2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Diesel is Very High-Tech and It Shows (First Drive Review)

Can this new 3.0-liter diesel be good at everything?

2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Diesel duramax straight six
2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Diesel

We have been waiting for the new 3.0-liter Diesel Silverado 1500 for a long time. We finally get to drive it in Oregon, and the new diesel impresses with power and smoothness. 

2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Diesel

Chevrolet is not new to straight-six engines, but this is the first I-6 turbo-diesel, and it goes into the Silverado 1500 half-ton truck. This engine is a clean-sheet design. The block and the head is made out of aluminum. It uses a water-cooled air intake system and a variable geometry turbocharger. There are dual air intake runners for each cylinder that can be partially closed or opened to either get good swirl for economy, or large air flow for maximum power.

The power output is 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The straight-six is mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

Because the inline-six engine orientation allows a lot of space under the hood, the emissions control system is under the hood, on the passenger side. The Diesel Oxidation Catalyst and Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) system are place there along-side the engine.

This diesel also has active thermal management system that is largely shared with the 2.7-liter gas turbocharged engine. The system allows the engine to warm quicker during cold starts or cool down better when under heavy loads.

Chevy says the variable geometry turbo is able to provide an “exhaust brake” effect by adjusting the turbocharged veins. The exhaust brake mode is enable by turning on the “Tow/Haul” mode, but there is not special message or symbol on the dash to let the driver know that the exhaust brake is active.

The timing chain is located on the rear of the engine. We are still trying to learn more about the timing chain replacement interval and procedure.

First Drive Review

The new inline-six Duramax diesel is packed with technology and it pays off. The engine is relatively quiet. It revs quickly, and with a little brake torquing the truck launches well. This is typical of a light duty diesel. These usually launch well, but then the acceleration slows down dramatically above 40 mph. It’s not the case here. This diesel continues to pull all way to 60 mph. I did not get a chance to measure a 0-60 MPH on the truck during the first drive event in Oregon. We will do this performance evaluation when we get the truck to Colorado in about a month or so.

This engine appears to have very good real-world fuel economy. We have not been able to run it on our regular 100-mile highway loop and verify it at the pump. We ran a shorter 26 mile loop in Oregon at speeds near 60 mph. The trip meter announced 31.6 mpg when the trip was done. The EPA rating is not available yet, but it may be in the 31 to 32 mpg range for the highway number.

The Silverado 1500 with this diesel is rated to tow a maximum of 9,300 lbs, which is lower than the Ford F-150 Diesel and the upcoming 2020 Ram 1500 Diesel.

The Silverado 1500 Duramax will start at just under $43,000 for a 2WD double-cab LT truck. It’s available in LT, RST, LTZ, and High Country trims.

The 3.0-liter Duramax trucks will go on sale in August timeframe, so they should be coming very soon!