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Thom Cannell Contributor, GM-Trucks.com November 26th, 2018 Out of the gate you have to be asking the same question as we, “A four-cylinder engine in a truck? My Silverado?" Forget that the engine is rated at 21-combined EPA fuel economy rating, similar to base V-6 engines from Ford’s (3.3.L) and Ram (3.6 with a light hybrid system). Forget that the all-new 2.7-liter engine makes more power and torque than the LV3 4.3-liter V-6 and has accumulated over one million test miles in development. Just forget it…But…Like you, we stumbled over the entire concept. For answers to what some in the industry see as a profound mistake, we turned to those directly involved in its inception since a pen was put to paper, more likely a stylus set to a digital tablet at GMs Global Propulsion Systems in Pontiac, Michigan. Read Thom's 2019 Silverado 2.7L First Drive Impressions Here Kevin Luchansky is the assistant chief engineer for the new 2.7L turbo and formerly was the group manager over all valve train and cam drives. Our interview began with his statement, “This valve train is, we believe, industry leading and industry first.” He is, of course, referring to the Tripower system of cylinder deactivation that lets this engine run on just two cylinders. We’ll get to that. A very happy and proud Kevin Luchansky, a critical member of the 2.7-liter engine team. Since pen was put to paper, development has taken approximately five years, three years since metal, and it was specifically developed as an all-new truck engine from inception. Our first question was what you’d ask, “Kevin, why a four-cylinder in a light-duty truck?” That’s a good question,” Kevin responded, “and it’s all about efficiency. A few years ago we started to look at how to make the most efficient, most fun-to-drive package we can offer our customers, … and to provide what we think the customer would want. This four-cylinder (engine) provides us with excellent torque response. On this engine torque is near instant, less than two seconds at 1,500 rpm is very, very good. In order to accomplish this, we looked at several things. The fact that you've got big cylinder displacement allows us to design the dual-volute turbo that we have, keep the (exhaust) pulses separated and allow the turbo to spool very quickly. Also, we were able to package the turbo on the four-cylinder in an ideal location. It's mounted sort of midway up on the engine and directly in the center. If you know much about engines and exhaust systems, effectively we had equal length from every cylinder to the turbo.” We asked about the competition, which is a hard fact. “This engine is the base engine on the LT, the new RST and competes with Ford’s 3.3L and Ram’s 3.6L. This engine provides a lot of torque down low, much more than the competition. We're excited for our marketing-drive events where folks can compare those applications, because this (powertrain) is significantly more powerful down low and is fun to drive because of massive torque down low.” Note that there remains confusion about this motor versus Ford’s 2.7-liter. Though of similar displacement, GM’s engine was designed as a base engine for light duty trucks. Ford’s is a premium high-performance motor. Apples and oranges. The new engine had to meet objectives in fuel economy, power, weight saving. After all, an engine program costs tens of millions of dollars. The new motor is 80 pounds lighter than the 4.3-liter V-6 engine it replaces. That motor will remain available as the base engine in Work Trucks. “We feel we are offering customers great choices with all the powertrain combinations we have. We provide six different powertrain options starting with the 4.3L V-6 and an AFM version (8 cylinders/4 cylinders) version of the 5.3L for the work truck options. Then we step up to the LT, with the 2.7-liter and 8-speed, and you can upgrade to the 5.3 with Dynamic Fuel Management where engine runs on eight cylinders down to two, whatever it needs for optimum displacement and paired with the 8-speed transmission. Then the 6.2-liter paired with the 10-speed in the upper versions like Trail Boss, and 3.0-liter diesel in some models.” One of the prime directives for the new engine was durability. “I'd like to talk about some of the hardware in the 2.7-liter, from a durability perspective. This engine is not a car engine we've taken and put a turbo on to make a lot of power. This engine was specifically designed for this application, for these cylinder pressures, a lot like a diesel engine. If you think about diesel engines, there