We finally get to take the new 2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 Turbo up and down the Ike Gauntlet – world’s toughest towing test. It’s a big deal because this half-ton is powered by a four-cylinder gasoline turbocharged engine. Can a small displacement engine hold its one on a steep grade and high elevation?
Chevy Silverado Turbo
The 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is rated at 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The truck you see here is a double-cab (4-door) LT trim 4-wheel-drive. As such, it has a maximum towing rating of 6,700 lbs. Yes, this is a relatively small number, and it is less than many midsize trucks. On the plus side, this 4×4 truck has a payload of around 1,900 lbs. This is very good for any 4WD half-ton truck.
We are towing a Cimarron two-horse slant trailer that we got at Transwest. The trailer is meant for two horses, but we loaded it with water ballast to a total weight of 6,680 lbs. We are maxing out the towing capacity of the Silverado Turbo.
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Ike Gauntlet Test
The Ike Gauntlet is an 8-mile stretch of the steepest interstate highway (7% grade) with a maximum elevation of 11,158 ft above sea level. It’s a grueling test of trailering capability because of the steep incline and reduced air density that robs engines of power.
We test the transmission and engine calibration of the trucks on the downhill by counting brake applications. We specifically do not manually shift gears. We let the truck and its grade shifting/engine braking features do the work. The worst performance we had with a half-ton truck is 11 brake applications.
On the way up, we test each truck’s power, ride, control, and refinement. We aim to maintain the 60 MPH speed limit on the way up (and the way down). The benchmark time up the mountain is 8 minutes even. Going faster than 8 minutes gives no benefit. The uphill fuel economy benchmark is 6.0 mpg. This benchmark was set in relation to the best towing efficiency we got with a turbo-diesel half-ton truck.
The results were indeed surprising, as we were not sure exactly what to expect. The truck turned in better than expected 8 brake applications on the way down. (I thought the result would 10 applications.) One the way, it had no problems with power. The truck ran a benchmark 8-minutes. (I thought 8 minutes was very possible.) The trip computer-reported fuel economy on the way up was an underwhelming 3.7 MPG. (I expected a better efficiency report.)
Check out the video below for all the Ike Gauntlet fun with Mr. Truck.