2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD

By March 5, 2014
2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD

The Chevrolet Silverado HD (and GMC Sierra HD) is the least truck-like of the heavy-duty pickups. Apples to apples Silverado HD usually has a better ride, more precise steering and quieter interior, yet it can still do the work you expect of an HD pickup. For 2015, Silverado HD’s cab and interior match the changes made to the light-duty Silverado for 2014, as do safety features such as forward collision alert and lane departure warning.

Chevrolet Silverado HD, Ford Super Duty and Ram HD compete constantly for weight rating superiority and bragging rights. At introduction, the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD fares well with the top payload rating (by less than 75 pounds) and top conventional trailer tow rating (by 1100), but the Ram bests Ford and GM by more than three tons on max fifth-wheel or gooseneck ratings. It’s important to note that while there is an SAE standard for trailering ratings, none of the manufacturers quote figures according to it.

A base 2015 Silverado HD 3500 regular cab 2WD dual-rear wheel can carry 7,343 pounds of payload; it can tow 14,200 pounds. Top fifth-wheel rating is 23,200 pounds on a dually regular cab diesel 4WD (payload 5817). Top conventional towing is 19,600 pounds on a long-bed Crew Cab dually 4WD diesel (payload 5205). Like all big pickups, no one version maxes all the numbers, and these values are for low-option, empty trucks and will only go down with people, options and any cargo on board.

Chevrolet Silverado HD was completely re-engineered for 2011 so the majority of changes to the 2015 Silverado HD are above the frame. Most of the mechanicals got minor tuning and software updates for various control systems, but the basics will look familiar. The cab, interior, sheetmetal and many features are new for 2015.

The 6.0-liter V8 gas engine is rated 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque for all Silverado HD pickups. Paired with the 6-speed automatic it is a proven, inexpensive combo. For the big towing numbers you need the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel (B20 approved) with 397 hp and twice the torque of the gas V8. Everything in the suspension, steering, brakes, frame and ancillary systems is built to complement the diesel power. As a result, anyone with money and a driver’s license can buy a leather lined four-door cabin capable of pulling a 10-ton trailer (which requires a commercial drivers license in many states).

Vinyl seats and rubber floors remain available. At the other extreme are heated and cooled leather seats with memory and more inputs and ports than some computers (at this time the High Country trim from Silverado 1500 did not make the jump to HD). The dash and materials have been upgraded, Chevy’s very good MyLink infotainment is available, and the breadth of equipment expanded. Forward-hinged doors on the Double Cab that replaces the Extended Cab make it squeak and rattle-free, while both four-doors have more room in back.

The 2015 Silverado HD offers five wheelbases in 2500 (3/4-ton) trim. It comes as a Regular Cab long bed (8 feet), a Double Cab with standard bed (6-foot, 6-inch) or long bed, or Crew Cab with standard bed or long bed. The 3500-series (1-ton) is all long-bed except for a 3500 Crew Cab standard bed with single rear wheels. All dual rear wheel models have the long bed. Some models are available with a pickup box-delete for mounting an aftermarket setup or your own. Pickup fuel capacity is 36 gallons.

Three trim levels are available, WT, LT and LTZ, though not on every configuration. LTZ is limited to Double and Crew Cab models. Expect to add $1,500-$3,000 to move from regular cab to Double or Double to Crew Cab, about $200 from standard bed to long bed, $3,000 for 4WD, and roughly $4000 to upgrade from WT to LT and $5000 from LT to LTZ.

Model Lineup

2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD models come in Regular and Double Cab versions with an 8-foot bed and Crew Cab with 6.5 or 8-foot bed. Each has a 6-speed automatic transmission, offers two- or four-wheel drive, and all but the Regular Cab 2WD 3500 offer a diesel engine option. The standard 6-liter V8 is rated 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque; the CNG version 301 hp and 333 lb-ft.

