After a number of drives of the 1500 Series Ram’s, a few 300 Series Landcruisers and immeasurable 200 Series tow tests, I think I’ve found the one car that beats them all. Or should that be truck?
IS THE SILVERADO 2500HD THE BEST TOW VEHICLE?
- Unbeatable tow
- Seriously comfortable
- Not too bad on fuel
- A bit truck-like inside
- It’s the size of a truck
- Suspension tuning off for our roads
When reviewing the Evernew RTX35 for the last issue of Caravan World we needed something special to tow such an exceptional van so reached out to GMSV to see if they had a Silverado 1500 for the test. I've driven plenty of the super-popular 1500 Rams and thought I owed it to you all to find their differences. Instead, GMSV threw me the keys to the big brother, the LTZ 2500HD. First some differences and an explanation of how these popular US-made trucks are categorized.
1500 VERSUS 2500
A 1500 is a half-ton truck and a 2500 a three-quarter ton, well they were. Back in the day, the numbers actually reflected the load capacity of the truck, now it is just a way to categorise brands’ models that compete with each other. You’ll see that Ford, GM and Ram all have 1500’s, 2500’s and more but the actual capacities differ a bit but are well beyond the originally designated capacity.
With the jump from 1500 to 2500 comes more of almost everything. One thing that is surprisingly the same in some vehicles, like the Ram 1500 and 2500, is that the cabins carry over the same dimensions. So a 1500 can have the same cabin as a 2500 but that's about where it ends.
2500’s, especially in the case of the Silverado, have a much beefier chassis, very different engines and gearboxes plus longer beds and depending on spec, more technology. There are many different trim specs in the US but here we get the LTZ 2500HD with ZL1 Offroad package but it's the HD that matters and it stands for Heavy Duty of course.
HOW HEAVY DUTY IS THE 2500HD?
Well, the kerb weight of the 2500HD is around 3700kg. That's more than 1000kg heavier than the 300 Series. It runs eight lug wheels with truck tyres, the engine is a 6.6L V8 and the ten-speed gearbox is made by Alison, famous for reliable gearboxes for trucks. It has a body width of 2.2m, is 2m tall and overall, it is over 6.3m long while the turning circle is a wide 16.1m. It is very, very big.
CAR LICENCE OR LIGHT TRUCK?
With it being so bloody massive and heavy, it doesn't really fit with our standard car licenses. If you have a Light Truck licence, you’ll be able to get the best of the capability of the 2500HD. With a car licence, you’re limited to a GVM of 4,500kg and a GCM of 9,000kg which when you do the sums is not near the real capability of the chassis and driveline.
With a car licence, the payload (GVM minus Kerb weight) is only 743kg and the limit of the trailer could be over 5,200kg (GCM minus Kerb weight). However, GMSV cap tow-capacity at 4,500kg as there is a big step up in rules once your trailer ATM tips over that weight including modifications to the 2500HD (air or other stored-energy brakes). So, when buying an LTZ 2500HD, you can option a downgraded set of limits that set the GVM at 4,495kg and maximum braked tow capacity at 4,500kg to suit a car licence. Carry a Light Truck licence, or better, and things get serious.
There is capacity in the platform for a GCM of 12,474kg and GVM of 5,148kg which allows for a payload of up to 1,396kg; these are serious numbers. With the right licence and a stored-energy brake system (typically air brakes), the 2500HD becomes capable of doing more than any caravanner I have ever met will ever need but I would still suggest getting your Light Truck or other higher capacity licence before ordering so you can at least get more payload and not stress over carrying a load of gear, your family and a caravan of 3,500kg or more. So now we know the numbers, how does it go?
TOW TESTING THE LTZ 2500HD
I have never towed a full-size caravan more easily than with the LTZ 2500HD. Up until the last day, I never floored the accelerator and even then, it was only to see what would happen which was the masses of torque overpowering the rear tyre traction and the control systems coming on. I never felt like the caravan dictated terms to the 2500, it was simply sensational. The tech is next level compared to what we’re accustomed to in Australia. How the gearbox changes programming and how the mirrors extend once a trailer is plugged in suggests it is no feat of luck either, the 2500HD is manufactured to tow and designed to make it easy.
