By on June 4, 2014

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The last time I looked at my 1969 Chevrolet CST/10, it was a pile of disappointment. After reviving it and replacing a freeze plug, it proceeded to pop three more freeze plugs during warm up. Time was beginning to run out, my dad’s house had gone up to market and quickly sold. The truck was a long way away from driving out of Houston, and I needed to get it out of town. Time and money were a factor, I didn’t have time to spend money running a truck and trailer to Houston, just for the CST/10. Thankfully, three things lined up: A truck, a trailer, and a reason to drive to Houston. The truck is a customer’s, who loans the truck out in return for a few favors on the truck’s maintenance. The trailer came from my friend’s rally shop, which I moonlight at. And the Lone Star Region Porsche Club had invited me to partake in their refreshed autocross program at Houston Police Academy just before the closing deadline on my father’s house. Win-win, right? I packed the suitcase, tools and dog, hemorrhaged a gas pump to fill the truck, and blasted to Houston.

The biggest tool for this expedition was a venerable 1999 GMT800 Silverado 2500. A tried-and-true work truck, with no options other than power locks. Extended cab, with an eight foot bed – this is one of the longer wheelbase configurations, superceeded only by the four door “quad cab” with the eight foot bed.

The drivetrain is a gas 6.0L V8, the early all-cast iron version. Later 6.0′s and “LSx” truck engines moved to iron block and aluminum heads. The all-iron build of the early ones is a bit more stout against abuse. 300 hp and a flat 360 ft lb of torque work well at sea-level, providing excellent passing power and low end torque. To this day, it’s one of the friendliest gas engines in towing with its flat torque curve and excellent midrange power for highway use, and returns excellent fuel economy for a gas engine. I find the Ford 5.4 Modular and Dodge 5.7 Hemi from the GMT800 era were never quite as comfortable under load.

The transmission is a 4L80E, essentially a modernized overdrive version of the Turbo-400, the racetrack and workhorse hero for GM since the late 60′s. It also features a Tow/Haul mode, which changes the transmission mapping to ensure an easier day for the transmission and driver. Primarily, it holds third gear longer during climbs, and waits to lock the torque converter during hill climbs allowing the torque converter to torque multiply, allowing the 6.0L gasoline V8 to work harder under load. Four speed automatics seem archaic, but the gearing is well matched to for the 6.0.

Despite the air conditioning needing a recharge after a compressor replacement, the weather was pleasant enough for windows-down driving. In the GMT800′s, extended cabs do well with the rear vent windows open, which smoothly pull hot air out of the cab, negating the buffeting and noise with fully open windows. Cruise control was set at 70 mph, and three hours later, I arrived in my dad’s driveway.

trucks That weekend happened to be an impromptu Chevy truck convention. The charcoal short-cab/short-bed is my godfather’s, serving duty in Houston with my dad during his move. It’s a plane Jane Silverado 1500 half ton, with a 4.3L V6 and a 5-speed NV2500. The NV2500′s gearing allows the 4.3 to work well in its torque band, and even makes for a great short-distance tow rig with its compact dimensions and small turning radius. These positive attributes in the city detract from its appeal on longer drives. It simply doesn’t have the wheel base and weight for highway towing in adverse conditions. That said, it has towed 7 cars for me in the past six months.

Around town with the trailer unhitched, the Silverado 2500 rides well. The chassis soaks up irregular roads, never bucking and kicking -the rough and overly-stiff ride often associated with 3/4 and 1-tons is nowhere to be found. Think of something that rides like a firm Cadillac: It has the big-body teutonic feel with firm, well-controlled suspension movement. Brakes are excellent, with a firm and progressive bite from the hydraulically assisted power brakes — unique to the Silverado 2500 and 3500, as the regular Silverado 1500 uses traditional vacuum assist. This provides stronger brake boosting, and constant boost under heavy load where engine vacuum is low. The steering is well weighted, and with a direct but soft feel when centered. It’s never twitchy or sensitive, but does translate minor adjustments accurately. Sway bars thicker than Goldberg’s neck ensure that the Silverado 2500 feels well planted on the road.

