Four on the Floor: EPA Rates Chevy's New 2.7L Turbo
Is the American public ready to accept a full-size pickup truck equipped with a four-cylinder engine under its squared-off hood? GM sure hopes so, as a turbocharged 2.7-liter is set to be the base motor in two of its Silverado trims: the LT and RST.
The EPA has now rated the thirstiness of the new mill, which is set to be one of six (count ‘em) available across all eight trims of the 2019 Silverado.
Government enviro-boffins estimate the 2.7L inline-four will be good for 20 mpg city / 23 mpg highway in rear-wheel drive configurations. This makes for a combined rating of 21 mpg. That’s about a single MPG less than comparable V6s from Ford and Ram, if you’re keeping track at home.
GM expects the mill to haul a maximum of 7,200 lbs and tap out at 2,430 lbs of payload. This makes it the least capable Silverado powertrain in terms of towing, keeping in mind that the upcoming 3.0L diesel is not yet rated.
If that 2.7L displacement figure sounds familiar, it’s because the digits are shared with Ford and the smallest EcoBoost mill available in its F-150 pickup. Difference is, of course, the Blue Oval has six cylinders while the Bowtie will only have a quartet.
Large displacement four-bangers must naturally feature sizeable cylinders. It’s a clear exaggeration to say these particular pistons are the size of paint cans, but they’re still pretty sizable. The engine has a long piston stroke of 4.01 inches, which does help enable a higher compression ratio and should provide the low-end grunt demanded by truck buyers.
Its offset crankshaft, slightly off-center from the cylinders, allows a more upright position for the connecting rods and should reduce piston load against the cylinder walls. Some of those cylinders will occasionally be put on furlough, thanks to the application of GM’s Active Fuel Management system.
What’s interesting is that GM chooses to largely refer to this engine as a 2.7 Turbo, scarcely mentioning the words four-cylinder. In fact, that phrase appears nowhere in today’s press release about fuel economy and showed up only twice in a bumf about the engine back in May.
The four-banger will line up with GM’s eight-speed automatic, a power team that’ll make 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque. For 2018, Ford’s 2.7L makes 325 horses and a freshly-revised torque rating of 400 lb-ft., some 25 more than last year. Chevy expects its 2.7L-powered trucks to reach 60 mph in less than seven seconds.
Even at the smaller end of the field, Detroit’s power war never sleeps.
[Images: General Motors]
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Ford's 2.7L twin turbo Ecoboost versus GM's 2.7L I4 Tripower. Ecoboost : Tripower Torque: 400 @ 2750 : 348 @ 1500 HP : 325 @ 5000 : 310 @ 5800 MPG : 20/26/22 : 20/23/21 Availability F150: Available in XL, XLT all configurations starting at or about $29.5K list price including destination ($995 premium which includes 10-speed transmission). Standard in Lariat trim around $41K. Availability Silverado/Sierra: standard engine in LT and RST in double cab and crew cab configurations; not available in regular cab or lower trims or higher trims; starting around $38,500. GM is deceiving with their marketing claiming it's a base engine, but it's a base engine only at the 4th & 5th trim level up and not available anywhere else; whereas the F150 can be optioned for $995 in all configurations and trim levels up to Lariat but is standard in Lariat, and Ford does not call theirs a base engine. GM is also playing marketing tricks by comparing their gas turbo engine to Ford and Ram NA V6 engines, even though their turbo engine is not available in the lower trims, but with respect to Ford; the only place they beat Ford on pricing for their turbo versus Ford's more capable and more efficient turbo is the LT versus the Lariat where they are both standard, but that still does not hide the fact that a customer can get an F150 with a twin turbo V6 with more power, more torque, more payload and much more towing for at least $8K less and get 3 more estimated mpg on the highway and get it in any configuration that Ford builds; all the way up through Lariat. Lastly, GM and the media are all making a mistake with regards to Ford's base 3.3L V6. They are saying it's top mpg rating is 19/25/22 and so they are saying they beat F150's base engine city rating, but over at fueleconomy.gov; the 3.3L V6 in 2WD, standard duty FFV version is rated at 20/25/22, and so it now gets really hard for Chevy to compare their 2.7L Tripower to any Ford engine in a positive way, but they still will. They'll just lie about the competiton or how they match up in so far as class.
What's good about the new 2.7L I4 Tripower? A rather large four cylinder turbo for a full-size truck application, particularly a work truck, 2WD, regular cab or double cab is a great concept (lighter and less featured pickups with less than 18" wheels and smaller profile), because a 4 cylinder turbo should rival a naturally-aspired V6 for cost and beat it for performance. It also does not (in concept) significantly handicap performance and efficiency versus a turbo six cylinder for light and medium duty applications in a half-ton pickup, because turbo charging is sort of a great equalizer. The Tripower engine is proof of this last assertion. A 2.7L 4 cylinder turbo that produces 310 hp and 348 ft-lb torque starting at only 1500 RPM beats any NA V6 in the segment for performance and payload and even beats Tundra's base 4.6L V8 in those categories. What's bad about the 2.7L Tripower? Almost everything. It's availability puts it out of any regular cab configuration; is disallowed in any lower trim where value seekers would actually want such an engine; it's tow number is lower than some mid size trucks, as it doesn't necessarily have to get a big tow number, but it should be at least 7,700. Although GM is stating it's a base engine and comepeting with Ford and Ram's base engine, it is not a base engine, because one can get an F150 in XL or XLT or Lariat starting at a much cheaper price with their own base engine and even an F150 with their own 2.7L turbo for a much cheaper price than the cheapest possible Tripower-powered Chevy or GMC. It also cannot compete with Ram and their 3.6L V6 NA engine connected to their eTorque system, because this is a true base engine for Ram; available in their lowest trim and smallest configuration, although Ram doesn't offer their new-styled truck in any regular cab. And then the big elephant in the room; the new Tripower falls by 2 to the Ram in the highway rating and 3 to F150 in the highway rating and falls to both of them by 1 in mixed driving. So while a rather large, 4 cylinder turbo is still a great opportunity for a great application in a half ton pickup; GM has not come close to meeting that opportunity. I would surmise that Ford or another manufacturer could produce around a 3.0L I4 turbo that could compete performance wise with the current Ecoboost V6 twin turbo; meet or beat the current F150 with the 2.7L V6 for mpg; and cost much less, making it a great replacement engine for Ford or Ram's base NA V6.