There is too much to list and honestly, too much to keep this review interesting so I’ll focus on the big ones, Towing Mode and some of what it does and the braking systems.
As mentioned above, once you’ve hitched up, the 2500HD adjusts the two-piece mirrors outward to give legal rearwards vision. Roll the rotary dial found on the right of the steering wheel to Towing and a small trailer icon appears on the dash. Head into the menus and you can enter details on the trailer's weight, dimensions and label and save the data for a future haul. Once you’ve done that, you can do a trailer light test that illuminates all of your trailer lights in sequence so you can single handily check all are in order. There are also pre-drive checklists that you can adapt to suit your tow which is great to see.
Using Towing mode also adjusts the mapping of the 10-speed Alison gearbox. It holds gears longer and drops one or two when off-throttle and the vehicle senses that you are holding or increasing in speed, say going down a hill. The 2500HD does a great job of engine braking, especially when you turn on the exhaust brake, yes, a passenger car with an exhaust brake. I used it a lot, more than I probably needed to as I really liked how our combination would hold or even decrease speed coming down a hill. It is not noisy like a lot of truck exhaust brakes but it is noticeable.
One other detail I thought game-changing was how when indicating, the centre screen would flick to the mirror-mounted cameras (two of fifteen found around the LTZ) to show you down the side of the truck and trailer exposing any other traffic that might be lurking beside you. It worked so well, that I would look there before doing a mirror check to confirm.
The 2500HD is fitted with a factory brake controller which would be nicely positioned for a driver in the US but once converted to righthand drive, the controller is a little out of the way on the lower left of the massive centre console. It is however very easy to use with a plus and minus button to change the force your trailer brakes will apply and an override button that you’ll probably never need.
CITY LIVING WITH A 2500HD
So there were five days I had the 2500HD without the Evernew at home, in Melbourne City. That was less fun. Parallel parking? Nope, I never found that an option. Going around the small roundabouts that litter my neighbourhood? Not easy but I could go over some, thankfully. And what did my neighbours think of it? Some asked if it has more floorspace than my apartment, and they were serious. Dog walkers and cyclists seemed to notice me more but no one really hated it, some just questioned its purpose in our modern world but respected what it could do when I explained it. It was a fish out of water in the inner city and turned heads everywhere, I kind of liked the attention.
HOW COMFORTABLE IS THE LTZ 2500HD?
This is where I expected to be let down. I’ve driven Rams from as far back as the late 90s and although always capable, comfort was never good. More recent Rams, like the current generation 1500 are miles better but for me, the LTZ 2500HD tops them again.
Although the build quality and materials used are still very truck-like (hard plastics, the occasional squeak and rattle), the driving position is top-notch with enough adjustability of the steering wheel and 10-way electric seats to have even my 110kg, 2m frame exceptionally well cosseted. Little details like the height and position of the centre console and door-mounted armrest combine to make the 2500HD seating lounge-like and have me convinced, that this is the tow vehicle for the big lap. I drove for as much as four hours straight in the LTZ and honestly, it was bliss.
Part of that is down to how quiet the cabin is, it really feels quieter than most vehicles I’ve driven until you crank the 10-speaker sound system. The AC is very effective though was never tested as it hardly topped 18 degrees on our days out in Eastern Vic. The seats are heated, both front and rear and the fronts have cooling which if you’ve not tried, you should, it is fantastic. The LTZ has remote start to take the chill off the interior and engine on a cold morning with a nice touch - the steering wheel is heated and will turn on when remotely started. Talk about fancy but what of hauling 3,700kg of 2500HD and 3,000kg of caravan with a 6.6L V8? Won’t it drink all the diesel ever produced just pulling out the driveway?
