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GM Gives Details on 11 Features of the 2011 Silverado HD

February 18, 2010


On a recent validation drive of the new, 2011 Chevrolet Silverado heavy-duty trucks, engineer Brent Deep towed a 20,000-pound (9,072 kg) trailer for 245 miles (400 km) along I-70 between Denver and Grand Junction, Colo. - and he barely touched the brakes the entire way.

Deep relied on the Silverado's new, smart exhaust brake system to slow the truck/trailer combination on descents, helping prove the new system is suitable for the most demanding conditions. It was a drive across the heart of the Rocky Mountains and some of the interstate system's steepest grades, with altitudes ranging from Denver's approximately 5,000 feet (1,525 m) to more than 11,100 feet (3,400 m) at the Eisenhower Tunnel.

"It takes some courage to leave your foot off the brake, but the Silverado's Duramax engine and Allison transmission perform the task with smoothness and confidence that really impresses," said Deep. "Better still, the exhaust brake system can help extend brake pad life and help avoid overheating the brakes on long descents."

The exhaust brake system feature is just one of the elements that makes the new 2011 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD models the most capable in the industry. They go on sale this summer.

"We sought the input of our customers during the development of the 2011 Silverado HD to deliver a truck that meets or exceeds their every need," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet general manager. "It offers greater strength and capability - including class-leading fuel economy, trailering and payload ratings - and has more power, accelerates quicker and has lower emissions. That sounds like the very definition of no compromises."

The Silverado heavy-duty lineup is broader than ever, with 11 2500HD models and eight single- and dual-rear-wheel 3500HD models - including a new 3500HD Crew Cab with a 6.5-foot cargo box. WT, LT and LTZ trim levels are offered, and popular features such as the EZ Lift tailgate and rearview camera system return. All models bring greater capability, improved ride and handling and a greater feeling of driver control. Depending on the model:

  • Segment-best fifth-wheel towing capacity of 20,000 pounds (9,072 kg)
  • Segment-best conventional towing capacity increases up to 23 percent, with a  maximum of 16,000 pounds (7,272 kg)
  • Segment-best payload capability of 6,335 pounds (2,873 kg) on a complete vehicle
  • Segment-best Gross Combined Weight Rating increases to 27,500 pounds (12,500 kg)
  • Gross Vehicle Weight Ratings increases up to 17 percent to 13,000 pounds (5,909 kg)
  • Front Axle Weight Rating increases by up to 25 percent to 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg)
  • Snow plow capability is now enabled for all 4WD cab configurations

There are also enhanced powertrains, including a new Duramax 6.6L diesel/Allison 1000 six-speed transmission that offers the exhaust brake system, new front and rear suspensions, an improved brake system, hill start assist, trailer sway control system and more.

"Along with all their heavy-duty equipment, these trucks are designed to be stylish and refined, inside and out," said Campbell. "We paid close attention to all the details, giving them a distinctive, muscular appearance on the exterior and a well-appointed interior with the comfort, convenience and safety features customers appreciate."  

Outside, the 2011 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD models are distinguished by a power dome-style hood with a new, louvered design, as well as a new grille and full-width chrome steel front bumper. A new lineup of 17-, 18- and 20-inch wheel/tire combinations is featured, too (20-inch polished forged aluminum wheels are available on 2500HD).

Designers and engineers left almost no bolt unturned during the comprehensive redesign of the trucks. Here are 11 key elements that demonstrate the 2011 Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD are ready for any job and any competitor:

1. New frames

In the quest to comprehensively redesign the Silverado HD chassis to improve durability and ride, while also supporting increased capability, engineers developed 11 all-new, fully boxed frame assemblies. The frames have increased cross sections and use more high-strength steel for greater durability, higher towing capacity and improved ride and handling; the front sections are hydroformed.

The bending and beaming stiffness of the frames is increased 92 percent and 20 percent, respectively, with the fully boxed sections enhancing torsional stiffness by a factor of five. Also, larger engine and transmission mounts, coupled with a 125-percent-stiffer front frame structure, provide greater vibration control, while hydraulic body mounts are incorporated under the cab section on extended and crew cab models for a more isolated feel inside.

Engineers addressed common customer and aftermarket uses when designing the new frames, including adding access holes to the rear frame section to enable easier installation of fifth-wheel/gooseneck-style hitches. Also, the frame-mounted hitch for conventional trailering is stronger, with a box-tube design. It supports up to 16,000 pounds (7,257 kg).

2. New and strong independent front suspension

A completely redesigned independent front suspension system offers up to a 25-percent greater front axle weight rating - up to 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg) front gross axle weight rating (FGAWR) - enabling a snow plow to be used on all 4WD cab configurations with the available snow plow prep package, while also supporting improved ride and handling characteristics.

Silverado's signature short-long arm/torsion bar front suspension design is retained, but now features new, forged steel upper control arms that are stronger and lighter than their predecessors. The new lower control arms are made of precision-machined cast iron to handle the greater loads. Five different torsion bar rates support five different front gross axle weight ratings (a single torsion bar was previously used for all models). This helps stabilize the range of trim heights of various models under load, while enhancing appearance, handling, durability, tire wear and alignment. The trim height is adjusted on each bar via a single bolt, easily allowing the height to be changed to account for the weight of a snow plow or other accessories.

The Silverado HD front suspension now uses a pair of urethane jounce bumpers on each side, instead of one, for improved load management; and there's a new upper shock mount attachment design that's positively connected to the frame with two fasteners. This design eliminates squeaks and clunks, while supporting higher load capability and increased durability.

Compared to competitors' beam-axle front suspension, the Silverado's independent front suspension provides a better ride, more accurate trim height control (with fewer parts) and greater flexibility to adjust the alignment for weight and tire sensitivity.

3. New asymmetrical leaf-spring rear suspension

Commensurate with the Silverado HD's greater strength and capability is a rear suspension designed to support greater loads. It features a new, larger asymmetrical leaf-spring design that also contributes to improved ride and handling characteristics.

The asymmetrical design is derived from unequal front and rear spring half lengths, which minimize axle hop and enhance traction control efficiency. 2500HD models feature a two-stage leaf-spring design, while 3500HD models have a three-stage design. All models feature 3-inch-wide (76 mm) leaf springs that are 20-percent wider than previous models.

The larger leaf-spring design supports increased rear gross axle weight ratings across the board. On the 2500HD models, the rating is 6,200 pounds (2,818 kg) - up from 6,084 (2,765). On 3500HD models, the rating increases to 7,050 pounds (3,204 kg) on single-rear-wheel models and 9,375 pounds (4,261 kg) on dual-rear-wheel models - the latter representing a nearly 14-percent increase over the previous 8,200-pound (3,727 kg) rating.

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