And here’s the real trick of the GMT800 pickups: Supreme visibility. With a low belt line, and shorter overall height than most modern pickups, the GMT800s are very easy to drive in tight situations. Even when hitched to our 24 foot deck trailer, vehicle placement is a breeze. Interior ergonomics have always been great, for me. Everything is in excellent reach of the driver, and there’s ample storage. It’s basic GM plastics, but this 290,000 mile Silverado 2500 managed to stay pretty quiet inside. The gauge cluster is comprehensive and very easy to read. Real oil pressure, water temperature, voltage, and transmission temperature gauges flank the speedometer and tachometer. Dummy gauges, like “Cool” to “Hot” gauges you commonly see, are useless to me. They are often highly inaccurate, and wild swings in readings are not accurately counted by them, at times. With a comprehensive set of numbered gauges, a driver can spot a problem before it becomes detrimental. While mostly sharing the same cluster with the Silverado 1500 1/2 ton, the additional transmission temperature gauge for the Sivlerado 2500 and 3500 models is very much welcomed.

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But where these ingredients truly shine is on the highway with a load. Sunday, after the LSRPCA autocross, my dad and I packed up the CST/10 with boxes of spare parts, and loaded it onto the trailer.

The CST/10 weighs just under 5,000 pounds, and the trailer is about 2,400 pounds. Properly loaded, the chassis is largely unaffected by the weight. There’s more heave in the suspension over large movements, but the truck is rarely jarred by trailer movement. Braking stability is excellent “panic” stops proved stable, dead-straight, and with aggressive and effective ABS action. Everything is well-managed in poor weather, high winds and wet roads do not easily upset the Silverado 2500.

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The drive out of Houston was smooth. Thankfully, over the weekend my father and I recharged the A/C system. Life was much better after that, happily trucking along with the windows sealed tight. I took a 20 mile jog  to Cypress to visit my mother’s place, and stayed the night with a fresh start on Monday. This ended up being a good choice, as 15 miles outside of Cypress my trailer lost a wheel bearing – the hub cap had fallen off somewhere along the way. With no grease, the outer bearing fell apart, dumping the outer race and rollers on Highway 290, and quickly began to overheat. I caught it early after glancing at the mirrors to find plums of smoke coming out of the fender, and pulled aside.

Thankfully, I was only 2 miles past Hempstead, a podunk farming town off the main highway. And with an extra dose of luck, I managed to break down in front of a custom golf cart shop, which managed to have tons of space to drop trailer and backtrack to Hempstead. My dog, Quesa, happily wondered around the gravel parking lot, taking in every smell possible. Hempsted is still the old south, in the “yes sir, yes ma’am” tradition. It’s a place where you can leave a truck running while inside a parts store, to keep your dog cool, and not have to worry about anyone tampering with it.

 

10313830_10152176743973579_8805478268548247443_nBack on the highway, the Silverado 2500 is a smooth towing missile. With the cruise set at 70, we hummed down to San Marcos, where the truck would stay at a friend’s rally shop. A sleeping dog is a good sign of a smooth drive. Even with 20 mph crosswinds, the Silverado 2500 maintained a steady heading at all times. The overall fuel mileage for the entire trip, about 75% highway and 25% city, was 16.2 mpg, roughly $120. Not terrible.

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Though late, I rolled into San Marcos around sunset, and quickly unloaded the CST/10. Back to back, you can see the strong styling elements of the CST10 in the GMT800 Silverado.

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The price for one of these? Just a few grand, near me, anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000 for a fantastic and livable budget tow rig. Excellent road manners, ease of service under the hood, and low running costs — these old GMT800 trucks are one of the best used-truck buys out there. With only a minor compromise in ride softness compared to the Silverado 1500, the additional hardware is worth the 2500 nameplate and both are valued near the same. Truly the last of the modest fullsize pickups.

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71 Comments on “Tow Rig Capsule Review: 1999 GMT800 Silverado 2500 3/4 Ton...”


