At Truck Jungle, we love pickup trucks no matter where they come from. And when you’ve got something big you need to tow – like, really big – there’s some huge hard-working trucks made in the USA by Ford, GM and Dodge that dwarf all other pickups for physical size and outright hauling and towing ability.

They call them ‘Heavy Duty’ because they are designed to haul big payloads and tow really heavy stuff like huge caravans, fifth-wheel trailers, motor boats, horse floats, industrial plant equipment and even car transporters. There’s nothing like these trucks made anywhere else in the world.

Chevrolet’s 2013 competitor in the Big Three’s Heavy Duty (HD) class is the Silverado HD range that comprises two models – 2500HD and 3500HD.

Now entering its third year in production, the Silverado HD breed is available in three trim levels – WT, LT and LTZ – in either 4×2 or 4×4 drivetrains.

A total of 10 x 2500HD models and eight x 3500HD models are available, in a choice of single or dual rear wheels and Regular Cab, Extended Cab and Crew Cab styles.

Unfortunately, these magnificent US-built trucks are not available in RHD form through the Australian arm of GM (Holden) like the smaller Colorado one-tonne pickup.

However, if you really want one, they can be purchased locally through a variety of importers/RHD conversion specialists.

Heavy Duty

There’s a good reason why they call these trucks Heavy Duty. Get a load of these performance figures and you’ll know they aren’t kidding.

The 2500HD has a maximum payload of more than 1.9 tonnes and a conventional (braked) towing capacity of just under 5.9 tonnes. That towing capacity increases to more than 8.0 tonnes when towing a fifth-wheeler trailer (ie with a turn-table coupling mounted on the tray floor).

The 3500HD has a best-in-class maximum payload of just under 3.3 tonnes and a best-in-class conventional (braked) towing capacity a tad under 8.2 tonnes. That towing capacity increases to a best-in-class, gob-smacking 10.5 tonnes with a fifth-wheeler hooked up behind.

Engines & Transmissions

There’s two engines available – the 6.0 litre petrol-powered Vortec V8 that’s standard across the HD range and the top-shelf 6.6 litre turbo diesel Duramax V8 torque monster available on both 2500HD and 3500HD models.

The Vortec 6.0 litre petrol V8 features variable valve timing and is matched with GM’s Hydra-Matic 6L90 six-speed automatic transmission. This combo, which is factory-rated at 268kW (360 bhp) and 515Nm (380 ft/lbs) of torque, is designed to deliver very strong low rpm performance and is more than adequate for most hauling and towing needs.

New for 2013 is a bi-fuel version of the Vortec V8 (engine code LC8) with hardened valves and valve seats that allow it to run on either petrol or cheaper compressed natural gas (CNG).

Using CNG comes with two penalties, though. There’s a huge gas tank mounted behind the cab that eats into the load space and power drops from 268kW to 225kW and torque drops from 515Nm to 452Nm.

Above and below: Huge factory-fitted CNG tank takes a fair bite out of the pickup's load carrying space.

If you want the ultimate in pulling power (and bragging rights no doubt), you can’t top the awesome Duramax 6.6 litre turbo-diesel V8 which pumps out 296kW (397 bhp) at 3000 rpm and 1037Nm (765 ft/lbs) of torque at just 1600 rpm! It also features a full exhaust brake system and can run on bio-diesel fuel blends up to B20.

The Duramax turbo-diesel is matched to an equally robust Allison 1000 six-speed automatic. This big truck transmission features full manual driver control when required, with tap up/tap down shifting and a specific tow/haul mode that reduces shift cycling for better control and improved cooling when towing or hauling really heavy loads (LTZ trim level shown below).

Chassis & Suspension

The 2013 Silverado HD’s massive box-framed chassis comes in 18 different configurations to suit all the different model options. Big four wheel disc brakes with ABS are standard across the range.

Front suspension uses torsion bars instead of coil springs, available in four different weight ratings offering front gross axle weights up to 2.54 tonnes. This enables attachments like snow ploughs to be used on all 4×4 cab configurations in conjunction with the factory ‘Snow Plough Prep’ package (not much use for this in sunny Australia!)

What might interest Aussie buyers is factory option RPO Z71, which is an off road suspension package available on LT and LTZ models. This includes heavy duty shock absorbers, bigger bump stops, thicker front stabiliser bar and skid plate package.

The frame-mounted tow bar used for conventional towing has a massive steel box-tube design that can safely support up to 8.2 tonnes!

On single rear wheel models, this is matched to the Trailer Sway Control System that senses trailer sway and automatically intervenes with braking and/or reduced engine power to bring the trailer under control.

Single rear wheel models also benefit from Hill Start Assist which automatically engages when sensors detect that the vehicle is on a grade of about 5.0 per cent or greater. It holds the brakes for about 1.5 seconds or until the throttle pedal is pushed, preventing rollback.

This is particularly useful when towing because it gives the driver time to switch from the brake pedal to the throttle pedal without rolling. Single rears also benefit from Chevy’s electronic stability control system.

Weights & Measures

The raw dimensions of these Chevy super trucks are hard to fathom, particularly the top-shelf Duramax turbo-diesel in the Crew Cab Long Box configuration – the biggest of the Silverado breed.

With an expansive wheelbase of 4.26 metres, overall length of just under 6.6 metres and more than 2.0 metres wide, this behemoth is king of any road you drive it on. And with a massive kerb weight just under 3.4 tonnes, you certainly wouldn’t want to get in its way! TJ

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