First Drive Review: 2011 GM Heavy Duty Pickups Summary, Part 5

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Other Notable Items

Like Ford’s Power Stroke, the Duramax uses selective catalytic reduction to scrub nitrogen oxide emissions down to no more than 0.2 grams per horsepower/hour. It’s a new EPA requirement as of Jan. 1.

The SCR system uses diesel exhaust fluid, or DEF. The urea-based solution (32.5 percent industrial urea and 67.5 percent deionized water) is held in a 5.3-gallon storage tank and injected as a fine mist into the Duramax’s hot exhaust gases. The heat turns the urea into ammonia that, when combined with a special catalytic converter, breaks down the nitrogen oxide emissions into harmless nitrogen gas and water vapor.


The DEF refill point for the Silverado HD is mounted under the hood of the engine instead of next to the diesel refueling cap on the side of the cargo box, as it is on the 2011 Super Duty.

We’re told to expect about a 5,000-mile range on DEF, but we couldn't see how much we used in our heavy towing and hauling exercises because we moved from truck to truck quickly. We’ll have to wait and see how it goes once we do an extended drive later this summer with a Sierra HD.

The GM HD pickups are also B20 biodiesel compatible, able to run on a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent conventional diesel fuel.


After sampling a wide range of 2011 GM HD pickups in varying towing and hauling situations, we’re very impressed with the changes that GM has made just three years after the last major revision to these trucks.

With towing, hauling and power ratings that surpass almost every truck in the segment, GM has gotten closer to challenging Ford’s best-selling F-Series Super Duty lineup than ever before. The new frame, ride and handling and diesel powertrain improvements have class-leading performance and are certain to work well in almost every situation we can imagine, unless you’re a swamp road logger and need a solid front axle for that extra bit of off-road capability.

We only wish that GM’s trucks received more extensive exterior makeovers and all-new high-quality interiors with modern information technology.

What We Like

  • 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 diesel and Allison six-speed automatic transmission are better than ever
  • Standard diesel exhaust brake is best in class, along with best-in-class cruise control that makes long-distance towing and hauling a snap
  • Bigger wheel brakes have best-in-class feel and add confidence while towing larger loads than ever before
  • Newly available 18-inch and 20-inch wheels
  • Confidence-instilling ride and handling characteristics on all pickup models
  • Mobile Wi-Fi is a productivity enhancer while you’re on the go
  • Trailer sway control for SRW HD pickups
  • GMC Sierra Denali HD is a classy workhorse


What We Don’t

  • Big louver on the hood of the Sierra HDs has to go. Should be a deletable feature.
  • Interior fit and finish should match the excellent driving performance
  • Revised six-speed 6L90 transmission needs more calibration
  • Lacks a rich driver information computer like Ford’s productivity screen and Ram’s in-dash LCD

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O please Alex, there was nothing "humorous" about your comments...

Just because you have no response to Tim's argument doesn't mean you can pull a fast one..

Is it just my imagination or does it appear that there ARE more Dodge and Ford pickups at large construction sites, civil projects, road projects, etc. I'm not making anything against GM here, I have owned several GM as well as Ford and Dodge vehicles in the past. I don't know if this is a perceived "quality" issue or maybe just better competitive pricing in fleet vehicles for companies that purchase in larger quantities. I particularly have no true allegiance to any "one" company as far as their products are concerned. I have had memorably good/bad with each of the BIG THREE. Just a thought, maybe I'm wrong in my observation. Certainly, in sales GM is second only to Ford, and truly not that far behind them, altogether. These GM vehicles must be going out there somewhere to the big commercial sites; unless maybe the "average Joe" likes GMC/Chevy yet industry prefers Ford or Dodge. Who knows, maybe I'm nearsighted?

Just bought a GMC Denali HD 4X4 with the 6.6 Deisel. Took it on a 5500 mile cross country hauling a dual axel bike trailer with 2 bikes. WOW! That thing is AWESOME. The engine/tranny combo is great. When we dropped the trailer to scoot round town that thing moves for a big heavy truck. Got my first speeding ticket in 10 years passing a dirt truck while pulling a trailer up a long steep hill. Didn't even feel like I was speeding. The DEF went low at around 4000 miles and showed lust short of 900 miles left. Filled it up at the next auto store and drove on. That DEF works. The exhaust pipe is still shiney clean. I Love that truck.

Well after a lifetime of being a GM truck fan i've just bought my first brand new F-250, and believe it took a lot of consideration, especially since i work for GM. IMHO GM still has a LOT of catching up to do in many areas. Sure thats nice they redid the frame and front suspension but if you think about it, its just now as strong as the competition. You'd think with the new frame, suspension etc they'd be blowing the doors off Ford but look at the numbers and there very close between the two.
As far as interiors go there is NO comparison! The 2011 SuperDuty is FAR FAR FAR superior to the sub par GM interiors, Look at the denali/slt dash, it looks like it belongs in a Buick car NOT a HD truck. The 11 SuperDuty is by far the best truck interior i've ever seen, period!
Another reason i swithed to Ford is because of the weak/cheap IFS suspension setup, ok ok so they "beefed" it up but we'll see how it holds up. IFS is fine for a light truck but on a HD truck i feel the solid front axle as found on Ford and yes even Ram HD trucks is the only way to go. And i've drove both an 11 GMC hd and an 11 F250 and the ride quality was very close when it comes to IFS vs. SFA. Personally i'd rather have a stiffer feeling heavy truck. If i want a "softer" ride i'll jump in my cadillac
I personally feel GM has been playing catchup to Ford in the heavy truck market for the last 10 years. Wheres the drive/motivation to be on top???????
If you get a chance park a new chevy/gmc next to a compariable superduty and see for yourself.

I have been wanting to get a new truck for a while now. I do like the one that I have right now, and I just got some heavy duty truck parts for it, but it would still be great to have a new truck. I still think that I have a few years on my current one though.

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