Chevy wins two Edmunds.com True Cost To Own Awards®

To choose the winners of its 2011 True Cost to Own® Awards2, the team at Edmunds.com gathered data on every 2011 vehicle on the market and estimated the five-year cost of owning each. After comparing every vehicle, Chevrolet came out on top twice: The 2011 Equinox and the 2011 Silverado 2500HD Regular Cab pickup.

“The 2011 Chevy Equinox is a stylish and comfortable entry in the highly competitive small-crossover segment,” Edmunds.com says. “RAV4 and CR-V shoppers should take notice.” They also note Equinox’s “premium look inside and out,” quiet cabin with tons of storage, and highly fuel-efficient four-cylinder engine3.

For the Silverado, Edmunds.com says: “Notably improved with added capability, the 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD is an excellent choice for a heavy-duty truck.” Some of the highlighted features are “impressive hauling and towing capabilities; refined and quiet ride; solid build quality; responsive steering; comfortable seats.”

The True Cost to Own® takes multiple factors into account. The Total Cash Price includes MSRP, typically equipped options, and other standard charges, taxes and fees. Depreciation is the amount by which the value of a vehicle declines from its purchase price to the estimated resale value. Insurance and financing are based on a well-qualified purchaser.

Importantly, the calculation also includes fuel, based on revised EPA ratings, assuming 45% highway and 55% city driving, and maintenance and repairs. Maintenance is the estimated expense of both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, including replacing tires and other parts.

Five Common Towing Mistakes to Avoid

As the weather changes, Spring hunters and fishermen begin preparing their campers, four-wheelers and boats.  Before hooking up your trailers, all drivers are invited to read the tips below to learn how to avoid the five most common towing mistakes, and increase their confidence behind the wheel.

According to Robert Krouse, Chevrolet’s lead trailering engineer and overall expert in all things-towing, “There are several common mistakes that people often make when towing and these mistakes can not only damage their trailer, but also their tow vehicle.”

“The new Silverado heavy-duty pickup is designed for towing, and provides drivers with the ability to tow 21,700 pounds and carry 6,635 pounds”, Mark Kostboth, Sale Manager

Mistake 1: Not knowing the actual weight of the trailer

“I often see that customers have incorrect trailer weights and they will then underestimate the weight of the items they are putting on the trailer,” said Krouse. For example, many people will misjudge the weight of the gear or supplies, such as building materials that are actually much heavier than people may think.

Mistake 2:  Not knowing the actual capacity of the tow vehicle as equipped

Far too often, an individual will mismatch the vehicle to the trailer load, which must always be properly matched for optimal efficiency. Many websites provide only maximum trailer weight ratings (TWR), which means consumers would need additional equipment to achieve the greatest performance for a vehicle that is not equipped with the maximum TWR.

Mistake 3:  Overloading the trailer or tow vehicle

Consumers often make the mistake of overloading and exceeding the TWR and GCWR as discussed in mistakes one and two, but it is also vital not to overload the trailer tongue weight, tow vehicle and trailer gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWRs), individual tow vehicle and trailer gross axle weight ratings (GAWRs) and individual tire ratings. “By putting too much weight on a trailer it can not only damage the trailer, but also the tow vehicle. Results can range from broken axles to bearing damage and excessive tire wear,” Krouse said.

Mistake 4:  Improper combination setup – including weight distribution hitch

After you have confirmed TWR and GCWR, it is important to make sure that the hitch ball, brake controller, sway controls and weight-distributing spring bars (if used) are properly installed and adjusted. “Too often I see that the hitch ball is too high or too low, the sway controls or weight-distributing spring bars are improperly adjusted and the brake controller may not be properly set up,” said Krouse. “It is common to see trailers with spring bars that are visibly curved upward and applying large amounts of torque to the hitch. “

Mistake 5:  General driving practices

One of the easiest ways to avoid mistakes while towing is to always practice safe driving techniques. The tow vehicle and trailer combination is often considerably heavier, longer and higher than the vehicle that is doing the towing. This combination makes it more difficult to maneuver, drive and stop the vehicle doing the towing.

