You will never believe it! Chevrolet surprises everybody by unveiling the new 2.7-liter turbocharged gas-powered four cylinder engine for the upcoming 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500. This is the first full-size truck from Chevrolet with a gasoline four cylinder. What are the specifications? How does this truck drive? Here are all the numbers and a first driving impression from GM’s Milford Proving Grounds.
Mystery Engine: 2.7L Turbo I4
Chevrolet flew me out to Michigan for a presentation about the next generation gas V8 engines and the new Dynamic Fuel Management technology (aka. cylinder deactivation). I did not expect to drive any of the trucks, and I was not allowed to bring in any video cameras. The first surprise was a short driving loop in the all-new 2019 Silverado 1500 with the 5.3L V8 (more on this later).
Next, Chevrolet guys say “We want you to drive this 2019 Silverado, but we will not tell you anything about the engine under the hood. Oh, by the way – driving this 2018 Silverado 1500 with the 4.3L V6 first.”
It was my first time in a crew cab Chevy with the 4.3L V6 and the 6-speed automatic transmission. The truck was quicker than you would expect. Naturally, it was not as quick as a V8, but it has adequate performance for a current-generation GM truck. By the way, the 4.3L V6 will have the same power rating for 2019 at 305 hp and 285 lb-ft of torque.
Next, I jump into the all-new Silverado with the mystery engine. The new 2019 crew cab truck feels a bit quicker off the line than the 4.3L V6. Surprisingly, the mystery engine is producing a similar sound level to the V6, but the sound signature suggests it maybe a four cylinder. It must be a turbocharged engine, but hard acceleration does not produce any perceptible turbo-lag. There is no noticeable waste gate sound. Could it be supercharged? Hmm… The engine revs quickly all the way to 6,000 rpm. It’s definitely not a turbo-diesel. After my short drive, I conclude it must be some modified version of GM’s current 2.0L Turbo.
We get into the presentation room, and GM guys pull the wraps off the all-new 2.7L turbo-four. I was close with my guess, but also far away.
The 2.7T I4 engine is SAE certified at 310 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm and 348 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 – 4,000 rpm.
This engine has many tricks up its sleeve to produce the diesel-like power that it does, and to provide the yet-to-be-announced fuel economy improvements. It uses a unique dual-passage (or dual-volute) turbocharger. It’s similar in principle to the twin-scroll turbocharger that it separates exhaust gases from different cylinders, but Chevrolet was careful to point out that the dual-volute has many advantages over a twin-scroll design. It’s able to more carefully separate exhaust flow and hit the turbine wheel in two locations. Chevrolet says – it allows to spool up the turbo more quickly.
The engine has three different camshaft profiles on the intake side and two profiles on the exhaust side to provide for various high efficiency or maximum power modes. There is also variable valve timing and the engine is able to deactivate two out of the four cylinders at light load. The engine also offers a start/stop feature that can be disabled after every ignition key cycle via a console mounted button.
This engine offers a relatively high 10:1 compression ratio, and it is able to run on regular gasoline fuel. There is updated thermal management that uses an electrically driven water/coolant pump and a new coolant control valve that replaces a traditional thermostat.
The four-cylinder turbo also weighs about 80 lbs less than the 4.3L V6 naturally aspirated engine.
The 2.7T engine will be offered in the 2019 Silverado 1500, starting with the LT grade. This engine will be paired to the new 8-speed automatic transmission with the centrifugal pendulum absorber in the torque converter that help eliminate some engine vibrations.
Chevrolet expects that initially around 10% of new Silverado customers will choose the new 2.7L turbo.
What About the 5.3L V8 and the New Truck?
I also had an opportunity to drive the latest 5.3L V8 with the new Dynamic Fuel Management cylinder deactivation system. The engine is still rated at the same 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. It can be had with a choice of either 6-speed or 8-speed automatic transmissions.
The new 6.2L V8 will be rated at the same 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque.
All I can say is: my first impression of the new engine is that it’s smooth and has a pleasant sound. Considering that the engine is now in a truck that weighs approximately 380 lbs less than a comparable old 5.3L Silverado – the truck starts to shrink around you as you drive. The steering feels lighter, but in a good more nimble way. The driving experience reminded me of a new Chevy Colorado. It has a smooth crossover-like ride quality. The new Silverado is similar, but on a bigger scale. Naturally, it is still a body-on-frame truck with a solid rear axle, but the ride is indeed improved.
The details behind the Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) system are mind boggling, but the driver does not have to worry about any of it. The truck’s DFM brain decides which one of the 17 engine cylinder modes are appropriate for the given driving load and power request from the driver. It can choose to fire every other cylinder cycle, every third cycle, or even skip seven fire sequences in certain situations. The good thing is, the driver and passengers cannot tell all of this is going on under the hood. The truck responds quickly to full throttle input, it gets up and goes.
Choice: Eight Trim Levels & Six Powertrain Options
Chevrolet is expending the available truck configuration choice with the 2019 Silverado. The simplest way to understand the standard and optional powertrain choices is to look at the table below. Not every engine is available with every trim level, and not every transmission is available with every engine.
The gas engines will be available when the truck launches this year, but the turbo-diesel engine will come a few months later. Chevrolet says it will come in “early 2019”.
Note: there is no mention of any gas/electric, hydrogen fuel cell, or electric offerings. This is not part of the publicly available roadmap at this point. There is no word from GM whether any electrified trucks are on the horizon. Although, GM is currently selling a mild-hybrid system in the 2018 trucks. Ford has communicated that a hybrid F-150 is coming in 2020, and Ram is getting close to delivering their eTorque mild hybrid trucks to customers (no specific date is currently available).
What do you think? Are we ready for a four-cylinder powered full-size truck? Let us know in the comments below.