are four-cylinder heavy-duty diesel engines available. This engine was designed similarly. If you look at the details, the hardware is similar to what you'd find in a light-duty diesel. Like the piston, which has a cast iron ring carrier that holds the top ring; that's much different than a standard naturally aspirated engine. That cast iron ring carrier can handle the high pressures that a downsized turbocharged engine produces, and makes the piston very durable.” Pistons use a cast-in iron top ring carrier for durability against high in-cylinder pressures. It’s noticeable as less reflective in the chromed display cutaway. Kevin says the program spent good money on seemingly small things, like PVD coated rings. Physical Vapor Deposition coatings are very hard coatings that reduce wear. Piston crowns in the 2.7-liter are 100-percent machined for long-term durability. “The point I want to make is that, in terms of rotating and reciprocating parts is, there was no expense spared in making this a very durable engine. For instance, this is the strongest connecting rod we've ever designed for a gas engine, a tri-metal design. It has a forged steel crankshaft, and rod and main bearings are select-fit, as seen in many light-duty diesel engines. This is for excellent wear resistance and debris resistance. There was no holding back on picking the best parts the industry has to offer.” By now you’ve likely looked at some of the power and torque charts. Torque holds at nearly 90-percent almost to the red line, with matching horsepower. “It holds on pretty good,” Kevin responded. “It makes 310 horsepower at peak, but doesn't really roll off dramatically. That makes it fun to drive, very linear.” Though its published "time-to-torque" of two seconds seems long until you count “One and Two”, it’s not much different from other engines. “Let me explain. Time to torque is an industry standard test for turbos, where you hold the engine at 1,500 rpm on a dyno and don't allow it to go up in speed. You go from zero throttle to maximum and start the count. Then you count how quickly the engine achieves 90-percent of torque. It's (a test of) how fast the turbo responds, as 1,500 rpm is where the engine spends a lot of time in its operation. The best way to think of it is, with a manual transmission and you stepped into the pedal, how fast to you get torque. Two seconds is pretty quick.” Of course this introduces questions about the dual-volute turbocharger, which is a technology sometimes seen in diesels, and with a different design than other twin-scroll turbos. “Response is all the dual-volute turbo, one Borg Warner has just released and is an industry first application. Dual-volutes are, effectively, two chambers or two separated exhaust "screws or scrolls". What you see is the integrated exhaust manifold, which does a few things for us. One is provide heat, taking heat away from the turbo when it begins to get hot. That helps us with efficiency at high loads, like towing. You can see that we've paired the center cylinders together, so cylinders two and three are paired, then cylinders one and four are paired together. What that does is make equal firing order (firing order is 1-3-4-2) so you get, basically, even pulses and they are completely separated all the way to the turbine wheel, and we've separated them as far as possible, 180° apart from one-another. That's what the industry first really is. There are dual-scroll turbos that exist in high volume, but they come together at the same point at the turbine wheel, which means you can have exhaust gas bleed over from the cylinder that's firing to the cylinder that's not firing. Keeping them separated as far as we have done provides a very strong pulse hitting the turbine blades. That's how we get the fast spooling; it's pretty neat!” Borg Warner’s dual-volute turbo uses fixed geometry instead of a variable (VGT) design. The ducts, one inside the other, wrap around concentrically with the inner channel wrapping half way around before its gasses hit the turbine wheel, the outer volute wraps an extra 180° before its stream of gas strikes the turbine. “For example, if you put your two fingers together, that's what a typical twin-scroll would resemble, each dumps into the turbo and you can have cross talk,” Kevin explained. “That reduces efficiency as cross talk reduces gas pressure to the turbo. Also, this turbo is very aerodynamically efficient at low rpm.” “What I can't stress enough is that we have focused this engine on low-speed torque delivery. You should be impressed with how much torque is available, and