Silverado HD WT is the base model. It comes with vinyl or cloth upholstery, air conditioning, rubberized floor covering, chrome bumpers (with rear steps) and grille surround, EZ-lift/lower locking tailgate, black door handles and mirrors, LT245/75R17E tires on steel wheels and floor-shift for 4WD. WT models include AM/FM 6-speaker stereo, driver info center with trip computer, 40/20/40 manual-recline front seats, folding rear bench seat (on four-doors), power windows and locks, tilt wheel, intermittent wipers, and cruise control. Some options are an integral trailer brake controller, trailering equipment, 110-VAC outlet and a locking rear differential.

Silverado HD LT versions are upgraded with carpeting (though the WT floor is available), 40/20/40 front seat with locking console storage, 60/40 split-fold rear seat, MyLink 4.2-inch touchscreen, aluminum wheels, power heated mirrors, power windows, power door locks, deep-tint glass, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, visor vanity mirror/lights, remote keyless entry and electric-shift for 4WD. LT options are myriad, and include most WT options not already standard. Also available are cabin convenience and Z71 Appearance off-road packages, 18-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone climate control, Bose audio system, heated bucket seats, telescoping steering wheel, rear park assist and camera, and power adjustable pedals.

Silverado HD LTZ adds leather upholstery, 10-way power heated front seats and two-person driver memory, dual-zone climate control, 8-inch MyLink touchscreen and XM, rear-window defroster, auto-dimming inside mirror, backup camera, AC outlet, remote start, universal opener, alarm, power-folding mirrors with signals, fog lamps, locking rear differential, trailer brake controller, trailering equipment, LT265/70R18E tires on 18-inch aluminum wheels, locking differential, trailer equipment and integrated trailer brake controller. LTZ options include 20-inch wheels, Bose sound system, heated/cooled front seats, telescoping steering wheel, front/rear park assist, adjustable pedals and Z71 pack.

Available for all Silverado HD trims are spray-on bedliner and bed covers, chrome tow hooks, larger or dual alternators, side steps, power heated camper mirrors, LED box lighting, block heater, snow-plow prep for 4WD, high-idle switch, radiator cover and camper/fifth-wheel wiring.

Safety equipment includes frontal airbags, front-side airbags and front side-curtain airbags (on 2500), front seat belt pretensioners, six months OnStar Directions & Connections, electronic stability with trailer sway control and tire-pressure monitors on 2500. Safety related options include front-side airbags and front side-curtain airbags (3500), forward collision alert, lane departure warning, park sensors, backup camera and integrated trailer brake controller.

Walkaround

The 2015 Silverado HD looks much like the 2014 Silverado 1500. The cabs are the same, and while the other parts are unique because of HD dimensions, cooling requirements or dual-rear wheels, the styling is very similar to the light-duty version.

It's a square, imposing truck. As pickups approach medium-duty trucks for work capacity they require more robust cooling packages, so the HD has a larger grille and bumper openings than the Silverado 1500. You can tell the powertrain by hood badges and exhaust outlets, and trim by the amount of bling. Although it looks quite geometric, air flows over the 2015 Silverado HD with less resistance than with the previous version.

A big chrome crossbar and bow-tie logo are Chevy family, and the projector headlight arrangement echoes the 1500. Fog lights (if equipped) are spread well apart and the shark-fin antenna should clear most cab-over campers (though the signal may be affected). The front air dam fitted for fuel economy is low by 4WD standards and will scuff on steep driveways before some cars or vans.

Big square wheel openings, especially on duallys, leave lots of room in the fenders. The dominant design theme is horizontal, broken only by lights and a kink in crew cab rear window line. Side steps are offered in various sizes and finishes, including a small drop-down step ahead of the rear wheels. The cab-to-bed gap gets smaller with every generation. The trailer plugs are adjacent the license plate.

Dual-rear-wheel pickups use a sheetmetal pickup box with integrated fenders for the double rear wheels, resulting in a smoother look and finish (though potentially higher repair bills if you ding one). The substantial reinforcement panels in the dually wheelwells are likely to cause some noise on gravel roads but not collect snow or mud like the old ones.

