What's New for 2013
A new bi-fuel-compatible 6.0-liter V8 debuts on the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD. This engine option allows owners to run either compressed natural gas (CNG) or gasoline.
If you're in the market for a heavy-duty pickup truck, you're in luck, as the offerings from the big three are essentially on equal footing. One choice may have a slight advantage here or there, but in the end it will likely come down to brand loyalty and personal preference.
For the bowtie faithful, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD bridges the gap between the more common 1500 light-duty pickup and all-out workhorse 3500HD with available dual-rear-wheel configuration. Within the 2500HD range, buyers have a seemingly endless list of choices and options. From cab styles, bed lengths and engines, you can pretty much create a utilitarian work truck or a more civilized vehicle to tow your luxury RV.
New for 2013, the Silverado 2500HD gains a bi-fuel option that allows for either traditional gasoline power or compressed natural gas (CNG). With this flexibility comes a bit of a compromise, as the gas cylinder is housed in an enclosure the size of a large cross-bed toolbox, thus reducing payload capacity. Whether or not you choose a CNG-capable version, deciding among a Chevrolet, Ford or Ram still comes down to preference, as all three have similar systems, or will have shortly.
If you're still undecided, it's helpful to know that the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD receives praise for its compliant suspension, smooth powertrain, fuel economy and overall performance when compared to the competition. Fortunately for you, you really can't go wrong with any of the choices in this segment, since the Ford F-250 Super Duty and Ram 2500 come with advantages of their own.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD is offered in regular cab, extended cab or crew cab body styles with a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. The regular cab is only available with a long bed (8 feet), while the extended and crew cabs can be mated to either a standard bed (6.5 feet) or a long bed. Trim levels start at the base Work Truck, step up to midlevel LT and then top out at the upscale LTZ, although the LTZ is not available with a regular cab. Unlike its 3500 big brother, the 2500 is not available with a dual-rear-wheel (DRW or "dually") axle.
The Work Truck or WT trim implies just that: basic rubberized vinyl floor coverings, dark vinyl seat coverings, a 40/20/40-split front bench with fold-down center armrest, 17-inch steel wheels, a tilt steering wheel and a four-speaker AM/FM stereo.
The LT trim adds alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, keyless entry, full power accessories, floor coverings, cloth seats with a locking storage console, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, driver-side lumbar adjustments, cruise control, OnStar, satellite radio and a CD/MP3 player. Many of the LT features are available on the Work Truck as options.
The LTZ trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglights, an automatic locking rear differential, a heavy-duty trailering package (with integrated trailer brake controller), dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, steering-wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, remote starting, heated, leather-upholstered front bucket seats with power adjustments, a floor-mounted front center console, Bluetooth and an upgraded Bose stereo system with a USB port. Some of these features are available as options for the LT.
Additional options for the LT and LTZ models include 20-inch wheels, an aluminum bed extender, a protective bedliner, a sliding or stationary tool box, a cargo rail, a sliding bed divider, a sunroof (not available on extended cab), power-sliding rear window, power-adjustable pedals, a heated steering wheel, rear parking sensors, the EZ-lift tailgate, a navigation system, a rearview camera and a rear-seat entertainment system. Also available is the Off-Road Suspension package (Z71) that includes skid plates, specially tuned shock absorbers and a different front stabilizer bar. The Z71 Appearance package adds a body-colored grille surround and lower fascia, chrome mesh grille and 18-inch polished alloy wheels.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard power plant for the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD is a 6.0-liter V8 backed by a six-speed automatic. This engine is rated at 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. New for 2013, buyers can add a bi-fuel option, allowing the truck to run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG). When operating with CNG, power output drops to 301 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque.
An optional turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V8 is the favored engine choice for those who plan on towing or hauling on a regular basis. It produces 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a beefier six-speed Allison automatic transmission with manual shift control. In Edmunds performance testing of a mechanically identical GMC Sierra 2500HD with this engine, we recorded a 0-60 time of just 7 seconds, which is 2 seconds quicker than a Ram 2500. This engine uses a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) injection system.
