If the old adage that “Bigger is better” holds true, then GMC’s latest 2011 Sierra 2500 HD Crew Cab must be among the best, since it’s really big –the 3500 Dually with the long bed is actually humongous. If your need is to haul a heavy load, rip out a large tree stump by its roots, or simply to have top bragging rights, then this could very well be your ride of choice. This Heavy Duty hauler isn’t just “bigger than a breadbox” – it’s bigger than the whole darned bakery. As already stated, the “Dually” version is the biggest in GMC’s HD lineup – my test rig (anything this big must be properly referred to as a “rig”) happened to be just the regular Heavy Duty Crew Cab with a standard bed. For the record, Chevrolet offers an equitable model lineup under the name Silverado.
The 2500 series trucks are rated as three quarter-ton vehicles, while the 3500 models are one-ton trucks. Both stables of Heavy Duty trucks are all-new, featuring differentiated grille and hood designs, and unique interior themes, along with class-leading power and efficiency. We’ll only deal with the Sierra here, which is offered in three trim levels: WT, SLE and SLT. All the Heavy Duty trucks come in three cab configurations, with three bed styles and two bed length choices. There are Regular Cabs, Extended Cabs and Crew Cabs, with either a standard pickup box (78.7” floor length) or a long box (97.6” floor length).
Powertrain choices include: a gasoline fueled Vortec 6.0-liter (L96) V8 mated to a Hydra-Matic 6L90 6-speed automatic transmission; or a Duramax 6.6-liter (LML) Turbo-diesel V8 coupled to an Allison 1000 6-speed automatic gearbox. Either combination is available in rear or four-wheel drive. The 6.0-liter gasoline motor delivers 360 horsepower and 380 pound feet of torque, while the 6.6-liter turbo diesel cranks out an impressive 397 horses and an even more impressive 765 pound feet of torque. Maximum conventional towing capacity is 17,000 pounds with a conventional hitch, which jumps to 21,700 pounds when the vehicle is equipped with a fifth-wheel hitch.
Visually, the heavy-duty line differs externally from light duty truck models, exhibiting a bolder, more “in-your-face” persona. GMC displays further differences in design elements from Chevrolet’s HD versions, which include hood, front fenders, grille, and headlamps. Body gaps have been reduced with a greater focus on tight tolerances for a better fit and finish. Inside, are two distinct cab treatments: a “Pure pickup” approach, with a greater emphasis on use as a work truck; and, a “Luxury-inspired” execution that focuses on a plusher interior atmosphere, with fancier trim, etc.
My test behemoth was a GMC Sierra 2500 4WD CrewCab with a standard bed, in SLT trim, powered by the 6.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel mated to the Allison 6-speed automatic transmission. The base sticker of my Stealth Gray metallic finished hauler with a Dark and light, two-toned leather interior accented by faux polished wood trim, was set at $44,560. The SLT convenience package featured: adjustable power pedals; Locking tailgate, EZ-lift tailgate; and Rear Parking Assist (the latter is a necessity with a machine this big). Rolling stock consisted of Michelin LT 265/60 R20 tires mounted on 5-spoke forged, polished aluminum alloy wheels.
Other options outfitting my test rig were: the off-road suspension package with skid plates; the Duramax 6.6-liter Turbo-diesel V8 (this alone adds $7,195.); Allison 1000 6-speed automatic transmission (tack on another $1,200); Power sunroof; 20-inch forged polished wheels; rear vision camera system; head curtain and seat-mounted side impact air bags fro driver and right front passenger; power heated outside camper mirrors with turn signal and convex glass insets and Destination charge. GVWR rating of 10,000 lbs. bringing the final tally to (drum roll please) $57,575.