Car Buyer Labs

Car Buying Advice, Tips, and Reviews

A blue 2022 Chevy Silverado 2500HD is shown towing a red truck.

Chevy Silverado Mini-Digest: Do I Need the 1500, 2500, or 3500?

If you’re a sleeves-rolled-up kinda guy or gal who needs a capable work truck, the Chevy Silverado offers a complete line of practical features and smart options to get virtually any job done. Nonetheless, choosing the right model is paramount when you visit a Chevy Silverado dealership. When it comes to common uses for a truck, such as hauling or towing, there are distinctive differences between the Silverado 1500, 2500, and 3500 models. Depending on how demanding the jobs for your new Chevy Silverado will be, each model might be too much, too little, or just right. Let’s break out the measuring tape and see which Silverado model has the biceps to muscle through your work and play-related duties.

Understanding Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) and Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR)

Ratings such as GVWR can be a bit confusing, but it’s always wise to try and be compliant. The manufacturer gives you this as a gauge so that you can travel safely and securely without putting your truck (and yourself) in a dangerous situation. Can your truck handle a job outside its listed ceiling? Probably, but you won’t be rolling safely, and you’ll be over-stressing the truck’s powertrain, suspension, and chassis. Should you find yourself doing this on a semi-regular basis, the toll will eventually reduce the life of your truck and lead to more frequent repairs down the pike. Should you blow a tire while overloaded, things can turn ugly in a snap. Considering the significant investment you’ll be making in a new truck purchase, you’ll definitely want to drive away with the right truck for the job at hand.

When you see a GVWR figure, this represents the absolute maximum weight for that rating. And although it may seem like a hefty figure, the poundage tends to add up quickly. For example, if you have a Silverado 1500 with a GVWR of 6800 lbs, and you’re pulling some type of trailer:

  • Truck curb weight- 4600 lbs
  • Trailer tongue weight- 750 lbs
  • Trailer hitching accessories- 100 lbs
  • Two occupants- 350 lbs
  • Miscellaneous cargo- 300 lbs

That’s a total of 6,100 lbs, which falls within the rated limit. But, say you add another passenger (or two) and whatever additional baggage/cargo that comes with them, you can quickly zoom over the limit.

Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) is another important metric to help keep you safe and secure. If the same Silverado 1500 has a GCWR of 13,300, you would have a decent 7,050 lb ceiling to utilize in towing. That should easily cover most boats, a smaller enclosed or open work trailers, or items related to your field. However, the key is being sure the truck you purchase can easily handle the daily wear and tear and weekend activities you have waiting for your new pickup. Staying within your limits on a consistent basis is just smart business.

A black 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT is shown from a rear angle in the mountains.

Silverado 1500

No matter how sleek or tough your half-ton truck appears to the eye, it has limits, which is why it’s classified as “light-duty.” If you’re a basic contractor with buckets and ladders, or a landscaper pulling a small trailer, this truck will get the job done. That said, if tossing heavy items in the bed and pulling trailers with multiple large mowers is on your agenda, the Silverado 1500 is not the optimal choice. In work-truck terms, bigger and bolder is better in the long run. You probably see trucks bouncing down the road in a “wheelie” posture, and that’s a direct result of consistently over-extending the vehicle’s capabilities. You may save a little green by purchasing the light-duty model, but you’ll likely pay more for it in the end — not to mention potential safety issues you may encounter.

The 2022 Silverado 1500 now offers a 2.7L High-Output Turbo as the base engine, but if you plan on putting your truck to the test, the 5.3L V8 or the 3.0L Duramax turbo-diesel is a near no-brainer. The 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 powerplant provides 355 hp, 383 lb-ft of torque, and up to 11,200 lbs of towing capacity; the 3.0L Duramax touts 277 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque, and up to 13,300 lbs of towing. There is also a 6.2L V8 option, but it is only available on the higher trims and offers similar performance to the 3.0L Duramax.

On the other hand, if your work-related payload is generally small and your truck will also be a daily driver/grocery getter-type, the available tech, features, and options for the Silverado 1500 are quite attractive. In this scenario, the 2.7L High-Output Turbo with its 310 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque will serve you well, and its 9,500 lb max tow rating is unlikely to be a handicap. All the engines for the 2022 Silverado 1500 utilize a 10-speed automatic transmission, except for the base 2.7L Turbo, which has an 8-speed auto.

Silverado 2500HD

The 2500 model offers a much better overall foundation for a highly dependable work truck. The first distinction you’ll see that differentiates it from the Silverado 1500 are the letters “HD,” which takes capabilities up a couple of levels to “Heavy Duty.” The HD models boast a heftier suspension, more rugged transmission, and other upgrades designed to boost their performance.

The 2022 Silverado 2500 HD comes standard with the 5th-gen, small-block 6.6L V8 powerplant that offers 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque, plenty to handle most typical work-truck activities. If you need more muscle to handle the tough jobs, the available 445 hp and 910 lb-ft torque from the monster 6.6L Duramax turbo-diesel can handle it. Today’s Chevy Duramax offers convenient features such as an engine block heater, a Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) fill located right in the fuel door, and a super-rugged 10-speed Allison transmission. The truck comes in multiple cab and bed options, offering up to 18,500 lbs of towing and 3,979 lbs of payload.

A white 2022 Chevy Silverado 3500HD is shown driving on a highway through the mountains.

Silverado 3500HD

The valiant Silverado 3500 HD has many of the same basic features offered on the Silverado 2500 HD, but the available dually rear axle can handle an additional 3,463 lbs. With the base WT trim, a Regular Cab and Long Bed truck with the Duramax diesel, Trailering Package, and gooseneck hitch can max-pull an impressive 36,000 lbs. If you’re consistently towing flatbeds with large backhoes or hauling a full 3-car trailer — while navigating steep uphill and downhill grades — you simply can’t go wrong with a new Chevy Silverado 3500 HD.

Trailering Tech

One of the very best advantages of shopping for a new work-ready truck in 2021 is the amazing available trailering technology. Being able to monitor your load via video has conveniently changed the towing landscape for the better. Depending on which trim you choose, up to an industry-leading 15 different camera views are available, essentially providing a complete surround-view system that can even “see through” properly equipped trailers with the Transparent Trailer option. Hooking up your trailer has never been easier with features such as Bed View, Cargo Bed Zoom, and Bed Hitch Guidance. Overall, Silverado offers a few parking and hitch-view angles to meet just about any monitoring need.

If you haven’t been in the truck market for a few years, you are sure to be impressed by just how much technology is available in the latest pickup trucks. The updated 2022 Chevy Silverado offers incredible capability for any type of work or play. From the base model Silverado 1500 all the way up to a diesel Silverado 3500 HD, there is a Chevy truck that can meet your needs while providing you with a comfortable cabin filled with advanced features.