The Silverado LT 2500 HD: Chevy’s ‘real’ truck

“Now that’s a truck!” my buddy exclaimed after driving the demo 2500 Chevy Silverado GM lent me last week. We’d gone out to Hale County in West Alabama to some hunting land towing a golf cart-laden trailer behind us and I’d let him drive the narrow country highways through the woods and hills into the middle of nowhere.

David and I have been friends since 1982 when we struggled not to flunk Ms. Hampel’s algebra class at Tuscaloosa County High School (he passed, I had to go to summer school). We were 16 years old then. Since that time, David’s had (by my count) at least eight different pickup trucks – everything from Toyotas to GMC dualies. So he knows a little something about trucks.

He’s always been a fan of 3/4-ton trucks, which explained his enthusiasm for this particular Silverado. This LT 2500HD Series truck featured GM’s full-size, four-door cab, four-wheel drive and full-length bed. A big block Vortec 8100 V-8 gas engine mated to Allison’s heavy-duty, five-speed automatic transmission provided serious power whenever it was needed. We hardly noticed the trailer behind us as we cruised through the countryside.

That was a combination of several factors. The Vortec 8100, normally used to power larger vocational trucks, recreational vehicles and (soon) boats, cranks out a whopping 340 horsepower at 4,200 rpm (which Chevy says is more than Dodge and Ford’s V-10 power plants generate) and 455 pounds-feet of torque at 3,200 rpm. There was also the Silverado’s towing package and stiff, heavy-duty frame and suspension, which helped stabilized the load. And the fact we were only pulling a golf cart on the trailer behind us. That’s not much of a strain for a truck that can tow up to 15,300 pounds.

High-level luxury combined with impressive performance
Room inside the four-door cab is exceptional as are all views from the driver’s seat. The full-size rear side windows give you excellent fields of view when changing lanes or backing out of a parking space. Despite its large size, I found the Silverado LT 2500 to be extremely maneuverable in close quarters. Unloaded, its ride is a bit rough. But that’s understandable for a truck that’s built to work and tow trailers. The heavy-duty frame tends to make it lope a bit at highway speeds, although part of this may be due to the small (16-inch) tires my demo was fitted with. The Vortec 8100 had no problem burning rubber with these tires, even when I didn’t want it to. I’d recommend spec’ing at least 17-inch tires for this truck to get the most out of its potential torque and horsepower.

Inside the cab, I found my demo truck to be a bit of a dichotomy. It was outfitted with sumptuous leather, heated seats, a rear DVD player, power everything, Bose stereo, steering wheel-mounted information center and entertainment system controls and every comfort option in GM’s arsenal. In short, it was tricked out for major road trips. At first I thought this was a bit odd. The Vortec 8100, while long on power, comes up a bit short in the fuel economy department. And, as noted earlier, the Silverado LT 2500 HD’s ride is a bit rougher than that of a 1500 Series truck. As a result, I was thinking of this vehicle as a work truck instead of a highway cruiser.

But my friend pointed out that the four-door Silverado really offered the best of both worlds. Hitch a camper, boat or horse trailer up to it, and the ride would smooth out considerably. The full-size back seat and rear entertainment and cooling systems mean top-level comfort for every passenger in the truck during a long highway drive, although I’d probably spec a Vortec V6000 or Duramax diesel if long hauls were my plans. The Vortec V8100 is an impressive engine. It’s just a bit thirsty when it comes to long hauls, in my opinion.

Of course, you could always ditch the amenities and haul a work crew around both on and off road with plenty of room for the workers, a bed full of equipment and a trailer to boot. And that’s key to this truck’s appeal and the reason my friend fell in love with it: This Silverado can handle both roles with ease.