It’s only natural to root for the underdog. Ford Motor Company consumes so much oxygen in the truck space, what with its best-selling full-size status and its unceasing pursuit of ever-greater horsepower, torque, and fuel economy figures, that it’s nice to see another automaker challenge the Blue Oval’s technological crown.
The unveiling of a new turbocharged four-cylinder for the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado last Friday surely dropped a few jaws in the American heartland. After all, memories of the base-model Chevy S-10 and GMC Sonoma’s dump truck-like acceleration lingers, despite two decades of progress. And yet, here’s a 2.7-liter four-pot under the hood of a brawny full-sizer, generating class-leading entry level horsepower and torque. And it’s standard on the bottom two “regular” trims.
Is there a four in your future?
I broke the news to my father, a man who still fondly remembers his mid-Seventies F-150 Supercab with bulletproof 300 cubic-inch six and three-on-the-tree. He guessed the displacement of General Motors’ new motor right off the bat. He also seemed skeptical.
As oil and gas prices rise, fuel economy understandably grows in importance. But it’s clear most North Americans are ready and willing to rationalize the continued ownership of big trucks and SUVs, and it’s doubtful even $4/gallon gas would sway many drivers from their high-riding steed. If necessary, they’ll make sacrifices elsewhere to keep it on the road. Or, just maybe, they’ll be tempted into a vehicle that’s just as big, but beats the competition by 1 or 2 mpg. Whatever helps them sleep at night.
While there’s no fuel economy estimates for this unit just yet, we’re assuming it beats Ford’s base 3.3-liter V6 in stinginess at the pumps. Running on two cylinders on rare occasions, this four is clearly a shot across Ford’s bow — and a way of greenwashing GM’s truck fleet. Have your cake and drive it too, would be the message.
Ford popularized downsized engines and forced induction in modern pickups, making GM’s advancement a natural extension of its rival’s work. Sure, its 310 hp and 348 lb-ft doesn’t beat the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6’s specs, but it isn’t supposed to. That’s an upgrade engine and this isn’t. Anyone looking for additional power (and the comfort of tradition) can toss a few more bills at GM for a 5.3-liter on LT and RST trims. Eventually, you can hand over a stack of bills for the 3.0-liter inline-six diesel.
No one’s being forced to drive a pickup with this engine. Fleet buyers and stripper aficionados can still have the old 4.3-liter V6 in Work Truck and other spartan, lower-volume trims. The question today is: would you drive one?
Do you like what you see on paper, but remain unconvinced? And what fuel economy figure would you need to see before signing for a turbo four Silverado?
[Image: General Motors]