New EPA ratings rank the diesel version of the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 as the most fuel-efficient light-duty truck on the market.
The pickup achieves an EPA-estimated 33 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in the city when equipped with the new 3-liter inline six-cylinder Duramax diesel engine and rear-wheel drive. The diesel engine is the first offered in a Chevy light-duty truck since 1997.
Chevrolet developed the engine specifically for the Silverado 1500 using a clean sheet design allowing for low noise and vibration compared with other diesel power plants. It is paired with a Hydra-Matic 10L80 10-speed automatic transmission, which uses small gear steps and a larger gear ratio to maximize efficiency.
DIESEL TRUCK SALES RISE
Automakers are offering more diesel vehicles because of consumer demand. U.S. sales of full-size diesel pickup trucks rose 23 percent during the first quarter of this year compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the Diesel Technology Forum.
Ford is the market leader. It has sold 94,626 diesel light- and heavy-duty pickup trucks during the first half of 2019, the forum said.
“Half-year sales numbers for 2019 demonstrate a continued demand for diesel in vehicles,” said Allen Schaeffer, the forum’s executive director.
He said diesel vehicles have a combination of power, performance, reliability and fuel efficiency that truck drivers appreciate.
The new Chevrolet engine is more efficient than the Ford F-150’s diesel power plant. Th eFord F-150’s 3-liter diesel engine gets an EPA-estimated 30 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg in the city. These figures were benchmarks for light-duty trucks.
The F-150’s diesel power plant has 250 horsepower and 440 pound-feet of torque. That compares with the 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque in Chevrolet’s new engine.
Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Ram 1500 had a diesel engine option, but it is not currently available. The automaker is planning on selling one later this year.
Toyota, Nissan and GMC do not have diesel engine options for their light-duty trucks.
Chevrolet offers the 3-liter diesel engine in the Silverado 1500’s LT, RST, LTZ and High Country trims. To get the power plant in the LTZ and High Country trims, buyers will pay a $2,495 premium. In LT and RST models, the cost is an additional $3,890.
Silverado 1500 models powered by the new engine arrive in dealerships in September.