Rear-wheel drive is standard for all models, with four-wheel drive optional. The Work Truck 4WD receives a traditional floor-mounted transfer case as standard, while the two other trim levels get Autotrac, a knob-controlled electric transfer case that features an automatic setting that engages 4WD when wheel slippage is detected. Autotrac is available on the Work Truck as an option.
Properly equipped, a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD can haul up to 3,670 pounds of payload (4,212 pounds when equipped with a special High Payload package). It can tow up to 13,000 pounds with its standard ball hitch and 17,800 pounds with a fifth-wheel connection. To aid towing on downhill grades, the diesel engine also features a big-rig-inspired exhaust braking system that increases control and reduces brake wear.
Standard safety features on the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD include antilock disc brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, trailer sway control and hill-start control. Driver and front passenger airbags are standard, with front seat side airbags and side curtain airbags optional in all models, as are rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. OnStar subscriptions include automatic crash response and turn-by-turn navigation.
In government crash tests, the Silverado 2500HD crew cab with rear-wheel drive received an overall score of three out of five stars, with three stars for frontal and rollover protection and four stars for side protection. Adding the optional front-seat side and side curtain airbags boosts the overall score to four stars and side impact score to five stars. Four-wheel-drive models generally gained an extra star for rollover protection.
In Edmunds brake testing, the mechanically identical GMC Sierra 2500HD came to a stop from 60 mph in 144 feet, which is a long distance, but typical for a heavy-duty truck.
Interior Design and Special Features
Chevy offers two different dash configurations on the 2013 Silverado 2500. The WT and LT design is simpler and includes dual gloveboxes, while the LTZ offers more of a luxury SUV feel that flows down to a center console and features wood-grain trim. It's also sleeker on the passenger side, with a single glovebox.
The WT remains very utilitarian, with easy-to-clean rubber flooring and vinyl coverings. The LT offers a more inviting cabin with cloth and carpeting, but both models come standard with a three-person front bench seat -- hence the more trucklike dash. The LTZ features leather-stitched bucket seats as standard.
The front seats are supportive and comfortable, though some drivers might find the driving position a bit awkward because of the tilt-only steering wheel (it's too close to the dash), while the gas and brake pedals are far apart in order to accommodate work boots. We're also not particularly fond of the small and fiddly buttons on the center stack found in the higher trim levels.
The extended cab's rear fold-up seats are acceptable in terms of comfort but more suited for children. On the plus side, the extended cab's rear doors swing out 170 degrees to aid with loading the backseat area in tight spaces. The crew cab also features a fold-up rear seat and is much roomier, but falls short on most dimensions when compared with the competition.
When stacked up against competitive models from Ford and Ram, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD has a few clear advantages, especially the four-wheel-drive model. All Chevy heavy-duty 4WD pickups have an independent front suspension, while Ford and Ram go with solid front axles. The Chevy setup smoothes out rough roads and terrain a little better, and provides a confident steering response and a tighter turning circle.
We also like the excellent fuel economy and authoritative acceleration provided by the diesel V8 while keeping a tight lid on the diesel chatter. Performance on mountain roads is quite responsive, as the Allison tow/haul mode keeps the transmission in the right gear with well-timed shifts, and the diesel exhaust brake helps maintain a steady ride down steep grades. The Silverado helps take the worry out of towing with such features as an integrated trailer brake and trailer sway control built into the stability control system.
While lighter, less powerful 1500 pickups can offer customers a rewarding personal-truck experience and even a sporty attitude, the 2500 and 3500 models are designed for work and utility -- especially over long hauls. Due to their size and burly character, they're not practical for urban commutes. However, that doesn't preclude some owners from using the Chevy Silverado 2500 as their primary vehicle, thanks to a suspension that is somewhat forgiving for its strength and a host of available creature comforts.