By on October 10, 2018

Image: GM

When GM released EPA-estimated fuel economy for its 2.7L Turbo full-size pickup engine today, many of us were taken aback. For a four-cylinder (yes, it is a four-cylinder, and the omission of this info from GM materials is glaring), we expected a higher MPG figure. Perhaps not significantly higher, but enough to create a greater gap between it and its cylinder-heavy contemporaries.

A combined rating of 21 mpg is what buyers can expect from the 2.7-liter unit, which sends its 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic. (The 4WD model is not yet rated). That torque figure beats the naturally aspirated V6 found in both the GM and Ford camps, and comes close to Ram’s Pentastar motor. If gas mileage is top of mind, however, it’s a much closer race.

The MPG rating for a 2WD 2.7-liter Chevrolet Silverado is 20 city/23 mpg highway/21 combined. As we told you this morning, the V6 offerings at Ford and Ram beat the GM four-banger by a hair.

Each member of the Detroit Three went in different direction when pursuing fuel economy in their entry-level mills. GM dropped two cylinders, added a turbocharger, and slapped on a cylinder deactivation system. Ford choose dual injection and thermal management measures for its 3.3-liter V6. Ram saddled its familiar 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 with a mild hybrid system dubbed eTorque.

In two-wheel drive guise, a 3.3-liter F-150 (offered with an old six-speed auto) gets 19 city/25 highway/22 combined, while the V6 Ram (eight-speed auto) returns 20 city/25 highway/22 combined. While the 2019 version isn’t yet rated, last year’s 4.3-liter Silverado 2WD returned 20 mpg combined and actually saw a 1 MPG increase on the highway compared to its four-cylinder sibling. As a base engine for retail buyers (the 4.3-liter remains in contractor-friendly base trims), the 2.7L Turbo can boast greater average fuel economy (+1 mpg) horsepower (+25 hp) and torque (+43 lb-ft) than the engine it replaces, and that’s good for GM. But only to a degree.

The 2.7L truck is bookmarked by engines with greater tow ratings: up to 8,000 pounds for the 4.3-liter and up to 11,600 for the 5.3-liter V8, compared to the 2.7’s 7,200 lbs. Ford’s 3.3-liter tops out at 7,700 pounds, while the 3.6-liter Ram is rated for up to 7,730 lbs. Splitting hairs? Maybe, but different numbers matter to different folks.

Compared to its 5.3-liter, 2WD GM siblings, the combined fuel economy difference between the 2.7L truck and those with double the cylinder count is 2 mpg. Interestingly, a figure Ford made sure to mention was that its 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 nets an extra MPG in combined driving, while also boasting 400 lb-ft of torque. The 2.7L F-150’s max tow rating? 8,500 lbs.

There will, of course, be customers who prefer the 2.7L GM engine over its rivals, and a great many more who won’t really think about it at all. The new mill comes standard on LT and RST trims. Indeed, we haven’t taken a 2.7L Silverado or GMC Sierra for a spin yet, so these facts and figures are no comment on how the engine sounds, feels, and responds.

[Image: General Motors]

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76 Comments on “How Does GM’s Don’t-call-it-a-four-cylinder Turbo Truck Engine Stack Up?...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    which sends its 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels through a 10-speed automatic…

    The post further down says 8-speed. Which is it?

    Maybe this is GMs way to introduce this engine and then stick it in the Colorado/Canyon when they get redesigned? Match Ford on the midsize truck front?

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Torque comes close to a Pentastar? Either you typo’d a 3 when you meant a 2, or you’re mixing ft-lbs with Newton’s.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Pentstar is a car engine.

      • 0 avatar
        ahintofpepperjack

        I wouldn’t say that. It was developed to replace the old 4.7L V8 engine and the 4.0L I6.

        • 0 avatar
          cdotson

          While I wouldn’t call the Pentastar a car engine as it’s done well in minivans, it has nothing to do with replacing the 4.7 V8 and the 4.0 I6.

          The 4.0L I6 was out long before the Pentastar came around having been replaced with a 3.7L V6 more closely related to the 4.7L V8.

          The Pentastar replaced that 3.7 and the 3.8 and 4.0L V6s used in the minivans and crossovers.

          The Pentastar is the bottom-rung engine in the Ram trucks, but there was a V6 prior to that as well. The mid-tier V8 4.7 (which replaced the 5.2 before it) just disappeared, and its role is somewhat filled by the diesel V6.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Still can’t trust the idea of a tiny engine pumped up to V8 power and expected to last 200,000-plus miles. And, it must look comical underneath that huge hood. Then again, what do I know, car companies have never, ever been wrong before.

    • 0 avatar
      cammark

      Coming from the world of import tuning, I don’t see the power/torque numbers as anything groundbreaking. Guys are seeing these numbers from modestly funded, reliable, street-driven hondas, toyotas and nissans that haven’t seen a showroom floor in decades.

      You would think that the guys who brought the ZR1 engine from dream to dealer lot reality could walk across the hall and stick their head in on the “tri-power” design meeting to offer some advise.

      I did think the same thing about the comical difference between the engine size and the loft apartment that’s fitted between the front wheels of that truck.

