Road Test Review: 2024 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD High Country Puts On A New Heavy Duty Face
Big rig styling on heavy duty trucks often walks a fine line between character and caricature. When the current-generation Chevrolet Silverado HD arrived for the 2020 model year, there was a vocal contingent who were convinced that the pickup’s ultra-upright grille and bifurcated headlights crossed into territory that was more clunky than competitive with its similarly-capable rivals from Ford and Ram.
Chevrolet was sensitive to complaints about the HD’s visage, and even more so about how uncharmingly retro its basic cabin came across to buyers. The end result is a refresh for 2024 that makes numerous changes to the Silverado HD’s overall package—as long as you make sure to order it in the right trim level, that is.
The most noticeable change is how the Silverado HD makes its first impression. Gone is the big-bar grille that not only cut the front end of the truck in half but also accentuated the slit headlights sitting at the top of the fender. In its place is a more modest, but still imposing setup that relies on tweaked headlight housings on either side and a hollowed-out horizontal crossmember to tone down the occasionally overbearing presence of the model it replaces.
Keep in mind, however, that Chevrolet hasn’t doled out the same visage across every model. For those sticking with the WT and Custom trims, the look is largely similar to the year before, swapping Bowtie for the CHEVROLET call-out found on the older grille bar, and making do with more basic headlights. It’s not until you get to the LTZ that buyers benefit from a significant shift to LED lighting elements that turn away from the hawk-eyed look towards projectors and integrated turn signals that feel more modern.
Repackaging The Package
Inside it’s a similar story, albeit with a bit better distribution. Commercial customers and contractors who stick with the base WT aren’t offered any cabin upgrades, nor are those who step up to the next-in-line Custom trim. You’ll have to spend roughly $10,000 over the entry-level truck to snag an LT (which starts at $53,000 in its cheapest, single-cab body style) if you want to sample the larger infotainment screen and gauge cluster display that are the centerpiece of the truck’s rejuvenated dashboard.
Chevrolet has essentially imported the same styling cues found on the light-duty Silverado 1500, which is what arguably should have been the game plan since day one. My High Country tester, which at just under $90k as configured is the most expensive 2500 HD trim level available, was replete with leather surfaces and shiny metal accents, and generally felt in keeping with its upscale character. At that price point, one might expect luxuries such as a massage feature to go with the multiple heating and cooling settings for each throne, but you can always position your tallest friends behind you on the truck’s deep rear bench and challenge them to rhythmically kick your seatback.
Although based on similar-but-different software, I was pleased to note that the Silverado HD didn’t give me any of the digital guff that I experienced with the also-new Colorado the previous week when it came to pairing my phone over Bluetooth. No safe mode shenanigans definitely makes for a much-improved user experience.
Upgraded Duramax Impresses
The Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD comes with a choice between a 6.6L gas-V8 and a same-displacement Duramax turbo-diesel V8 engine. Both are paired with a 10-speed Allison automatic transmission, but the diesel will set you back about $10,000 more on the options sheet.
It’s a worthy spend if you plan to do any heavy-duty hauling with your truck, especially considering that the Duramax has seen software, turbocharger, and other upgrades that boost both output as well as how that power is delivered compared to the year before. An additional 25 horses bring the total figure to 470 hp, while 65 more lb-ft of torque push the final figure to 975 lb-ft. Fuel mileage is also said to be improved, although the gains are relative when discussing an 8,000 pond truck: I saw a fairly consistent 16 mpg regardless of whether the truck was highway cruising or tackling two-lane.
The Silverado HD’s driveline avoids any torque management tricks and can dump its diesel twist right off the line if your tire budget allows for it. I was impressed by how quick the Duramax felt in nearly every situation, and the fact that the truck can run to 60 mph in less than six and a half seconds is downright terrifying given how massive a machine it truly is. It’s more than in keeping with other, similarly-sized diesel pickups, and will show the tail lights to rivals who are, on paper at least, better-endowed under the hood.
Big With A Purpose
For my purposes, the Silverado HD did exactly what I asked it to do (hauling a bed full of gear down the highway, taking a load to the local recycling center) without complaint. I never truly challenged its capabilities like I did with its Ford F-250 equivalent, but I was still impressed by how compliant the truck felt on the many miles of gravel and dirt roads that make up the network surrounding my home. This was true even with the more robust Z71 shock package installed. Combined with its revised interior, and legitimately comfortable character, and the 2500 HD (in High Country trim, at least), make for a solid choice as a do-everything option for those whose driving schedule regularly invokes the need to tug along up 22,500 pounds (when using the factory-provided fifth-wheel hitch).
For everyone else, HD trucks remain a tool in search of an application. This isn’t a commuter candidate for those who don’t tow or haul, unless intimidation is more important than ease of parking, fuel efficiency, or grace in traffic. It’s also not for anyone whose pockets aren’t deep enough to afford its considerable sticker price or tend to the thirst of its exceptional Duramax motor. When expertly wielded, the right tool can be a thing of beauty. The 2024 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD might not slide on the esthetic definition of that term, but it more than makes up for it in practice.