Chevrolet C3500

There’s a reason that the Chevrolet C3500 is one of General Motors’ bestselling vehicles. Since it was introduced in 1988, this one-ton truck has been among the most powerful and versatile workhorses in the heavy-duty truck segment.

More on the Chevrolet C3500
Chevrolet C3500 Origins

Like other models in Chevrolet’s Class C lineup, the C3500 has two-wheel drive (as opposed to the four-wheel drive K models). From the beginning, the full-size C3500 truck was marketed for heavy duty hauling and towing tasks. Trim options have included extended and crew cabs, gas or diesel engines, and a regular axle or twin dually wheels.

While the Chevrolet C3500 has evolved to include a new chassis, interior, and an array of safety features, the overall design of the vehicle has changed relatively little. Chevy’s C3500 remains an attractive yet powerful pickup with a solid, but not overly beefy, construction. To many, the C3500 represents the classic all-American work truck.

About the Chevrolet C3500

The Chevrolet C3500, which was officially dubbed the Chevrolet Silverado 3500HD in 2001, is renowned for reliable power and performance. Ideally equipped for heavy-duty towing and hauling tasks, the latest C3500 model?the Silverado 3500HD?offers more torque than any other Chevy truck, and it is best in its class with a conventional towing capacity of 21,700 pounds with a diesel engine. Comfortable handling, a roomy cab, and a 36-gallon fuel tank make the 3500HD a logical choice for buyers performing heavy-duty work, storing tools, or commuting to a job.

Chevrolet has made a myriad of tweaks to its flagship pickup over the decades, but the C3500 still manages to balance power with functionality. It possesses a powertrain capable of smoothly hauling nearly any load yet a light enough body for fairly quick acceleration and reliable handling.

Chevrolet C3500 Features

The 2012 Chevrolet C3500, also known as the Chevy Silverado 3500HD, shares many qualities with the previous year’s model, which was voted the 2011 Motor Trend Truck of the Year. Under the hood you’ll find either a 6.0-liter V-8 engine, capable of 360 horsepower, or a 397-hp, 6.6-liter Duramax turbodiesel V-8. Base features include Z82 heavy-duty trailering equipment and a 4625-pound payload capacity. Dual rear-wheel models can handle a 7215-pound payload.

Drivers looking for a mobile office will enjoy the dual glove boxes and multiple storage compartments. Cabs provide ample room upfront, with dimensions of 41.3 inches for legs and 65.2 inches for shoulders. The extended and crew cab back seats provide average room for a full-size truck. Cargo space is 50.6 inches. Up front, a high-tech driver information center displays engine hours, fuel use, and fuel range.

The 2012 Silverado 3500HD is available in WT, LT, and LTZ trim levels. New upgrades in 2012 include heated leather front bucket seats in the LTZ trim and wireless "Chevy Wi-Fi" Internet for laptops or smartphones (available in all trim levels). A Z71 off-road package preps the truck for all terrains with features like an automatic locking rear differential and skid plate, while the Z71 appearance package offers exterior upgrades such as fog lamps and polished aluminum wheels. Four new colors were introduced in 2012: Silver Ice Metallic, Mocha Steel Metallic, Black Granite Metallic, and Graystone Metallic.

All trims are fitted with standard anti-lock brakes, but the WT and LT also feature a StabiliTrak electronic stability control system to improve stability during challenging maneuvers. Broader leaf springs in the suspension make for a smoother ride overall.

Chevrolet C3500 Evolution

The first generation (1988 to 2000 models) of one-ton Chevrolet C3500 trucks are offered in eight trim levels (including a trim called the Silverado) with two engine choices: a 5.7-liter V-8 with 185 horsepower or a Detroit Diesel-made 6.2-liter diesel V-8 with 143 horsepower. A 7.4-liter engine was added in 1989. All early trucks have three-speed automatic transmissions and 25-gallon fuel tanks. A five-speed manual transmission and 34-gallon tank were added in 1992. The only real safety feature included in the 1988 C3500 is anti-lock brakes; airbags were added in 1995.

In 2001, the name Silverado was officially attached to Chevy’s half-ton and one-ton trucks, with 3500 becoming a weight designation for the one-ton. Chevrolet redesigned the 3500 with a more rounded, modern exterior; a roomier cab; and stronger towing capability. Beginning in 2001, additions included larger wheels, standard four-wheel disc brakes, and hydro-boost brake application, which increases stability and improves braking distance. An 8.1-liter V-8 rated engine increases tow capacity to 11,400 pounds, or 15,800 pounds with a fifth-wheel hitch.

Chevy continued to increase the payload and towing capacity of the Silverado 3500, from 2007 through 2011, while also improving emissions and increasing the quality of interior build materials; previously criticized for being too basic. High-tech upgrade options include navigation systems and a power-sliding rear window. In 2011, Chevy introduced a fully-boxed frame to again increase tow capacity. By 2011, the standard C3500, now called the Silverado 3500HD, featured a 6.0-liter V-8 gas engine, 21,700 pounds of tow capacity, and an 11 percent improvement in fuel economy over prior models. Fuel economy in the 2011 averages 15/21 mpg city/highway.

Select a Chevrolet C3500 Year

2000 Chevrolet C3500

Truck, Utility/Offroad

The 2000 Chevrolet C3500 is part of the C/K Series pickup trucks manufactured by Chevrolet.

1999 Chevrolet C3500

Truck, Utility/Offroad

The 1999 Chevrolet C3500 is in its last year before the automaker consolidated all of its truck models in the Silverado line.

1998 Chevrolet C3500

Truck, Utility/Offroad

The 1998 Chevrolet C3500 is a heavy-duty pickup truck.

1997 Chevrolet C3500

Truck, Utility/Offroad

The 1997 Chevrolet C3500 classifies as a rear-drive, full-size pickup that comes in an assortment of regular and extended cab models.

1996 Chevrolet C3500

Truck, Utility/Offroad

The 1996 Chevrolet C3500 series has a heavy hauler with one ton in the bed and a highest towing capacity of nearly 14,000 pounds.

1995 Chevrolet C3500

Truck, Utility/Offroad

The 1995 Chevrolet C3500 is a large, powerful pickup truck ideal for towing or hauling cargo.