Thom Cannel: Article & Photos
Zane Merva: Photos
June 24th, 2019
This could be the shortest Chevrolet truck review in history.
If that's what you came for, you can stop reading right now. But if you're curious...
Why is the 3.0L Duramax so awesome? Because unless you’re building a custom lifestyle truck or simply using it for basic tasks you’ll be no doubt upgrade to more powerful engine when you buy your next Silverado or Sierra. That means either the famous 6.2-liter V-8 gas engine or this all-new 3.0L Duramax Turbo-diesel 3.0-liter diesel with its 277 HP, 460 torques and 9,300 pound towing capacity.
If your truck is a lifestyle statement—and we have zero problems with that—this may not apply to you. That is, unless you’re from Texas where a better engine is as necessary as church on Thursday, guns, and football. Our vote, as the upgrade cost is the same $2,495 as for the 6.2L gas engine, is the new 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder diesel. It has the same torque, better fuel economy (we expect) and even has a sweet engine exhaust sound.
Chevrolet invited GM-Trucks to Bend, Oregon to test the 2020 Silverado and it’s new diesel engine. Don’t worry if you just bought a 2019 Silverado—there are no huge differences for 2020; the truck was only released a few months ago. So, for 2020 Chevy adds adaptive cruise control and the amazing 15-view camera technology that includes “invisible trailer” from the Heavy Duty segment. We covered that.
For 2020 Chevrolet offers a diversity of engines. There are, in addition to the new diesel, the 310 horsepower / 348 lb-ft 2.7-liter DI turbocharged I-4 with an 8-speed transmission, and two legendary small block gas engines, the 5.3L and 6.2L.
In Model Year 2020 the 5.3L makes 355 horsepower (265 kW) and 383 lb-ft of torque (519 Nm) coupled to an 8-speed transmission, the 6.2L is SAE-certified to deliver 420 HP (313 kW) and 460 lb-ft of torque (623 Nm). It is paired with GM’s 10-speed transmission, which couples perfectly with GM’s DFM cylinder deactivation system. Hey, you don’t think you can run on two cylinders with an ordinary transmission, do you?
According to Chevrolet the new diesel motor will be available in LT, RST, LTZ and High Country trim levels. The 5.3L gas engine is standard in LTZ and High Country models and available on LT, RST and Trail Boss. The 6.2L gas gasser is available more trim levels for 2020. Both engines will be built at General Motors’ Tonawanda Engine Plant in Buffalo, New York.” Not mentioned is the carryover 4.3L engine aimed at fleet owners.
We arrived in Oregon to 80°F heat and blue skies, then were fed and watered, and set off on different tasks. We can’t talk about the HD trucks and their massive towing capacity for a couple of days. We were offered an incredibly deep-dive into the new engine, and a mileage competition featuring the new 3.0-liter diesel engine to start, however. Winning a comp is cool, but not realistic when you have a limited time with a vehicle in the first place. That said, other journalists did take the time to compete and Sunday’s winning mileage was in the 34-36 mpg range and then blown away by Monday’s 46 mpg. That, friends, is some serious hypermiling! However we still do not have official EPA certified mileage. That’s “To Come”.
If you haven’t read much about the 3.0, here’s a modestly deep dive into its guts. First, the whole engine is state-of-the-art, aluminum head and block with thin steel cylinder sleeves and seven main bearings for the crankshaft. Combustion processes were among the driving forces underpinning design theory, so the cylinder head is essentially flat and the bowl-shaped pistons have zero relief cuts for the valves. That was important for efficiency.
Simulation, and single-cylinder engine studies showed that having very vertical valves would not only allow a simpler bowl shape in the pistons, but that very shape would allow inlet-generated swirl to be maximized at every point. Swirl is produced and governed by dual intake runners feeding each cylinder. Oh, the ceramic glow plugs gave GM the highest compression ratio consistent with power and emissions, as well as allowing ignition to -22°F without a block heater. FYI, most of the engine development and engineering, as well as primary calibration took place in Turin, Italy. That’s GM’s center of diesel excellence.