that gets back to efficiency and drivability. If you have lag, you'll press on the gas pedal more. If we provide instant torque the driver doesn't go as deeply into the throttle, which produces better real-world fuel economy. Our new engines are focused on low-speed torque delivery. The big four-cylinder engine arrangement allows for good gas flow separation and equal lengths to the turbo - it's harder to do that with other engine architectures. By this time we were itching to talk about the novel valve train, which GM has called Tripower (when we first heard that name we thought, Pontiac’s three two-barrel carbs?) So, Kevin, what is the new Tripower? It's simple in concept; a single pin shifts the cam's lobes to produce differing lift profiles. What we've done is, couple cylinders one and two and cylinders three and four, so the first are on one slider in this four-valve overhead cam engine. There are three lobes, the high-lift lobe, a low-lift and a no-lift lobe (Note that cylinder one is the cylinder that never de-activates so it has only low-lift lobes). Between the lobes is the shifting groove geometry. We have two pins in the actuator, one moves in one direction, the other in opposition. The way the pins work, one pin drops in and shoves over one lift, the other pin drops in and moves to the next. So, in two cam rotations we can go from high-lift to AFM cylinder de-activation. The first rotation would go from high-lift to low-lift, the next rotation would go from low-lift to AFM. It's extremely fast. We can be in AFM for fuel efficiency, and if the driver steps into the throttle we can get to high-lift within two rotations and at the same time the turbocharger is spooling. Within a few seconds the engine goes from fuel miser to making peak torque. It's really neat and seamless to the driver. The changes are imperceptible. It's simple, and robust.” Kevin points to one of two of the electronically activated fingers that move cam lobes into position for, either high-lift, low-lift, and no-lift, the later for Dynamic Fuel Management. GM is maintaining its own control over the system, the camshaft is machined in-house, “from billets of the best steel money can buy. A neat process and very robust parts and they're like jewelry when you see them on someone's desk.” Moving along, we asked about thermal management. It seems most manufacturers are using electric pumps for power management and variability. “For the 2.7, it all starts with an electric water pump. We're able to control it from basically zero pump speed to maximum. The pump is completely decoupled from the engine, which allows us to flow what the engine and other components require, including cabin heating. Turbo placement is important; the pump is down low relative to the turbo, which we'll get to. The dual-volute turbo is cooled by oil, and by water. The water is either moved by thermocycling, or pumped. Lot of people have had experience with older turbos, and our engine has both oil and water-cooling. What is neat about the four-cylinder engine and turbo placement is, you can see there is a feed line (water) that goes in to the turbo and out of the turbo and they head upward. That provides natural thermal cycling. If that's not enough, we can turn the pump on to keep the turbo cool. 80's turbos didn't have coolant, only oil, and there was lots of oil coking issues. We've designed this engine for a truck, and the devil is in the details. We paid attention to issues like cooling to drive durability.” If you’re into deep tech, or run a parts department, the pump is a brushless DC pump, and completely controlled by the ECU. Kevin says the system, the block and the head, are completely separate in their coolant systems, so, a split cooling system. “When the engine starts, there's a lot of heat in the integrated exhaust manifold. We have a pipe directly off it and we use it for exhaust heat recovery. From an efficiency standpoint, we heat the oil in the transmission and engine to get them rapidly up to operating temperature to reduce friction. What that means for the driver, it makes the engine and transmission hotter, quicker, for friction reduction, cabin heat and emissions control. Though not part of our discussion, the oil cooler is water cooled. The other thing the pump allows us to do is over-cooling unrelated to the engine speed. For instance if you're running at a light load and suddenly tip-in with the throttle and ask for a lot of torque, we can quickly force coolant at a faster speed than if the pump was attached to the crankshaft. We can overcool the cylinder