Some games we just never grow out of. Football as a kid is just as much fun when you’re older (even if it turns from tackle to two-hand touch), a simple game of throw and catch with a baseball (or aforementioned football) will always be a fun way to pass the time when under lockdown from a global pandemic. Beyond that, some true ‘kids games’ are still fun as an adult, though we (hide and) seek them out less and less. Tag, and of course the infamous freeze tag, or very niche TV-tag all had their moments growing up. And it would seem that leap frog is a game we almost never play after elementary school. For the most part this is true — rarely do you see two 40 year old men hopping over one another on a black top outside of a school. Even if you did, the authorities might show up very quickly to end the game anyhow. But as adults, we still play this game, just in a different way. There is no better example of how we play leap frog, than the full-sized pickup truck market.
Sure, the half-ton market gets the lion’s share of the media attention. The Silverado 1500, Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 all command front and center attention — but the bigger boys play an even bigger and more rugged game. The one-ton truck level does everything the half-ton guys do, just better. Over and over we see each one jumping the last claiming to be the new champion of payload or towing or torque. And new for 2021, it seems that the Silverado 3500HD has reclaimed the max tow capacity from the Ford F-350 and Ram 3500. The new magic number is … 36,000 pounds, which is 250 pounds higher than the previous Blue Oval champ.
Now, some semantics come into play here, as always is the case with sensationalistic marketing claims. The 3500HD can tow 36,000 pounds, but it is a very specific option set that can do this: Regular-cab with a dual rear setup that is optioned out with the spectacular Duramax diesel (more on that in a minute), and the Allison 10-speed auto transmission, and also have the Work Truck trim and the NHT max-trailering option package. Got all that? Good.
In order to gain that extra oomph of towing, GM dug into their bag of engineering tricks. The front suspension was upgraded with higher rate springs, retuned shocks, and higher strength torsion bars. The steel wheels were traded out for aluminum, which directly translated to higher towing — less weight on the truck, the more it can pull. All these tweaks and tunes turned in a higher gross vehicle weight rating and a higher gross axle weight rating.
But let’s be serious, the big magic comes thanks to the monster 6.6-liter Duramax turbo-diesel V8 that produces a huge 445-horsepower and train-pulling 910 lb-ft of torque, which is then mated to an industrial strength Allison 10-speed auto. If too much power makes you squeamish, maybe try a half-ton. But if you like big, but not quite as burly, there is another 6.6-liter V8 you can consider. This engine is of the gas variety and produces 401-horsepower and a (by comparison) lackluster 464 lb-ft of torque, which pumps power through a 6-speed auto. For the record the gas engine can tow almost exactly half the weight of the diesel.
To help you out towing your yacht, or house, or whatever you are hauling, Chevy has now up to 15 different camera views thanks to eight cameras located around the 3500. Because depth perception is not always easy to tell at 65 mph, the 3500 has a trailer length indicator to give you a heads up when changing lanes if some unsuspecting Uber driver is in your massive blind spot and not paying attention. There is also a jackknife alert, a ball hitch guidance system as well as a rear trailer view with guide lines and angle indicator to help you get into, and out of tight spots without destroying anything.
For the new king of the hill, the 3500HD starts at around $37,500 and can climb another 40k depending on how many option boxes you decide to check. But as with everything else in this segment, the price is just as competitive as the towing capacity. So for now, congratulations to Chevy as they have successfully leapfrogged both Ford and Ram in the biggest, baddest truck with a 36,000 pound tow rating … that is of course unless you count the Ford F-450, which can tow 37,000 pounds, but that might be cheating and we don’t want Chevy to go telling on us. So for now, until we can bring back TV-tag, one-ton pickup truck leap frog will be plenty entertaining enough.