  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Great info, thanks. I’ve never been a GM fan but these trucks are great. At work, a utility co, we’re slowly switching out the old trucks back to Ford. There is a seldom used (I’m a primary user) 2005 Sierra 3/4 ton crew can with 8-ft bed that’ll be going to a local auction next fall. Probably go for around $5k, and I’ll definitely be bidding on that one.

  • avatar

    Great article. It’s always fun reading how much overkill you guys need to do simple tasks, God bless you!

    Now, trucks have come a long way, but a Teutonic feeling Silverado is a bit of hyperbole I imagine.

    Great read.

    • 0 avatar
      JimR

      I know people who have written off both the tow vehicle and the loaded trailer because they didn’t bring enough truck for the task. When you’re riding along at Interstate speed with another whole truck on a heavy steel trailer, throwing in a variable like a deer or a panic-stopped car makes the experience get tricky fast. The thirsty, but stable 3/4-ton Amero-truck suddenly becomes very sensible when your underpants start to pucker.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        So don’t go “Interstate speed”. The towing speed limit on the highway all over Europe is 90km/hr, just over 55mph. Plenty fast towing 7500lbs. And then you don’t need a 16mpg monster truck to tow with.

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          Europe is little bitty compared to Texas. We don’t go wimpy 55 MPH around here. We would die of old age before we got anywhere.

        • 0 avatar
          Phillip Thomas

          I’m going to give you some perspective:

          https://c2.staticflickr.com/4/3107/2741680751_f8ef54b0c4.jpg

          And my speed limits range from 70-80 mph over most of my drive.

    • 0 avatar
      Hummer

      I wouldn’t really call it overkill, the longer and heavier the truck the more stable the trailer will be. This truck has the smallest availible engine. GMT800 came with 3 great options, 6.0, 8.1 gas and 6.6 diesel.

      Sure you could pull it with a smaller vehicle that’s overloaded, but rather safe than sorry, especially when your driving 80mph pulling 7,000 lbs.

      Maybe Teutonic is a little bit much, but these trucks ride very very well.

    • 0 avatar
      Phillip Thomas

      Safety margins are your friend. The difference between the half ton and three-quarter ton is massive, and makes long distance tows much less stressful. Weight and wheelbase is your friend, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

      I’ve done 70 mph emergency lane changes in 3/4 trucks with a load, and each time the extra wheel base and weight of the truck means the trailer stays straight during the maneuver. Trouble happens when a trailer starts to push a truck around, which smaller trucks are more susceptible to.

    • 0 avatar

      I am not knocking you guys and more power too you all that you have the options and wherewithal to pull it off, but that, at least to me, I stress the ME part, is part of it. When driving a truck, towing along another huge truck, why do you have to go at the same speed as other traffic? I know traffic conditions etc., but sometimes less is more. (Again I stress to ME).

      • 0 avatar
        wstarvingteacher

        Marcelo I agree with what the commenters have said about needing larger vehicles to tow. That is especially true at freeway speed. When I used to tow a trailer with a 3/4 ton round bale of hay behind my 4cyl nissan hardbody I always wished it was bigger. However, I hope you do not moderate your opinions as they are our best insight to your part of the world.

        I expect you would have the “too light duty is too bad” attitude if you were watching a Honda cub with 30 Jerry cans bungie corded on going down the road in Saigon or Hanoi. We would have that attitude watching one of your small fwd trucks loaded for business. YMMV but I enjoy the interplay.

        • 0 avatar

          Hey wstarvingteacher, thanks for the compliment and as always you give me an insightful viewpoint that made me think. Yes, that Vietnam example would have me shaking my head. But like the question of a couple of days ago of how many horsepower was enough, there has to be a point where enough is enough. That being my main point as well as thinking that under these circumstances the need to follow the traffic should not be overwhelming. However, I do get what you and the other guys are saying. Just two ways to look at the same thing and one does not necessarily invalidate the other.

          Keep truckin’!