head, forcing coolant into the hottest part of the head, and in turbocharged engines that reduces knock, an efficiency enabler. Remember, this is an 87-Octane engine running at 10:1 compression ratio, high for a turbocharged engine.” Injection pressure is 3,000 psi as the industry moves to higher and higher pressures. It uses mechanical (solenoid) injectors that can deliver multiple injections. There’s also a fully variable oil pump, which means it is always right-volume for the given engine condition. It's controlled by the ECU to deliver the correct oil volume under any condition. And, we confirmed that the block is high-pressure die-cast aluminum with cast-in iron liners and made in-house. The cylinder head is aluminum from a semi-permanent mold, and also made in-house. “It's all machined in-house and the engine is built in Spring Hill, Tennessee. There’s a lot of USA content in this engine.” Some of the engine's technologies focused on City fuel economy, as well as high-load conditions. “The combustion system is designed for either condition and allows us to run 87-Octane fuel. Stop-Start works well for city fuel economy, as does as Active Fuel Management and Active Thermal Management. Hidden are the friction reduction steps we've taken like the electric pumps, select-fit tri-metal bearings and a low-friction roller chain, driving the camshafts. That’s for durability, and it's relatively immune from stretching.” The engine uses driven chains to operate cams. No cogged belts for durability and long life. One other comment on durability; we run the same durability schedules as any small-block truck engine because it is a truck. Don't think we skimped on durability testing; it's as durable as the legendary small block. What we did not know prior to our interview, Kevin was the architect on the engine, putting the first lines on paper five years ago. "This was one of my ideas, and they said why don't you go and execute it." Kevin, we’re honored to know you.
(photo courtesy paratic.com) George Kennedy Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com 7/18/2016 When you think of celebrity cars, a number of high-end vehicles come to mind. Be it a Lamborghini pulling up to the red carpet or a millionaire’s grocery getter like the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen, there is a certain type of vehicle (and associated price point) that goes with the world’s most famous actors, athletes, and celebrities. But Clint Eastwood is different from your typical celebrity. Famous for playing hard-nosed characters like Dirty Harry and The Man with No Name, Eastwood owns that persona off the big screen as well. While other stars opt for Lambos and Land Rovers, he opts for a certain GMC. And while the uninitiated may want to call this a stingy or low-rent move, they clearly know nothing of the GMC Typhoon. Despite being one of the biggest automakers in the world, General Motors occasionally takes some big chances in making cars that don’t fit into the normal mold. Vehicles like the HHR, SSR, El Camino, Grand National, and Saturn Sky all didn’t really fit into their time or place. In 1991 one of GMC’s most radical ventures started hitting dealerships. It may have looked at first like and ordinary Sonoma compact pickup, but the GMC Syclone was anything but. Keen eyes will notice the lower ride height, red lettering and more street-oriented tires. Looking inside, the bucket seats with red piping and raised center console tunnel might also hint to onlookers this was no ordinary truck. Open the hood and there’d be no question you were dealing with something special. The Syclone featured a turbocharged/intercooled 4.3-liter V6 making 280 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The turbocharger was sourced from Mitsubishi (which was in still actually making fun cars at the time) and the intercooler from Garret. Power was sent through a 4-speed automatic transmission to an all-wheel drive system with a Borg Warner transfer case. It would put 35% to the front wheels and 65% to the rear. In our modern horsepower wars, where cars are routinely making upwards of 600 and even 700 horsepower from the factory, 280 hp might seem meager, but in ’91, this thing was a world beater. It could do 0-60 mph in 5.3 seconds, and blast through a quarter mile in 14.1 seconds with a crossing speed of 93 mph (figures from Car and Driver’s original testing of the Syclone.). At the time, that was Ferrari and Lamborghini-quality speed, and faster than the Corvette of the day. In 1991, only 2,995 examples of the Syclone were produced, and they were only available