GM's Famed 'Tripower' Is Back… As a Thrifty Four-cylinder

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gms famed 8216 tripower is back 8230 as a thrifty four cylinder

You won’t find three two-barrel carbs atop this Tripower mill. In fact, depending on the engine’s load, you might not even find three cylinders in operation.

General Motors plans to bring back a performance-focused name for its new 2.7-liter turbocharged four, Automotive News reports, giving the automaker a ballsy moniker for the engine it doesn’t want to admit is a four-cylinder.

When GM unveiled the new base engine for non-work trimmed 2019 Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras, care was taken to avoid calling the engine a four-cylinder. Media materials referred to the engine as the “2.7L Turbo” — a placeholder that sounds powerful and refined. Having not driven it yet, the engine could easily be the latter, but its on-paper specs certainly live up to the former: 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque.

Without an EPA fuel economy rating, we don’t know yet if this engine beats its domestic challengers in the “most fuel-efficient gas full-size pickup” race, but it certainly seems designed to do just that. No other automaker offers a four-banger in a full-sizer. Not only that, but under what we assume are very light loads, the mill drops two cylinders from the equation.

A brawny name steeped in muscle car-era history (namely, late ’50s and ’60s Pontiacs) could help avoid the now outdated stigma surrounding engines of this type.

The Tripower name reveal came Tuesday. Mike Anderson, GM’s executive director of global transmission and electrification hardware engineering, took media types on a wordy spin around the new engine at the CAR Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City, Michigan. Unlike the original Tripower, which was all about dumping copious amounts of fuel into hungry cylinders, the name this time around implies a trifecta of technologies aimed at increasing fuel economy. It’s 2018, after all.

Those technologies are: the aforementioned cylinder deactivation, active thermal management (to ensure optimum temperatures for efficiency), and intake valve lift control (which tailors the lift profile for maximum thriftiness under varying loads). The latter featured debuted on GM’s 2.5-liter Ecotec motor.

GM’s new [s]four-cylinder[/s] Tripower engine awaits its judgement-by-public when the 2019 Silverado and Sierra arrive this fall.

[Images: General Motors]

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  • CRacK hEaD aLLeY CRacK hEaD aLLeY on Aug 10, 2018

    You guys are funny. What about integrating some discussion about 9mm vs .40 vs 45acp effects on watermelon and gelatin while at it? You don't like it? Don't buy it. Get the V6 or one of the other two V8's available: menu is as large as the waistline of some potential owners. Seriously, go watch some video footage rural Central America, South America or Africa to see how 4-cylinder trucks perform harder work than most of you will ever do towing toys on a freeway...

  • Gregsfc Gregsfc on Nov 10, 2018

    Now that the EPA estimates are in for the 2.7L Tripower at 20/23/21, it sort of supports the theory I have that GM has developed a truck body that gets worse mpg than the previous truck when an equal power train is used and is worse than Ram's new body and the 2015-developed F150. The first thing that backs this theory up is the carryover 5.3L V8 engine with AFM and six speed with the same peak performance numbers as before; it's basically the same power train, but mounted in the new truck available in the three lowest trim levels. It gets 15 city instead of the previous 16. It gets 21 on the highway, instead of the previous 23; and it gets 17 mixed rather than the previous 19. That means that the carry over V8 with the same gearing; exactly the same power train set up gets 2 less than the previous truck. The second set of data that backs up my theory is the 6.2L V8 that is now mated to a 10-speed and has Dynamic Fuel Management in the new truck. It tops out on the mpg estimate at one better in the city but 1 worse on the highway. The newer 5.3L mated to the 10 speed is the only one that has improved; and it improved only with respect to raising the city rating by one to catch Ford and their V8. So how is it with respect to the 6.2L that a new version of an engine with a more efficient cylinder deactivation system and two more gears applied but that it gets one worse on the highway? It's a truck that pushes more air; that's how! Now we come to the 2.7L Tripower 4 cylinder. Good performance numbers; good engineering work from everything we can tell. It should be the gas powered champ of all full size pickups right? Wrong. It's beat by three engines; two Ford and one Ram, and the top mpg of the class; Ford's 2.7L Ecoboost beats it in hp, peak torque, and payload and beats it on the highway by 3 points, and with respect to just the highway estimate of the new Tripower, it's beat by Ford's top performing engine (3.5L Ecoboost as high as 25 hwy), and only matches Ford's top performing engine for mixed driving, both at 21; and even their own 5.3L V8 with DFM mated to an 8-speed matches the highway estimate of their own tiny turbo. So overall, this truck is an embarrassment for GM. This is not the fault of power train development. They have great power train advancements that they've put in to this truck except for their low end customers, which get none of this new stuff (also an embarrassment); but the DFM, and the new 8-speed, and the new ten speed; the new diesel coming; and even this great little 2.7L Tripower; this is all good work and will likely be good products but in a gas-guzzling body. It's pushing too much air or has too much roll resistance, or something is going on, because, even though it has a claimed reduction in drag, this truck should have caught up with Ford with respect to mpg considering all the power train work, but the truck itself is killing the highway mpg potential. Rumor is that the new Duramax will get 28 on the highway, and that seems about as it should be considering all the other disappointing news with respect to their new truck and mpg. If there were something gained for this mpg loss it would be one thing, but in every case, performance is about the same as before, and so it is just a huge blunder to build a truck that goes backward with respect to fuel efficiency.

  • Jim Bonham Thanks.
  • Luke42 I just bought a 3-row Tesla Model Y.If Toyota made a similar vehicle, I would have bought that instead. I'm former Prius owner, and would have bought a Prius-like EV if it were available.Toyota hasn't tried to compete with the Model Y. GM made the Bolt EUV, and Ford made the Mach-E. Tesla beat them all fair and square, but Toyota didn't even try.[Shrug]
  • RHD Toyota is trying to hedge their bets, and have something for everyone. They also may be farther behind in developing electric vehicles than they care to admit. Japanese corporations sometimes come up with cutting-edge products, such as the Sony Walkman. Large corporations (and not just Japanese corporations) tend to be like GM, though - too many voices just don't get heard, to the long-term detriment of the entity.
  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.
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