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.
Come visit the Chevy booth! There's lots of room to walk around!
Executive Editor / Publisher , GM-Trucks.com
We're killing Betteridge's law of headlines. Yes.
Arrive at SEMA and the first thing you see and hear is the sound of Ford Mustangs and F-150 Raptors in the front parking lot giving hot laps and jumps to convention goers. All in front of a HUGE crowd. In the back parking lot, Kia was also offering hot, tire squealing rides in the new Stinger. Both events had long lines and awestruck crowds. From the outside, SEMA could have been seen as a Ford and Jeep Show. Ford product was everywhere. Wranglers were in every booth.
PPG's booth changes every single year and dazzles with detail and color
Inside, Ford's display included dozens of cars, concepts, tricked out race Mustangs, and super lifted F-150s. Toyota had a lineup that attracted attention and whispers SEMA wide, a lineup of every generation Supra, including the new one. Mopar's booth (Chrysler, RAM, Dodge) was vibrant, alive, and interactive. And packed.
Rich, interesting, vibrant. The booth pulls you in. MOPAR always kills it.
The Home Team
Then, there was Chevrolet. No interactive experiences, same booth from the last 10 years, no true concept vehicles, and the predictable COPO Camaro. Sure, there was a few 2019 Silverado and Colorado with Chevy Performance Accessories, but you'd be hard pressed to know that unless you looked at the detail card in front of each vehicle. The redesigned Camaro was showcased next to the COPO Drag Camaro and eCOPO electric Drag Camaro. But everyone was confused. Was this the actual production look? Or would Chevy change the design again? The all new Blazer made an appearance but in pre-production trim only and looking way too good to come off an assembly line.
Chevrolet canceled it's 10+ year streak of Pre-SEMA kickoff parties this year, leaving media and enthusiasts in the dark about what the company was truly proud about. I personally attempted to get a rundown of the vehicles that would be on display weeks ahead of the show. My request was only replied to after three follow ups. Even then, the company representative only told me there wasn't a kickoff event and nothing about what the brand was showing off. Okay then. Before we even touched down in Vegas it was apparent Chevy didn't care too much about the show this year.
The crowd trying to photograph the line of Supra was intense
The Show Vibe
Aside from manufacturer's efforts to wow and dazzle SEMA-goers, the amount and types of vehicles on display in the independent booths also set the vibe for the show. In years past, Chevy killed it in this regard. During the launch of the 5th-gen Camaro, the new model was in almost every booth. Same with the 2014 Silverado. Independent accessory manufacturers wanted and needed to have those new models in their booth to attract customers.
This was the coolest thing in the entire Chevy booth. A 1978 "Silverado Concept"
This year, despite the biggest truck launch of Chevrolet's existence, the 2019 Silverado was a rare beast to find in the halls of SEMA 2018. Only twenty 2019 T1XX pickups were to be found in the Truck/Off Road section. Now, compare that to hundreds of 2019 RAMs and Jeep Wranglers. (The 2019 Wrangler killed it this year and was EVERYWHERE). Large companies like Truck Hero and Lund had one or two 2019 Silverado but three or four 2019 RAM and maybe ten Wranglers.
Yay, we found one!
What Should Have Happened
Chevrolet missed a giant opportunity this year at SEMA 2018. At minimum, the brand should have:
Taken Toyota's cue and had an "every generation" lineup of pickups. The photo opportunities would have been amazing and the foot traffic would have been through the roof. Never canceled the customary kick-off welcome event for enthusiasts. Just omitting that one opportunity to pump up the brand gave no room for excitement to take off before the show. Expanded or embellished the booth. Chevy's footprint was underwhelming and pedestrian compared to even smaller industry players. Continued to offer their Camaro/Corvette hot lap experience to get show goers excited. Pushed 2019 Silverados out to independent companies for display like candy is given to kids on Halloween.
"It's a wide non-descript wall of parts with super high prices" could have been Chevy's theme this year.
Did Chevy botch this year's SEMA Show? Yes, I think so. But.... Only the brand can tell you if they got what they were looking for. As an enthusiast, I left wanting more. Much, much more.
Executive Editor, GM-Trucks.com
Day one of SEMA 2018 is almost already in the books and we've barely made it through the South Hall (which houses the Truck/Off-Road section) trying to get our eyes on every customized 2019 being shown inside exibitor's booths. There's no way we'll see everything but what we have seen already is impressive. Accessories for the all new Sierra and Silverado are coming out in force, even if the trucks are still trickling into dealerships.
Although the new fullsize pickups are GM's hot new thing, the automaker has not made it a focus of this year's show. That means, while we're seeing a ton of 2019 Silverado and Sierra, there are 2x as many 2019 Dodge Ram and 5x as many Jeep Wranglers.
Here's what we've seen so far. We'll add more photos to this thread as we take them.
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