You might hear about the heavy-duty series of pickup trucks from the top manufacturers or see them advertised alongside the light-duty trucks, but it’s not always made explicitly clear exactly what they can do and what they’re built for. What makes them heavy-duty? Why don’t they have luxury trims? What is a Chassis Cab? Well, for the 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD Chassis Cab, there are a number of specific tasks that are designated for this heavy-duty pickup, and we’ll cover some of those traits in this article.
What Is the Silverado Chassis Cab?
The Silverado Chassis Cab is an iteration of the popular Chevy pickup that’s stripped of anything beyond the chassis and the cab – just as the name infers. It’s pretty much identical in concept to the Chevy Express Cutaway commercial van, which features just the cab and an open chassis in the back. The bare essential Silverado 3500 HD Chassis Cab comes in two formats: a regular cab and a crew cab.
Unlike most standard pickup trucks, where choosing a crew cab means sacrificing bed space, the 3500 HD Chassis Cab offers the same flatbed length for both models. But while you can seat additional people in the back of the crew cab model, the regular cab model does have some advantages as well. First, you can get an extended length flatbed for the regular cab model. Second, the lighter body of the regular cab gives it a higher max payload rating of up to 7,571 pounds instead of 7,040 pounds.
The benefit of both formats is that the rear bed is naked, so to speak. You can completely customize it the way you see fit, whether it be for utility purposes, construction purposes, towing purposes, or anything else that fits a commercial or utilitarian need. No matter what you need, the 3500 HD Chassis Cab can accommodate it.
Heavy-Duty Performance for Heavy-Duty Tasks
At the heart of the 2021 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD is a massive 6.6-liter V8 gas engine, producing up to 401 horsepower and capable of 464 pound-feet of torque. The gas-powered iteration of the 3500 HD is paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission with matching powertrain grade braking and a four-wheel anti-lock set of disc brakes with reinforced rotors provided by Duralife. This makes it quite formidable on the road as far as a gasoline-based motor vehicle is concerned.
The downside to the 6.6-liter V8 gas engine is that you’re sacrificing some measure of gas mileage and torque for affordability and convenience. However, if you need to beef up your truck’s power output and enjoy better fuel economy, then the optional 6.6-liter V8 Duramax turbo-diesel solves all of those problems. Paired up with the V8 Duramax turbo-diesel is the formidable Allison 10-speed automatic transmission, which has become a staple for the Silverado heavy-duty class since 2019.
The Duramax is classified as a turbo-diesel, producing up to 445 horsepower and a massive 910 pound-feet of torque. This makes sense given the kind of tasks that the 3500 HD Chassis Cab is designed to undertake, which isn’t just the typical snow plowing or trailer hauls. However, thanks to the reinforced suspension and powertrain options, plowing snow is certainly one of the things you could use the Silverado 3500 HD Chassis Cab for.
Axle Strength And Suspension
The chassis for the Chevy Silverado 3500 HD is specifically designed to accommodate large loads and extremely heavy configurations. In fact, the chassis manages to handle a gross vehicle weight rating of up to 14,000 pounds when fully equipped and a gross combination weight rating of up to 40,000 pounds when paired with the Duramax 6.6-liter V8 turbo-diesel engine.
The axles have been reinforced and constructed to manage whatever you can load on the bed, all designed for high-end durability. The ring gear on the diesel trucks is matched up with an additional heavy-duty locking rear differential. If you plan on taking the Silverado 3500 HD into slippery or wet terrain, such as when moving cargo through construction sites where there’s lots of mud, sand, or unpacked dirt, the locking rear differential can make a huge difference in gaining or maintaining traction.
The Duramax also comes with a standard implemented exhaust brake, so you can properly apply deceleration while carrying heavy loads during hill descents or going around slopes where you need to reduce power to the engine immediately. Additional features include trailer sway control, hill start assist, and options to change the way the torque is distributed with a towing and hauling mode. These are perfect if you need to switch between lugging equipment in the back of the utility bed or trailering other vehicles across long distances.
The real benefit of a Chassis Cab over a pickup truck is the ability to customize the truck with an upfit. An upfit is basically a specified accessory for a truck or a van, featuring utilities, functions, or housings. Some of the most common upfits for the Chevy Silverado 3500 HD include the service body add-on, the platform body, and the dump truck. However, there are many other custom upfits available depending on the upfitter you go to and what you’re looking to use the 3500 HD for.
Different upfitters provide different custom bodies for the 3500 HD Chassis Cab. Not every utility, dump truck, or service body add-on is the same. For instance, some dump truck fittings come with fold-down sides, while others only have a rear tailgate. You’ll also find some dump trucks with caged outer rims in case you’re carrying something that might shake, rattle, or requires additional vertical stabilization.
Chevy has gone out of its way to make upfitting the 3500 HD as easy as possible. On top of the large, flat bed that makes attaching different bodies simple, the truck includes some valuable additional features. The most important of these is the available Power Take Off package, which is essential if you are planning any sort of powered upfit such as a dump truck bed. The PTO allows you to power equipment using the truck’s engine instead of needing to attach an auxiliary motor.
Now even though the Chassis Cab is already versatile enough, the platform bodies serve as multi-purpose add-ons. This allows the 2021 Silverado 3500 HD to be used for virtually any task. Whatever your work demands, there is an upfit that will give you the tools you need to accomplish the job more easily than ever before.
Do Chassis Cabs Have To Be Upfitted?
Technically, you don’t have to take your Silverado 3500 HD Chassis Cab to an upfitter, and you don’t have to apply any custom upfits when ordering from GM’s fleet line. It’s entirely possible to just stick with the basic cab and chassis and call it a day. For instance, you might simply want to attach a gooseneck hitch for trailering and use it for that.
However, the beauty of a Chassis Cab is that you can alter it in any way you see fit based on the tasks at hand. The versatility of it is what makes it so inviting to business owners and commercial truckers. If you don’t like a particular upfit or want to design your own, you can either remove the previous fitting or outfit the chassis with something more to your liking. The modularity offers a certain kind of freedom that makes this particular Chevy Silverado model quite inviting for truckers who need a versatile solution for work.