To ensure a quiet engine, emissions that more than meet standards, and deliver fuel economy, GM finalized an injection pressure of 2,500 bar (36,500 psi) through solenoid injectors capable of up to ten injections per combustion cycle. Early injections are primarily used to build in-cylinder pressure smoothly to abate diesel clatter. Later injections can be used for power and to keep the catalyst working within specified temperatures (those injections, sometimes caused by a catalyst cooled by highway driving, do negatively affect fuel economy but maintain emissions specifications).
There’s a single close-coupled VGT turbo, for now, which indicates a possibility for later development of greater power and torque. Packaging to the “chemical factory” is as tight as could be manufactured.
What we really haven’t talked about is the decision for an I-6 engine, versus a V-type. Obviously, six cylinders are longer than three, or even four. This slightly under-square engine delivers two things that a V design does not: smoothness and less side force. A V-type engine necessarily produces some side thrust, which is one of the reasons that Ford’s new 3.0L is made of CGI or Compacted Graphite Iron. In contrast, by using a robust, deep skirt design, Chevrolet and other divisions have an all-aluminum block, saving weight. Some of the extra length is minimized by packaging chain driven shafts at the rear.
If you’ve never driven, or better yet heard an inline six, they’re smooth, likely the smoothest engine you’ve driven and with a unique sound. Both delivered by six evenly spaced exhaust pulses. The last I-6 engine GM produced was the gasoline Atlas LL8/Vortec 4200 used in Chevy Trailblazer, GMC Envoy, Buick Rainier, Olds Bravada, Isuzu Ascender and Saab 9-7X. ) Note that Detroit Diesel has produced an inline-6 since 1980 that displaces 11-14L.)
Before highway driving, we did a walk-around. The GM-exclusive Durabed is impressive, and hard-coated for scuff resistance. Chevrolet says it’s made up of several sections instead of 1-2 deep drawn pressings. This provides owners with more cargo volume. As Chevrolet (and GMC) will tell you, it’s made of several varieties of High Strength Steels, so they claim it’s more dent and penetration-resistant than Ford’s aluminum bed. Inside the bed are 12 fixed tie-down points and nine moveable points, which has been a big hit with owners. Plus there’s that available power up/down tailgate, a power outlet and task lighting. A somewhat unnoticed feature is relocating the bed lights to flank the CHMSL on the roof edge. A couple of other things that are important are the corner steps and bed steps. They’re made for size 13 steel-toed boots and hold up to 500 pounds.
We then drove the truck on the highway and on two-lane roads. Our first impression was of the powerful engine sound, followed by impressive torque. Electric motor type torque. Smooth power available at the lowest of engine speeds.
Engine noise isn’t intrusive but like the torque, off the line it lets you know it’s there. However, with an open hood you hardly know it’s a diesel, it is that quiet. Even a random enthusiast who had been researching the new 3.0L Duramax and stopped us at a boat launch had to ask if it was a Diesel. This is simply unlike the larger Duramax and any other light duty diesel on the market.
Something we’ll get into in our Heavy Duty story is the reason there’s a 10-speed transmission. If you think about the power band of a diesel engine, here delivering all of its 460 lb-ft of torque at just 1,500 rpm and holding strong to about 4,000 rpm, that’s significantly different than the power band of a gas engine. Thus, the 10-speed maximizes power and fuel economy—and every automaker has to deliver fuel economy, low CO2 and clean emissions.
We have much more to come. For instance, we need to see if tow ratings are realistic, if its EPA fuel economy beats Ford’s 30Highway/22City/25Combined and how well it lives up to the Find New Roads slogan in real world driving under every condition we can discover.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
Ram revealed the specs for its updated EcoDiesel V6 engine in the 1500 this week. The big news is 480 ft-lb of torque in a light-duty truck. Towing is also very impressive with towing up to 12,560 pounds. Finally, Ram says that it expects to also have class-leading fuel economy from its 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine-equipped truck.
"The new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel is America’s most powerful half-ton diesel pickup, following up on Ram’s Heavy Duty torque leadership and achieving what no other manufacturer has, with up to 480 lb.-ft. of torque in a 3.0-liter engine,” said Reid Bigland, Head of Ram Brand. “The all-new EcoDiesel engine and our eTorque mild-hybrid powertrain technologies deliver the highest available fuel efficiency for our Ram 1500 customers.”