Where not standard (required by weights and widths) the roof marker lamps, one each side and three in a pod in the center, are optional. The tailgate lifts and lowers easily and one engineer who has removed one solo estimated its weight at 45 pounds. Spray-in bedliners, under-rail bed lights, a variety of lashing points and cargo covers are available. The frame is ready for fifth-wheel installation and the receiver hitch is rated up to 19,600 pounds. Chevy does not require weight-distribution but we'd recommend it with that heavy tongue weight.

The Silverado HD matches up against other heavy-duty pickups in most dimensions as they all carry the proverbial 4×8 sheet of plywood flat in long-box models. However, the Silverado tends to have a slightly lower roofline, and the 4WD is no taller, so they may fit better in your parking garage.

Interior Features

Except for minor details, the cab from the light-duty has been dropped wholesale on the HD. You will recognize it as a GM product but some buttons, switches or logos are the only bits that aren't new. The 2015 Silverado HD cab is roomier, quieter, more comfortable and offers more advanced infotainment than before.

The biggest news for 2015 is the mid-size Double cab that replaces the Extended cab. Double cab uses a center pillar and forward-hinged rear doors to access a slightly roomier back seat. Yes, you give up some access ease of the old clamshell doors but don't need lots of space adjacent to get in and out, don't bother the front occupants and it results in a much more rigid, quieter cab. Extended cabs were most likely to squeak and groan, but with the smallest openings and six pillars the Double Cab is the strongest version.

All Silverado HD use what amounts to a four-segment dashboard. Far left are lighting, 4WD for all but WT, and trailer brake control, very convenient for adjusting the gain while watching the mirror for trailer lockup. Ahead of the wheel are complete and responsive gauges (diesels get different tachometer and oil pressure scales) with a center screen run through steering wheel controls. In the center are the touchscreen, audio/infotainment controls, climate controls and accessory switches. On the right, upper and lower gloveboxes.

Front seats proved supportive, be they manual or power adjusted. The center of the bench option is adequate for moderate journeys and best for those of shorter stature given less legroom on the flat floor hump. Some trucks have locking storage under that seat, and the backrest folds to an armrest as comfortable as those on the bucket seat/console trucks.

Rear seats are also quite comfortable, your 6-foot correspondent surviving 45 minutes in a Double Cab with no aches and pains. The seat cushion lifts easily for inside cargo area. The Crew cab has plenty of room, bigger doors make it easier to get in and despite the seat feeling closer to the floor than competitors doesn't feel lacking leg room unless compared to a Tundra CrewMax or Ram MegaCab. On the other hand, minimal rear-seat headrests with little lift on the Silverado are far inferior to those found on Ford and Ram heavy-duty pickups.

Outward visibility is good because you're nearly six feet off the ground and the pillars aren't too thick. The hood sculpting gives only clues where the front corners are for close-quarter maneuvering or tight trails, but the snout isn't as long as you think. The telescoping dual-element towing mirrors and the available rearview camera, which we recommend getting, make up for much of what you can't see out the back window.

Basic controls are all easy to find and operate. The shifter has Tow/Haul on the end and an up/down shift button active once you move the lever from D to M. Your dog may move your memory seat or engage a child-lock (one driver did it to us, he swore by accident) and the ergonomics don't suit your correspondent, but complaints are few.

The MyLink infotainment system works well, pairing phones and iPods quickly, and can scroll up to 30 tabs which can be used as radio station presets, navigation locations or phone numbers: Speed-dial for all of it, if you will. Upper-level trucks have plenty of ports in the console, and a Crew equipped with the rear entertainment system will have six USB ports, two SD card slots, AC and DC power points, and video inputs.

OnStar turn-by-turn navigation (Directions & Connections) is included, though there is a monthly service charge after an initial trial. We've had good experiences with the OnStar operators and recommend it. If you get in a wreck that sets the airbag off, the OnStar operator will come on over the speaker system and ask you whether you're okay. If you don't respond, the operator will direct emergency responders to your exact location, handy when no one notices you just plummeted down a ravine. OnStar can direct police to your car if it's stolen, unlock the doors if you lock yourself out. OnStar Hands-Free Calling is available, along with traffic reports, weather updates, stock updates.

