan growing up in the Detroit area, Krome was lucky enough to be able to attend numerous NASCAR, Indy car, F1 and SCCA events while still in his formative years. This, combined with a childhood that included significant (passenger) seat time in cars from Lotus and Jensen Healey, made him a car guy at an earlier age. Today, he lives in metro Detroit with his car wife, raising car kids.

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1 Comment

  1. This sounds just like my truck!! Except my truck is green, with orange fire, (I had it specially detailed!) I love my truck, so I completely agree with this review!!!

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