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Road testing the new Silverado HD

A new, safer generation of pickups offers drivers both brawn and brains

GM partnered with John Deere to hold a demonstration event in Iowa to prove the load and towing capabilities of the new Silverado HD pickups.

Chevy recently partnered with John Deere at its world headquarters in Iowa to show off the newest versions of the Chevy HD Silverado pickup. The reason? A work-related backdrop is vital to understanding the needs of the HD truck owner, and frankly what looks better than some spanking new construction equipment towed by shiny 2018 Chevys.

So while this setup created the right visual, towing loads of up to 20,000 pounds (with the 3500 HD) highlighted not just available power but a new trend in safety that has the OEMs tying existing on-board technologies together electronically.

These are known as Driver Assist Features, which is a new phrase that is fast becoming common when describing the innovative electronic features found in today’s pickups. The traditional towing concerns, payload and power, are fast becoming secondary to the new technology.

With the exception of a new hood scoop design, the tin on the 2018 has not changed. But beneath it the truck has changed so much for the better. Today’s HD pickups have so much capacity and power that drivers need help in managing the loads. GM recognized that first in 2015 when they incorporated a cruise control system that stopped over-speeding on long downhill grades.

Trailer towing ratings on the new Silverado HDs is now 20,000 pounds (9,072kilograms) for rear hitches and up to 23,300pounds (10,569 kilograms) for fifth wheel connections. photo: Howard J. Elmer

For 2018, the trend toward more electronic helpers continues, as does the quest for HD weight supremacy. This year the maximum numbers get hiked once again. Now the 3500’s payload rating is 8,070 pounds (3,661 kilograms) while conventional towing has risen to 20,000 pounds (9,072 kilograms) and up to 23,300 pounds (10,569 kilograms) on the fifth wheel.

That’s up significantly from 2011 when the 3500 HD maximum payload numbers were 6,335 pounds (3,009 kilograms).

The new 6.6L V8 turbo diesel has been redesigned with a new cylinder block and heads. Oil and coolant flow capacity has been increased and the turbocharging system is now electronically controlled. Horsepower has increased to 445 and torque now reaches 910 pound-feet. Ninety percent of both numbers are achieved at just 1,550 r.p.m. A new redesigned air intake system uses an integrated hood scoop (on 2018 HD Silverado and Sierra). This setup has a trap for snow, sleet and rain, allowing cool dry air to get to the engine without clogging up the intake.

A two-piece oil pan makes the Duramax quieter and also houses an integrated oil cooler with 50 per cent greater capacity than found on the current engine. Of particular interest to Canadians will be the new Dura- max cold-weather performance. With microprocessor-controlled glow plugs the engine requires less than three seconds to preheat in temps as low as -29 C. These new ceramic glow plugs adjust current to each plug based on outside temperature. This new engine continues to be coupled to the Alison 1000 six-speed automatic transmission, which has a stellar reputation.

To get loads hauled safely, GM’s HD trucks get a number of system upgrades; building on that trend it started in 2015. A new Digital Steering Assist improves road handling. A full Driver Alert Package includes Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Safety Alert Seat and Front and Rear Park Assist. GM’s longtime StabiliTrak stability control system has been updated to include rollover mitigation technology, a tie-in to the trailer sway control and hill start assist.

Chevrolet MyLink uses an eight- inch centre-mounted diagonal touchscreen. A camera system feeds into it (now standard on all models with cargo box). It shows reversing images that make trailer hook up easy for both bumper and in-bed fifth wheel hitches. An around-the-truck view assists in parking. While driving, cameras in the mirrors show images down the side of the truck, highlighting blind spots.

These are the types of Driver Assist Features that will help prevent collisions and make the driver’s job easier. That’s the future. The OEM’s have built a generation of highly capable HD trucks. Now they have to help make them easier and safer to drive. From what I saw in Iowa, GM is well on its way to that goal.

Trailer towing ratings on the new Silverado HDs is now 20,000 pounds (9,072kilograms) for rear hitches and up to 23,300pounds (10,569 kilograms) for fifth wheel connections. photo: Howard J. Elmer

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