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Can it handle a camper? 2023 Chevrolet Silverado 3.0L Duramax diesel towing

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One of the common questions I get with the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 is how does it tow? I know the fuel economy without towing is just exceptional, towing a car on a car dolly did really well, but I wanted to know how it would tow a camper? I assumed the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel towing fuel economy would be pretty good. Would I be disappointed?

For this test, I borrowed my cousins 28′ Connect lightweight camper with 5,400 pounds of dry weight. This is a pretty typical camper length and weight for a full-size truck to tow.

Chevy Silverado 3.0-liter Duramax diesel towing

Before I get into the towing experience, let’s discuss the truck. This is a 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 with the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel. It is also the High Country trim with its a refined, upscale look with wood trim, Bose speakers, and more comfortable seats compared to lower trim levels IMO. This particular model also comes with four-wheel drive low and a tow-haul mode, which is a combination not all Chevy Silverado 1500 trucks are available to order.

Before towing, we measured the rear suspension’s compression, commonly referred to as “squat,” when the tongue weight of the camper was added to the hitch. With about three inches of squat, the Silverado High Country Duramax showed a bit more compression than expected. However, this didn’t affect the overall towing experience, as the headlights were still well-aligned, and the tires didn’t exhibit any adverse effects.

The truck’s towing capabilities are easy to find thanks to Chevy’s use of a VIN specific label affixed to the truck. This truck has a Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR) of 19,000 pounds and a maximum conventional trailer towing capacity of 13,000 pounds. The camper we attached to the Silverado had a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) of 7,000 pounds, well within the truck’s towing limits.

Inside the truck, Chevrolet offers a convenient trailer mode with features such as light testing, trailer sway control, and the ability to name and save multiple trailers. It also has a Gross Combined Weight Alert, which informs the driver if the truck and trailer’s combined weight exceed the recommended limit.

While driving, the Duramax diesel engine performed smoothly and provided adequate power for towing the camper. The 10-speed automatic transmission shifted seamlessly, and the integrated exhaust brake offered additional braking power when needed. The tow-haul mode effectively adjusted the transmission’s shift points to optimize performance and control under load.

For fuel economy, I saw really good numbers with 61.6 miles driven, 11.9 MPG and used five gallons of diesel fuel. I know it used five gallons since I filled the truck before the test and afterwards. The hand calculated number was 10.5 MPG with using the same fuel pump. I did a very similar test to this with the prior generation LM2 Duramax diesel and got 12.1 MPG.

A common concern among diesel owners is the consumption of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). The Silverado High Country Duramax does use a noticeable amount of DEF, especially when towing. I used about 1/4 of a gallon of DEF in this test as best I can tell with Chevy’s use of a bar graph and not an actual number.

For oil usage, another concern for potential buyers, I didn’t use any oil on this trip. However, as GM has stated, if I were to tow more often for longer distances or drive aggressive, I would see more oil used. I have used at least 2 quarts in 5,000 miles of ownership depending on how accurate the dipstick is and if you count the extra quart they add at the factory.

During our towing test, the truck was comfortable and stable handling the camper, even at 65 MPH. The engine and transmission temperatures were steady and never caused any concerns on a mid-50 degree day. For the transmission, with the aftermarket transmission cooler, saw temps ran around 198 degrees, about 10 degrees less than the stock cooler provided.

The bottom line

the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado High Country with the Duramax diesel engine is a reliable and capable choice for towing a camper. While it did exhibit slightly more squat than anticipated, it didn’t negatively affect the overall towing experience. The truck handled the camper weight well, providing a comfortable and stable ride.

However, potential buyers should be aware of the DEF consumption and excessive oil usage at times.

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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1 Comment

  1. Scott June 4, 2023

    I have one of these engines in a trail boss, with sumo coils. I’ve towed 3 yds of rock in a dump trailer a couple of times, it’s only about 7 miles but it surprised me as I was way past the 9900 lbs rating. It even gave me a warning that I ‘might be exceeding the recommended capacity of the truck. It preformed very well, and one of my favorite engines!

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