FUEL CONSUMPTION IN A LTZ 2500HD
If I was impressed with how comfortable to drive the LTZ 2500HD is, I was shocked with how reasonable it was on fuel. No, it was not good. Good would be what I expect from an Isuzu D-MAX with the same van which would have seen about 17-22L per 100km towing the routes we took but the 23.7L per 100km travelled over 595km was shocking. I expected closer to 30, or what have seen from smaller, petrol Ram 1500’s and this was not some lazy, flat run along the Hume, this was from Preston in Melbourne’s inner north to beyond Montana Holiday Park and Campground on Licola Road on the foothills of the Victorian High Country. We have plenty of slow-moving traffic to negotiate and a lot of steep hills to work the engine and my driving skills. On the flat, heading back to Melbourne, the live economy teetered at or under 20L per 100km at a GPS indicated 110km/h. Impressive stuff and it wasn't just spectacular with the Evernew, without it I saw under 14L per 100km of mixed town and 80kmph roads unhitched. For a 3,700kg apartment-sized truck that has all the power you’d ever need, it will still see around 600km towing a full-size van or over 800km without is impressive. I still struggle to reconcile how it did it but I checked at the bowser when refilling the 138L tank and it's true.
WHAT DOES THE LTZ 2500HD COST?
Probably less than you expected. The suggested retail price is a takeaway kebab under $150,000+ORC. That's mightly close to the cost of a 300 Series Sahara VX which is around $135,000 (if you can get one, hello two-year waiting list) but oh, the same problem exists for the 2500HD, almost. The talk around town is a one (or more) year wait on a new car and there were none for sale used when I looked. Bummer.
WHAT CARAVAN WORLD THINKS OF THE SILVERADO LTZ 2500HD
If someone has a better tow vehicle than the LTZ 2500HD I would really like to know. I think in my twenty-plus years of racing 4WD’s and cars off and on circuits plus the thousands of dollars I've poured into modifying every vehicle I own and what I do for a living, I would know a thing or two about towing but I had no idea how good the monstrous LTZ 2500HD could be. With my existing appreciation of the Ram 1500, I am now itching to find out if their 2500 is anywhere near as good as what is the best I've used, the LTZ 2500HD
2022 SILVERADO LTZ 2500HD PREMIUM SPECIFICATIONS
- Length 6387mm
- Width 2263mm
- Height 2039mm
- Wheelbase 4036mm
- Ground clearance (at kerb weight) 251mm
- Kerb Mass 3,752kg
- Gross Vehicle Mass 4,495kg
- Gross Combined Mass up to 12,474kg
- Towing capacity unbraked/braked 4500kg/750kg
- Towball (max) 450kg
- Fuel capacity 138L
- Suspension Front: Independent, coils, sway bar Rear: Multi-link solid axle
- Brakes Disc all-round
- Wheels alloy
- Warranty Three years/100,000km
2022 SILVERADO LTZ 2500HD PREMIUM DRIVETRAIN
- Engine 6.6L V8 turbocharged diesel
- Transmission Ten-speed automatic with two-speed 4WD transfer case
- Power 332kW at rpm
- Torque 1234Nm at rpm
2022 SILVERADO LTZ 2500HD PREMIUM PRICE $149,000+ORC
More information gmspecialtyvehicles.com
HOW THE SILVERADO 2500HD RATES
1. Value for money 8/10
For close to top-spec LC300 money, this will tow more and better
2. Towing performance 10/10
I have not found better, it was perfect
3. Hitching up 8/10
It is big but the cameras help as does the Trailer Light Check mode
4. Creature comforts 8/10
Lounge like, big stereo, quiet cabin its very good
5. Accessibility of Spare Parts 5/10
You’ll be able to get anything from the US but local parts will still be an issue
6. Fuel economy 7/10
For its size and capability, it is outrageous but it still drinks in real terms
7. Solo performance 6/10
Again, the cameras help but it is as big as a shipping tanker
8. Engine power 10/10
It has almost twice the torque of the LC300 so can change the rotation of the planet when given a bootful
9. Innovation 8/10
The tow-tech needs to be adopted by all companies that consider their cars for towing
10. X-Factor 8/10
It's a ten if you want the looks, a six if you don’t so a fair eight on average
CARAVAN WORLD RATING 78/100