General Motors unveiled its 2017 Chevrolet Silverado HD pickup truck at the Texas Motor Speedway Wednesday, demonstrating the vehicle’s capability by snagging a Guinness World Record for pulling a massive flag for four laps around the 1.5-mile oval.
The automaker used the stunt to show off the new Duramax 6.6 liter, V-8 turbo-diesel engine it will offer in the 2017 line of Silverado heavy-duty pickups.
The engine is rated at 445 horsepower, up 12 percent from the motor it replaces, and 910 pound-feet of torque, a 19 percent increase.
Engineers rigged a U.S. flag that measured nearly 40 by 80 feet, an area of 3,186-square-feet, to fly from the Silverado. To set the record, the truck had to travel 100 meters, or 328 feet, without the flag touching the ground.
In the new generation engine, GM engineers has designed a new camshaft profile, a new cylinder head and a new electronically controlled, variable-vane turbocharger to allow the engine to produce more power with lower exhaust emissions. It also is quieter than the engine it replaces.
They also equipped the 2017 Silverado HD with a new vehicle air intake system that uses a hood scoop to drive cool, dry air into the engine to maintain cooler temperatures during difficult conditions, such as trailering on steep grades.
The increased power and torque are paying off with improved performance by the truck, said Eric Stanczak, chief engineer for GM's full-size trucks.
The zero 0-60 mph acceleration for an unladen Silverado 2500HD crew cab four-wheel-drive model is 7.1 seconds, seven-tenths of a second quicker than the previous model, he said.
When towing 10,000 pounds, acceleration from 50 to 70 mph takes 10.6 seconds, 1.5 seconds quicker than the previous model.
Although the Duramax is a new generation engine, Chevrolet might have difficulty marketing it, said Dave Sullivan, manager of product analysis for the AutoPacific consulting firm, because it has the same displacement as the engine it replaces.
“People will think GM just stuck a new turbocharger on it,” Sullivan he said. “They won’t understand all the incremental improvements the engineers have made.”
Increasing the torque and horsepower was a mandatory move, Sullivan said, for Chevrolet to compete with Ford’s new generation Super Duty pickups. GM is in third place behind Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram brand in heavy-duty pickup truck sales, he said.
“Pickup trucks are vehicles that people buy and drive based on the spec sheet,” he said.
In updating the heavy-duty Silverado, Chevrolet product planners have focused on the towing market. About 27 percent of buyers say they are buying the truck for towing, making that the top purchase reason, Stanczak said. Most are looking to pull 15,000 to 17,500 pounds of cargo.
And they are very concerned about what they are towing.
“Customers tell us that whatever they have behind their truck is typically their most precious possession,” Stanczak said. “They need to have confidence that they can get their cargo from point A to point B.”
As it developed the new Silverado HD, Chevrolet focused on making sure the vehicle can accelerate while towing and just as importantly, “slow comfortably,” he said.
Trucks no longer have trouble getting to the top of a mountain. The trick is to drive down steep grades while towing safely, Stanczak said.
Engineers, he said, have improved the so-called engine braking on the new truck, where exhaust valves release compressed air trapped in the cylinders, and slowing the vehicle.
Earlier this month, Chevrolet established a partnership with the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association and the National Association of Trailer Manufacturers to coordinate development of trailering technology, he said.
Chevrolet plans to work with trailer manufacturers to develop technologies that improve combined trailer and truck safety and industry safety standards.
“We want the truck and the trailer to talk to each other better,” Stanczak said.