Chevy 6500: The Ultimate Guide to the Specs, Features, Performance, and Pricing

chevy 6500

The Chevy 6500 has been a staple of fleet and commercial operators for decades. With its durability, customizability, and reliability, it’s easy to see why the 6500 remains popular despite newer models entering the market. This guide will explore everything you need to know about the specs, features, performance metrics, and costs of the iconic Chevy 6500.

As the successor to the reputable Chevy C6500, the 6500 upholds the tradition of dependability. The chassis cab and versatile commercial work truck provide raw strength for a wide range of vocational applications. Though newer trucks have more amenities, the 6500’s simplicity, familiarity, and cost-effectiveness ensure its staying power.

chevy 6500


The 6500 isn’t a speed demon but provides efficient power delivery for tough jobs. Its Duramax diesel engine provides up to 300hp and 660 lb-ft torque to handle demanding payloads and terrain. The Allison automatic transmission smoothly transfers power to the rear wheels.

It may not win any races, but the 6500 cruises capably at highway speeds while providing low-end grunt for work purposes. The brakes, suspension, and steering aren’t refined but offer the ruggedness required for vocational use.

Why is the Chevy 6500 so popular?

The 6500 strikes an optimal balance between capability, simplicity, and value. It eschews complex emission controls and luxury features to deliver an affordable, no-nonsense workhorse. This combination appeals strongly to fleet managers looking to minimize costs.

It offers proven power and payload capacity to handle a variety of jobs capably. The stripped-down nature reduces maintenance costs and training needs for drivers. An extensive catalog of OEM and aftermarket parts facilitates customization for specialized tasks.


Model VariationsC6500, Kodiak
HoodsConventional, Flat Roof, Aerodynamic
SuspensionLeaf Spring
Horsepower300-330 hp
Transmission (Eaton Fuller)6-speed Allison Automatic
Wheelbase159″, 179″, 199″, 219″
GVWR19,500-23,500 lb
Torque660-765 lb-ft
Sleeper SizeOEM 60-70″, Aftermarket 72″-86″
Interior Trim TypeVinyl, Rubber Flooring
Payload CapacityUp to 14,500 lb
Wheelbase Options159″, 179″, 199″, 219″
chevy 6500


The straightforward cabin prioritizes function over comfort. Large gauges and switches offer intuitive control. Durable vinyl seats and rubber floors withstand worksite abuse. Standard amenities are limited, though the 6500 can be outfitted with options including:

  • Air conditioning
  • Tilt steering wheel
  • Cruise control
  • AM/FM radio
  • Power windows/locks


The 6.6L Duramax V8 turbo diesel provides ample low-end power for the 6500’s intended duties. It utilizes direct injection and a variable geometry turbocharger to optimize performance. Key stats include:

  • 6.6 liters displacement
  • 16 valves
  • 300 to 330 horsepower
  • 660 to 765 lb-ft torque

This muscular diesel generates plenty of pulling power while delivering respectable fuel economy aided by the Allison transmission’s 6 gears. It’s built to easily cover 300,000+ miles in harsh vocational environments.


The Chevy 6500 can be outfitted with an OEM or aftermarket sleeper to create a Class 7 tractor rig. Sleepers extend up to 70 inches long to accommodate a bed, storage, and basic amenities for multi-day hauling jobs. This converts the 6500 into a cost-effective and flexible long-haul tractor.

Sleeper SizeDetails
OEM 60″Basic integrated sleeper cab, seats up to 3
OEM 70″Larger integrated sleeper, room for bed
Aftermarket 72″External sleeper, space for bed, storage
Aftermarket 78″More spacious external sleeper
Aftermarket 86″Largest external sleepers available
chevy 6500

The customizable and still-reliable Chevy 6500

A key advantage of the 6500 is the endless customizability from third-party upfitters. The stripped-chassis design allows the truck to be outfitted for:

  • Dump beds
  • Towing and recovery
  • Crane/cherry picker installation
  • Concrete mixers
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Cargo vans
  • Refrigerated transport

These vocations demand toughness and simplicity rather than luxury. The 6500 fits the bill while its familiar design eases maintenance and operation.

The successor to the Chevy 6500

The 6500 has been succeeded by the Chevy 6600 model. The 6600 incorporates contemporary features including:

  • 15-liter brake system
  • Air disk brakes
  • Optional safety features
  • Increased GVWR ratings
  • Additional wheelbase lengths

However, the venerable 6500 remains in production as a new and used purchase. Its balance of capability, affordability, and customizability ensures continued popularity in vocational fields valuing utility over cutting-edge features.

How much does a Chevy 6500 cost?

As a no-frills workhorse, the 6500 offers excellent value. New models range from $55,000 to $65,000 depending on configuration. Engine, transmission, and other upgrades can push the price higher.

Used models from private sellers and auctions often sell for under $30,000 depending on age, mileage, and condition. Additional savings come from the 6500’s lower maintenance costs compared to newer trucks.

Year RangeTandem Axle PriceTri-Axle Price
2001-2005$15,000 – $25,000$20,000 – $35,000
2006-2010$20,000 – $35,000$25,000 – $45,000
2011-2015$25,000 – $45,000$30,000 – $55,000
2016-2020$30,000 – $50,000$35,000 – $60,000


Q: What GVWR ratings are available on the 6500?

A: The 6500 offers Class 7 GVWR ratings ranging from 19,500 lb up to 23,500 lb. Higher ratings support greater payload capacities.

Q: How good is the 6500’s fuel economy?

A: Expect fuel mileage in the high single digits to low teens, averaging around 10 mpg. The efficiency is decent given the truck’s vocational purposes.

Q: What transmission options exist for the 6500?

A: All models use a 6-speed Allison automatic transmission well-matched to the diesel powerplant. No manual gearbox is offered.

Q: Can the 6500 be equipped with 4WD?

A: No – the 6500 is rear-wheel drive only. 4WD is unnecessary for its intended vocational duties.

Q: Are extended cab configurations available?

A: Yes, the 6500 can be configured as an extended cab with seating for up to 7 passengers. The extended cab models offer additional interior space.

Final Thought

The Chevy 6500 enjoys well-deserved popularity among commercial and vocational operators requiring a rugged, no-frills truck. Its balance of power, customizability, and value make it a flexible and cost-conscious option. Though it lacks the amenities of modern trucks, its reputation for reliability ensures the 6500 will roll on for years to come.