Car nuts know that the big three Detroit automakers are currently engaged in a horsepower war that surpasses everything that happened during the Golden Age of American muscle cars. The engines available in today's versions are far more powerful. For example, the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 in the new ZL1 Chevy Camero produces 650 horsepower.
If you want to talk about a real power, consider the diesel engines offered in Detroit's big trucks. Torque is what moves a vehicle off the line, and diesels produce far more of it than gas engines. For example, the new turbocharged 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8 in the 2017 Chevy Silverado 2500 may "only" produce 445 horsepower, but it generates 910 foot pounds of torque — an increase of 45 from last year and 260 more than the Camero.
Now that's impressive.
Of course, the Silverado 2500 needs all that torque to get down the road, especially when it's configured with a double cab and four-wheel-drive, like the one I had in early April. It was so large, the running boards should not have been an option. In fact, it should have come with a step ladder for getting in and out. And the massive but absolutely necessary side mirrors made passing bicyclists a challenge.
But all concerns about the sheer bulk of the Silverado 2500 disappeared on the third day when the region was hit was the most violent windstorm in decades. I had to drive through town and on freeways for a couple of other assignments as debris filled the air. Seated up high in the cab, I felt totally isolated from the commotion outside. The factory lift for the AWD system gave me excellent visibility and even 40- to 60-mile-per hour gusts didn't register on the inside. And the power of the diesel transmitted through the smooth shifting Allison six-speed automatic transmission added to the feeling of invulnerability.
And it didn't hurt that when it was parked, the 2017 Silverado 2500 looks like a downsized semi. The front end is so blunt, it seems like a grade school kid's idea of a big truck. The functional air scoop on the hood and skid plate under the front bumper added to the impression. I'm sure some drivers in small cars got nervous when I filled their mirrors at red lights.
I got used to the size after a few days and found the Silverado 2500 surprisingly easy to drive in most conditions. Yes, I always had to be aware how long it was, but the cab was roomy and comfortable, the power steering was remarkably precise for a truck, and the brakes were so strong they increased my confidence as time went on. The ride was a little jiggly because the bed was empty, but not nearly as bad as the smaller trucks I grew up with. And it made quick work of even the largest potholes.
Although I had nothing serious to haul, my test Silverado 2500 was equipped for serious towing. In addition to the Allison transmission, the Duramax package included a engine exhaust brake which uses the engine and transmission to help slow it. And it came with a trailering package that included a hitch and trailer brake controller.
Still, unless you really need to be able to haul up to 8,500 pounds on a regular basis, you might want to ask if a smaller Chevy pickup (like a midsize Colorado or Silverado 1500) won't meet your needs just as well — especially considering my test LT model cost $62,080 and wasn't even fully loaded. Both are available with smaller but still stong diesel engines.
But if you need a full-size truck with more than full-size capabilities, the 2107 Chevy Silverado 2500 with the Duramax diesel engine and Allison transmission is going to be hard to beat.
2017 Chevy Silverado 2500 Diesel
Base price: $33,610
Price as tested: $62,080
Type: Full-size pickup
Engine: Turbocharged 6.6-liter V8 (445 hp, 910 lbs-ft)
Transmission: Allison 6-speed automatic
EPA estimated mileage: Not rated
Overall length: 239.5 inches with a 6'6" box
Base curb weight: 6,242 (2WD) to 6,532 (4WD) pounds
Final assembly: Flint, Michigan