A 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD pickup, often in the dually body style, is a highly specialized tool. This is a mighty workhorse for those whose towing and hauling needs are so heavy that even a 2500 just won't cut it. Of the four 3500-series trucks on the market, the Silverado and its GMC twin are arguably the most appealing. These GM big boys provide superior vehicle control and top-notch interior quality to go along with the type of prolific towing and hauling capabilities one expects from such a heavy-duty truck.
Changes are light for the 2009 Silverado 3500HD, with only a few trim and equipment updates for the new model year. The rest of the truck remains unchanged from its total overhaul two years ago that debuted new styling, a dramatically improved interior, better vehicle control and handling, a more powerful engine lineup, a stronger frame and resulting higher payload and towing capacities -- 5,307 pounds and 16,500 pounds (with a fifth-wheel hitch), respectively. This is a truck that'll get the job done while keeping you and your passengers comfortable.
Whether you opt for the Silverado HD or its GMC Sierra twin, you can't go wrong with these heavy-duty pickups. Competitors are few. The Ram 3500 offers similar ride comfort and towing capacity, but its interior isn't as nice, and as an aging model that's about to be replaced, it lacks overall refinement. The Ford F-350 is the Silverado's closest competitor, but the GM pair offers a bit more hauling and towing capability and arguably a better interior (particularly with the Silverado LTZ). However, Ford offers the F-450, the only pickup that surpasses the 1-ton threshold and therefore the only choice for those who need to tow a truly massive 24,500 pounds. As long as you're well under that lofty requirement, we think the Silverado 3500 is a good bet.
Body Styles, Trim Levels and Options:
The 2009 Chevy Silverado 3500HD full-size pickup comes in three body styles and with two rear-axle designs. Regular, extended and crew cabs can each be had with either a single or dual rear-wheel setup (the 2WD regular cab only gets the single). All have a long bed. Regular cabs are available in base Work Truck or midlevel LT trims, while the extended and crew cabs can also be had in plush LTZ guise.
The Work Truck gets 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning (optional with regular cab), a trip computer, vinyl upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, a tilt steering wheel, OnStar, and a stereo with a CD player and satellite radio. The LT adds keyless entry, rear tinted windows, full power accessories, cloth upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Some of these additions are optional on the Work Truck.
The LTZ adds a trailering package (with an integrated trailer brake controller), alloy wheels, leather upholstery, remote engine start, an upgraded interior design with wood trim, dual-zone climate control, foglamps, power and heated front bucket seats, rear audio controls, Bluetooth, steering-wheel audio controls and a Bose speaker system. Some of these features are optional on the LT.
Other options available on the LT and LTZ include the Z71 off-road package (skid plates, off-road suspension, bigger stabilizer bar), power-folding exterior mirrors, power-folding and extending camper mirrors, the EZ Lift tailgate, a rearview camera, rear parking assist sensors, power-adjustable pedals, a rear-seat entertainment system, and a navigation system with real-time traffic.
Powertrains and Performance:
The standard engine in the Chevy Silverado 2500 is a 6.0-liter gasoline-fueled V8 making 353 horsepower and 373 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Optional is a 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8 (dubbed Duramax), which boasts 365 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. It gets a different six-speed automatic and is the go-to choice if you require a burly tow vehicle (it should also get better fuel economy). When properly equipped, the Silverado 3500 with Duramax can haul 5,300 pounds and tow 16,500 pounds (with a fifth-wheel trailer).
Rear-wheel drive is standard across the board, with four-wheel drive optional. While the Work Truck 4WD gets a traditional floor-mounted transfer case, the two other trim levels available on the Silverado 4WD get Autotrac, a knob-controlled electric transfer case that also features an automatic setting that engages 4WD when wheel slippage is detected. All but 2WD regular-cab models can have single or dual rear wheels.
Antilock disc brakes are standard, though stability control, front side and side curtain airbags are not available on the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD. A Safety package that includes power-adjustable pedals and rear park assist is optional. A rear parking camera is also available.
Interior Design and Special Features:
The Silverado 3500HD features two different interior designs depending on your trim level. The Work Truck and the LT feature a more utilitarian, trucklike dash design with an open lower center portion to accommodate the standard three-person front bench (a center console is added with the optional bucket seats). The LTZ gets the same design as GM's large, top-trim-level SUVs, which lends the cabin a classier feel, thanks to the wood and metallic accents. With either design you get very straightforward controls within relatively easy reach, although the available dual-zone climate-control buttons are small and difficult to operate with gloves.
The seats are quite comfy, although some may find the pedals placed too far apart and the tilt-only steering wheel located too close to the dash. Space in the crew cab's backseat is very generous, while most average-size adults should find the extended cab acceptable. A welcome addition for 2009 is the rearview camera, which not only helps when parking the behemoth 3500 but also makes hitching up a trailer infinitely easier.
Compared with the heavy-duty trucks from Ford and Dodge, the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 distinguishes itself with well-weighted steering that provides the driver with a greater sense of vehicle control. This is a particular benefit on tight country roads.
Although a heavy-duty pickup and its taut rear suspension will never offer a Cadillac ride, the 3500 is reasonably comfortable over long distances -- but it certainly helps to have it hitched up to something heavy. Both engines are strong, but if you can swing the price premium, the hefty performance and reasonable fuel economy of the Duramax diesel make it a very tempting choice.