          • 0 avatar
            Phillip Thomas

            Here’s the catch with US pickups. A 3/4 and 1 ton pickup is the same physical size as it’s lower spec 1/2 ton brother, if you buy one of the same cab and bed configuration. So for no loss in drivability for its configuration, the drivetrain, suspension, and stronger frame are of no real negative consequence. If your trips start to turn into ~1000 mile round trips on highway alone, the massive increase in stability and capability make the drive safer, less stressful, and physically less tiring. The higher capabilities of the truck allow you to safely keep pace with traffic, but even a tow rig at 55 mph is dangerous if the driver is ignorant of the room they need for maneuvers, including braking. I’ve had to do a handful of emergency maneuvers in 3/4 ton GMT800 pickups, and have never had a scare. I simply can’t say the same about the short cab, short bed 1/2 ton truck pictured in the driveway shot. It’s light weight, it’s short, and it has average brakes. An inattentive driver could lose that truck at 60 mph, the safety margin is narrow even with modest loads — say 2700-3000 lbs cars. Like I said, it’s a fine city rig with much better maneuverability, but I won’t use it for long distance drives.

            Anything less than a typical halfton pickup (less weight, wheelbase, and suspension capability) and you’re now fighting the load during situations. It’s scary, at times. The fact that some Europeans think 5-series BMW wagons and other passenger sedans are OK at this blows my minds. Those guys don’t know what good towing is, in that sense.

      • 0 avatar
        segfault

        “…why do you have to go at the same speed as other traffic?”

        You don’t, and in fact it would be prudent to drive slower due to the added weight and stopping distance, but on the other hand, if the prevailing speed on a highway is 75 MPH, I would not want to be driving a rig that would only safely go 45 MPH. Disclaimer: I have never towed a trailer.

      • 0 avatar
        Phillip Thomas

        Because time is money, and there’s a balance for everything. 70 is not unsafe in the right conditions. Even at 70 mph, I’ll be passed by 18-wheelers.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          70 mph is OK under the right conditions and with the right trailer tires and brakes.

          But these days HD pickups have gotten so powerful that more and more of the diesel crowd are towing at 90-100 mph. If I drive out of the city on any of our interstates I will be passed by quite a few of them. I stay far away from those guys because I know otherwise it’s just a matter of time before I get either a trailer tire through my windshield or a trailer in my door panel.

          Just because your pickup is powerful enough to do something doesn’t mean it’s safe.

    • 0 avatar
      Erikstrawn

      I understand your view, and I have to assume you don’t live in the US. I am very much a proponent of smaller vehicles, and I’m certainly not a GM fanboi, but I love my ’99 GMC Suburban when it comes time to tow stuff. It’s true that it’s huge. It’s true that it gets 12mpg. But I also paid $5000 for it back in 2008, and since I don’t drive it but once a week, it’s dirt cheap for what it does. Overkill or not, there is not a better deal out there.

    • 0 avatar
      matador

      I once had to tow a 2000 Impala about 30 miles with a 1995 Ford F-150 Flareside. That’s a regular cab, short bed truck towing a trailer with brakes that apparently didn’t work (When towing is NOT a good time to find this out!)

      Never again!

      I’m looking for a 3/4 Ton tow rig, and have been looking at the GMT800. This review is one of the few posts on TTAC that seems not just entertaining to me, but is actually quite helpful!

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    Great read! I’m looking forward to your next piece, about your godfather’s short-bed 5-speed 4.3. More dogs, more Texas, and more Chevy trucks, please.

    Picking nits: I don’t think there’s anything “teutonic” about a Silverado 2500. Has anyone ever gotten out of a Silverado and said “Man, that was just like an S-class Benz or 7-series Bimmer!”

    Edit: Marcelo must have posted his “teutonic” observation while I was typing mine.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I have a 1999, just blew my 3rd compressor last night. The thing has broken more often than my supposedly unreliable Audi.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    16.2 mpg? Not bad, not bad at all. My 5.4L 2V equipped crew cab FX4 F150 manages about 15.5 when towing a car on an open trailer on mostly highway trips. Makin modern diesel guys jelly.