Finally, Krouse notes that consumers need to pay close attention to vehicle and trailer maintenance. When trailering, it is important to remember that the tow vehicle is working harder than it does alone, generally operating under higher loads and higher temperatures that require additional attention. Also, trailers often sit for long periods of time and require maintenance due to long periods of inactivity. “Either way, stay on top of maintenance, particularly paying attention to fluids, tires and brakes in the tow vehicle and brakes, bearings, tires and electrical systems in the trailer,” said Krouse.

2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD Towing Features:

The Silverado HD was engineered from the ground up to offer drivers more capability, including:

  • The maximum conventional (ball hitch) towing rating is now a segment-best 17,000 pounds (7,727 kg)
  • The maximum fifth-wheel hitch rating is now 21,700 pounds (9,843 kg) for the Silverado 3500HD crew cab/long box
  • The maximum payload for the Silverado 3500HD is 6,635 pounds (3,009 kg)

In addition, the new Silverado HD is available with confidence- and control-related features specifically for towing, including:

  • Electronic trailer sway control senses conditions of trailer sway and automatically intervenes with braking and or reduced engine power to bring the trailer under control
  • Hill start assist helps prevent rollbacks on steep grades by holding the brakes for about 1.5 seconds, giving the driver time to switch from the brake pedal to the gas pedal without rolling
  • Automatic grade braking and intelligent brake assist uses the compression of the engine to slow the vehicle without applying the brakes, prolonging brake life and helping maintain control over long, downhill grades
  • The rear backup camera helps make connecting the Silverado HD to a trailer quicker and easier

 

Ever wonder how a Silverado is made?

Check out this video and tell us what you think!

2011 Chevy Silverado HD Review

Chevy’s been getting its ass kicked by Ford’s Super Duty pickups. Now the 2011 Chevy Silverado Heavy Duty finally boxes the frame, adds triple rate springs and offers a stupefying 20,000lb towing capacity thanks to the new Duramax diesel.

Chevy Silverado HD

Enough room for a football team - well almost

When a company does a mid-cycle refresh, they have basically three bins to throw money into:Powertrain, chassis/ frame, and body/interior. Throwing money at all three would mean an all-new product, but two of three or one out of three is usually considered a refresh. The heavy truck market is a little different than most. Buyers are interested in increased capabilities rather than fancier duds, and as a result the new Silverado HD looks pretty much the same as it’s predecessor. The only visual distinctions are more chrome on the front bumper, a slightly revised hood and “Duramax” hood badge, the end of 16″ wheels at the bottom in favor or 17-inchers and the addition of 20″ wheels at the top. It also gets hydraulic cabin mounts in the back, but that’s it. If you want a pretty new face wait two years, that’s probably when we’ll be seeing it. What’s under the skin is the important part here.
The most important change to the Silverado this year is the frame — going from a full-length C-channel design to a fully boxed frame with through-welded cross members. The frame is five times times stiffer in twisting, 92% stiffer in bending, 20% stiffer in beaming and the front subframe is 125% stiffer by itself. The rear suspension has also been upgraded, now with offset leaf springs that have more spring behind the axle than ahead of it, which works to reduce axle hop under loaded take off.

Up front the truck maintains the double wishbone suspension with an adjustable torsion bar spring to level truck height with a plow attached. It has been upgraded with a second jounce bumper and a anti-roll bar with a longer lever arm for better control with a front load. The front brakes have also been upgraded with a set of massive 14″ vented rotors clamped down on by stiffer calipers over a bigger swept area.

Silverado HD

Built American strong for a reason

There’s also a significant upgrade under the hood with the fourth generation of the Duramax Diesel and Allison automatic transmission combination. The newest iteration of the Duramax shares about 40% of the parts with the last version with the remainder being slightly to significantly new. Compression ratio drops from 16.4:1 to 16.0:1, which in diesel world results in more power. The combustion chamber isfed by a new 30,000 PSI peizo-based fuel injector system. About 22 lbs was added to the block to improve block stiffness and improve NVH, and as a result the idle speed drops to about 900 RPM to reduce consumption. It’s also B20 capable now, if you want to run diesel with a bit more bio-matter than the B5 the trucks are currently capable of. They’ve also significantly reduced the amount of EGR gasses injected back into the cylinder as part of a rework of their emissions strategy and added a bigger radiator to keep everything cool.