Ram says it will also pair its diesel with the only air suspension in the class. Being able to lower the truck at highway speeds will likely help with fuel efficiency. Ram's new 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 uses dual overhead camshafts (DOHC) with four valves per cylinder and a 60-degree angle between the cylinder banks. The block is cast compacted graphite iron, which Ram says provides strength to dampen vibrations, but weighs less than grey cast iron. Ram uses a compacted graphite iron bedplate to add rigidity to the block. The new EcoDiesel has a forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods for strength and durability. Ram's aluminum alloy pistons are cooled on the underside via oil jets. Heat-treated aluminum cylinder heads have individual bearing caps to reduce friction and minimize NVH. The engine's chain-driven overhead camshafts employ roller-finger followers.
Ram pointed to these specific upgrades as significant:
-A new-generation water-cooled turbocharger with variable geometry turbine (VGT) increases efficiency and responsiveness during transient conditions
-Redesigned cylinder head intake ports improve swirl and flow, increasing performance and fuel economy
-The exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system design has been updated to a dual loop (low and high pressure) system. The added low-pressure circulation system draws gases after the diesel particulate filter, thus minimizing turbocharger energy losses, which increases fuel economy
-The compression ratio has been optimized to 16.0:1 from 16.5:1
-High-pressure (29,000 psi/2,000 bar) direct-injection fuel injector nozzles were redesigned to match the newly designed and optimized combustion chamber
-Lightweight aluminum alloy pistons were completely redesigned to include thinner rings and low-friction coating on the pin and side skirts to reduce losses
-NVH has been reduced by offsetting piston pin by 0.3 millimeters from the centerline; thus, minimizing mechanical noises
-The lower portion of the two-piece oil sump uses a lightweight sandwiched polymer/metal material that further reduces NVH
-The dual vacuum pump system uses electric and a new mechanical low-friction pump with new blades that improve overall system efficiency
Ram will not build this engine in the United States. Rather, it will be produced FCA Cento facility in Ferrara, Italy and imported. Watch for price and fuel efficiency new in about two months. The engine will be available in Ram trucks starting this early winter of 2019 unless it is delayed for emissions testing or other reasons.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
Ram revealed a new 60-40 swing away split tailgate this week. Ram wasted no time in throwing out a zinger to the GMC folks, saying, "Unlike other multi-element tailgates, the Ram multifunction tailgate is trailer-friendly and does not require that the trailer and hitch be removed before opening." What Ram is apparently referring to is possible interference with the new GMC six-position MultiPro tailgate. Some owners have reported that the GMC tailgate can strike the trailer ball or the top of the trailer when it is dropped to its lowest position.
“The Ram multifunction tailgate is intuitive to operate and owners will find it immediately useful,” said Reid Bigland, Head of Ram Brand – FCA. “Combined with Ram’s class-exclusive RamBox feature and new tailgate step, we’re taking Ram’s cargo management and storage to the next level.”
Ram's new multifunction tailgate has four different configurations including:
Open left door only
Open right door only
Open both doors.
Each door swings open 88 degrees and access can be further enhanced via a retractable center-mounted step option.
February 5th, 2019
2019 - Last North American International Auto Show - as we've known it.
Filled with sprawling displays of gleaming sheet metal and enough spotlights to illuminate the International Space Station, this was the final chilly, Detroit Auto Show in January. 2019 lacked the European media-hustle excitement, which left extra space for other exhibitors.
Next year the Grand Experiment begins, moving show dates to June and using the Cobo Center rooftop and multiple venues spread throughout downtown Detroit to showcase the best in cars, trucks, crossovers, SUVs, SAVs, mobility pods and platforms. 2020 will be interesting, to say the least.
We've done the General Motors story, this is the rest of the best.
Ford kicked off the show, bringing their all-new 2020 Explorer to an early debut at Ford Field. Hmm, plenty of space under the dome! At Cobo Center, there were the new Explorer, new Mustang GT500, infused with a supercharged V-8 making over 700 horsepower with a 0-60 time a tick over three seconds, and the latest Ford F-150 Raptor, all brightly colored for maximum exposure. Interestingly, even on limited-attendance media days the Ford layout felt cramped.
The 2020 Explorer will use EcoBoost turbo power, either a 2.3L base engine or more powerful 3.0L depending on your needs and your credit union's scorecard. It's a rear-wheel drive platform, with AWD available. To me there's not a substantial change anywhere except the front-end, which is more like Fusion or Focus, which is not a bad thing.
