Following the makeover of its light duty pickup models, Chevrolet has given its Heavy Duty lineup of trucks a thorough overhaul as well. Featuring all-new exterior styling and all-new cabs and interiors, the 2015 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD and 3500HD get the latest technology and powertrains offered by the automaker including a bi-fuel option burning gasoline and compressed natural gas (CNG).
Chevrolet recently sent out a 2015 2500HD Crew Cab 4×4 Bi-Fuel for us to test and while the new styling is applauded there is no denying the 800 lb. elephant in the room in the form of the massive CNG tank structure at the front of the cargo box. On our test model however we found this centrally located mass to actually improve ride quality of the 4×4 truck by compressing suspension components into the “sweet spot” for optimum ride and handling in this beefy pickup.
As for the loss of a couple of feet of cargo box, well, that is the tradeoff for running on a fuel that is priced about 62 percent cheaper than gasoline and burns cleaner. Of course that means you need to have a conveniently located CNG refueling center so your savings in cost don’t burn up in travel distance and time to refuel. According to calculations provide by Chevrolet, a work truck driven 26,000 miles a year should save more than $2,000 annually over gasoline based on 75 percent CNG usage in this powertrain setup.
Speaking of powertrain, the engine with bi-fuel capability at GM is the 6.0-liter V-8 Vortec rated at 360hp on gasoline and 301hp on CNG. Torque output is listed as 380 lb. ft. on gasoline and 333 lb. ft. with CNG. The engine is fitted special hardened valves and valve seats to accommodate the CNG consumption. During my week behind the wheel of the 2500HD tester I ran about 125 miles on a tank of CNG. I did not refuel it so I have no idea what the cost is to refill that tank. The gasoline fuel tank capacity is 36 gallons.
Drivers can switch between gasoline and CNG on the fly via a dash-mounted switch and each fuel tank has a gauge readout in the instrument panel along with accompanying estimated range on that tank. When the CNG tank is depleted the truck automatically switches to gasoline operation. There is a manual shutoff valve at the CNG tank on the driver’s side should the operator need to shut down the CNG system or if a leak is detected.
I drove most of my week in CNG mode and switched over to gasoline mode a few times. I found slight variations in power response with gasoline performance being a bit greater than the CNG. The truck starts each time in gasoline mode and then will switch to CNG in a short period of time if it detects that was the last mode the vehicle was being operated in. As I said earlier, the ride and handling seemed to be improved thanks to the added mass to the center of the truck but many who use their pickups and cargo boxes on a daily basis will miss that space occupied by the CNG tank structure.
The CNG tank structure rises above the cargo bed rails by a couple of inches so rearward vision is blocked by that much at the bottom of the rear glass as well. Chevy gives the bi-fuel truck a 650-mile total operating range and when equipped with the 4.10 axle ratio maximum tow rating is 13,000 pounds on gasoline or CNG and max payload for the 2500HD is 3,152 lbs.
2015 Silverado HD Attributes
All 2015 2500HD and 3500HD models offer all-new 6’6” or 8’ cargo beds that come with new CornerStep bumpers and EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgates standard. Trailering is made easier thanks to integrated cruise control and Auto Grade Braking along with standard Stabilitrak with Trailer Sway Control.
In addition to the new exterior styling, Chevrolet gives the Silverado HD lineup new interior and cab design and layout as well as added storage space. New Chevrolet MyLink offers technology advancements including OnStar with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot capability. Trim levels include Work Truck (WT), LT and LTZ with our tester arriving middle of the road in LT form. All new Silverado trucks offer Driver Alert Package with Lane Departure Warning, Forward Collision Alert, Safety Alert Seat and front and rear park assist as well as rearview camera system.
Here is the “do your own math” portion where I tell you the upcost for the bi-fuel CNG option is…$9,500. The 2015 Chevy Silverado test truck came with a base sticker of $42,655 for the Crew Cab 4×4 LT version and after the bi-fuel option and a few other add-ons final sticker came to $58,800. Obviously the CNG option is not for everyone, but for those who drive a lot (and have CNG available) the costs will offset each other after just a few years.
I like what Chevrolet has done with its latest pickup models in styling, packaging, technology and downright day-to-day driveability, and that goes for all models both light duty 1500 pickups and 2500 and 3500HD trucks and all powertrains be it gasoline, diesel, or CNG bi-fuel.