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First Drive: Chevy's 2.7L Turbocharged Four Cylinder

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2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-Turbo-100.jpg

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!"

 

2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-Turbo-113.jpg

 

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. 

 

2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-Turbo-106.jpg

 

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. 

 

2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-Turbo-104.jpg

 

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. 

 

2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-Turbo-105.jpg

 

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. 

 

2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-Turbo-103.jpg

 

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. 

 

2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-Turbo-107.jpg

 

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. 
 

2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-Turbo-102.jpg

2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-Turbo-108.jpg

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10 minutes ago, ThomCannell said:

we are certain we'll see it in other vehicles.

^^^ That's a bold statement.  I'll be watching with interest. 

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Like all products brought to market it will satisfy some of the crowd.

 

I'll stick with the V8.

 

:)

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What strikes me is how that turbo 4-banger fills up the engine compartment, must because of the turbo plumbing, intercooler, etc. I'll bet you that engine will be a nightmare to work on (read more billable labor hours for the dealership). My old 05 K1500 with a 5.3 has wayyy more room under the hood.

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4 minutes ago, garagerog said:

What strikes me is how that turbo 4-banger fills up the engine compartment, must because of the turbo plumbing, intercooler, etc. I'll bet you that engine will be a nightmare to work on (read more billable labor hours for the dealership). My old 05 K1500 with a 5.3 has wayyy more room under the hood.

The other night, I was watching some Motor Week Retro Reviews on YouTube from the late 80s and early 90s.  One of the categories they compared was access to key components for ease of maintenance for the backyard mechanic.  You don't see much mention of that in modern reviews.  Everything is a sea of plastic which obscures everything but the oil fill, and washer fluid fill.  You can't even change a blinker bulb without undoing over a dozen fasteners to get some plastic out of the way.  Sigh.

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On the Ford test drive: "We were surprised by steering pushback from smooth-road imperfections."

Isnt that putting it mildly? That's been the case with Fords for years.

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Have they shortened the nose on the 2019 trucks? Wonder why they didn't try the 4.3l engine?  They had to know that would just make people question its continued use in a truck.  Saying they ran out of time is a bit of "convenience" excuse.  They had 12 hours if they wanted only daylight tests, leads me to think the 4.3l fell short. 

 

The video is a waste of time to watch, no exhibition of fast acceleration, just plain advertising shots with no sounds from the truck at all. 

 

Not a fan of the big chrome letters on the top of the fender.  Silverado is too long a name for that location in that font size. 

 

The idea that a slow response of the downshift at low speeds is somehow now considered normal is hard to understand or believe.  Electronics should be able to make decisions faster than the hydraulics work, so just say it's the torque management trying to save the warranty claims on the driveline that cannot handle the hard driving, instead of playing it off as being the norm. 

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2 hours ago, rkj__ said:

^^^ That's a bold statement.  I'll be watching with interest. 

It's going to find it's way into the Camaro to replace the current 2.0T

Edited by qwank

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1 hour ago, qwank said:

It's going to find it's way into the Camaro to replace the current 2.0T

They were pretty clear about this being "a truck motor from the beginning."  They would have to do some serious back pedaling on that statement to drop it in a Camaro. 

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That truck looks just like a Tundra.  I'm glad I got an 18.

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My 2018 Colorado with  2.8 Duramax 4 cylinder seems to have way more room under the hood than this full size truck with a smaller 4 cyl engine.

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355 hp and 383 lb.-ft. of torque on my 5.3L V8 from 2014 vs 310 hp and 355 lb-ft on this turbo L4. 

 

I tow a travel trailer with 50 sq.ft. frontal area. Power does make a difference when towing at highway speeds, which for me is 60 mph. Will the loss of 25 hp make a difference?

 

I use a commuter car for my daily driver, so the stop and go fuel economy specs don't matter to  me. However, I applaud GM for making a truck that has the same city mpg as my 3000 lb Celebrity from 30 years ago. 

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22 hours ago, garagerog said:

What strikes me is how that turbo 4-banger fills up the engine compartment, must because of the turbo plumbing, intercooler, etc. I'll bet you that engine will be a nightmare to work on (read more billable labor hours for the dealership). My old 05 K1500 with a 5.3 has wayyy more room under the hood.

Actually, take a closer look.  I noticed right away that GM used that nice air induction system to cover the massive hole created by the smaller engine.  There's quite a large space under the air intake at the front of the engine compartment.  Quite clever in many aspects.  Make a great air intake, and use it to make the engine compartment look better.

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21 hours ago, Doug_Scott said:

Not a fan of the big chrome letters on the top of the fender.  Silverado is too long a name for that location in that font size. 

 

They do that for a "throwback" style for the new trucks.  Many of the paints used now are very similar to 40 and 50 years ago paint.  Not appealing at all.  I'm waiting for the first major style update in 2021.  That is if GM follows their norm and redoing style  the 3rd year after release.

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27 minutes ago, Nargg said:

Actually, take a closer look.  I noticed right away that GM used that nice air induction system to cover the massive hole created by the smaller engine.  There's quite a large space under the air intake at the front of the engine compartment.  Quite clever in many aspects.  Make a great air intake, and use it to make the engine compartment look better.

I was talking about the cowl to radiator support area, not fender to fender. The use of all that useless plastic looks like a GM camouflage attempt to hide the fact that there is not really a real truck engine hiding underneath. :D

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