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2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD: You could haul a Smart car in the Silverado's bed with the tailgate down. (GM/General Motors)
2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD: You could haul a Smart car in the Silverado's bed with the tailgate down. (GM/General Motors)

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD

Extra large truck a poor choice for city driving Add to ...

Brobdingnagian: First used by Irish author Jonathan Swift in his 1735 novel, Gulliver's Travels, it refers to anything that is excessively large or of a colossal size.

If the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD Long Box Crew Cab had existed when Swift wrote his famous satire, no doubt the inhabitants of his mythical land of giants would have driven one. This is a huge vehicle.

How big is it? In this configuration, it has a wheelbase of 4,259 millimetres, an overall length of 6,580 mm and a dry weight of 3,350 kilograms. To put that into some kind of perspective, a Smart car is 2,694 mm in length and 1.559 mm in width. Because the pickup box of this truck is 2,483 mm long and 1,586 mm wide, if you were careful about it, you could haul a Smart car in the bed with the tailgate left down.

Certainly, payload wouldn't be a problem, as this iteration of the Silverado is good for 1,185 kilograms, and a Smart car tips the scales at about 750 kg. Towing capacity? You can haul up to 7,076 kilograms with this truck, mainly because it's offered with a 6.6-litre Duramax turbo-diesel and six-speed Allison automatic transmission ($9,670 extra), which is what I drove this time around.

Oh, and it was also the 4WD model, with a locking differential ($410), two-speed transfer case, larger 20-inch wheels and tires and engine skid plates. Because of its size and weight, I can't imagine how this truck would fare if things got seriously ugly off-road, but it's certainly got the oomph for it.

A few more numbers: The Duramax engine develops just less than 400 horsepower and a staggering 765 lb-ft of torque. Takeoff power and highway reserve power are beyond impressive, and you could probably drop this engine into a Caterpillar tractor with no problem. I don't think I've ever driven a truck this large with this much grunt. At least not around town.

All of this means that, unless you're out in the country somewhere, hauling a trailer or schlepping cargo, the Silverado 2500 HD is completely out of its element.

If you take your time to think about what you're going to do and how you're going to do it beforehand, you can get by, but because of its size and whopping turning circle - 16.7 metres - it's about as nimble as a grounded 747 jet and is a handful in shopping malls and gas stations. More than once I came within a whisker of scraping the vehicles parked around me when I was rash enough to go to the mall with it, and ran over the curb multiple times while turning. Eventually, I just stopped driving it in heavy traffic. The thing is, the wheelbase is so huge, you need to swing out, like a tractor-trailer, to make your turns. So, forget about taking this truck downtown, unless you enjoy talking to the police. And my tester wasn't even the biggest model offered by GM; you can get this truck with dual rear wheels, which makes it even more cumbersome.

But it does have a rough charm about it. You feel safer in it than if you were driving, say, a Smart car and, overlooking its size, this version of the Silverado HD is a treat on the highway. At 100 km/h, the engine is hardly working at around 1,500 rpm, and the ride is smooth, stable and comfortable. Like most pickup trucks, NVH is minimal and you can carry on a conversation without having to raise your voice. If I lived on the prairies or commuted across Canada on a regular basis, this truck would fit the bill nicely.

Interior elbow room is cathedral-like and the biggest man in the world could fit into this truck, no sweat. Rear-seat room is equally commodious and you can easily seat three adults back there.

My test truck had a front power seat option ($1,795), which featured a six-way adjustment with recliner and lumber supports and was as comfortable as a La-Z-Boy. Other interior goodies included a dual-zone climate control system, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth, adjustable pedals, cruise control, back-up warning system, and on and on. I literally don't have the space to list all the features of this truck.

But I do have room to mention the price tag and how much it'll cost you to fill this rig up with diesel fuel. All in, my test truck had a sticker price of just less than $72,000 - before HST and whatever other tariffs and penalties the government can levy and, with a fuel capacity of 136 litres, by my reckoning, it'll run you around $200 to fill this puppy up if you run it dry. That's pretty Brobdingnagian in itself.

Tech Specs

2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD 4WD Crew Cab Long Box

Type: Full-size pickup truck

Base Price: $47,595; as tested: $70,815

Engine: 6.6-litre turbo-diesel V-8

Horsepower/torque: 397 hp/765 lb-ft

Transmission: Six-speed automatic

Drive: Rear-wheel with four-wheel

Fuel economy: N/A

Alternatives: Ford F-250 Super Duty, Dodge Ram 2500 Power Wagon


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