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2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Test Drive Review
The new Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD proves positively how good at seemingly everything trucks have become. But is it worth its staggering price?
The last decade has been pretty wild for the auto industry. Technologies that were previously rarities reserved for high-end luxury options, such as touchscreen infotainment systems, navigation, and driver-assistance systems, have all become commonplace. For some brands, these features are included even in base trims. The past 10 years have seen incredible advancements in electric cars, and we are inching ever closer to actual self-driving, autonomous cars.
The last 10 years have also been the decade of do-it-all vehicles. The car-based crossover is a shining example of this, bridging capability and comfort. Family sedans like the Toyota Camry are now sporty sedans, and the Ford Explorer is as effective a family hauler as it is a police vehicle.
The expectation that vehicles will do a little bit of everything extends to the pickup-truck market, but that’s only part of what fueled the pickup-truck arms race of the previous decade. No other vehicle segment enjoyed more gains in the past 10 years than light-duty and heavy-duty pickups. From power and towing capabilities to cabin quality, the latest crop of trucks is better than ever. Today's truck plays the roles of worksite workhorse and family commuter vehicle.
The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD is an inevitable conclusion to this arms race. It has pushed every truck attribute to its max and can handle countless different roles, even if the “affordability” aspect has left the station. Read on to learn if the Silverado 2500HD is worth its potentially steep price, and learn which trim of the Silverado 2500HD CarGurus recommends.
Look and Feel
There’s an old adage: “Style is subjective.” It’s often used to refer to fashions and designs one could generously call “polarizing.” If you’ve read or watched any other CarGurus reviews featuring yours truly, I’ve used this concept when describing the Silverado, and I’m not the only one. When the Silverado 1500 first debuted, the Internet lit it up, and then the 2500HD dropped… and got dragged.
Seriously, look at it and tell me this is an attractive truck. It’s part of the same Chevrolet design language behind the Camaro and Blazer, and it’s actually quite bad. Want proof? One year after it redesigned the Camaro in 2019, Chevrolet had to do an emergency rhinoplasty for the 2020 model year. Just remember that the Silverado is part of that same design family.
Even after a week, the Silverado started to grow on me… just a little bit. And perhaps it may grow on me more over time, but good design isn’t like a modern art piece, where you get to ask, “What is the artist saying?” Design for cars, trucks, laptops, phones, and other real-world devices and objects needs to “click” the first time you see it.
Yet as much as I’ve lambasted the exterior, these trucks are made for work, and I’ll always prioritize function over form, especially in this class of vehicle. Also, even if I don’t love the exterior, drivers primarily experience a vehicle from the inside; you’re not really looking at the front end, anyway.
And as much as the exterior design is all-new, the cabin design and layout are largely unchanged, and for the better. Sure, there a few different lines here and there, but all the vents, dials, buttons, and screens are in about the same place, and that includes the lovely column shifter. All trucks should have a column shifter, and any button or dial-shifter setup is doing it wrong. As we’ll get into a bit later, the choice to stick with convention in the cabin pays off handsomely.
Trims for the Silverado HD are Work Truck, Custom, LT, LTZ, and High Country. Despite being a base trim, the Work Truck comes with a 7-inch touchscreen, a V8 engine, Bluetooth connectivity, and a 3.5-inch digital instrument display.
The Custom trim adds 20-inch aluminum wheels, LED taillights, a body-color split grille bar, and side-mirror cornering lights.
The LT trim provides a chrome grille, upgraded cloth seating (replacing vinyl), a larger infotainment screen, and a power lift-and-lower tailgate. This is the trim that CarGurus recommends, as it offers more creature comforts than the Custom trim but costs only slightly more.
We drove the LTZ with the Z71 Off-Road package. It boasted leather upholstery, heated and cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and remote start. This is a seriously nice truck, but the High Country tops it. It comes standard with many features that were optional on our LTZ, including the spray-on bed liner, front and rear park assist, and the power up-and-down tailgate.
The Silverado HD offers two engine options. They are both powerful V8s, and they both displace 6.6 liters—the only difference is fuel. The standard engine is a gas V8 that makes 401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque, but we drove the optional Duramax turbodiesel V8, which makes 445 horsepower and 910 pound-feet of torque. Both engines send power to the rear wheels or available 4-wheel drive (4WD) with low-range gearing through a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The diesel's power isn’t instantaneous, but it builds to a massive swell. And while it may not have the throttle response of a gas V8, it’s one of the punchiest diesel engines we’ve ever experienced. When properly equipped, the Silverado 2500HD can tow 18,500 pounds. Moving up to the Silverado 3500HD will provide up to 20,000 pounds of conventional towing and 35,500 pounds with a gooseneck hitch. Our truck was actually set up for the gooseneck, with mounts hidden below cheap plastic covers in the bed.