Emissions is a big part of the change to the new Silverado. In order to meet the EPA requirements for NOx and particulate emissions, GM’s installed a huge catalyst system and urea injector under the truck, but it’s not all bad. Previously, trucks with particulate filters injected engine gasses into the combustion chamber (reducing power) and dumped fuel into the exhaust stream to burn the collected particulate, but in this case both of those actions have been moved downstream, outside of the engine, which allows it to breath cleaner air and produce more power while reducing consumption. The 5.3 liter urea tank costs about $3 a gallon to refill.

The engine and transmission control systems have been significantly upgrade as well, which has allowed Chevy to more intelligently manage engine braking in normal operations. The turbo controller and transmission controller act in unison to create something akin to a sophisticated Jake brake for use in hilly terrain, and can be activated by a button on the center console. There’s also a hill start system that holds the brake 1.5 seconds after a release (one of the few times it makes sense to have this system).

So what’s the bottom line on this big brawler? It’s probably going to best the long-time towing and hauling champ at Ford (if we’re talking about the 2500 and 3500 pickups vs the F-250 and F-350 pickups — not the F-450) — at least until we find out the numbers on Ford’s next-gen Super Duty pickup. Payload is now 6,300 lbs, which GM expects to beat Ford and Dodge’s best numbers by 2,400 lbs. Hitch towing is a whopping 16,000 lbs on the 3500, bed-mounted hitch towing is a humongous 20,000 lbs, with an expected 1,200 lb advantage. The final point is one GM is allowed to dance around at this weight class. They’re saying the truck’s got a 36 gallon fuel tank and a range of 680 miles… gee, wonder if it gets 18.8 MPG on the highway. That’s an 11% improvement over the current truck. Of course, nobody’s showing their full hand yet. Both Ford and GM are playing some silly game-of-power-figure poker, and until either shows a hand we won’t know who’s got the bragging rights on horsepower and torque. GM’s saying they’ll lead on torque, Ford’s saying nothing. We do know GM’s got ’em on towing and hauling, at least for now. We’ll have to see when PickupTrucks.com does their heavy duty shootout later this year who’s really on top.

Credit for this article goes to: Ben Wojdyla with jalopnik.com

First Drive: 2011 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra Heavy Duty trucks set new HD standard by Sam Abuelsamid

Jun 14th 2010 at 11:58AM

The SLT trim level on our first Sierra brought with it leather seats and steering wheel, navigation, power-adjustable pedals and just about everything else you can think of. The first thing we noticed is how quiet the Duramax diesel has become. The true degree of that silence wouldn’t become fully apparent until the next day when we drove the Vortec-powered GMC Denali, but this certainly isn’t the kind of bucket-of-bolts diesel we’ve become accustomed to when sitting next to them at traffic lights.

It wasn’t just the engine that was quiet, everything about the cabin was very subdued. Of course, it’s no Lexus LS, but especially considering how high up we were sitting on big truck tires, it was very impressive. Even with the barn-door sized towing mirrors, wind noise was kept to a minimum, and at highway speeds, conversations without raised voices were never a problem. Beyond the quiet, the crew cab was exactly that – with second-row seat room big enough to accommodate three adults in comfort. And for those times when extra protected storage was required, the rear seat cushions flipped up to provide a flat load floor.

The single most impressive aspect of the Sierra 3500 on that first drive was its ride quality. This one-ton truck had no load in the back, which in the past would have meant bouncing around on every expansion joint and bump. The roads in Maryland are certainly smoother than what we have to deal with back in Michigan, but the GMC was nonetheless a serene operator. With a curb weight of 7,387 pounds, the Sierra was also surprisingly quick, thanks to its 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of diesel torque. Past criticisms we’ve leveled at GM HD pickups with Allison transmissions included rough shifts and noisy gears, both of which have been addressed in this latest iteration. Seamless gear changes even under hard acceleration are now part of the HD’s MO.