    • 0 avatar
      Phillip Thomas

      I also drive with fuel economy in mind. After thousands of miles of driving with them, you can study trucker’s habits and research the why. The differences in styles can mean the difference of 50-100 miles in a tank.

  • avatar
    JimR

    Buying a used domestic full-sizer is a real Goldilocks affair. Each brand and generation has its warts nested within umpteen configurations, and the e-opinions about each don’t help. The story changes based on every need and variable you bring to the table.

    My “just right” was a ’04 Silverado 2500 crew cab 6.0L. I really enjoy towing with this truck, and it shook out as my favorite after trailering with similar heavy-duty gassers. Beneath the dowdy interior and inevitable small annoyances (exhaust manifold leaks, gauge ticks) is a really capable, comfortable truck for long hauls. Trucks have ballooned since this generation, and I plan to keep mine for a very long time to avoid the issue.

  • avatar
    segfault

    I see a lot of pickups with extremely high miles for sale (and often the prices aren’t discounted enough to reflect the high miles). High miles alone don’t scare me, but the higher the miles, the more critical the previous owner’s maintenance practices become.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      True. That’s why I refuse to sell my 2004 F150 with 100,000+ on it. It is paid for and as soon as I sell it I’ll need a truck. I already know the faults and foibles of this one, sort of like a friendly old family dog.

      • 0 avatar
        matador

        This is why I put a transmission in my 1995 LeSabre with about 220k on the clock. I gambled once when I bought that car.

        My father was always terrible with maintenance. He killed a 2000 Impala, a 1989 Chevrolet Scottsdale, and a John Deere 4520 because of this.

        Trust me- maintenance is everything!

    • 0 avatar
      Phillip Thomas

      The best deals come from buying ex-fleet trucks. They’re more likely to be regularly maintained. Oil field companies are a good source of trucks.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Enjoy reading stories that take place around my home (Conroe).

    When I was trying to transition from a reliable 4.3/700r4 to a 4.3/4L60e it was a consistent rapefest. That was due mostly to the unreliable electronic block on the 4L60e. YMMV but my experience sent me to a truck with a manual transmission. That said, I think I would have loved this truck.

    Marcelo, it’s a different world. Driving in something that’s stone cold reliable is a great thing when there are a batch of miles between you and your destination.

  • avatar
    KrohmDohm

    These GMT800′s were the last great trucks before everyone decided the tops of a bed wall should be over 5 feet off the ground. But hey the look cool!

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    I frequently borrow and tow vehicles with the same exact truck configuration 3-4 times a year. With that said, towing a vehicle at 70mph is irresponsible and unsafe. Grow up OP.

    • 0 avatar
      Phillip Thomas

      No it’s not, not with modern trucks and tires.

      • 0 avatar
        johnhowington

        A 15 year old truck with almost 300,000 miles its not modern, nor safe. Your wife obviously had little say in what you did, but enjoy life while you can.

        • 0 avatar
          mikeg216

          You’ve never been to texas, know how I know?

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          John,
          Thanks for thinking about everyone’s safety and all, but maybe consider a switch to decaf, OK?

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          A wee bit of ignorance here. There is nothing inherently unsafe about a 15 year old truck, nor one with 300,000 miles. It appears to be kept in good condition, and it certainly seems to have done the job with no issues.

          Also, there’s nothing inherently unsafe about towing a car trailer at 70 mph or more if the equipment is in reasonable repair. Trailer brakes are a must.

        • 0 avatar
          Phillip Thomas

          No wife, and 65-70 mph is perfectly safe on Texas highways in good weather. Take your grievances elsewhere, your comments will have no effect on my driving.

          • 0 avatar
            johnhowington

            Actually your unsafe driving was a dead giveway when you posted a picture of your dog sleeping. Let me know what chapter that is in the safe towing manual.

          • 0 avatar
            Phillip Thomas

            To correct you, that photo was actually taken in the 2001 Silverado 1500 in the driveway photo, while stopped, even. It shares the same base interior and worked for the story.