Driving Impressions

The Vortec 6.0-liter V8 gasoline engine is now rated 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque for all pickup applications, on Regular-grade unleaded. Although torque peaks at 4200 rpm, you needn’t rev it up to get most of the power, but towing heavy loads or hauling weight up hill it will downshift frequently as needed. Tow/Haul mode is designed for total loads about 75 percent of gross combined and above (say any trailer more than 8000 pounds behind the gas engine) and works very well.

Last year’s 4.10:1 axle ratio $100 option is now standard and the only one you can get with the 6-liter. Apparently our assertion that it gave better performance and a higher tow limit with negligible impact on fuel economy was correct, or the majority ordered it.

The 6-liter V8 can be ordered as a compressed natural gas unit. The conversion is made at a GM outfitter and is warranteed, but power rating drops to 301 hp and 333 lb-ft. If you work only in certain regions and don’t tow big loads, and CNG is available locally (where it likely costs much less than gasoline), it may be the way to go.

All of the big tow ratings come with the diesel engine: On some configurations it is rated for almost 10,000 pounds more than the gas engine. The diesel is $7195 and requires the $1200 Allison automatic transmission upgrade, but it provides double the torque of the 6-liter at much lower rpm, better fuel economy (by about 35 percent, according to trip computers) and better engine braking through an exhaust brake that even works in cruise control. The diesel’s DEF tank is designed for refills around oil change intervals (5000-7000 miles) and as it runs low, if you ignore the dash display to refill, the truck runs slower and slower. It will never prohibit an engine start. The Duramax is approved for B20 fuel, but be sure to consult the manual and ensure the fuel is to ASTM standards.

A Silverado HD drives heavy, as in a solid feel and deliberate control inputs. It is confident empty or with a load on board. We drove a Regular Cab empty over some marginal roads and the ride wasn’t punishing at all. On longer cabs a special body mount is used at the back for even better ride quality, but as is always the case the wrong wheelbase on the wrong set of expansion joints can still result in some bobbing; this situation is not unique to GM pickups.

Although the steering wheels are shared with light duty trucks the HD feels different. They have more weight on the wheels and use hydraulic assist rather than the electric-assist of the 1500s. Tires on the 3500 duallys were all 17-inch Michelins, but 2500-series trucks offer a choice of 17, 18 and 20-inch tires of various brands. Our choice for ride quality, quiet, work, and replacement costs are the 17- or 18-inch wheels and tires.

As the only heavy-duty pickups with independent front suspension on 4WD models, the 4WD Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD steer with more precision and absorb front-end road impacts better than do the Ram and Super Duty. Like most torsion-bar sprung vehicles the GM’s trim ride height can (and should) be adjusted for added weight such as a snow plow or big camper.

Almost every Silverado HD may be equipped with a snow-plow package and many plowers opt for the gas engine citing easier very-cold weather operation, quicker throttle response and more payload for spreaders. Diesel models have a claimed wait-to-start of 3 seconds at -20°F, available high-idle for faster warmup and a PTO on the transmission.

Brakes are class typical: big vented discs all around. Although a fully optioned Crew dually weighs about four tons, empty HD pickups (with relatively little weight over the rear tires) don’t generally stop any better, often worse, than those carrying some load on the rear wheels. We didn’t get a chance to sample the antilock function in the rain, but it worked respectably on a gravel road.

All 2015 Silverado HD pickups have electronic stability control with trailer sway control. The system includes hill-start assist, which means the truck won’t roll backward on an incline if you take your foot off the brake to put it on the gas; generations of automatic-owners who left-foot brake may never notice the feature.

Newly available on top trims are forward collision alert (FCA) and lane departure warning (LDW) systems. We had both on and never had an LDW false alarm, no small feat in a 21.6-foot long truck, and just one with the FCA, which interpreted a dump-truck in the opposing lane (not over any centerline) as a potential collision.

An integrated trailer brake controller is available to slow your trailer much more comfortably and more controlled and more precisely than most aftermarket controllers can. We recommend getting it, if just for resale value. Likewise, we can’t see much point in a dually pickup without towing mirrors.