The next day, the skies opened up as we started off in a Vortec-powered single-rear-wheel crew-cab Denali heading further west into the Allegheny mountains where we we would dip into West Virginia. Like other Denali models, the HD gets the usual perforated chrome grille, chrome bumpers and door handles and brushed aluminum interior trim for a little added flash. The Vortec was decidedly louder than the diesel, although actually in a very good way. The small-block V8 engine has the roar that we’ve come to know and love since time immemorial. Considering how quiet the rest of the truck is, the engine sound actually seems almost of out place, but we’re not going to complain.

Like the duallie we drove the day before, the Denali was unloaded, and as we got further up into the mountains, the road surface quality worsened considerably even as it became more serpentine. Nonetheless, the GMC handled anything we threw at it with genuine pluck. We managed to trigger the ABS and stability control on wet pavement several times, and unlike past experiences with, say, the Toyota Tundra, the Sierra just tracked right where we pointed it. Even when we hit some mid-corner rough stuff, the rear end never once stepped out on us. Who would have thought a big truck could handle so well?

In addition to a bouncy ride and spongy brakes, the bad old days of heavy duty pickup dynamics had us expecting sloppy, overboosted steering. Thankfully, the days of being able to wiggle the steering wheel 5-10 degrees off-center with no real response are over at GM and Ford. The Generals have a new larger recirculating ball steering gear, which, in tandem with the improved contact patch control of the revised front suspension, results in steering response that’s better than some cars we’ve driven. The GM trucks offered no disconcerting slack zones in the steering and actually provided pretty decent feedback as the cornering forces built while driving through the mountains. Our only complaint was that the effort felt a bit light at low speeds, but it firmed up nicely at higher velocities.

At our first vehicle swap point, we grabbed a Sierra 2500 crew cab, with a 35-foot-long, 9,000 pound (empty) travel trailer hanging off the hitch. After a quick primer from engineer Brent Deep on how to maneuver nearly 60 feet and over 16,000 pounds of truck and trailer, we headed out. Our tow truck was again powered by the diesel, and even with all that mass to drag around, the engine never felt strained, even though our drive route contained several extended grades of seven to eight percent. After getting used to checking the spotter mirrors to make sure we didn’t clip any curbs or cross center lines, we set the cruise control at the 55-mile-per-hour limit and let the truck go to see how well the new smart exhaust brake worked. In short, it was brilliant.

As the truck crested a hill and headed down, the speed would creep up by about 2 mph, which triggered the transmission to downshift and the turbo control to kick in. From there, our velocity was held in check with our set speed all the way down the hill without any intervention on our part. The first couple of times we used the system, we hovered our foot over the brake pedal just in case, but once we were confident the system worked, we just put our foot down and let the truck do the work. The beauty of this system is that it works entirely without applying the brakes. Now, if GM would just add radar-based adaptive cruise control and integrate the turbo and transmission control to provide primary deceleration in addition to braking, this system would be near perfect. You could follow traffic, maintaining a safe distance without using the brakes most of the time.

Even when you do have to use the brakes, the newly solid pedal feel makes modulation a breeze. The most important benefit of all this is the confidence it inspires while driving with either a payload or a trailer. Towing in hilly terrain is now possible with much less concern about using up all of the brakes prematurely, leaving drivers to focus more on where the truck and trailer are on the road.

After lunch, we switched to a crew cab Chevy Silverado 2500 with 3,000 pounds of ballast in the bed. Frankly, the big Duramax barely noticed the 1.5 tons worth of steel, seemingly accelerating just as effortlessly as the unloaded trucks did. Going around corners, the extra mass manifested itself as added inertia resisting directional changes, but it did help to dampen vertical motions even more than the unloaded truck. Another factor contributing to the comfortable ride, even in the work-truck variants like this one, is the use of two hydraulic body mounts at the rear of the cab. The front end is tied down with traditional rubber mounts, but the hydraulic units out back give the engineers more latitude to tune motions in several directions and focus on specific frequencies that are annoying to passengers.

