The Silverado 3500HD is the range-topping model in Chevrolet's heavy-duty pickup lineup. Like the smaller 2500HD model, it sits on a fully-boxed frame that is crafted out of high-strength steel, making it a qualified candidate for the toughest jobs out there.
The 3500HD stretches 225, 240.2 or 259.1 inches long depending on the selected body style, and height ranges from 77.6 to 78.1 inches. Versions equipped with two rear wheels are 80 inches wide, a number that increases to 95.9 inches when a four-wheel dually setup is selected. The tough appearance created by the imposing dimensions is accented by a power-dome hood, a wide grille and chromed bumpers on both ends. Numerous 17- and 18-inch wheels are available to finish off the look.
Under the skin, the truck boasts rear leaf springs and an independent front suspension that has a 6,000-pound front axle rating thanks in part to strong forged steel upper control arms and cast iron lower control arms. The system improves handling and ride quality while increasing strength for front end attachments such as a snow plow.
The regular cab 3500HD has room for three passengers and the crew cab can carry up to six adults. Access to the rear seat is facilitated by a set of doors that open at a 170-degree angle.
Although undeniably designed as a work vehicle, the HD packs an elegant and functional interior that features imitation wood trim on the dash and on the center console, USB connectivity and an easy to read instrument cluster consisting of six analog gauges. Navigation, mobile wifi and SiriusXM radio are available at an extra cost, but Chevrolet's touch screen-based MyLink infotainment system has yet to enter the world of heavy-duty pickups.
Under the hood
The 3500HD comes standard with a gasoline-burning 6.0-liter V8 engine that makes 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft. of torque. Linked to a six-speed automatic gearbox, the mill sends power to a 4.10 rear axle that enables the truck to tow up to 14,100 pounds. Four-wheel drive (or, technically speaking, six-wheel drive for dually models) and a gas-saving 3.73 axle are found on the list of options.
Buyers can opt for a modified version of the 6.0-liter V8 that is capable of running on either compressed natural gas (CNG) or gasoline thanks to hardened valve and valve seats. The mill makes just 301 horsepower and 333 lb-ft. of torque when running exclusively on CNG.
The second optional engine is a 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V8 that churns out 397 horsepower and massive 765 lb-ft. of torque. A heavy-duty six-speed automatic gearbox built by transmission expert Allison and a 3.73 rear axle enable it to safely tow a whopping 18,000 pounds when properly equipped. The mill can run on B20 biodiesel without requiring any modifications. Like the 6.0-liter V8, the 6.6-liter diesel sends power to the rear wheels unless the buyer pays extra for four-wheel drive.
Trim level breakdown
The Silverado 3500HD is available in WT (Work Truck), LT and LTZ trims.
Largely aimed at commercial and fleet buyers, WT includes a single-zone manual air conditioning system, a front beach seat, an AM/FM stereo linked to four speakers, vinyl upholstery, cruise control, two 12-volt power outlets on the center console and heated camper-style exterior mirrors with integrated turn signals.
Upgrading to LT adds a MP3-compatible stereo, SiriusXM Satellite Radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, GM's OnStar system and premium Bose speakers
Range-topping LTZ adds a remote starter, leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and adjustable bucket seats up front.
Only available on LT and LTZ models, the Z71 package adds 18-inch forged polished aluminum wheels, all-terrain tires, skid plates, front fog lights, body-colored mirrors and door handles, body-colored bumpers and model-specific decals.
Standard safety features include dual front airbags in addition to electronic traction and stability control systems and a tire pressure monitoring system. Side-curtain airbags and a rear-view camera are optional.
A trailer-sway control system automatically intervenes to bring the trailer under control and keep it on its intended path, while a hill-start assist system holds the brakes for 1.5 seconds (or until the gas pedal is pressed) when the vehicle is stopped on a hill with a 5-percent or greater grade.
3500HDs powered by the Duramax turbodiesel engine feature an exhaust brake that uses the turbo's turbine control to generate back pressure, enabling the drive to slow the truck without applying the brakes. This prolongs the life of the brake system's numerous components and helps prevent overheating.
Heavy-duty, full-size pickup alternatives to the Silverado 3500HD include the Ford F-350 Super Duty and the Ram 3500 in addition to the Silverado's mechanical twin, the GMC Sierra 3500HD.