In day to day life it’s easy to walk or drive right past things, or have them drive right past you, and not give them a second thought. With the state of the world today — pandemic, politics, Netflix, you name it, it’s hard to give much attention to some of the little things we see, and don’t see, throughout the day. For example, when, if ever, was the last time you saw a school bus picking up or dropping off kids, or a modern motor home cruising down the interstate, or even a tow or dump truck and wondered who made that truck? Or thought about what kind of power they make to be able to haul and move such massive amounts of weight? Probably never. But when you start to dive into the specifics of a truck like the Chevrolet Silverado 5500, you have a brand new level of respect for those trucks you might have otherwise barely even noticed.
Available as a regular or crew cab, the Chevrolet Silverado 5500 begins with an incredibly strong single-piece frame rail that not only helps with longevity of effectiveness, but also allows for a substantial amount of cab-to-axle ranges to make it more able to accommodate a greater amount of upfit-options. Furthering that upfit usefulness, Chevy has given the 5500 what it calls Power Takeoff (PTO), which allows access to the transmission from either side for auxiliary uses.
Power comes from a massive 6.6-liter turbodiesel iron-block aluminum head V8 that makes a sizable 350-horsepower and monstrous 700 pound-feet of torque. That power is then funneled through an Allison close-ratio six-speed transmission that has double overdrive, and sends that power to the locking rear axle to help keep things moving along even if the terrain gets rough.
Access to that big motor is made much easier thanks to a forward-tilting engine cover, while the front wheels are able to cut up to 50 degrees which not only makes turning easier, it also allows space to access some of those otherwise impossible-to-reach places for maintenance. Also very accessible is the battery box located just below the driver’s door, and the diesel exhaust fluid fill point sits just behind the front wheel to make all the basic day-to-day as easy as it can be, because owners and drivers of these trucks already have enough to think about without adding, “where is my DEF tank?” to the mix.
Inside the Chevrolet Silverado 5500 allows its driver to sit high without feeling like they’re floating, while the downward sloping hood allows better visibility and the many auxiliary switches (13 in total available) are literally within fingers reach. The ride itself is much quieter than you might expect thanks in no small part to triple-sealed doors. An available Chevrolet Infotainment System allows for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to help keep all things digital in order, as well as an available 4G LTE Wi-Fi Hotspot to make sure everyone on board can stay connected.
In terms of sheer power numbers, the GVWR of the 5500 tops out at 19,500 pounds, while the GCWR can get up to a whopping 37,000 pounds depending on what rear axle ratio and rating you decide on.
All in all, the Chevrolet Silverado 5500 is a truck that is ready, willing and able to transform into just about anything you might need a truck for whether that is an ambulance, motor home, shuttle bus, school bus, EMS vehicle or snow plow. It doesn’t matter, because the powerful engine and calm ride will help you succeed in whatever mode of transportation you are involved in. So, the next time you see one of these vehicles pass you on the highway, you might stop and smile, because now you know how much work that work truck can really do.