A 2.5-inch receiver hitch allows conventional trailer ratings to 19,600 pounds, eclipsing any competitive pickups at post time; the maximum for fifth-wheel trailers on properly equipped Silverado HD models is now 23,200 pounds. The strongest Silverado HD will haul 30,000 pounds of truck, cargo, people and trailer. As with virtually all full-size pickup ratings, the HD with the highest payload will not pull the heaviest trailer, and no pickup will do max load and trailer at the same time.

Summary

The 2015 Chevrolet Silverado HD may not win the numbers battle on paper but in the real world it works just fine. Whether work-ethic simple or sporting more leather than your tack room, the cabin is up to date and quiet for the long haul. It will work on gasoline, compressed natural gas, diesel or B20 biodiesel.

G.R. Whale filed this report to NewCarTestDrive.com from Payson, Arizona.

Model Line Overview
Model lineup:Chevrolet Silverado HD Regular Cab 2500 2WD WT ($31,310), Double Cab 2500 4WD short bed LT ($40,860), Crew Cab 2500 4WD standard bed LTZ ($48,130), Regular Cab 3500 2WD WT ($32,805), Crew Cab 3500 4WD DRW LTZ dually ($50,305)
Engines:360-hp 6.0-liter V8; 397-hp 6.6-liter V8 turbodiesel
Transmissions:6-speed automatic
Safety equipment (standard):frontal airbags, front-side airbags (2500), side curtain airbags (2500), front seat belt pretensioners, electronic stability/trailer sway control, tire-pressure monitors on 2500, six months OnStar Directions & Connections
Safety equipment (optional):front-side airbags and side-curtain airbags (3500), forward collision alert, lane departure warning, park sensors, backup camera, integrated trailer brake controller
Basic warranty:3 years/36,000 miles
Assembled in:Fort Wayne, Indiana; Flint, Michigan
Specifications As Tested
Model tested (MSPR):Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD Double Cab LTZ 4WD short bed ($45,855)
Standard equipment:leather upholstery with 10-way power heated front seats and two-person driver memory, dual-zone climate control, Bose DVD audio system, Bluetooth, console, auto-dimming mirrors (3), steering wheel controls, fog lamps, paint-matched trim, power folding mirrors w/signals, 18-inch polished forged aluminum wheels, locking differential, trailering equipment and integrated trailer brake controller
Options as tested (MSPR):LTZ Plus pkg ($770); 20-inch polished forged wheels and tires ($1050); driver alert pkg ($845); Z71 pkg ($555); MyLink with navigation and XM ($495); leather bucket seats ($325); heated/cooled front seats ($650); tilt/telescoping wheel ($100)
Destination charge:$1095
Gas guzzler tax:
Price as tested (MSPR):$51740
Layout:four-wheel drive
Engine:6.0-liter ohv 16-valve V8
Horsepower (lb.-ft @ rpm):360 @ 5400
Torque (lb.-ft @ rpm):380 @ 4200
Transmission:6-speed automatic
EPA fuel economy, city/hwy: mpg
Wheelbase:144.2 in.
Length/width/height:230.0/80.5/78.0 in.
Track, f/r:68.8/67.3 in.
Turning circle:49.2 ft.
Seating Capacity:5
Head/hip/leg room, f:42.8/60.7/45.2 in.
Head/hip/leg room, m: in.
Head/hip/leg room, r:38.7/60.2/34.6 in.
Cargo volume: cu. ft.
Payload:3340 Lbs.
Towing capacity:14,200 Lbs.
Suspension, f:independent, torsion bars, antiroll bar
Suspension, r:solid axle, leaf springs
Ground clearance:8.5 in.
Curb weigth:6393 lbs.
Tires:LT265/60R20E
Brakes, f/r:vented disc/vented disc
Fuel capacity:36.0 gal.
Unless otherwise indicated, specifications refer to test vehicle. All prices are manufacturer's suggested retail prices (MSPR) effective as of March 5, 2014.Prices do not include manufacturer's destination and delivery charges. N/A: Information not available or not applicable. Manufacturer Info Sources: 800-950-CHEV - www.chevrolet.com