            Please insert more change — try again.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          Was your trailer balanced, and the brakes in good shape?

          An unbalanced trailer will sway, and this is (and should be) terrifying at highway speeds.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      Yeah, you only do it 3-4 times a year, so you are not very experienced. That’s not “frequently”.

      You should probably take your own advice and go slower, if you enjoy being honked at and people making rude gestures at you. Towing evidently terrifies you. You should probably stay off the interstate.

      Leave the rest of us experienced tow people alone and go preach to someone else.

      • 0 avatar
        johnhowington

        Thanks for the free advice, and enjoy seething over my post mr experienced tow people.

        • 0 avatar
          Firestorm 500

          We experienced tow people don’t seethe.

          We’re calm as a cucumber by nature. That’s why we’re relaxed, but alert while towing at 70 MPH.

          Some more free advice: Don’t hurt yourself getting out of your rocking chair.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Is that why the Penske car trailer has a big sign that says, “Do Not Exceed 55 MPH”? Oops, I drove cross counrty with a 26 foot truck towing at its limiter. That being said, I’ve had no issues pulling a skid steer or other equipment at 70 MPH countless times over that last 10-15 years.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    The 1999-2002 GMT800s were awesome. They got ugly after that.

    I had a 2002 Tahoe that was a fantastic car. It lasted 220,000 mi before little things started falling apart.

    I loved those gauges.

    The only problem I had with it was that there was no cassette deck or aux input so I couldn’t connect my iPod.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      The iPod came out after 2002. Cassette decks were pretty much obsolete before 2002.

      For about $100 you could have switched out the head unit for an aftermarket radio with an AUX input. If that was your only problem, you were real fortunate.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I red Chev pickup reminds me of the 69 Suburban we had as a kid in the States.

    I would like to see the red pickup when it’s refurbished.

    As, for Marcello’s comment about the amount of power required when towing. Well Marcello, we are that way in Australia, with one exception.

    We call them the ‘Grey Nomads’. These people are retiree’s that cruise around Australia in campers, RVs, Caravans, etc and don’t seem to normally drive above 80-90kph.

    This is a pain in the ass where I live.

    • 0 avatar
      Firestorm 500

      In the US, those Grey Nomads have 500 Hp Turbo Diesel Pusher Motorhomes that go 80 MPH towing a Cadillac Escalade up a 6% grade.

      With no problem.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        @Firestorm 500
        Wow that’s great!!!!

        Boy, 80mph!!!!

        We have the same, it’s just they drive at 80-90kph.

        There is a difference between what a vehicle can achieve and what the person driving is actually achieving.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        No problem, except more than a few of those drivers never took anything bigger than a Panther-body out on the highway until their day of retirement…

        Of course I’m biased; my father’s a school bus driver and has driven more than a few semis in his time, and he actually knows the skill required to keep one of those behemoths under control.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Excellent review, I’d love to see more of these used car reviews and heck I’d be willing to take a stab at writing one!

    We had a regular cab 2500 of this vintage with the 6.0L as a USDA truck when I was doing undergraduate research, man that thing hauled ass on country roads! Unintentional burnouts in reverse when desperately driving out to the irrigation pump to turn it off before the whole system burst, good times.

    Impressed with the calculated towing MPG as well, I don’t think any of the new trucks coming out short of a Ram EcoDiesel could beat that! Hell my 3.4L 4Runner gets 16mpg just towing a measly 1200lb trailer loaded with a 500lb motorcycle!

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Is it just me, or do all the Big 3′s trucks from the late 90′s/early 00′s meet all the criteria for a great overall work vehicle? The last of the ’94-body Rams, the GMT800s, and the “jellybean” Fords–old enough that you can get ‘em dirty and maybe even dented, new enough that a cheap car wash and a once-over with a “shammy” is all that’s needed to get them loking nice. Parts are everywhere, and given a little maintenance, they’ll run into the 200Ks. Even MPG isn’t half bad, considering how much you can do with them.

