2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD Preview

Jeff Youngs | Dec 31, 2010
  • All-new fully-boxed frame
  • Freshened exterior
  • Interior is essentially a carryover
  • Engine improvements
  • Improved fuel economy
  • Standard trailer sway control
  • Standard hill-start assist
  • Standard exhaust brake
  • On sale in summer 2010


2011 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HDThe Chevrolet Silverado HD is the heavy-duty variant of the volume-selling Silverado/GMC Sierra light-duty 1500-series truck. Designed for commercial use, the 2011 platform is offered in 2500HD and 3500HD models-the latter often with dual rear wheels for increased load and towing capabilities.

The 2011 model year marks a significant refresh for the Silverado HD with an all-new fully-boxed frame, upgraded engines, revised transmissions, and several new standard electronic safety features. Interestingly enough, the interior is a carryover (the automaker is emerging from bankruptcy, so keeping costs down was a priority). The new 2011 model is expected in showrooms this summer.

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2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD


First appearances don't reveal many changes with the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD. From the outside, there are only a few minor differences from its 2010 predecessor. The 2011 model sports a new power-dome hood and the front bumper is larger with a more prominent engine-cooling intake. In addition, there are new 17-inch wheels (with larger wheels optional), and the Chevrolet bowtie logo is larger.

However, the big news for the Silverado HD is found under the truck-in the frame. Like its half-ton smaller sibling, the frame is now fully-boxed (not an open C-channel) to improve rigidity and torsional stiffness, Chevy says. The automaker is also using welded (not riveted) crossmembers, which also strengthens the structure. According to Chevrolet, the changes improve torsional strength by five times, offer 92-percent better bending stiffness, and 20-percent better beaming stiffness. This translates to a better ride, sturdier platform for towing, and a truck that will offer a much longer service life.

Model Lineup

The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado is offered in both 2500HD and 3500HD configurations. All told, there are dozens of potential model configurations, and no fewer than eleven different frame combinations to accommodate the variations of 2x4, 4x4, cab, cargo bed and box length options. In addition to those offered in 2010, Chevrolet has added two new models for 2011: SRW (single-rear-wheel) crew cab with a 6.5-foot cargo box, and a SRW Duramax regular cab with an 8-foot box (and a choice between 2x4 and 4x4). The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD is available in WT, LT and LTZ trim levels.

Duramax diesel engine


Chevrolet is offering two different engine choices on its 2011 Silverado HD: a 6.0-liter gasoline-power V-8 and a 6.6-liter "Duramax" diesel V-8.

The standard engine-a gasoline-powered 6.0-liter V-8-returns for 2011 with a new camshaft for improved power and efficiency. It is also mated to a stronger 6-speed 6L90 heavy-duty automatic transmission. The automaker has not released performance information for 2011, but last year that engine was rated at 360 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque.

The diesel engine choice is a 6.6-liter "Duramax" that now uses a diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) injection to reduce emissions. The transmission on the diesel powerplant is a 6-speed Allison 1000 automatic equipped with a lock-up torque converter designed to improve efficiency. New for 2011, the diesel engine is fitted with an all-new exhaust brake. This mechanical system, common on larger trucks, is designed to reduced brake pad wear and fade (the brakes overheat) on long descents by utilizing the engine to slow the vehicle. This is its first application on a Silverado HD. Heavy duty trucks are not subject to EPA fuel-economy testing, but Chevrolet says that its Duramax diesel HD truck with 36-gallon fuel tank will have at least a 680-mile range (equating to approximately 19 mpg highway).

The front suspension on the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD is revised-continuing with carryover torsion bars-with heavier forged-steel control arms and heavier cast-iron lower control arms for more strength, Chevy says. There are two urethane jounce bumpers (instead of one on the outgoing model) to cushion strong impacts. The rear suspension-a solid axle-is stronger with the rear spring hangers integrated into the frame rails. The rear differential is the same size, but its internals are now stronger. The brakes on the 2011 Silverado HD have also been upgraded from 12.8-inch discs to 14-inch discs in the front, to improve stopping power.

Although the strengthened chassis and other improvements have made the truck heavier, the standard towing capacity has been bumped up from 13,000 pounds to 16,000 pounds. The Silverado HD can also accommodate a snow plow-when equipped with the optional Snow Plow Prep package.

2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD interior


Heavy-duty trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds are not required to meet government-mandated passenger-car safety standards (air bags, tire-pressure-monitoring systems, roof strength, etc.), but Chevrolet nevertheless has advanced the safety technology on its next-generation Silverado HD.

According to the automaker, the 2011 Silverado is the first application of electronic trailer sway control to a GM full-size pickup. Trailer sway control helps prevent a towed load from swinging back-and-forth, potentially causing the towing vehicle to lose control. In addition, Silverado HD trucks are equipped with "hill-hold assist," an electronic system that holds the vehicle stationary while on a grade for 1.5 seconds to prevent it from rolling back (hill-hold assist has been integrated into the truck's brake controller, so it will also hold the trailer brakes). Lastly, the single-wheel Silverado HD trucks come with stability and traction control as standard equipment.


The heavy-duty Silverado pickup truck is very likely to be used for towing-one of its design strengths. With that in mind, Chevrolet has fitted all models of the 2011 Silverado HD with trailer sway control, an electronic safety feature designed to limit the amount a trailer sways while being towed at speed. The truck's anti-lock braking system electronics, working in conjunction with the integrated trailer brake controller, are designed to constantly monitor and automatically sense dangerous yaw in the rear of the vehicle. Without any input from the driver, the safety-oriented system will automatically-and immediately-take action to apply the truck's brakes (individually, if needed) to bring the vehicle back under control. The system, designed by TRW, will also control the trailer's electronic brakes if the load is connected to the truck's 7-pin trailer connector.
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