in black. In 1992, some were sold in a wider array of colors, and that same year, the truck was joined by a heavily modified GMC Jimmy SUV, bearing the same powertrain. The GMC Typhoon was produced from 1992 to 1993, during which 4697 examples were built. Car and Driver also tested the Typhoon, and found it slightly slower, but still an impressive 5.7-second 0-60 time and a 14.5-second quarter mile time (crossing at 95 mph). Reviewers compared the ‘Phoon to cars like the Ferrari 348, Chevrolet Corvette, and Nissan 300ZX Turbo. This put it in rarified air, and caught the eye of many performance junkies. The Typhoon came with a starting price of $29,970, which is nearly $50,000 in 2015 dollars. And Clint owned multiple models. We know because we’ve seen him driving different colors of the Typhoon. For reference, here are the color breakdowns of the Typhoon: 1992 Black on black (1262 built), Black w/ gray (130), Frost White w/ Gray (518), Apple Red w/ Gray (345), Bright Teal w/ Gray (132), Forest Green Metallic w/ Gray (82), Aspen Blue w/ Gray (28), Radar Blue w/ Radar Blue (2), and Raspberry Metallic (2). Those last two were test colors, included in the totals. 1993 Black w/ Black (1,008), Black w/ Gray (98), Frost White w/ White (532*), Frost White w/ Gray (115), Apple Red w/ Apple Red (77), Apple Red w/ Gray (101), Forest Green Metallic w/ Gray (210), Garnet Red w/ Gray (24), Royal Blue Metallic w/ Gray (35*) Based on photos, we can tell, that he has owned one that was Red and grey, the other forest green and gray. What’s great is that he really drives these things. A 2012 Los Angeles Times article references the green one: "Son of a gun," the 82-year-old muttered as he leaned over his beloved 1992 GMC Typhoon and dragged an index finger over the mysterious inch-long scratch marring the forest-green paint just above the grill. You don’t get scratches like that keeping a rare care hidden away from the world in a storage facility. You get it out in the open, driving it often. We laud Jay Leno for taking his rare cars out on the open road, but he’s got more than 100 in his massive garage. He can take any of those cars out without sweating it. But to take out such a rare, high performance variant of a GMC Jimmy? That’s the type of car enthusiast we’d like to meet. We’d just ask he leave his .44 magnum at home. Want to know more about what makes these super-trucks and super-SUVs so great? Check out this Top Gear segment from when the Syclone was new, if only to see how young Jeremy Clarkson looks:
Thom Cannell Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com November 23rd, 2018 What makes a Silverado a Silverado? The thing is, regardless of our love of V-8 power and torque; V-6 engines are the heart of the truck market. Well, Chevrolet says they are. Read Thom's 2.7L Deep Dive A few days ago, in Scottsdale, Arizona, we put this proposition to the test, logging miles in a 2019 Silverado powered by the all-new 2.7-liter designed-for-trucks engine. And, as Doug Marcaida might exclaim, "This engine will run!" Arriving on site, we were greeted by competing vehicles from Ford and Ram. The Ford was powered by its 3.3-liter V-6, the Ram by its 3.6-liter V-6. Before setting foot in a Silverado we took those competitors for a spin to see what Chevrolet—and GMC—are up against. As you know, Chevrolet has six engines available for Silverado, the older 4.3-liter motor, two versions of the venerable 5.3-liter, one with simple cylinder deactivation, the other with full Dynamic Fuel Management, the 6.2-liter gas engine and a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel. The diesel and 6.2L are paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission with stop-start, and others use 8-speed automatics. As Chevy’s business strategy encompasses High Value (Work, Custom, Custom Trail Boss), High Volume (LT, RST, LT Trail Boss) and High Feature (LTZ, High Country) segments, you can see where value customers—mostly fleets—will use the V-6. LE and RST customers will have a wide choice of engines, as will the luxury crowd. Some of that choice revolves around chrome-plated emotions. Back in January, at the launch of the new Silverado, Rich Scheer director, Exterior Design, Chevrolet Trucks said, "Chrome has become more polarizing, and more personal, than any other aspect of truck design. Some customers want no chrome at all and only body-color or blacked-out trim. Others feel a truck isn’t a truck without chrome bumper, but feel extra chrome can be too 'flashy.' Others want as much chrome as they can get." Our Red Hot RST with Jet Black seating