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AT THE WHEEL REVIEWS: TRUCKS

2007 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 3500 HD:

The Heavy Duty American Revolution

By Frederick Staab   Cruise Control Radio.com

 

Talk to any stand up comic and they will tell you that timing is everything.  So late last summer with overall truck sales down by 13 percent and fuel prices headed for the stratosphere, GM’s announcement of its all new Silverado HD lineup at the Texas State

Fair may have seemed a bit out of sync with the rest of the world. In reality every manufacturer must live by their product cycle when its time to change up the line up there’s no choice, you do it.

And that’s just what Chevrolet did mending elements of the sheet metal style and sophistication of its completely redesigned light duty pickups that were shown in early August of 2006, with improved heavy duty power, hauling and comfort features.

But before we get started with our exterior walk, around let me clear up something that might be a bit confusing when you head down to your local Chevy dealer. The new 2007 model is known simply as Silverado 2500HD. The 2006 carry over model sold as the 2007 Silverado HD Classic keeps the older design body and lacks the Duramax engine upgrades that I will get into a bit later.

The last Classic crew cab leaves the assembly line in early February of 2007.

You may recall Ford had a bit of production overlap when its redesigned F150 came out a few years ago. The older model soldiered on as the F150 Classic while production of the new truck was ramping up. I guess the term “Classic” is now universally accepted terminology for an older design carry over model.

For 2007 the Silverado HD models break down to the 2500HD (three-quarter-ton) and the 3500HD (one-ton) “Dually”, all are available in 2 or 4 wheel drive.

Since listing all of the available cab styles, bed lengths and other configurations would cause Toy Hauler magazine to add an additional 50 pages to this issue, I figured it would be easier to focus our first look on the Silverado 2500HD 4X4 Crew Cab with the eight foot bed and the Duramax diesel in the engine bay bolted to a 6 speed Allison 1000 automatic transmission.

New Skin, New Bold Face

Tighter tolerances and reduced body panel gaps are the name of the game across all of the General Motors line up and the 2007 HD is no exception. While narrowed gaps look better, they also result in a less fuel mileage robbing aerodynamic drag and a quieter interior with reduced wind noise. The windshield is raked at a 57 degree angle that can be considered down right swoopy for a pickup truck.

All Silverado HD models can be easily identified from their lighter weight cousins

by their thicker front bumpers with an horizontal air inlet slot. On the upscale LTZ model the bumper wraps around completely to the front wheel wells with two massive chrome “Cheek” pieces. The hood bulks up with a raised and squared off deck. Duramax Diesel owners will find on the hood badging to celebrate their entry into the world of “Oil burners”, we mean Diesel Fuel of course! Grills are bolder and wheel flaresare squared off to telegraph the ready for work attitude.

 GM has also made an effort to significantly differentiate the Silverado HD’s appearance from The GMC Sierra HD. A good thing in my book, having noticed many GMC trucks of the past were just Chevy’s without the grill mounted bowtie.

Out back the long bed 8 foot box allows you to haul 75.5 cubic feet of whatever you

want, that’s an increase over last year’s 73.9 cu ft. capacity. To keep your load from flying around there is a new available Cargo Management System. Comprised of three rails with upper and lower tracks run the length of the bed, the system is supplied with four tie downs.  GM accessories sells locking tool boxes, bicycle mounts and other attachments that secure and lock up your toys.

Even the tail gate gets tweaked for 2007 with the addition of an easy lift feature.

A lock is also included so no one makes off with that valuable piece of your truck.

  

Pure Pickup or Luxury Inspired

The choices continue in the cabin of the 2007 Chevrolet Silverado HD with two distinctive themes.

Silverado WT and LT trim grades get what GM calls the “Pure Pickup” interior. Now hold on, you are probably thinking that means a slab vinyl seat rubber mats and a thin rimmed steering wheel. Time to update your idea of a work truck.

