2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD Crew Cab - FROM $35,605
The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD comes out on top in the very competitive heavy-duty truck segment, if only just barely.
What's New for 2013
The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD returns essentially unchanged.
Short of something requiring a commercial truck driver's license, you'd be hard-pressed to find a rig that can handle as much as the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD. And while it's true that the trucks in this category are all immensely capable, the Chevy Silverado manages to edge them out by the narrowest of margins.
On numbers alone, the Silverado 3500HD impresses. It can haul 7,222 pounds of payload and tow up to 23,100 pounds. Besides all-out tonnage, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD makes an impression with its handsome styling and agreeable interior. On top of this, it also provides a fairly smooth and quiet ride for long-haul trips. Drivers may also appreciate its steering, which is a bit more precise than the competition and also tracks straighter.
Again, it really is by the narrowest of margins that the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD takes the heavy-duty crown. So narrow, in fact, that brand allegiances will likely trump any of the Chevy's advantages. The good news is, whether you choose the Silverado, Ford F-350 or Ram 3500, there's no loser in the bunch.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD is offered in regular cab, extended cab or crew cab body styles. Buyers can choose between the conventional single-rear-wheel (SRW) and dual-rear-wheel (DRW) configurations. The regular cab and extended cab are only available with a long bed (8 feet), while crew cabs can also be had in standard bed lengths (6.5 feet), but only with SRW trucks. Trim levels start at the base Work Truck and climb to the LT and range-topping LTZ.
The Work Truck includes 18-inch steel wheels (all DRWs have 17-inch wheels), tinted rear windows, air-conditioning, cruise control, a trip computer, vinyl floor coverings, a 40/20/40-split front bench with fold-down center armrest, vinyl upholstery, a tilt steering wheel and a four-speaker AM/FM stereo.
Stepping up to the LT adds 18-inch alloy wheels (SRW), heated outside mirrors, darker-tinted rear windows, keyless entry, full power accessories, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, carpeted floor coverings, cloth seats, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, driver-side lumbar seat adjustments, OnStar, satellite radio and a CD/MP3 player. Many of the LT features are available on the Work Truck as options.
The LTZ trim level is only offered on extended and crew cab body styles and augments the LT's features list by adding foglights, a locking rear differential, a heavy-duty trailer package (with integrated trailer brake controller), dual-zone automatic climate control, steering-wheel-mounted cruise and audio controls, remote starting, heated, leather-upholstered front bucket seats with power adjustments, a floor-mounted front center console, Bluetooth and an upgraded Bose sound system with a USB port/iPod interface. Some of these features are available as options for the LT.
Other options (depending on trim level) include a protective bedliner, a sliding or stationary tool box, a cargo rail, a sliding bed divider, a sunroof (not available on extended cab), a power-sliding rear window, power-adjustable pedals, a heated steering wheel, cooled front seats, rear parking sensors, mobile WiFi, the EZ-lift tailgate, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and a rearview camera.
Four-wheel-drive models can add the Z71 Off-Road package (includes skid plates and off-road suspension components) and Z71 Appearance package as well as a Snow Plow Prep package.
Powertrains and Performance
The standard power plant for the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD is a 6.0-liter gasoline V8 engine that produces 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic is the only available transmission.
The optional, turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V8 is surely the engine choice for those who plan on towing or hauling on a regular basis. It cranks out 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque and is mated to a heavy-duty six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control. In Edmunds performance testing of the mechanically identical GMC Sierra, a 3500 with this engine and the standard rear axle went from zero to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds, about a second quicker than Ford's diesel-powered F-350.
Rear-wheel drive is standard for all models, and four-wheel drive is optional. The Work Truck 4WD receives a traditional, mechanically engaged transfer case operated by a floor-mounted shift lever, while the two other trim levels get an electronically operated transfer case that features an automatic setting that engages 4WD when tire slip is detected.
Properly equipped, a 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD can haul up to 7,222 pounds of payload. It can tow up to 18,000 pounds with its standard ball hitch and pull 23,100 pounds with a fifth-wheel connection. Aiding towing on downhill grades, the diesel engine also features a big-rig-inspired exhaust braking system to increase vehicle stability under deceleration and reduce brake wear.
The 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD features antilock disc brakes, stability control, hill-start control and trailer sway control as standard. Front side and side curtain airbags are available as options, as are power-adjustable pedals, rear parking sensors and a rearview camera.
In Edmunds brake testing, a mechanically identical GMC Sierra 3500 with the single rear axle came to a stop from 60 mph in 147 feet, a short distance for a heavy-duty truck.
Interior Design and Special Features
As expected, the Work Truck has the most utilitarian cabin of the lot, with vinyl upholstery, rubber floor covering and very little in the way of creature comforts. The LT offers a more inviting cabin with cloth seating and carpeting on the floor, although it comes standard with a three-person front bench just like the Work Truck, which means it shares the same rather bland dashboard. Opting for the bucket seats adds a center console with storage. The LTZ is the classiest of the bunch, with an interior featuring a unique dash as well as metallic and wood-tone accents.
The front seats are quite comfortable, though some drivers might find the driving position a bit awkward because of the tilt-only steering wheel (it's too close to the dash), while the gas and brake pedals are far apart in order to accommodate work boots. We're also not particularly fond of the small and fiddly buttons on the center stack found in the interior of the higher trim levels.
The extended cab's rear fold-up seats are acceptable in terms of comfort but more suited for children. On the plus side, the extended cab's rear doors swing out 170 degrees to aid with loading the backseat area in tight spaces. The crew cab also features a fold-up rear seat and is much roomier, but falls short on most dimensions when compared with the competition.
The Silverado's stiff frame permits the use of a suspension that can not only handle higher loads but also smooth out rough roads more efficiently. While heavy-duty trucks like this have traditionally been rather rough-riding for comfortable daily use, the 2013 Silverado 3500 proves that comfort can be compatible with toughness. Even the Silverado's brakes feel refined thanks to firm, responsive pedal action.
When stacked up against the Ford F-350 and the Ram 3500, the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD has a few clear advantages. Superior steering precision compared to the Ford and a smaller turning circle than either rival are readily apparent and appreciated in everyday driving. And when towing a trailer, the Chevy's diesel V8 accelerates with more authority and climbs grades with less diesel clatter while also delivering superior fuel economy. When descending a grade, the V8's exhaust brake works with well-timed downshifts from the transmission to lend an edge in vehicle stability over the Ram.