    Maybe it’s just me. We had a ’98 F-250 light-duty (looks like an F-150, but with heavier frame and 7-lug wheels) as our “nice pickup” from 2001 to 2012, and it was my first car for a while too.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      I owned an 1997-2004 F-150 recently, and all of those statements are true.

      I didn’t particularly *like* the F-150. The load floor was too high, and it was lousy in the snow compared to my minivan. But it is a great deal and a great truck — if you actually need a truck.

      That said, I *like* my 2004 Sienna a lot better. I don’t actually need a truck, and the van is way better optimized for my handydad use-case, the suburban snowstorms we see, and my taste. I won’t hesitate to buy another truck when I need one, but not until. Also, the specific purpose that I have in mind will drive the specs, just like if I were purchasing a delivery truck.

      Everything you say about the trucks are true. It’s just that there are more things to consider.

  • avatar
    TrenchFoot

    I have a very similar GMT800: a 2001 Chevy 2500HD crew cab, long bed with the 6.0L/4L80. I bought it specifically to tow a camper (4500lbs) and agree with everything in the review. The crew cab + log bed makes it a bear to park or drive in parking lots, but as a tow rig it can’t be beat. I’ve towed my trailer with smaller SUVs that were closer to maxing out their tow ratings and I can assure you that when it comes to tow ratings, more is better.

    The front IFS soaks up bumps under all conditions, the rear is better behaved with a load on it. The powerplant combo is great at towing. While a 4 speed seems archaic today, that 4L80 is predictable and never hunts or unexpectedly downshifts. And I’d happily take that 6.0L in any car or truck. Lotsa torque and decent mileage, though I have to listen to piston slap at idle. This appears to be a common annoyance in the first gen 6.0s.

    I wish I’d held out for a 4wd version so I could confidently use it to drive to the ski hills in winter. And the front seats are terrible, they feel like old Lazy-Z-boys with the center springs removed. But overall, the value can’t be beat for a dedicated tow vehicle.

    Someone want to chime in with significant differences between the 1500HD, 2500 and 2500HD? Not just the Wikipedia summary, but real world experiences?

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      I worked for a small survey company for a year (2005) while I was a student. They had three trucks, all 2000 vintage, two 2500 with the 6.0 and one 1500HD. Regular cab, 8 foot box. They all featured custom built 3/4″ plywood shelving/divider units in the box for fully equipped survey teams. So, basically hauling around well over a thousand pounds in the box, all day, every day. The 2500 units were absolutely rock solid, and in my year never were in the shop for any unscheduled maintenance. The 1500 made 3 trips if I recall, all related to the trans and rear diff.

      I took from that if I ever need to do any SERIOUS work with a truck, I would at minimum want the 2500, as the “heavy” parts of the heavy half didn’t seem up to snuff.

      • 0 avatar
        wstarvingteacher

        The mechanic who fixed my 4L60e told me that to get a 4L80e you had to go to a 3/4 ton. The 4L60e started with the TH350-700r4. The 4L80e started with the TH400 and you couldn’t break them.

        I do not know about the 1500hd but it probably has the 4L60e. Someone will correct me I am sure if that’s incorrect. That transmission did me dirty and talked me into a manual.

        • 0 avatar
          Phillip Thomas

          The NV2500 is nearly as big of a piece of junk as the 4L60E. I would assume the 1500HD got the 4L80E, it was an HD drivetrain with a halfton frame.

      • 0 avatar
        Drzhivago138

        As far as I know, and granted, I’ve got not real-world experience: The 1500HD is identical to a 2500(non-HD), but was only available as a crew cab/short bed. 2500(non-HD) was available only as regular cab/long, extended cab/long, and extended cab/short beds, except for 2004, when GM put a 2500 badge back on the 1500HD (and took it off again the next year).
        So for 2004, no 1500HD was available, but the same model was called a 2500(non-HD), which was what it should have been in the first place.

        2500HDs were available in any year as any cab/long bed, or extended or crew/short bed. Same frame as 3500, just lighter springs/axles/etc.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Cadillac Brougham with the tow package for me, thank you very much.


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