Taking the re-engineered 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD to pick up a credenza at IKEA is like commissioning a stealth bomber to extinguish a tent camp. The big Chevy is capable of pulling insane loads through prairie and mountains with five aboard. However, my partner wanted a credenza — with wood striped doors and a metal base to complete the mid-century look he was slaving over in our living room. His mother and nieces went along on the four-hour drive just for “fun”.
The last time we made an IKEA run, it was in a Ford Focus two-door. We came home with an entire shelving unit, packed in about 10 boxes, for our den. You should have seen that carcacha slumping down the Interstate. This was going to be a lot easier, even if it was an insult to the Silverado’s ample truckhood.
To be honest, I was more than willing to entertain his decorative whimsy because I really wanted to drive the truck somewhere. Anywhere. The thought of powering up the 6.6-litre Duramax V8 turbo diesel kept me vibrating all night like a pubescent homo near a college natatorium. The beast stomps out 397 horsepower and an earth-tugging 765 lb.-ft. of torque! And what’s not to love about its stout Allison-built six-speed automatic transmission? More astounding, the heavy duty truck achieved over 18 mpg in a combination of city and highway driving — blindingly brilliant for a truck with this capability. Seventies sedans guzzled more fossils and could barely haul home macramé for your rumpus room.
Constant torque and a spinning turbo are more akin to a Gulfstream jet than your image of a pickup truck. I drove nearly two hours at speeds that more than once tapped the rev limiter just under 100 mph without either niece looking up from her texting. Step down at 80 and the truck surges ahead with the smoothness of an airliner at takeoff, but with the determination of a GE Dash 9 locomotive pulverizing the Rockies. Perhaps because of its size, speed just doesn’t mean anything — like the Queen Mary 2 kickin’ it across the Atlantic at record pace. It is also a testament to the Silverado’s aerodynamics, insulation, and thick side glass that nobody is alerted to growing velocities by wind noise. It would only be slightly less energetic with a 36-foot. Chris Craft out back.
Even on a day warm enough to scare Texans back under mesquite trees, the dual zone automatic climate control froze five of us solid while not even causing a flinch in the dashboard temperature gauge. Unlike wimp wagons, this feat was even achieved while parked. Comfy leather seats, cruise control, tilt wheel, and adjustable pedals gave a snuggle-worthy embrace. When not tranced into their phones, the nieces jammed to XM Satellite Radio and their MP3s through the USB port. Bluetooth connected phones seamlessly to steering wheel controls.
All ensconced in vile luxury, it’s easy to forget the Silverado HD earns its living through hard work. To that end, the cabin is equipped with an integrated brake controller that fits in the dash as naturally as a wood storage door in a ‘Benz S-Class. A backing camera, dual glove boxes, large center console, and a flip-up rear seat cushion make the most of available space. Safety is enhanced by dual front, front side, and two-row side curtain airbags. If your momma or boyfriend needs it, there’s an illuminated vanity mirror on the sunvisor to check makeup and eyeliner.
The Silverado’s exterior needs no such embellishment. It is clean, streamlined, and as tough as a sledgehammer. Your only clues to its capability are the Duesenberg-high chrome grille, 20″ forged chrome aluminum wheels, and power-adjustable camper mirrors that you swear are going to knock Kias into the brush as you pass.
The credenza looks great, placed near my favorite Eames lounge chair that has been colonized by my mother-in-law, whom I’m sure doesn’t appreciate the full value of the artwork in which she sleeps. Leather, wood, constructed of perfection. It is far more than anyone deserves for watching movies (although, it’s a perfect place to watch Mad Men with bourbon in hand). It’s kinda like the Silverado HD hauling home goods from IKEA – it is certainly capable of doing so, but what a waste of an incredible piece of design and engineering. Price as tested came to $55,200.
2011 Chevy Silverado HD
Five-passenger, 4×4 Pickup
Powertrain:397-HP, 765 lb.-ft. torque, 6.6-litre V8 turbo diesel, 6-speed Allison automatic transmission
Suspension f/r: Ind./Solid axle
Wheels: 20″/20″ f/r.
Brakes: Disc fr/rr with ABS
Must-have feature: Power, comfort.
Tow capacity: Up to 21,700 lbs.
Fuel economy:18 mpg combined
Assembly: Flint, MI
As tested price: $55,200
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