What's New for 2006
For 2006, a diesel engine upgrade is the most significant change to the Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD. The Duramax 6.6-liter engine receives a host of power and refinement upgrades, as well as reduced emissions. Additionally, the Allison automatic transmission is now a six-speed, and features a tap-shift range selection mode. The only other noteworthy updates are a new design for the optional power camping/towing exterior mirrors and slightly updated front-end styling.
Chevrolet's modern full-size pickup has been around in one form or another since the early '60s. Now into its sixth generation, the Silverado, as it's now called, boasts classic styling and some of the most powerful drivetrains available anywhere. A perennial competitor to the full-size offerings from Ford and Dodge, Chevrolet typically finishes a close second in sales, mostly due to the fact that it shares customers with the virtually identical GMC Sierra.
Often first to market with exclusive features, the Silverado 2500HD continues that tradition by offering XM Satellite Radio and Bose audio systems. Chevy trucks also offer the OnStar communications system that provides the convenience of 24-hour on-call assistance for everything from tow truck requests to dinner reservations. Combine this with attractive styling on the outside and thoughtful features on the inside, and the Silverado 2500HD presents a compelling package for anyone in the market for a no-holds-barred work truck.
Solid as the heavy-duty Silverado is, it's definitely worth your while to shop around in this segment, as Ford and Dodge both have strong diesel power plants that give their trucks higher tow ratings (properly equipped, a Silverado 2500HD can tow up to 12,000 pounds (16,000 with a fifth wheel). GM's truck is still a fine choice for use around the worksite and home, just make sure you assess your needs carefully before making a decision.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2500HD is available in regular, extended- and crew-cab body styles. From there, you can pick two- or four-wheel drive and a short or long box (except for regular cabs, which are long boxes only). There are five trim levels: Work Truck, LS, LT1, LT2 and LT3. Work Trucks offer manual dual-zone air conditioning, a 40/20/40-split bench seat and ABS. LS models come with a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, a CD stereo, an upgraded driver message center and tinted glass. The LT1 adds power windows and locks, and keyless entry. The LT2 includes a power driver seat and Bose audio. The LT3 includes leather seats and a CD changer.
Powertrains and Performance
The HD's base engine is a 6.0-liter V8 rated at 300 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque. Chevrolet offers two even more powerful options: an 8.1-liter V8 and the 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel. The 8.1-liter engine boasts an impressive 330 hp and 450 lb-ft of torque, while the updated-for-'06 6.6-liter diesel V8 makes 360 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. The standard transmission for the 6.0-liter V8 is a five-speed manual with a heavy-duty four-speed automatic optional. The 8.1-liter V8 and 6.6-liter diesel can be hooked up to either a six-speed manual or a heavy-duty Allison six-speed automatic. Being heavy-duty trucks, these brutes can certainly pull: Trucks properly equipped and fitted with the 6.0-liter V8 can pull around 10,000 pounds; the 8.1L and Duramax V8s bump that figure to 12,000 pounds. Adding a fifth wheel for trailering gives a HD the ability to pull 16,000 pounds.
All heavy-duty Silverados include four-wheel antilock disc brakes as standard equipment. In frontal crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Silverado earned a three-star rating (out of five) for driver protection and four stars for the front passenger. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's frontal offset crash test, the Silverado was given an overall rating of "Marginal," the second lowest score.
Interior Design and Special Features
Inside, Silverado buyers will find a logically laid-out interior, with an easy-to-use climate control system and clear, uncluttered gauges. Materials quality is unimpressive, and build quality, though improved over the last few years, is still behind the competition. The large cabin offers plenty of room, comfortable bucket seats and a four-door configuration on extended-cab models.
The 2500HD is a reasonably comfortable truck for everyday use, but don't expect the plush ride of its light-duty siblings. Any of the three available engines provides swift acceleration and ample towing power, but the diesel V8 is probably the best choice for those who tow heavy loads.