FCA's RAM division challenged its cross-town rivals with an all-new RAM Heavy Duty 2500 and RAM Heavy Duty 3500 which the brand says, "Out-powers, out-tows and out-hauls every other pickup available." Why? It's thanks to an update Cummins 6.7-liter high output turbo-diesel that breaks the 1,000 lb.-ft. torque barrier for standard pickups. If you want all of those torques, you'll have to order a two-wheel drive model equipped with proper equipment. Then your Ram will be rated to tow 35,100 pounds and deliver a 7,680-pound payload. Ram's media briefing was all about axles, transfer cases, suspension, brakes and transmissions, AKA gear-head heaven and real news.
GAC, will likely the first Chinese automaker to deliver cars to the USA, and have multiple dealerships (we discount supercars and tiny e-cars.) They brought a non-concept concept called ENTRANZE. It seats 3+2+2 in a pod-like configuration. Of course the vehicle is electric, and a version of this shape/size/configuration will be released by GAC later in 2019 for the Chinese market. GAC will soon open a North American headquarters in California. They also displayed a full lineup of sedans and small-and-larger crossovers; these guys are for real, even if we don’t find most of their current lineup visually appealing.
Ford and VW held a teleconference announcing a partnership to collaborate on a products and technologies. Likely, VW wants to take advantage of Ford's truck expertise while Ford could rapidly benefit from Volkswagen's advanced electric platforms and autonomous vehicle research. How this shakes out is yet unknown and details are conspicuously-but not unexpectedly-absent.
The handsome Lincoln Continental 80th Anniversary Coach Door Edition, designed to remind us of Lincoln's heritage with center-opening doors and a luxury interior featuring Alcantara, was one of the best-looking vehicles on the floor. And the Continental delivers more than a sophisticated exterior, as under the hood you can option a hybrid version of the twin-turbo EcoBoost 3.0-liter V-6. By combining the EcoBoost with hybrid technology, it produces a respectable 450 horsepower and 600 lb.-ft. of torque. Get into line with a bank draft, only 80 will be produced.
Arguably the most-anticipated introduction was Toyota's new Supra. The 2020 GR Supra is the first global model developed by Toyota GAZOO Racing, the international umbrella for Toyota's global motorsport program. Built on a chassis shared with BMW's Z4, Supra comes in two models, Base and Premium, with a third Launch Edition based on the Premium limited to 1,500 cars. Those get signatures from Akio Toyoda on carbon fiber for display in your office. However, the base model looks like the better bet. It has the same 300-hp. engine, grippy Alcantara seats (versus leather) and a low-low entry price of $50,920. Car-loving journalists agreed, it has better looks and more impact than Margot Robbie or Gal Gadot.
Lexus brought it's RC F Track Edition, which has been upgraded and with a refreshed body. Meant for performance enthusiasts, add a set of tires and extra brake pads and you, too, Can't Drive 55, or have a good weekend of racing. Also, the company displayed a "concept" LC Convertible, a very sexy and meant-for-sunshine-weekend-weather touring. It awaits a decision on soft top or folding hardtop; well, that's what we think.
For family buyers, Volkswagen introduced a new Passat, which could look a bit more like the Arteon concept, in our opinion. However, Passats are meant for driving, not display, so look for aggressive pricing and "German Engineering" adverts to follow. Also look for significantly upgraded features added to the brands already-good ride and handling. As their Atlas CUV has great lane keeping and VW's excellent telematics system, we expect Passat to be well received by couples and families.
Nothing says Auto Show like CONCEPT CARS. Real concepts, even if they somewhat foreshadow the styling of future product. No production-intent cut lines, no perfect rubber gaskets with part numbers. Real. For several years Nissan and Infiniti have provided winners, 2019 was no exception.
The Infiniti QX Inspiration is, of course an electrified vehicle that hints at Infiniti's upcoming EV architecture. There is, according to the company, intent to build, though likely with conventional doors to meet safety regulations. Like other EVs, there's a "skateboard" modular base with e-motors on each axle, which generates all-wheel drive. The QX Inspiration took three of EyesOn Design's awards— Best Concept Vehicle, Best Designed Interior and Best Use of Color, Graphics or Materials
Nissan brought the IM purely electric sedan with its odd 2+1+2 seating arrangement. Nissan says IM stands for "Intelligent Mobility". With power estimated at 483 horsepower and 590 lb.-ft. of torque, the battery pack extends range to 380 miles, eliminating any range anxiety. It’s low, has a fantastic paint job, and a video-only instrument/infotainment panel sweeping across the dashboard.
