During the lead up to the September opening of the State Fair of Texas, I was given the chance to take a preview spin in the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD, along with a select group of automotive media.
Though it was a short drive in a controlled setting (the Texas Motor Speedway), it was enough to make an impression.
The driving event was designed not only to whet journalists’ appetites, but to highlight the automaker’s new Duramax 6.6L V-8 turbo-diesel, which it had just announced. There were two courses, an autocross-style pretzel and a towing test on the speedway’s oval.
During the autocross-style course, acceleration, braking, and turning were all highlighted under the guidance of a professional driver. The 2017 Silverado HD performed flawlessly, smoothly transitioning from the straightways to the tight turns without the need to under- or over-steer to navigate the course.
In fact, considering that the Duramax 6.6L V-8 turbo-diesel is rated at 445 hp, I half expected to feel it protest when it was restrained in those transitional turns and curves. Instead, the 2500 HD felt surprisingly car like in its handling, hugging the track and the horses under the hood never bucking once to be let go. Mated to an Allison 1000 6-speed automatic transmission, the shift points were smooth and barely noticeable, adding to the overall automobile feel of the Silverado HD.
The towing test was where the 2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD really shined for me. The towing test had drivers pulling a heavy load around the oval, and while this may have been controlled and relatively ideal conditions, I still expected that I’d feel the nearly 10,000 load pulling on me. Instead, I almost forgot that I was towing a very large mass behind me.
First, acceleration from a stop was easy, with the engine showing no apparent strain as I began moving up to speed. With 910 lb.-ft. of torque at my disposal, it probably shouldn’t have been a surprise that getting up to speed would be effortless.
Second, and more important to me, was how the load would feel as I slowed or stopped. Stopping under load felt controlled and restrained. There was no sense that the load was rolling up on me, and, again, getting back up to speed felt smooth and controlled. There was no sluggishness that I could feel with the engine getting back up to power.
One of the new features on the 2017 Silverado HD is an air intake system that drives cool, dry air into the engine for sustained performance and cooler engine temperatures during difficult driving conditions, which undoubtedly assisted in making my test drive a pleasure. And, while it may help what is under the hood operate more efficiently, the air intake scoop also gives the 2017-MY pickup a bit of an aesthetic, yet understated, flair.
While fleets should focus on a pickup’s capabilities — and the 2017 Silverado HD has capability to spare — it’s also important to focus on how the truck may enhance the fleet driver’s capabilities. While I only drove it a few miles on a track, the car-like feel and handling of the truck made a clear impression on me.
This is an easy vehicle to use and would surely translate into a more productive driver-employee. Add to that a quiet cabin and other amenities and tools, such as lots of convenient interior storage and the ability to operate wireless devices at a job site, along with its towing and cargo capabilities and you have a pickup that could provide the whole package for a fleet.
Originally posted on Automotive Fleet