2012 Chevrolet Silverado HD Performance

$16,116 - $31,516

2012 Chevrolet Silverado HD Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado HD was new.


Performance: 8.9

No matter which engine shoppers pick, reviewers say they’ll be pleased with their ample power and a comfortable ride. Writers are impressed with the Silverado HD’s smooth ride, exhaust braking system and class-leading steering feel.

  • "Whether traversing hills, overtaking or negotiating twisty roads it seemed perfectly at home, plus at highway cruising speeds, the Duramax was quiet enough to wonder whether we were actually behind the wheel of gas truck, not a diesel.” -- AutoGuide.com
  • "The Silverado exhibited the best characteristics of both the Ford and Ram trucks, making it our favorite exhaust brake to date.” -- PickupTrucks.com
  • "Aside from the seriously quiet-running diesel and the relatively soft ride compared to our earlier experiences in heavy-duty trucks, the real revelation was the sense of control offered.” -- Popular Mechanics

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Chevy Silverado HD offers two engine options, and reviewers love both of them. The first is a 6.0-liter V8 that makes 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. Reviewers say that this engine performs admirably, and is a good option if you don’t want to fork over the extra money for the Duramax diesel. However, the 6.6-liter V8 turbodiesel engine makes 397 horsepower and 765 pound-feet of torque. Though that’s a whole lot more torque than most other vehicles on the road, both the Ford Super Duty and Ram Heavy Duty’s diesel engines make 800 pound-feet of twist. Both Silverado HD engines are paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that reviewers say is particularly smooth-shifting.

Reviewers are happy with both the gas- and diesel-powered engines, with the diesel earning the most praise because of its higher towing capacity. They also praise Chevrolet for keeping the diesel so quiet, which is a tough feat to accomplish on a type of engine that’s usually loud and unrefined.

The EPA does not rate the fuel economy of work vehicles, which includes the Silverado HD. Chevrolet estimates that the diesel engine has a highway cruising range of 680 miles, which, combined with the standard 36-gallon gas tank, would yield about 19 mpg in strictly highway driving. Note that this is not an EPA fuel economy estimate.

  • "Either engine provides confident acceleration in both around-town and highway driving. Both engines haul light loads with ease, but the diesel gets our nod for towing and heavy hauling thanks to its massive 765 pound-feet of torque. Automatic transmissions are smooth and quick to kick down for more power.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "We also like the excellent fuel economy and authoritative acceleration provided by the Duramax while keeping a tight lid on the diesel chatter.” -- Edmunds
  • "Both (engines) were excellent on the road. Their rides were surprisingly quiet, especially the diesel, which still sounds like a big rig from the outside, but in the cabin was quite civil. There was also very little black smoke jumping out of the exhaust.” -- Cars.com
  • "Seamless gear changes even under hard acceleration are now part of the HD's MO.” -- Autoblog

Handling and Braking

Reviewers gush over both the 2500HD and 3500HD when it comes to steering feel and braking. They are pleased with the diesel’s smart exhaust brake system, which Chevy says will provide greater control on declines and reduced brake pad wear. The auto press is also blown away by the steering in the Silverado HD, with some saying it’s the best in its class. Writers say that the ride is comfortable on the highway as well as on bumpy or twisty roads.

All models of the Silverado HD come standard with two-wheel drive, though four-wheel drive is available.

  • "Silverado HDs are surprisingly pleasant and manageable for such large, hefty vehicles. Straight-line stability is excellent, though Silverado's significant size and weight limit cornering speed, as does the expected big-truck body lean. Steering is well-weighted, direct, and responsive. The brakes furnish stable, relatively short stops with fine pedal feel.” -- Consumer Guide
  • “The Chevy setup not only smoothes out rough roads and terrain a little better (than Ford or Ram), but provides a confident steering response and a tighter turning circle.” -- Edmunds
  • "We found all exhibited a firm suspension, good steering ability and fairly compliant ride.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "From the outset of our drive, it was almost startling how smooth the front and rear suspensions drove over the hilly highways, especially since our truck was completely empty of a load.” -- Motor Trend
  • "Later, in back-to-back comparisons with the latest Ford and Dodge competitors, both the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado HD trucks provided the best sense of full control of steering and also brake modulation on winding roads through the mountains.” -- Popular Mechanics 

Towing and Hauling

When properly configured, the Silverado 3500 HD can tow up to 23,000 pounds and haul a maximum of 7,215 pounds. Chevrolet claims that both of these numbers are best-in-class, but the Ford Super Duty F-450, a commercial-grade truck that Ford makes available to non-commercial customers, can tow up to 24,500 pounds when properly equipped.

  • "Thanks to its torque-heavy 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V8, we found that towing a 10,000-pound trailer behind the 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD truck posed absolutely no challenge whatsoever.” -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Frankly, the big Duramax barely noticed the 1.5 tons worth of steel (in the bed), seemingly accelerating just as effortlessly as the unloaded trucks did.” -- Autoblog
  • "As we drove through more rolling hill country, it was tough to tell we had 1.5 tons in the bed. The truck rode extremely well. At one point, we went wide-open throttle from a full stop up about a 4 percent grade, and the Silverado quickly passed slower traffic and changed lanes without complaint.” -- PickupTrucks.com

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