fell into the no-chrome zone, the only bright work being on the bowtie, nameplate and bright alloy wheels. We didn’t feel the lack of chrome detracted from its handsome appearance. The all-new 2.7-liter truck engine was specifically designed for Silverado and Sierra (and we're sure several other trucks, soon), and meant to deliver value, which is defined as durability, reliability, performance and fuel economy. The 2.7L is the standard engine for High Volume LT and RST where it delivers 310 horsepower, 348 SAE-certified torques, which is 22-percent more than the 4.3L V-6. There’s no skimping on comparable power. We think one of the selling points to customers (and management) is the new engine’s EPA rated fuel economy of 20 mpg in the city, 23 on-highway and 20 mpg combined. Notice the high rating for city, where many lifestyle trucks reside. The other thing that’s easily overlooked is the essentially flat torque curve from off-idle 1,500 to 4,000. Equally neglected is that torque doesn’t drop off at 4,000, instead knocking out about 300 lb.-ft. at 5,000 rpm. In other words, it is a solid powerhouse right to the redline. Some facts we didn’t stuff into our engine story are the Direct Injection and the 10:1 compression ratio that enables. We did touch on the integrated exhaust manifold and how it has a separate in-head cooling system, and that using predictive algorithms the electric water pump can push cool water into the head as soon as you mash the throttle. We also skipped over the charge-air cooler, intercooler to some, with a very low restriction rate and ability to lower intake air temperature by 130°F. Our notes from driving the competitive vehicles reminded us that the Ford 3.3L in a XLT trim is pleasant, fairly quiet, competent, and under vigorous acceleration feels somewhat leisurely. It gets the job done—with no load. We were surprised by steering pushback from smooth-road imperfections. The Ram Big Horn had a huge display and more modern IP/IC resembling an expensive watch face. Ram has always biased its gear set for impressive launch off the line, so felt more powerful than Ford. We did note tinny controls on steering wheel. Overall, Ram Big Horn was more pleasing, though acceleration produced greater drama than Ford. We didn’t drive the current 4.3L due to time constraints, so can’t offer a head-to-head comparison. What owners will expect of this powertrain—and please think, "what happens when I step on the long black pedal"—is power, durability, power, reliability, power, and of course, power. In Phoenix downtown traffic, hitting almost every stoplight, the new 2.7L and its 8-speed moved ahead briskly, easily keeping up with traffic with only mid-throttle application. The engine just works. It's happy and strong, and on two-lane highways where passing is important it spools up quickly and does its job. You do get some engine noise of course, but with far less drama than other base engines. Outside Phoenix, on the back roads where we could do Wide Open Throttle runs, the 2.7-liter revved somewhat higher than a larger engine might, and with a different kind of engine sound that wasn’t intrusive or thrashing. If we were idling at 1,500 rpm and then accelerating briskly, we got a somewhat noticeable lag that's similar to any engine's transmission kick-down lag-time. However, if we had any pre-existing power, for instance when climbing steep grades or prepping for passing, then there was no lag between throttle and acceleration. Overall, it feels like a pleasant base engine and we are certain we'll see it in other vehicles. Official EPA for our RST was 21 Overall, 20 City, and 23 Highway with an axle ratio of 3.42. That is a standard towing ratio, not a high fuel mileage ratio attempting to bias the fuel economy figures. We’ve seen that, haven’t we? There’s no cheating, no fudging, so those EPA mileage figures are in the ballpark. Again, it's a real truck, a real truck engine. If you’re wondering about cost, our RST with 43% Made In USA parts, listed at $50,625 including $1,495 destination. We had $7,630 worth of options like Bose audio, HD rear vision camera, aluminum wheels, 10-way adjustable seats, the Safety Package of backup and forward assist, trailer hitch, etc., all the cool stuff you'll likely add to your truck. Our final thoughts, the all-new 2.7-liter should not be compared with a 6.2L V-8 that transforms a Silverado into a Corvette with a bed. However, it is an engine that will knock your socks off when thinking of the technology that makes a relatively small turbocharged engine effectively and reliably move a truck.