When towing a trailer weighing over 6,500 lbs over a 9 percent rate with the pickup not even budging, a scene from The Princess Bride comes to mind.
Fezzik: “I’m in the Brute Squad.”
Miracle Max: “You are a Brute Squad.”
Indeed, long before setting foot in the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD Crew Cab LTZ 4WD with Duramax 6.6L diesel I reviewed, I knew it was overkill for my trip. The fact is, the Chevy half ton Silverado with Duramax 3.0L turbo diesel I previously tested could do the job, but during that review, I’ve noted some of the features the half ton can do when towing a relatively large trailer, such as the extended side mirrors and stiffer rear suspension. Also, while the engine brake works on the 3.0L diesel, it’s still necessary to apply the brake pedal regularly – and that’s at a lesser incline than this trip.
The power of the Chevy’s 3.0L diesel is impressive, but the 6.6L V-8 Duramax turbo diesel offered in the 2500 HD takes it to the next level. Charging at 4 percent incline doesn’t even require a 10-speed Allison 10L1000 downshift transmission with 6,500 lbs behind it, and the engine brakes handle a 5,000-foot drop at 6 to 9 percent incline with zero brake pedal application.
Without a doubt, this is the safest I’ve ever felt along the steep mountain roads.
As for another concern I had while towing with a half ton Chevy, the rear suspension on the 2500 HD is a robust three-quarter tonne truck, offering superior ride when towing compared to empty. Meanwhile, the power and heating side mirrors on the 2500 HD that extend at the touch of a button are standard on the 2500 HD Chevy.
My crane involved a 718-mile round trip over California’s Sierra Nevadas with a 28-foot trailer in tow, running from sea level to over 5,000 feet and back down, with a mountain slope of mostly 4 to 6 percent, peaking at 9 percent grade for long time. To that end, the Duramax 6.6L barely flickers, while also averaging 11.3 mpg.
Chevy makes some of the most square and mean looking trucks on the market, and its HD lineup is an exclamation mark on that fact, especially when the HD truck is one of the tallest four-wheel drive models, as is the case with the pickup. I’m testing. My ride involved a lot of windy two-lane roads driving in the dark, and when the road meanders at the back of an incline, visibility over the hood is sometimes a problem. There are also other pitfalls of bulky heavy-duty trucks, but they are all part and parcel of a pickup designed to do one job very well: a crane. And the Chevy 2500 HD 2022 doesn’t disappoint.
Before my trip, someone told me that I should check my rearview mirror regularly to make sure the trailer was still there, because this Duramax truck is as fast as the one without the trailer – and they weren’t kidding. The 2500 HD with a 6.6L Duramax transmission and the Allison weigh in at 18,500 lbs, so I barely pulled 35 percent of its capacity. And with a door plaque that claims a curb weight of 8,287 lbs, plus a 158.9-inch wheelbase for the Crew Cab and short-bed configuration, the truck doesn’t suffer from trailer bucking.
The Duramax 3.0L I tested on the Silverado 1500 roared like a petrol car; the 6.6L diesel is another story. On the other hand, the large-capacity Duramax also produces 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque, or roughly twice the torque of its 3.0L sibling.
In the inevitable “Chevy vs. Ford” battle, Chevy’s 6.6L Duramax makes 30 hp and 131 lb-ft less torque than Ford’s 6.7L Power Stroke, with Chevy also coming in with a lower 1,500 lbs and 2,500 lbs lower towing rating. at GCWR. But in this war, Chevy fans can argue that their truck wins in towing capacity when comparing two-wheel drive to three-quarters of a ton; plus, the F-250’s high axle ratio actually pulls 3,500 lbs less than a comparable Chevy. Also, pitting the short wheelbase versions against each other, the Chevy has a larger two-gallon fuel capacity. And on and on…
However, the spec fight is largely irrelevant, because if you’re pulling between 5,000 to 15,000 lbs, both brands will do well. At that point, it boils down to features, ergonomics and looks.
My round trip involved 12 hours of towing, which is a long time to get to know the inside of the Silverado 2500 HD. I found the 8-inch infotainment screen to be more than adequate, albeit a minor touch in this day and age. While moving, I also struggled to consistently select the correct virtual button at the bottom of the screen. Other than that, the navigation, stereo and phone controls operate as you’d expect, which is all that matters.
The heads-up display is a lifesaver. While I’ve never missed a feature on an older three-quarter tonne truck I personally own, having that speed projected onto the windshield on the 2022 2500 HD keeps my eyes off the road.
The Z71 rubber floor mat is also quite fantastic. My trip involved a lot of dirt, and by the end of three days, the floor mat was more brown than black. But instead of flushing them, some instant detailer and a wipe make them almost like new.
But for me, the highest selling point in the cabin is the cup holder. Between the driver and passenger cup holders is a square container that holds my Coke can perfectly. On a personal note for Chevy, the air-conditioned center console storage would be a fantastic complement to this perfectly sized soda caddy.
The digital rearview mirror is also a nice touch, as it becomes a monitor displaying images from the rear-mounted camera. It takes some getting used to, but there are definite advantages to this type of system in vehicles where rear visibility is not much. Complementing this is an around-the-vehicle camera, allowing multiple viewing options through the center view.
The sticker price on the 2022 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD Crew Cab LTZ 4WD I tested came to $74,565, which includes a $9,890 option for the Duramax diesel and a $1,695 destination cost. The truck also has $7,650 in the LTZ package, $1,145 Z71 Off Road & Protection package, $795 in chrome accents, a $545 gooseneck package, and a very useful $445 Multi-Flex Tailgate – features I would order in any Chevy truck.
Opting for the option I like best, the four-wheel drive, Duramax and Allison-equipped LT version of the 2500 HD can be made for less than $67,000, with the WT iteration a lightweight option I’d still be happy to call only around $58,000 – both can also pull 18,500 lbs.
For my towing needs, the 2500 HD with 6.6L Duramax is too much; Chevy’s 2500 HD with 401 hp, 464 lb-ft 6.6L gas motor and 14,500 lb tow rating (or even Silverado 1500 with 3.0L diesel) will do the job. However, the Duramax 6.6L and Allison transmissions are the perfect combination. Unless you push the limits of this truck tow rating or GCWR, this setup will do everything you need and barely break a sweat, both now and if you upgrade to a bigger trailer somewhere in the future. For most, this is more trucks than they need – in all the best ways.
As Miracle Max said, it was a brutal army.