In reality Chevrolet has developed an interior designed for the working person, adding features like a second glove box, bigger door pulls and release handles and controls designed to be used without taking off the work gloves. A newly designed “Pure Pickup” 40/20/40Split bench with storage in a flip down armrest and slide out locking storage bin keeps things like lap tops, tools and other business items out of sight.

If you decide on the “Luxury Inspired” interior you will be treated to a console that flows smoothly from the dash to the floor.  Wood grain and brushed aluminum trim panels and low gloss soft touch dash coverings are part of this package. Think of it as a Cadillac Escalade interior in a heavy duty pickup.

Both interiors benefit from GM’s new found interior quality obsession that reduces squeaks, rattles and gaps. The cheap shiny plastic and ratchety switchgear of the past has thankfully been sent to the junk pile forever.

2007 finds the dashboard gauge cluster fully populated on all Silverado HD models. There is a new design six-gauge analog instrument cluster,

with an added driver information center featuring readouts specific to heavy-duty models, including transmission temperature.

 

Emissions and Performance not mutually exclusive

The Diesel game gets tougher for 2007 thanks to tighter federal emissions standards, but the The 6.6 Liter Duramax 6600 manages a win win by cleaning up the tailpipe and bulking up horsepower at 365 and torque at 660lb-ft. an increase of 5 hp and 10 lb-ft. respectively from its 2006 counterpart.

For cleaner emissions engineers have added combustion control in the form of a more efficient Variable-geometry turbo charger. By the way the turbo blows about 20 psi of boost and spins at an astronomic 120,000rpm. Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) temperature also takes a dip resulting in a reduction of NOx emissions. Increased cooling capacity, revised engine management software and the use of low ash oil and commonly available low sulfur diesel fuel are all on board, in addition to the DPF or Diesel Particulate Filter to slash soot and other particulates.

Those extra ponies come thanks to bigger fuel lines, six port injector nozzles and redesigned cylinder heads that allow higher pressure firing.

In the HD model line up the most popular transmission is the well proven 6 speed Allison automatic. A welcomed carry over from the 2006 model, this tranny retains its tow/haul mode that tightens shifts and allows grade braking. That 6th gear knocks highway RPM’s down to 1550 at 60 MPH . If it was available, a transmission with just five gears would have the Duramax 6600 spinning 1800 RPM at a similar speed. That’s the reason you will be seeing more six speed autos across the board.

 

Putting the Power to the Road.

Chevrolet engineers were busy underneath the new 2007 HD models as well, revising the suspension tuning and for the first time offering the Z71 off road suspension option on 4X4 models. The Z71 package brings in skid plates and other chassis equipment, the standard suspension is still the perfectly capable Z85. The Silverado retains its independent short- long arm front suspension and Hotchkiss live rear axle rear setup with two or three stage multi- leafs depending on the model.

Nothing is worse than a 4x4 long bed pickup with vague steering and limited road feel

 towing a large trailer. With that in mind there’s a revised recirculating ball steering system modified for better on center feel. Steering ratio is unchanged at 24:1.

HD pickups also get and upsized tow hitch platform with a 2.5 receiver that is mounted directly to the vehicle frame.

Preliminary trailering specs for the 2007 Silverado 2500 HD Crew Cab 4X4

with the Duramax come in at 13,000 lbs of trailer towing capability with the relatively mild3.73 rear gear. That’s a substantial increase of 1000lbs over the comparable 2006 model.

With revised tough guy looks and a cleaner more powerful Diesel there

is plenty to like about the new 2007 Silverado 2500 HD 4x4. Whether you

go the “Pure Pickup” or Luxury Inspired route on the inside, Chevy’s

HD’s will have the brawn to get you and your toy’s where ever you want to go.

 

Specifications: 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 HD

Mileage on test vehicle: 2356

Color: Exterior: Dark Grey Interior: Charcoal Leather

Towing Capacity: 13,000 lbs. Class III hitch 

Fuel Mileage: City NA Highway NA

Fuel Required: Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel

Safety: Stability Control, Side Canopy Air Bags, ABS system, Hydroboost brakes

 

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