One of the things I always pay attention to when cruising a road test car or truck is how much impact it is having on its immediate surroundings. Is anyone paying attention to it? Anyone gawking or pointing? Well the massive red truck you see before you got LOTS of looks. Maybe it was the victory red paint, maybe it was the new 2015 Chevy front end that’s about the size of a Petetbilt’s or maybe it was the gleaming, shining nature of it all, but people were looking. Lots of people were looking. Of course a pickup truck isn’t exactly a statement vehicle but this one might be. Sitting damned near the top of the GM pickup food chain, the only thing that could have been altered on this $61,425 chariot would be the addition of the one ton suspension and the dually rear axle if you wanted it. This was the most loaded truck we have had since last year’s test of the GMC 2500 Denali which also had Duramax power. That truck was $64,000 and at the time we wondered who bought these things. We still do but have a little more insight on who walks into a Chevy dealer and clicks literally ALL of the options boxes. This truck isn’t bought by the guy driving the cement mixed, it is bought by the guy who owns the company that owns the cement mixer that his employee is driving. As a business expense that can be written down and depreciated over time, these monsters make some sense. Plus they’re just plain bad ass.
I’m not normally a guy who considers a stock truck to be “huge” like some people do, but sitting at the tiller of this big boy, you did feel like a captain of industry and this truck feels absolutely monstrous as compared to a half ton variant of the same package. The elevated ride height of the three quarter ton version along with the mean hood, blunted edges of the truck, and a cab that could happily house a family of six forever all add to this feeling. The front bumper is an awesome piece and we mean that in the traditional sense of the word, as in you look at it, and express awe as to how large it is. We’re hard pressed to remember of visualize a larger hunk of chrome hanging off the front of any pickup truck from the factory…ever.
The test truck was equipped with the Z71 off-road package that adds skid plates, Rancho shocks, hill descent control, and Z71 badges/stickers all over the place. This is a $555.00 option and other than liking the looks of the badges and stuff we’re not sure it is worth the money. A truck like this is not going to be run down the trail, it is not going to be mud bogged (on purpose) and it is not going to be going rock crawling every weekend. It is too long, too wide, and way too low for any serious off roading. The Z71 stuff is not a total boy-racer type thing but it definitely doesn’t fool anyone into thinking that you’ll be off to Baja in the morning. The ride quality of the truck was good for a three quarter ton job. With its size and crazily insulated cab, it rolls over uneven roads, potholes, and whatever else comes by with little issue. You never forget that you are in a truck but at the same time your kidneys will be fine. Handling? This is a truck on narrow tires that sits pretty high, has s big diesel engine in the nose, and probably weights in at close to 7,500lbs or more. How do you think it handles? Lets just say that plan for some understeer on high speed cornering maneuvers. Also, please write us into the will before you go and do something that dumb. This is a big truck, kids….not a Bugatti.
The stars of the show here live under the hood and in the transmission tunnel. The Duramax/Allison combo shines in this big monster. With a 3.73 gear ratio and six speeds in the Ally, the truck delivered almost 20 mpg over the course of the week and trust me when I tell you that I GREATLY enjoyed the accelerative power of the engine. This thing hauls the mail for such a monster rig and it is really, really fun to lean into the pedal and make it work some. The highway mileage was well over 20 when rolling at 65 on decently level stretches. Between the linear, cruise-liner torque of the engine and the ability of the mighty Allison to harness it in such a smooth fashion, those two are a match made in heaven.
One complaint I had about the driving experience is the fact that the pedal calibration on the truck was weird. I have heard others talk about GM trucks that have the same funky setup but this was my first experience. Basically there is about a 25% free play zone when you depress the gas pedal and then the power starts coming. I don’t mean the thing is slowly accelerating in that first 25%, I mean that it is doing nothing. You really have to push the pedal to do anything that while that isn’t a big deal, it was kind of strange to get used to, kind of like finding the pickup point of a clutch you aren’t used to driving.
The cab of this truck, like the 2014 Chevrolet half ton we tested, is absolutely enormous. You’ll see some photos below where my son Tom is sitting in the back seat to demonstrate leg room and it is virtually never ending. Chevrolet has prided itself on the quietness of the cabs and they should because these things are vault-like. Road noise is virtually non-existent, the engine is barely audible (which is not BangShifty), the Bose stereo is good, the driver and passenger both roll in seats that are heated as well as air conditioned, and the storage space is such that you could hide more than a couple bodies in the compartments alone….if you cut them up right. If you are someone who works daily out of your truck, you’ll want to kiss the engineers who worked on the cab. From places to store you lap top to plugs galore, this is a workspace that beats the crap out of every cubicle ever built…by lots.
So the big question that always comes up is, “Would you buy it?” The answer at this point is that we’d drive the Ford and the Ram as well to compare, but unless either of them had some real whiz-bangery happening, the Chevy would get our vote. Chevy has a serious threat coming with the next generation Super Duty trucks from Ford so we cna only imagine what this whole scene will look like in a couple of years. If we had to buy a $60,000 truck and had the means to do it, we’d take ours just like it sits in torch red but we’d add the steeper rear gear, maybe ditch the running boards, and go for a more aggressive looking optional wheel. Other than that, this is perfection with a bed and the ability to move mountains.
WE’RE GOING TO TELL YOU THE REST OF THE STORY ABOUT THIS HUGE RED TRUCK BELOW – DURAMAX AND ALL THE OPTIONS…YES PLEASE!