That kind of power has countless use cases, from towing horse trailers to campers to boats. Many worksites need a truck that can tow flatbed trailers full of equipment. Or you may have to haul materials to the worksite. The point is, the Silverado HD is the answer to more questions than you know.
The EPA doesn’t post fuel-economy numbers for heavy-duty trucks, but in our week of driving, we observed just about 17 mpg. That’s actually quite impressive, and combined with its 36-gallon tank, the truck is technically able to cover more than 600 miles before having to refuel.
Form and Function
Bed and cab configurations include a Regular Cab with a long bed, an extended Double Cab with either a standard bed or a long bed, and the full 4-door Crew Cab with the standard bed or the long bed. Our test truck was a 4-door Crew Cab with the standard bed.
No matter the trim, the Silverado HD comes with Chevrolet's helpful CornerSteps and BedSteps. CornerSteps have come equipped on previous versions of Chevy trucks, but they are now larger and designed to accommodate big work boots.
Our LTZ test model also came with the available power lift-and-lower tailgate. You can open and close it from the key fob or with the button on the tailgate. There is also a button in the cabin, located among other toggles. These buttons are easy to find, and the layout is very similar to that on the previous truck. That's one of the great things about the Silverado—how much hasn't changed in the cabin. If you buy a new truck, how nice is it to not have to re-learn all the controls? When you are using a truck for work, you don’t want to be searching around for the trailer-brake control. You want it right in front of you, and that’s where the Silverado shines.
The cabin of the Crew Cab seems to go on forever, and it has massive cubbies and trays for your gear. The center console bin is massive, and the rear seats fold up to reveal a flat load floor and additional trays for gear. Even within the rear seatbacks, there are hidden cubbies. It’s hard to eke more utility out of a vehicle than what we see here in the Silverado.
One of the ways in which the Silverado excels is its restraint with regard to technology. If you have work gloves on, do you really want to be pressing a 12-inch touchscreen? The Work Truck and Custom trims come with the Silverado’s base 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
LT, LTZ, and High Country trims come with the larger 8-inch touchscreen. Regardless of the size, both systems have a straightforward layout with large icons and a home-button bar across the bottom of the screen. That said, I did wish the bottom dock icons were as large as the icons on the home screen. These small icons are a bit of a chore to poke at while driving, but that’s still better than trying to manage the massive touchscreen on the new Ram trucks.
The truck has multiple USB ports and power outlets all over, providing power and connectivity for all your devices. A wireless charging pad is standard on the High Country, and it came as an option on our LTZ test truck. With wireless charging, though, I hope to see over-the-air (OTA) Apple CarPlay arrive in the coming years, as it has in the latest BMW models.
Finally, Chevrolet offers a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot. It's standard on the LT, LTZ, and High Country, and it comes as an available feature on the Custom and Work Truck trims.
The Silverado HD comes with a reversing camera, traction control, and a full array of airbags. The LTZ improves on the reversing camera with a surround-view camera with trailer views, and our test truck also came with the available Safety Package II. This adds forward-collision avoidance, lane-departure warning, and adaptive cruise control. This package also includes the Safety Alert Seat, which is a surprisingly useful feature. It vibrates the seat to bring your attention to safety-message alerts in the digital instrument-panel screen.
Below that, the Safety Package I comes with front and rear parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring. These were also included on our test truck and were nearly essential for maneuvering in tightly packed strip-mall parking lots. The parking sensors allow you to get as close as possible to the curb or an obstruction when trying to execute a three-point turn, and the blind-spot monitoring made it far easier to determine when you have cleared a vehicle in traffic. But with all this technology, it was the massive side mirrors with integrated trucking (wide-angle) mirrors that made driving a truck this size a manageable task.
Base MSRP for the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD is $34,100, but truck pricing is never that simple. Trims, bed and cab configurations, and the seemingly countless options available make mapping out truck pricing difficult. That low price is for a Regular cab Work Truck with little-to-no frills.
A popular configuration (and the one CarGurus recommends) is the LT Crew Cab with a standard bed, 4WD, and the gas V8. That setup comes in at just over $46,000 and represents a typical price for a decently equipped truck in the year 2020.
Our 2500HD LTZ Crew Cab Standard Bed with 4WD is a similar setup, one trim up, and starts at $53,300, but that’s not the end of the story. The diesel engine alone is nearly $10,000, and with the Z71 package and all other options added on, our test truck came in at over $72,000.
Trucks like these can climb close to $80,000, and the Silverado 3500HD will shoot right past that with a generous combination of options. This seems like insane pricing, but these trucks sell in large numbers. For all the creature comforts they offer, the can do things no other vehicle can. And the ability to get work done from the comfort of a modern, sophisticated cabin carries a price that many in the truck market are willing to pay.
From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.
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