Subaru, home of family cars and the wonderful Subaru WRX and WRX STI boy-racers, brought to the USA, for the first time, the STI S209, a full-on racecar wrapped into an STI body. Subaru Technica International is Subaru's race shop and skunk works. Everything is hand-built or hand-assembled, including the 200 S209's that will be sent to the USA. While 341 horsepower from the boxer engine might sound small, competitors around the world have been looking at the taillights in multiple racing venues.
Kia brought its new Telluride three-row crossover to Detroit, putting it on display and on an interior hill-climb track, the first at NAIAS. Appearance is sportier than the soon-to-come Hyundai Palisade, and Kia's theme echoed that with an active lifestyle display complete with ski racks and kayaks.
Hyundai showed an enhancement to their N Line of performance vehicles. Available to you and me Really Soon, the Elantra GT N Line combines sportier trim elements with refinements to the chassis and powertrain. Think "BMW M that I can afford." Their first N Line racecar, the Veloster N TCR, will compete in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race, beginning with the 2019 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
This one hurts, but we saw it coming a mile away. In a year that GM has introduced a great new generation of trucks, Ram seems to be taking home the lion's share of awards. The latest is Motor Trend's Truck of the Year Award. Before you assume Motor Trend is biased toward one brand or another, let us tell you we looked back and GM trucks have won the TOTY award in 2016, 2015, 2011, 2008, 2002, 2001, 1999, 1996, 1995 and 1979. The long list and varied winners indicted to us that what Motor Trend primarily looks for is a change agent type of vehicle. Something that stands out from the norm, not necessarily just the best overall brand of trucks.
MT says about this year's award, "Our 2019 Truck of the Year should give pause to prospective Blue Oval loyalists (or buyers of any truck, for that matter) because there isn't a truck out there that so precisely hits the diverse needs of the segment better than the 2019 Ram 1500." This particular introduction to the award hit home for the GM-Trucks.com staff. Last week, we attended an event set up by Ram for the New England Auto Press Association. Ram's outstanding support team brought out the new 2019 Ram Limited and also a North Edition (a Big Horn Trim). Ram did this so that they could show us the North Edition, which was developed after Ram specifically listened to the needs of truck testers who live in the snow belt. Folts like Zane and Josh at GM-Trucks.com who live in the white stuff and own truck and know trucks.
Contrast this with GM skipping the Texas Truck Rodeo this year. How could they skip the biggest truck testing event in North America in a year they launch an all-new truck? You have to play in order to win, as they say. GM's support for the media and testers seems to have diminished in the recent few years to the point where members looking for trucks to test are pretty much on their own and need to rent or test drive vehicles at dealerships. Meanwhile, Ford has provided NEMPA with two Raptors in the past six months.
Enough inside baseball. Ram is deserving of praise for many reasons. One is its air suspension ride. Simply put, it is the most comfortable truck ride we have ever experienced. Next up, novel engine options that add both torque and fuel economy. Finally, the ginormous infotainment screen available in the Ram. In a class of vehicles where everything from the HVAC knobs to the tires are big for the sake of being big, Ram seems to get that bigger is better. And the Ram is a looker too. "Best-in-class: sophisticated without going over the top," editor-in-chief of MT Ed Loh says. "I love the styling," road test editor Chris Walton said, eyeing the Ram 1500 Rebel. "It's like the Viper of Rams." MT's Features Editor, Scott Evans, said. "This is a luxury interior. Look at this wood! This leather! The metal, stitching, design, attention to detail! The leather on the grab handles! Cadillac could learn a thing or two by spending an afternoon in this cabin."
We are GM fans here, and we are not saying we agree with MT's pick, but the reasons that other brands are taking home so many trophies are apparent to us from both a product and also a support perspective. Ram deserves congratulations for hitting both sides of the coin.
You can check out the full Motor Trend story on the Ram 1500 Truck of the Year win at this link.
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