Nothing beats a truck when it comes to towing heavy loads. In the United States, the auto market is saturated with passenger pickups, so there are plenty of options out there for drivers looking to haul boats, RVs, trailers, or whatever else may need to be moved from point A to point B. Though there are choices galore, some of the most tried and true workhorses will be found at your Silverado dealer.
The Chevy Silverado has hauled countless amounts of cargo since its 1999 debut. The half-ton, three-quarter-ton, and one-ton pickups that currently make up the Silverado line are consistently good, making them the go-to that a lot of buyers turn to when they need a vehicle they can put to work. Of course, not every vehicle is great at, or even capable of, towing, so what makes the Silverado special? The ability to tow heavy loads is important, yes, but it’s not the whole picture. Features that make trailering easier, safer, and more convenient factor into the Silverado’s success as well.
The engine is one of the main driving forces behind a vehicle’s towing capacity (no pun intended). In order to haul big loads, it needs to be powerful and torquey, and there are six different powertrain options that fit the bill across the Silverado lineup. Four for the Silverado 1500 model and two for the 2500 and 3500 HD models.
The first engine is a high-output 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. It’s small, especially by the segment’s standards, but its turbocharger helps it create 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. It’s the standard option for several of the Silverado 1500 models, including the WT and Custom Trail Boss. The turbocharged 2.7-liter engine enables Silverados that are properly equipped for trailering to tow up to 9,500 lbs.
Next is the first of many V8s: the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8, to be exact. The EcoTec line of engines is designed to marry power and efficiency. Through smart cylinder deactivation, the V8 can run as a four-cylinder during lighter-duty driving. When all cylinders are firing, though, it generates 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The maximum towing capacity for a Silverado with the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 is up to 11,200 lbs.
The other EcoTec3 offering from Chevy is a 6.2-liter V8. Outputs of 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque make this the most powerful gasoline engine offered under the hood of a Silverado 1500. It’s the V8 that comes standard with the formidable ZR2, an off-roading beast. When powered by the 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8, the Silverado 1500 can tow up to 13,300 lbs.
The diesel offering for the light-duty Silverado comes in the form of a 3.0-liter Duramax turbo-diesel. Duramax is a line of engines produced by GM since 2001. They’re found in the likes of not only the Silverado and Sierra but also commercial vans and big trucks. Diesel engines produce a lot of torque relative to fuel consumption, making them great for towing. When powering the Silverado 1500, the Duramax turbo-diesel outputs 305 hp and 495 lb-ft of torque. Like the 6.2-liter V8, the Duramax can tow up to 13,300 lbs.
Moving on to the Silverado HD pickups, the Silverado 2500 HD and Silverado 3500 HD, towing capacity starts to pick up thanks to more-powerful engine options. The first is a 6.6-liter V8 that produces 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque for a maximum towing capacity of 17,370 lbs for the 2500 HD model. The other heavy-duty engine is another Duramax: the 6.6-liter turbo-diesel V8. It creates 445 hp and a whopping 910 lb-ft of torque. With this engine under the hood, the Silverado 3500 leads the pack as the hardest-working Silverado in the lineup. When properly equipped, it can tow up to 36,000 lbs.
Towing Is Made Easier With the Help of Cameras
The Silverado has solid powertrain options backed by strong engines, but there’s more to towing than raw power. Even with patience and experience, towing can be cumbersome at best and dangerous at worst. That’s why automakers have incorporated different features to make towing and trailering easier for drivers and less taxing on vehicles.
A lot of modern vehicles incorporate different driving modes designed to tweak the vehicle’s performance so that it can handle better under various driving conditions. These driving modes can help when driving in snow or ice or while off-roading, and they can boost fuel economy during your typical drives on the road. The Silverado comes with tow/haul mode, which optimizes the gear-shifting cycles for heavy pulling. This protects the truck’s transmission and also makes it easier to control.
When backup cameras were introduced to cars, they revolutionized the way we reverse into parking spaces. Neck twisting to ensure perfect alignment was no longer necessary, and you had a clearer view of how close you were to an object. A lot of automakers have taken this a step further by putting more cameras in vehicles, especially larger ones, to further heighten visibility.
The Silverado 1500 can be outfitted with up to eight cameras for up to fifteen different views. Hitch View provides a close-up of the receiving hitch, making it easier to line up with trailers. Bed view shows the driver a view of any cargo in the truck bed, making it easier to spot potential hazards before they become a problem. Surround View will show the truck from above, giving the driver a complete sense of their surroundings. With accessory cameras that can be installed on trailers, drivers can even access the Transparent Trailer View, which will show them what’s behind the trailer as if it were see-through.
Use Your Phone to Improve Your Trailering Experience
Even with all the power in the world and enough camera views to give you 360-degree vision, towing isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Chevy has developed an app to make it a little easier. An in-vehicle app has helpful reminders and notifications, like pre-departure checklists and maintenance schedules. It also takes anti-theft measures, sounding an alarm and flashing lights if the trailer comes disconnected from the vehicle. The trailer’s tire pressure can also be monitored via the in-vehicle trailering app.
A trailering portion of the myChevrolet mobile app gets even more in-depth. It’s full of tips and how-to’s to make towing safer and easier, which includes a glossary of definitions and videos for anyone new to the practice. Drivers can check their trailer’s brake lights via the mobile app, as the brake lights can be engaged from their phone while they’re outside the vehicle. The myChevrolet app also has a load calculator, which allows drivers to easily figure out the combined weight of their pickup and trailer.
The list of things that can be controlled and monitored from a phone goes on. With Smart Trailer Integration, compatible travel trailers can have a number of things controlled via the myChevrolet app. Interior and exterior lights can be turned on and off, A/C can be adjusted, and the water pump can be switched on and off. From the app, users can also monitor battery, fuel, and water tank levels.
A Job Well Done
We’ve all heard the phrase, “work smarter, not harder,” but the Chevy Silverado uses both brains and brawn to make tough jobs easier. It consistently has some of the best towing capacity in its segment, plus a number of smart features designed to make things easier and more convenient for the driver. Brawn, check. Brains, check. And the Silverado isn’t half bad to look at, either.