Let me be quite clear. My name would never make its way on a list of those who favor Ford or GM trucks. As a tried-and-true Mopar guy, RAM has always been my home base and is likely always to be. Thus, it’s always an exciting exercise when I’m tasked with exploring the pros and cons of the alternatives. Enter my content manager requesting my thoughts on the 2020 Silverado 2500 HD (a request which was probably greeted by a visible eye roll, on my part).
But I guess it makes sense. I once heard that there’s no more credible a compliment than the one that comes from an opponent. So, if anyone’s going to provide some real insights on the Silverado, it might as well be me. After all, at least you’ll know it’s not fan service.
The State of the Market
As a whole, the truck segment ranks as one of the more closely competitive arenas within the automotive space. Defined by an almost constant sense of one-upmanship, full-size offerings tend to dominate the lion’s share of conversation. When it comes to global sales, the F-Series might reign supreme, but the Silverado and RAM 1500 have been stealing some spotlight, duking it out quarter-by-quarter year-to-date. And the resurgence of midsize offerings of late has certainly garnered their share. With the return of the Ford Ranger, the introduction of the Gladiator and hints at the possibility of a midsize RAM to-come. But while all of the above form the basis for conversations that feel accessible to the general consumer, Heavy-Duty offerings exist on a higher plane, reserved almost exclusively for a different tier of the truck owner. The enthusiast. The purist. The kind of owner who celebrates raw performance capability, be it for personal or practical use. Right?
Viewed in the context of the last five years, we see a notable climb in the popularity of HD offerings. As shown in the chart above, you can see a clear lull as recently as 2017. But even the respectable peak in mid-2015 feels shamed by the 2019 numbers. One might assume that the demographic for heavy-duty trucks has expanded to include the more casual consumer. Whether or not those consumers need or put to use, the increased capability of said offerings is beside the point. After all, let them buy whatever the hell they want. What’s more interesting, at least in my mind, is what seems to be increased palatability of the notably higher price point. Then again, we’re living in a world of six-figures pickups, so I digress.
If we’re here to talk about the 2020 Silverado 2500 HD, let’s get down to it.
Silverado HD by the Numbers
Priced to start around $37,600 MSRP for the 2020 Silverado 2500 HD. It’s served up in four separate configurations built around the choice of (i) Double or Crew Cab, and (ii) Standard 82.25-inch bed or Long 98.27-inch bed. In addition, you can opt for rear-wheel or 4WD capability and choose between five unique trim levels.
The WT (Work Truck) stands as the entry-level 2500 and introduces two powertrain options. The first comes in the form of a 6.6-liter Direct Injection V8 with variable valve timing, mated to a 6-speed heavy-duty, electronic automatic transmission. Generating 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque, the capable powertrain is immediately appreciable. The second: the iconic 6.6-liter Duramax Turbo-Diesel V8 paired with an Allison 10-speed automatic transmission is an industry favorite. Not only does it pump the horsepower rating up to 445 hp but with an earth-shaking 910 lb-ft of torque, the Duramax is enough to make a believer out of even me. The availability of both capable powertrains in the base trim level is a smart move and makes it surprising enticing – especially at such an accessible price point. But, priced to start around $38,095 MSRP (with about a 10-grand difference between the V8 and Turbo-Diesel, it’s all uphill from here.
Next up, the Custom trim offers only the gas-powered V8 powertrain. The LT and LTZ trims restore both powertrain options, which also carry over to the High Country Edition. With pricing of the Turbo-Diesel version of the High Country fast-approaching the $70,000 mark – it’s easy to see how quickly the price tag can run-up. And let’s be honest, Chevy does both tech and comfort-based amenities, as well as Special Edition enhancements, quite well.
See? That was a compliment… and yes, it hurt on the way out (a lot). But, what the hell, let’s see if we can build on it.
And we can do so without departing the topic of powertrains. Having spoken positively about the turbodiesel, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention that it’s both responsive and quick. It is described favorably by MotorTrend as leaping off the line “like an all-wheel-drive sports car” a 6.5-second to 60 mph is pretty damn respectable. Compare it to competitive offerings like the F-250 and RAM 3500, and there’s little point in doing so. The Ford runs the same race in 7.1 seconds, while the RAM comes in at 8.4 seconds. Yeah. Yeah. I know.
The 2020 Silverado 2500 HD is gargantuan. Simply put, we’re looking at an upsized version. Even when we compare it to its immediate predecessor, and when we compare it to the likes of the Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss Z71. Seriously…dwell on that a little bit. The Trail Boss measures over 231-inches in length (on a 147.5-inch wheelbase) is more than 81-inches in width and nearly 79-inches in height. That’s a big boy. But the 2500HD comes in at 250-inches (on a 158.9-inch wheelbase). And while it’s only slightly larger in terms of width and of height, the combined increases allow for a noticeable upshift in scale; one that’s near-perfect for the alpha-truck enthusiast. We’ll get back to the topic of practicality, but let’s keep the conversation ‘superficial’ for now.
Acknowledging the subtle nuances across trim levels, the base design of the new Silverado is…fine. Looks, of course, are subjective – but between the Chevy/GMC overlap and the historical aversion to bold restyling, there’s very little that’s truly distinctive about the Silverado’s styling outside of badging and grille design. And frankly, the bland and reserved selection of exterior colors does little to sweeten the pot. But, for Chevy loyalists, and those who like a ‘big truck,’ the Silverado 2500 HD is likely to tick all the right boxes
And while it’s a departure from the discussion of appearance, it’s worth mentioning that – with its ample size – comes concessions of practicality. The 2500 simply isn’t meant of densely-settled urban areas. With a wider-stance and expansive turn radius, wide angles require some legitimate calculation in order to be properly executed. Its intimating stature makes it a tight fit for specific parking structure or clearance challenges.
Wrapping it Up
So, in closing, the Silverado 2500 HD is ideal for anyone faithful to the Chevy brand and unafraid to embrace the unique challenges of driving a juggernaut. In terms of price point, it runs a substantial gamut, meaning there are options for mostly everyone. And sure, you’re going to pay for top-tier amenities, but with both powertrains available in almost every trim, you can still get the power and performance that you’re looking for, even at the entry-level.
So, am I changed a man? Am I ready to drop RAM for Chevy? Hardly. But there are some appreciable strengths to the Silverado’s HD options, and you might want to check out the 2500 HD for yourself.