Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Review

2012 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Work Truck Regular Cab Pickup Exterior

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Though "HD" has become common parlance, rest assured that the HD part of Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD does not, in fact, involve a television. In this case we're talking the old-fashioned meaning of HD: "Heavy Duty." The 2500HD is a true workhorse meant for big-league power, towing and hauling capabilities.

For years, Chevy trucks were soundly criticized for their lackluster cabins filled with hard plastics and poor fit and finish. The Silverado's most recent redesign introduced a radically improved interior that enhanced the big pickup's desirability (though it's starting to feel a little stark compared to newer rivals). Even so, it will always be this truck's durability and tremendous hauling and towing abilities that have kept generations of Chevy loyalists coming back to the gold bowtie. For an intermediate heavy-duty pickup, it's hard to go wrong with the Silverado 2500HD.

Current Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
The Silverado 2500HD is available in regular-, extended- or crew cab designs, with a long or short wheelbase and with rear- or four-wheel drive. The extended and crew-cab body styles are offered in three trim levels: Work Truck, LT and the top-line LTZ. The regular cabin can only be had in Work Truck and LT trims.

Standard on all Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD pickups is a 6.0-liter V8 that makes 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can add a bi-fuel option, which allows this engine 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. The optional Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 makes 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque. That powerhouse is paired with a beefier Allison six-speed automatic transmission.

In a comparison test of heavy-duty pickups, the mechanically identical GMC Sierra HD came out on top against its Dodge and Ford competitors. Though we found its cabin less inviting, the big GM trucks' recently revised frame, suspension and diesel engines proved hard to beat. Although multigenerational brand loyalty may dictate what heavy-duty pickup you take home, sticking with (or switching to) the Silverado 2500HD is a solid decision.

Used Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD
The present-generation Chevy Silverado 2500HD debuted for 2007. Even though its appearance has remained largely unchanged, 2500HD models produced prior to 2011 lacked the stronger, fully boxed frame, beefier suspension components and additional electronic aids added for that model year. The Duramax diesel engine also produced 365 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque, as compared to the current model's more powerful iteration. Prior to 2010, the 6.0-liter gasoline V8 produced 353 hp and 373 lb-ft of torque. Other changes have been minor, most notably consisting of an optional rearview camera for 2009 and the current truck's CNG fueling option.

The previous-generation Silverado 2500HD was sold from 2001-'06 and lived on for one additional year as the "Classic." There was a heavy-duty package available for the light-duty Silverado 2500 in 1999 and 2000.

In terms of updates, there were changes made to exterior and interior styling for 2003, with further exterior tweaks for 2005. These trucks came in standard, Work Truck (after 2003), LS and LT trim levels. The standard engine was a 6.0-liter V8 that made 300 hp and 360 lb-ft of torque. There were two optional engines: an 8.1-liter gasoline V8 producing 340 hp and 455 lb-ft of torque and a 6.6-liter turbodiesel producing 300 hp and 520 lb-ft.

This diesel was upgraded in 2006 for more power (360 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque), added refinement and fewer emissions. These engines carried over for the Classic. A five-speed manual transmission was standard with the 6.0-liter V8, with a four-speed automatic optional. The 8.1-liter V8 and the 6.6-liter diesel came with either a six-speed manual or five-speed automatic (which became a six-speed for 2006).

As with the current Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD, we were always impressed by this generation's powerful engine lineup and substantial towing and hauling abilities. It was 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 will provide swift acceleration and ample towing power, but the diesel V8 is probably the best choice for those who tow heavy loads -- especially the more powerful 2006 Duramax. Our principal beef concerns the shoddy interior design, materials and build quality. Chevy improved it gradually during its lifespan, but it was never quite up to snuff.

Prior to this, Chevrolet heavy-duty pickups ran from 1988-2000 and were simply known by their number nomenclature -- 2500 (3/4-ton) and 3500 (1-ton). In keeping with tradition, one could choose either rear-wheel drive (indicated by a "C", e.g. "C2500") or four-wheel drive (indicated by a "K"). Trim levels for these C/K2500 trucks include the base Cheyenne and top-line Silverado, which later changed to base and LS for 1999. Strengths of these trucks include strong, durable powertrains, while weaknesses center on sketchy build quality and materials within the cabin.

Read the most recent 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD review.

If you are looking for older years, visit our used Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD page.

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