GM Unveils Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Engine for New Silverado 1500

May 18, 2018 by Jerry Hirsch, @Jerryhirsch

General Motors plans to add a new turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine to the redesigned 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 when it reaches dealers this fall. It will be the first turbo for the automaker’s flagship pickup truck line.

The 2.7-liter engine was developed just for GM’s trucks and was designed to offer a peppy small engine that could deliver a balance between power and fuel economy.

“This will be a great advantage for us in the market place,” said Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet truck marketing manager.

The new engine is rated at 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque and will come standard in the LT and RST trim grades, replacing a 4.3-liter V6.

2.7-liter turbocharged four cylinder engine

2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. (Photo: Chevrolet)

The redesigned Silverado equipped with the small engine will deliver 0-60 mph acceleration in less than seven seconds and weighs 380 pounds less than the current Silverado with the V-6, Chevrolet said.

The automaker said its payload capacity will be competitive with full-size V6 engine trucks from Ford and Ram but did not provide data. Chevrolet also did not offer towing capacity, fuel economy or pricing details, saying those will come before the truck goes on sale.

Ford uses turbocharging technology in its trucks to boost the power, performance and fuel economy of some V6 engines.

Trucks.com took the new Silverado equipped with the turbo engine for a short drive at GM’s Milford, Mich., proving grounds Thursday.

The truck proved to be lively and agile. It offers stronger acceleration than the previous 4.3-liter V6. The lighter, smaller engine improves the weight distribution of the truck and enhances its driving characteristics. The engine has an aluminum block and cylinder head to reduce mass.

The eight-speed automatic transmission is smooth and efficient. Drivers won’t feel it search for a gear. They will rarely even notice when it is switching gears.

“The real test will be on the fuel economy side,” said Stephanie Brinley, an IHS Markit analyst who also drove the truck. “This needs to be tangible enough to make it intriguing for customers to check out the four-cylinder.”

Ford’s experience adding its turbocharged EcoBoost V6 to the F-150 line and seeing strong consumer response proved that truck buyers are willing to give new technology that delivers improved performance and fuel economy a chance, Brinley said.

“Once a consumer drives the 2.7-liter four-cylinder in the Silverado, its benefits versus the V6 should overcome any preconceived objection to a four-cylinder full-size truck,” she said.

But by including the 2.7-liter in only two models Chevrolet is not positioning this engine as a true alternative for those who demand the towing and payload of a V8, Brinley said.

One impressive feature of the engine is its quick acceleration with almost none of the lag or delay that shows up in many turbo engines. Tom Sutter, chief engineer of the engine, said that’s the result of an improved design.

It employs what GM calls an advanced dual-volute turbocharger. Rather than using a single spiral chamber, or volute, to channel exhaust gas to drive the turbine on the turbocharger, the system has a pair of separate chambers with individual exhaust gas inlets and nozzles to drive the turbine and increase engine power.

The design allows the exhaust pulses of the engine to be leveraged for a faster spool-up, Sutter said.

“Think of two grandparents pushing a child on a playground merry-go-round from separate sides. It’s going to go faster,” he said.

The engine also has a fuel-saving cylinder deactivation allowing it to run on just two cylinders in situations like cruising down a highway where less power is needed.

The truck will also be the first Chevrolet truck with an electric water pump. Sutter said it helps the engine’s performance by eliminating the power drain that comes with a conventional engine-driven water pump.

The new engine on the 2019 Silverado will deliver 0-60 mph acceleration in less than seven seconds. (Photo: Chevrolet)

Piszar said he estimates about 10 percent of Silverado buyers will opt for models with the turbo engine, or 50,000 to 60,000 trucks annually.

It’s likely to show up in other GM trucks and large SUVs.

While Piszar declined to talk about future uses for the engine and other models, he said that new engines are expensive to build and that automakers tend to leverage their investments across large volumes of vehicles.

Starting with the Silverado 1500, GM is redesigning its entire line of Chevrolet and GMC brand trucks, including its popular Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon SUVs, which are based on the Silverado platform. A new Tahoe is expected next year.

“We expect GM will use the engine in upcoming full-size SUVs, and it should make a solid addition with improved standard performance and fuel economy,” Brinley said. “For the full-size SUVs, this engine is even more compelling as a replacement for the V6.”

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