After our return to Rocky Gap, the trucks were available with their Ford and Ram rivals for back-to-back comparisons over a shorter loop. Only one Ram 3500 was available, and it was unloaded. Our gut reaction? If you prefer old-fashioned, sloppy truck steering, this is your ride, as it has plenty of free play just off-center and it’s overboosted effort everywhere.

Of the two Super Duty F-350s, one was loaded with 3,000 pounds of ballast and the other was towing a trailer identical to the one hooked to the GM truck we sampled earlier. The first thing we immediately noticed was that the new 6.7-liter Scorpion diesel is simply not as refined as the Duramax. It produces plenty of power and torque, but at light accelerator applications, it still exhibits some of the traditional clatter traditionally associated with diesels. Put your foot into it at more than about 35-40 percent throttle (yes, we know a diesel has no throttle) and it settles down nicely into a similar growl to the Duramax. Since this is an all-new engine, perhaps the Blue Oval’s engineers are still coming to grips with tuning it.

The other big difference we noticed with the Ford was in the area of ride comfort, which is clearly inferior to the Sierrado twins. Parts of the drive loop included some small, medium frequency waves that were noticeable but not intrusive in the Sierra. The Ford, on the other hand, felt jiggly over these same surfaces, even with 3,000 pounds of ballast in the bed. The Ford’s steering was just as slop-free as the GM trucks, but on the demerit side, it felt distinctly overboosted.

We took out the Sierra and F-350 with identical trailers for some side-by-side testing on the short loop. While the Ford has exhaust-gas braking, it is of the traditional on-off variety rather than the variable control setup used by GM. Ford confirmed to us that there is no turbocharger control currently implemented in its tow-haul mode. The result is that while the system slows the vehicle on downhill grades, speeds can creep up unless you apply the brakes.

When accelerating, the Scorpion doesn’t feel as brawny as the Duramax, even though the GM diesel only has a 7-horsepower and 30 pound-feet of torque advantage. Seizing the opportunity, we grabbed some of our colleagues and lined up the Sierra and F-350 (both with 9,000-pound trailers) for an informal drag race. The Ford did get an initial jump on the GMC, but then the Sierra quickly caught up and pulled away. Some seemed to think that Ford might be doing some torque limiting with its engine, perhaps to protect the transmission. Whatever the case, the GMC offered better performance both uphill and down.

For our final drive stint, we returned to a single-rear-wheel Sierra 3500 crew-cab with a 3,000-pound payload for the return run to Baltimore’s airport. This time, we reset the fuel economy readout in the trip computer, and in deference to the large population of eagle-eyed Maryland state troopers, we set the cruise control to the state mandated limit of 65 mph. Over the next 133 miles through the Allegheny mountains and then into the flatter area near the city, we rarely touched the accelerator or brake except when stuck behind a semi. The cruise control maintained a steady speed over hill and dale and we made no attempt to optimize our mileage. As we rolled into our destination, the readout in the instrument cluster read a very impressive 19.8-mpg average for the diesel V8 – not bad for nearly 11,000 pounds of truck.

As you might expect, these GM heavy-duty trucks are not inexpensive, with pricing starting at about $28,000 and easily running over $60,000 when loaded up with all the toys. Of course, we’ve been in some gussied-up half-ton pickups whose Monroneys breech 50k, and given all that these HDs are capable of, we don’t find the bottom line off-putting. Besides, people generally buy HD trucks because they need them – very few are purchased as lifestyle vehicles. As Chevy truck marketing manager Tony Truelove tells it, this is the “most expensive tool” in an operator’s kit.

In terms of raw capabilities, these new GM trucks edge the Fords in most categories, but not by any amount big enough to be truly meaningful. For example a towing capacity of 21,700 pounds vs 21,600 for the Ford is not likely to sway a buyer one way or the other. What may tilt the scales toward GM, however, is its superior ride quality, engine refinement and features like smart exhaust braking. We suspect anyone who needs this kind of truck is unlikely to be disappointed by either of these leaders, but they might find themselves feeling a bit more refreshed after an extended stint in a Sierra or Silverado HD. In the gritty world of long distance heavy hauling, that’s perhaps a luxury worth more than any other.