This issue's Diesel Alternatives was written by a reader documenting the virtues of his Chevy C4500 diesel truck. Not a common truck on today's highways, the C4500 is indeed, a diesel alternative with a difference. - Editor
The '05 Chevy C4500 4x4 Kodiak Duramax Diesel seen here causes a scene everywhere it goes-driving down the road, or parked in a lot, at the race track, or in the dunes, onlookers scream, "Now that's a truck!" This truck gets the thumbs-up all day long, and who knew the International CXT 7300 4x4 had competition that is rarely mentioned?
In California, the '05 C4500 Crew Cab 4x4 that became available at the end of last year was offered by dealers in only a cab and chassis model with a 84-inch cab-to-axle wheelbase (a stock 2500HD truck with a longbed is 60 inches, cab to axle). Although dealers had various bed options available-service body, flat bed, hauler body- there was no such thing as a 10-foot truck bed.
Monroe Trucks did not offer the '05 C4500 Crew Cab 4x4 in a pickup truck version at the end of 2004. So, if you wanted to make a pickup version out of the 4x4 84-inch cab-to-axle, the only option was to buy an 8-foot dualie bed, cut 13 inches off the frame on the rear of the truck, and fabricate the bed onto the truck. This can be achieved by using a 5-3/8-inch gap frame to bed, for a proper body line. The next thing is to either stretch the dualie bed or buy another standard longbed and cut off the front 2 feet and box it in. The second option is better, since the chassis twists so much, and you can still replace dualie fenders better with a stock replacement versus some custom-stretched bed side.
The truck pictured is not finished yet, since there is still a 2-foot gap between the bed and the cab. However, there are a lot of options you could put in this spot. Note the photo of the projected, finished 10-foot bed. This truck is now available from Chevrolet through Monroe Trucks with the 60-inch cab-to-axle wheelbase as a 4x4. The opinion on this is personal preference. We think the 84-inch wheelbase looks more proportioned. We know it's long and harder to park, but it looks right. The cab on is so mammoth it looks kind of stubby with a 60-inch cab-to-axle measurement. When this truck was purchased, that is all that was available at the time, late in 2004.
Thanks to the improved '05 LLY Duramax Diesel, this C4500 4x4 can virtually go anywhere. At Glamis, in the Imperial Sand Dunes of Southern California, owner of this truck John James of Santa Ana, California, has blasted down the sand drags and has climbed to the top of Competition Hill. This truck can play off road with the best of them, but when it's time to go to work and tow, this diesel shines. Towing huge loads is like there's nothing even back there, and you don't feel like you're getting pulled around by the trailer.
This C4500 6.6L Duramax Diesel puts out 300 hp in stock condition, but add the Hot Xcelerator diesel performance package by PPE, of Fullerton, California, to the mix and this truck now puts out more than 500 ponies. PPE is now working on giving it more. Weighing in at close to 13,000 pounds, this mammoth truck ran the quarter-mile in 17.6 seconds, going 74.5 mph at the drags in Palmdale. That's not bad, considering the elevation and the sheer weight of the truck, and it's only 5 seconds off the times of the fastest 6,500-pound trucks at the track that day-and those trucks were all running Stage 4 programming, nitrous, and aftermarket exhausts.
The C4500 has a stock exhaust, Stage 2 programming, and a transmission upgrade. There is no nitrous or propane, and this big truck was pulling these times in Stage 2, which is tow mode in the programming. There are also Stages 3 and 4 in PPE's programming. The transmission upgrade makes a huge difference for how the C4500 drives. Before, it shifted slow and didn't feel firm. It shifted how you would imagine a rapid transit bus, or maybe how a fire truck would shift. It was still fast, but it just needed a little more help from the crew at PPE, who took that beastly transfer case and transmission out and added clutches, a valve body, and a triple-lock converter. That made the difference the truck needed. Now, it has a good solid shift every time you're on it, and a nice, smooth shift if you're not. The truck really is a great tow vehicle, and around town, it is quick. It's actually really fast for its size.
The stock interior has a work truck feel, but everything is in the right place, rounded and usable. The gauges are great, and we like the 3500HD feeling, just with a huge interior, roomier than you would believe until you sat in one. Monroe also offers all kinds of goodies for the truck, and air-ride seats are a must. But, six people can ride in this truck comfortably with a rear seat that folds down flat and a large fold-up console in the front bench seat. The ride is stiff when there is no tow weight on the back, and it seems the stock shocks are not adequate for the weight in the front. This is not a vehicle designed for a soft cushy ride. It's a truck-a big heavy truck. Ride down a California freeway not towing anything, and it'll bounce your soda 12 inches out of the drink holder. But, it is a great truck. It's very fast, and it off-roads with the best of them. It gets recognition on the road and in the dunes. It's just too bad it hasn't gotten the recognition it deserves in the media-until now.
SpecificationsC4500 4WDGeneral Information Base Price: $43,500Price as tested: $62,000*Engine: 6.6L DuramaxType: LLY V-8 dieselHorsepower (stock): 300 hp at 3,000 rpmDiesel Performance: PPE Hot Xcelerator Stage 2 (120 hp)Transmission: Allison (upgraded)PPESuspension/axles: Leaf spring (front/rear); (front) Dana 60, 7,000 lb; (rear)Spicer, 10,000 lbBrakes: 15-inch four-wheel disc Frame/body: Steel 10-inch weldable/steel Wheelbase: 229 inOverall Length: 334 inWidth: 95.9 inHeight: 93.4 inGVRW: 17,500 lb
*Price as tested: $43,500 plus California tax and license, PPE Hot Xcelerator performance upgrade, Kenwood CD/DVD, and navigation system.