In years past, automakers typically redesigned or upgraded their passenger cars about every two years but neglected to give as much attention to their trucks and utility vehicles. Today, most truck makers refresh their light-, medium- and heavy-duty pickups much more frequently.
General Motors’ Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD trucks were introduced just three years ago and both have been given an overhaul for 2011.
Under the hood, GM has given the 2011 Silverado and Sierra HD pickups more power and torque than the current models. The 2011 models are available with a revised 6.0-liter Vortec gasoline V-8 or a reworked 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V-8 engine. The Vortec gas V-8 engine delivers an impressive 360 hp and 380 pounds-feet of torque and the Duramax turbo-diesel is rated at 397 hp and a whopping 765 pounds-feet of torque. The Duramax also comes with a bespoke Allison six-speed automatic gearbox.
Although the new Ford Super Duty and Ram 2500 outperform GM’s gas Vortec V-8, GM has established itself as the champion of the diesel HD world. Ford’s Super Duty pickup comes equipped with a new gas 6.2-liter V-8 that delivers 385 hp and 405 pounds-feet of torque. The Ram 2005 is fitted with a gas 5.7-liter Hemi that delivers 383 hp and 650 pounds-feet of torque. When it comes to diesel engines, however, neither the Super Duty’s Power Stroke turbo-diesel V-8 nor the Ram’s 6.7-liter Cummins inline-six-cylinder turbo-diesel can compete against the Duramax.
Ford’s Power Stroke turbo-diesel V-8 is rated at 390 hp and 735 pounds-feet of torque and the Ram’s Cummins inline-six turbo diesel delivers 350 hp and 650 pounds-feet of torque.
The Silverado also outperforms the competition when it comes to towing capacity. The Silverado 3500, with its fifth-wheel hitch has a towing capacity of 21,700 pounds. The Ford F-350 has a towing capacity of 20,300 pounds and the Ram has a towing capacity of 17,600 pounds. The Silverado also boasts a bed capacity of 6,635 pounds.
GM focused a great deal of attention to upgrading the braking systems of the 2011 models. New upgrades to the braking hardware enhance the feel when braking to make the driver feel more in control even when hauling heavy loads. Diesel models are equipped with a new button-actuated exhaust brake that uses the compression of the vehicle’s engine to reduce its speed.
GM is still the only HD truck maker to offer independent front suspension to provide a more car-like ride. Steering is also solid and responsive.
Despite the significant mechanical upgrades, GM’s new 2011 HD trucks look nearly identical to the current crop, both inside and out. Aside from the relocated faux hood louvers and their full-width chrome bumpers the new Sierras and Silverados GM seems to have focused most of their attention under the hood which, considering their target audience, might not be such a bad thing.
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