For those who just can’t wait for HSV to start offering the Chevrolet Silverado 2500 here in New Zealand, get a load of this, a freshly converted Midnight Edition special.
Trucks are big sellers here but the numbers retailed in little old New Zealand are but a drop in the bucket compared with those in the home of the pick-up. In the US last year, Ford moved almost 900,000 F Series trucks, with Chevrolet selling just over 585,000 of its Silverados. That’s a lot of metal being moved, especially when talking about the XL Heavy Duty trucks, like the Silverado 2500 series.
HSV recently announced it will offer these big trucks here, though their arrival is still some time off. But the trucks have already begun to arrive, like this one, recently converted by Bunce Motor Company in Auckland. It’s a 2018 Silverado 2500 HD Z71 Midnight Edition and after a six-week long RHD conversion process, Bunce has it on sale at $179,990. Well actually it’s sold now to a happy machinery engineer, but Bunce has more big 2500s from the Special Edition line-up on the way.
Chevrolet’s Special Edition range for the Silverado sees trucks styled by the factory following various themes. Among others there is the Centennial Edition to commemorate Chevrolet’s 100 years in the truck business, the Alaskan, complete with big bear graphics and a hitch for a snow plough, and the High Desert luxury model with magnetic ride dampers. The Midnight Edition adopts a black-on-black theme.
It’s based on a black Silverado 2500 with the Z71 off-road suspension package, which adds rear diff locker, underbody bash plates and hill descent control. The Silverado’s usual excess of chrome is toned right down with a new grille featuring just a few a shiny slats, while even the bowtie is blacked out, as are the bumper, headlamp surrounds, tow hooks and side mouldings. The black 18s wear Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac all-terrain tyres with ‘aggressive tread’. For 2018, the Silverado HD only receives minor updates with a new grille design for the Z71, and new graphics.
Standard on the 2500 HD is a 6.0-litre V8 but with a trifling 268kW and 515Nm, it’s not much of a donk for a serious rig like this and so most opt for the bigger, badder Duramax 6.6-litre V8 diesel. It’s a pricey upgrade at over $US10,000, but the figures swell to 332kW and perhaps the most perfect torque number ever with 1234Nm of pull.
This engine was revised for the 2017 model year boosting torque to its mammoth total, while the drivetrain was strengthened to cope, the six-speed auto, built by Allison, beefed up to take the increased torque capacity. The trucks also adopted the functional hood scoop induction system which is why there is now a big slot on the bonnet.
The cabin of this LTZ grade model is more executive than working class with perforated leather trim on the electrically-adjusted chairs up front, complete with a heating and ventilation function. The dash features a stitched soft padding and there’s GM’s eight-inch MyLink infotainment system and a wireless charge pad on the console box lid. Business bits include switchable four-wheel drive with low range, an exhaust brake, a towing mode for the transmission and a controller for the trailer brakes. There is also a trailer sway function for the ESP.
These trucks are big on all scales. This one’s over 5.8m in length but they come bigger, fitted with the eight-foot box they measure 6.3m long. This has the regular six-foot box, and believe us, it’s plenty big enough. GM quotes the weight at 3317kg for the 4×4 diesel, its payload is 1207kg, while ‘trailering’ rates are quoted as 5897kg or 6532kg with a fifth wheel set-up. With the weights involved, towing technically requires the driver to hold a Class 2 licence.
These rigs are exempt from fuel economy tests in the US, but a big truck is going to have a monumental thirst and so you reckon on consumption in the 20s, which we’d imagine would ramp up into the 30s if hauling big loads.
The engine is a monster. It’s unstressed, the pull is immense and as such, the 2500 is pretty darn quick when the accelerator meets the carpet, hitting 100km/h in just over 6.7sec. Its auto is a smooth customer considering the numbers involved, and pretty slick in terms of kick down and upshifts. The front end response isn’t bad considering the recirculating ball steering and the torsion bar suspension, but neither is it particularly sharp. Hydraulic steering now has variable assistance so it’s super light at slow speeds but has (just a tad) of added resistance at speed. However, there’s still not much in the way of feel.
Expect a bit of rumble from the tyres but they grip well considering the sizeable tread blocks. The ride is generally smooth for a truck but most of the bumps are felt, perhaps due to the off-road shockers or the fact that we didn’t have a lazy tonne in the tray.
There’s nothing odd with the driving position in this conversion and there’s enough space on the right of the steering wheel for the column shifter to work unobstructed. Its steering column only moves for height, but the pedals are electrically adjustable.
You get a commanding view of your surroundings as the giant side mirrors eliminate most blind spots and with help from the reversing camera, backing manoeuvres are eased. As you’d imagine, U-turns aren’t its forte, and you’d better have a big parking spot sussed if you’ve business to attend to.
There’s masses of space in the rear of the cabin with width to burn and acres of leg room. The seats flip up easily for added storage and there’s about as much space on offer as a large SUV’s boot. Child restraint points are on hand for Billy Bob junior’s car seat. Lowering and lifting the big tailgate is made easier with GM’s spring-loaded EZ lift system, and there’s the corner step rear bumper helping you get a leg up into the tray.
In terms of the conversion process, George Bunce says the most challenging aspect of the new trucks is the interconnected nature of the electrical systems where a problem with one feature can affect a raft of others. Bunce has invested in 3D printing technology to turn out high quality components and that ensures an accurate fit.
It’s hard to tell which bits they’ve changed over. The only telling aspect is the original driver’s footrest that’s now on the passenger side but the foot-activated park brake has been relocated to left of the steering column rather than positioned above the accelerator where it has been on previous conversions, and the offset of the mirrors wasn’t noticeable.
While the integrated nav doesn’t work, there’s the MyLink system, and CarPlay and Android Auto are a feature so nav is covered. The dash pad is restitched by hand for a quality finish, and the interior is free of any iffy fibreglass or glue smells.
For peace of mind, Bunce carries out all servicing requirements and stands by the truck with a three-year warranty.