Celebrating a different kind of horsepower

BY Lesley Wimbush. Dec 09 04:00 am

If you want to make a small fortune in horses, the old saying goes, start with a big fortune. Most of the horse folks I know are completely obsessed with their four-legged charges, to the exclusion of everything else. Therefore, most of them regard everything in terms of how it will benefit them and their horses.

“Nice truck!”

“Is that yours?”

“You got the tow package on that thing?” one asked. “How much does it tow?” As tested, this truck will tow up to 13,000 pounds.

“What kinda payload? Can I put my ATV in it?” Yes, unless it weighs more than 2,500 pounds.

“What kind of fuel economy are you getting?” I recorded numbers as low as 12 L/100 kilometres on the highway, all the way up to 19.7 with a bumper-pull trailer containing a single horse.

“What’s it like to tow with?” Well, unlike the heavy-duty Ram, which has a handy rear air suspension, the Silverado doesn’t lower to meet the trailer hookup, nor does it have automatic load levelling. And hooking up isn’t nearly as easy as it is with

the Ford F-Series’ camera technology. And the Ford wins in trailer backing by a country mile. But the Silverado boasts trailer sway control, engine braking with tow/haul mode, a trailer brake controller and proactive roll avoidance.

The turbodiesel produces 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque. It’s a measure of just how crazy the ongoing numbers war between heavy-duty trucks has gotten that its output doesn’t sound like that much. With Ram boasting 900 lb-ft and Ford now offering an unbelievable 925, GM was getting left behind. But it is rebounding quite nicely; when the 2017 Silverado HD arrives next year, its 6.6-L turbodiesel has been tweaked to put out 910 lb-ft, putting it squarely in the middle of the pack.

The current turbodiesel, however, is no slouch. Despite the truck’s immense size, it still manages to blast from zero to 100 km/h in about 7.4 seconds. For big-truck lovers, the whistling sound of its turbo is quite compelling, although on a number of occasions we noticed a slight diesel smell at idle — unusual in modern trucks.

While the exterior of the 2016 truck carries over from last year, the interiors have received numerous upgrades, reflecting the changing expectations of pickup owners. Aside from all the plush leather, there are heated and ventilated seats and a heated steering wheel — oh bliss! — plus power adjustable pedals, 4G Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay connectivity.

There are connection points everywhere throughout the cabin, with four auxiliary jacks, a 110-volt outlet, six USB ports and a wireless smartphone charging pad. You could work from a Chevy truck if you had to. I once did.

The centre console is more like carry-on luggage and is voluminous enough to hide my laptop and camera bags. The huge glovebox boasts double doors, and there are map pockets and cubbies everywhere. Despite its concession to upgraded technology, the Silverado’s engineers were still smart enough to leave the controls ergonomically simple; those big round knobs are easy to operate when wearing work gloves.

The optional rubber floor mats ($165 and installed at the dealer) are another favourite feature. Even the best-run stables are inherently messy, and it’s impossible not to track manure, straw and dirt back with you. Carpet is disastrous in such a truck but these mats hose down easily.

This truck’s optional Z71 off-road package also gave it stiffer shocks and more underbody protection for heavy brush or forest roads. As for the bed, this one featured a rugged spray-in bedliner to protect it while carrying dirty loads or heavy equipment. Shorter folks like me will appreciate the bumper step.

The engine-braking feature of these big diesel trucks is a marvellous thing for those of us who deal with shifting loads prone to getting upset by jerky braking. Using the engine to keep a smooth, steady progress down a steep grade is not only safer, it also saves wear and tear on brake components. All the extra technology and luxury features don’t come cheap, however. This Silverado had over $20,000 in options. That’s more than I paid for my first truck.

While it may not have the attention-seeking factor of a Lamborghini, there’s an immense feeling of satisfaction when driving such a capable vehicle. The Silverado 2500 HD is a serious truck for serious truck owners.

— Postmedia Network Inc. 2016

More News

A hybrid without compromise

BY Kelly Taylor . Jan 12 04:00 am

It’s hard to write the words “game-changer” without feeling like some marketing department flunky who’s just trying too hard. It might not be a hyperbolic cliché when applied to the 2018 Toyota Camry Hybrid, however.

Aside from purpose-built...

BMW X5 offers effortless acceleration

BY Kelly Taylor. Dec 29 04:00 am

Christmas came early to the Taylor household this year when the Good Ferry, the Calgary-area company that ferries press vehicles around the Prairies, announced a delayed arrival meant I’d have almost an extra week in the 2017 BMW X5 xDrive 40e.

When it debuted in...

New Infiniti turbo delivers fuel economy breakthrough

BY Kelly Taylor. Dec 22 04:00 am

LOS ANGELES — It’s a technology automotive engineers have been dreaming about for 80 years.

Last week in Los Angeles, Infiniti made it happen.

It’s long been known that you could improve efficiency of a gasoline engine if you could vary the compression...

Toyota's 86 puts the 'sport' back in sports car

BY Haney Louka. Dec 15 04:00 am

Affordable, rear-drive coupes are a bit of a rarity these days. Sure, there are offerings from Dodge, Chevrolet, Ford, and Nissan, all starting around $30,000, but each represents a different variation on the theme.

With a starting price of $29,580, the Toyota 86 has the...

Second Opinion: how much does Nissan's comparable 370Z cost?

BY Willy Williamson. Dec 15 04:00 am

Whoa! Hold on a second here. Don’t get me wrong, I had a riot tooling around in the Toyota 86, but is what Louka’s saying actually true? Does Nissan’s 370Z really cost about the same $30,000 as the Toyota 86?

Never mind the bucketful of additional horsepower...

BMW balances sport with luxury

BY Haney Louka . Nov 30 18:42 pm

While it’s far from the most memorable thing about my week with the 440i xDrive Coupe, I’m compelled to comment on the quality of the Bimmer’s voice recognition system.

One might expect that all new vehicles have a decent interface in this regard, but that’s...