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2k miles towing: 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 3.0L Duramax Diesel


It has been a dream of mine to take Swede, my 1962 Chevy C-10, and put it on display at the Woodward Dream Cruise in Detroit, Michigan. So, I prepped our modified 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 3.0-liter Duramax diesel for a long-distance towing trip — and learned a lot along the way.

The 18-foot trailer weighed 6,000 pounds, and the total weight with Swede was a little more than 12,000 pounds, taking into account the curb weight of the Silverado.

The trip was a little more than 2,000 miles and took me 40 hours of driving round trip, but I made it and was able to park Swede at the booth for American Racing, our wheel sponsor, and also do a short cruise down Woodward.

Here’s what I learned.

Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) usage

I was very surprised at the amount of DEF the truck consumed during the trip with a 5.4-gallon tank. I used more than 12.5 gallons for the trip, which meant I was filling up every 400 miles or so.

The extra stops to buy more DEF added time and hassle.

Fuel economy while towing with the Duramax diesel

This 3.0-liter Duramax diesel has returned some amazing fuel economy numbers in normal driving, so I expected some decent results then while towing.

On the way out, I averaged about 15 MPG going east and mostly downhill from western Nebraska.

Coming back, I averaged about 13 MPG going west, into the wind and uphill.

The biggest issue wasn’t fuel economy, it was the small 24-gallon gas tank. I had about 300 miles of range, causing me to stop way more often than I would have liked.

Oil usage on the Duramax diesel

The consumption of oil with this engine is an interesting topic and has caused a lot of debate. So, on this trip, my goal was simply to check it and report the findings.

As you can see in the video below, I used about a quart of oil each way, which is right inline with General Motor’s technical service bulletin for excessive oil usage.

Comfort & tech

Seat comfort has been a hot topic around GM vehicles for the last few years as owners and auto reviewers complain about them. I knew going in, the Silverado’s seat comfort was going to be a concern — and it was towards the end. Granted that’s 40 hours behind the wheel.

I am very glad I opted for the High Country trim, though, since I believe the higher trim levels have more comfortable seats.

Also, I had a lot of quirky issues with Apple CarPlay forcing me to restart my phone on several occasions to get it to reconnect. This was frustrating, especially since I was trying to play podcasts to pass the time.

Air suspension, other modifications

One of the better modifications I did before I left was installing the Firestone Ride-Rite air suspension system.

This slick system allows me to set the air bag’s pressure using a smartphone app. Basically, the app allows you to Bluetooth connect to a computer module. This module controls the compressor, and you can set the pressure through the app. There were a few times I came out in the morning or after a stop and noticed some sag. After a quick connection to the app, the truck was leveled, allowing for a smoother and more confident towing experience.

I also remain impressed by the look of the Silverado with the Fab Fours bumper, Warn winch, Fuel Wheels, Firestone tires, American Trucks bug guard and stubby antenna.

Plus, the Banks Power iDash inside the cabin was very helpful when monitoring regen status on the diesel.

Finally, the Decked cargo glide remains about the handiest bed modification I have ever had.

The bottom line

This trip took months of planning, and I’m thrilled at how well it went. I’m also pretty damn glad I’m home and don’t have to do that kind of a towing drive for a long, long while.

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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