      • 0 avatar
        kmccune

        The aluminum V6 is pretty small in the engine bay, my company has a 2500 with the 6.0 LS engine 265K miles and still running strong( this is the same basic engine UPS uses in their Brown Box vans-UPS, the King of low cost)

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      You think you have a hard time trusting it now wait until you open the hood and see mostly parking lot and the sound of your buddies laughing in the background

      • 0 avatar
        SPPPP

        Sure, but if you ever have to work on it, seeing parking lot is a good thing. You’ll be laughing all the way to the bank while your buddy is crying over some rounded off bolt he can’t reach. (Assuming your bolt isn’t blocked by some turbo piping!)

        • 0 avatar
          CKNSLS Sierra SLT

          SPPPP

          Your do bring up a good point. For the 2019 Silverado model year-GM has moved the cab (partially) over the motor to increase interior cab space. There have already been observations on the the truck boards that working on them (5.3 and 6.0) will be a major PITA except for the most basic of maintenance.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            This is interesting that you say this about a more cab forward design, because with all these 4-bangers being pushed there seems to suddenly be a lot of wasted space up front

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        At one time, you could do that under the hood of almost any car. Made it really easy to work on.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Lightspeed – If the engine materials are designed and spec’d appropriately, what’s the concern? Do you really think the engineers would neglect something so obvious as “more stress means we need stronger components”? They aren’t just turning up the boost and calling it a day.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @LeMans: No, the engineers would not neglect that. However, in the name of lightness and power, specialized alloys are in increasing use and some of those alloys become brittle over time, especially if their full output is used extensively. A simple and very obvious example is shown in aircraft, where engines require a complete teardown after so many hours of operation to inspect for signs of stress and wear. Automotive engines don’t see this.

        True, an automotive engine isn’t always stressed the way an aircraft engine may be, but different driving styles, different loading profiles and simple aging will have they break down over time. A 4-cylinder engine puts a lot more stress on the pistons and cranks than a 6 or an 8, even if only one cylinder is firing at a time in each of them. The more cylinders, however, the more pistons are on the power stroke at any one moment and the per-cylinder stress is reduced proportionately.

        So even with beefed up materials, enough stress over time WILL cause the 4-cylinder engine to break sooner than an equivalent 6 or 8.

        • 0 avatar
          White Shadow

          Nice theory, but completely unsupported by any kind of facts. There’s absolutely no empirical evidence to support your baseless theory. On the other hand, small turbocharged engines have been around since just about forever and have proven to be as durable as larger engines. Hell, my first 2.0T engine was in a 1990 model that I put nearly 200,000 hard miles with no major issues. The engine outlasted the car. And that’s not uncommon.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            No evidence, WS? No Evidence? My boy, it’s quite clear you do NOT understand the aviation industry and WHY they perform inspections as often as they do. Even the US Military inspects their hardware on a regular basis. Yes, it’s expensive but the purpose is to ensure the safety, reliability and functionality of the equipment.

            And as for your 2.0T engine, do tell me: exactly what kind of vehicle was it in? A 5000# (2267kg) monster meant to tow up to twice its own weight, or a 3000# (1361kg) hatch meant only to carry a small family and gear? What you call hard use in a car would be nothing to a truck at nearly twice the weight, especially if that truck has to tow additional weight. Go look on youTube for blown turbos. Those devices do blow and they are quite spectacular when they do.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    I’m in a conspiracy-theory mood today. Any chance that GM knows we won’t buy a four cylinder engined, full size pickup, but chooses ro offer it anyway? Then they can argue to the EPA that “we offer it, but nobody will buy it”.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      they’re going to waste hundreds of millions of dollars developing something to be an intentional flop?

      c’mon, man.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Intentional flop?

        NO

        Unintentional?

        This is GM we are talking about.

        Aztec anyone?

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          You joke, but thanks to Breaking Bad, Azteks are now “uncool-cool” cars, and thus command a higher premium than would be expected of their age and pedigree. And thanks to the plastic cladding, the average Aztek/Rendezvous in salt states has less rust than other mid-’00s GM products. It’s taken 15 years, but the Aztek is a (qualified) success.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Just look at what they did during the designing of the Volt. Hundreds of millions spent on designing a 3-cylinder prime mover… then installed an off-the-shelf 4-cylinder.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        No, but they’d sure waste a couple million to ensure tens of millions of profit margin on the V8s.

        If they’d actually wasted hundreds of millions they might have achieved decent fuel mileage, but again, that wasn’t the target.

      • 0 avatar
        vehic1

        That’s the answer to almost ANY conspiracy theory.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      That’s just a bonus. My guess is this larger turbo 4 is intended to fully replace their N/A 3.6L V6 in all its various iterations, and eventually kill off the 4.3L V6 which isn’t widely used.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    >Compared to its 5.3-liter, 2WD GM siblings, the combined fuel economy difference between the 2.7L truck and those with double the cylinder count is 2 mpg.

    So, if I drive 15k miles a year, even with, say, $4/gal gas, I’d save $300 a year with the 2.7, which is not peanuts, bot not overwhelming either. If I were in the market for a new pickup, and I am, I’d much rather gamble on the V8 holding up for the next 15 years, but it’s going to cost more up front, too. Not that I’d trust this all-new engine until it had been out a few years, anyway, just to see what kind of reputation it had.

    • 0 avatar
      VW4motion

      Compared to a Tundra with an the average of 14 mpg. Cost benefit is $1100/year or $11000 over 10 year period. This is $3.00 :gallon and 15k miles a year.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @VW4: What turbo is actually suited for fueling with 87 octane? While I’m aware that some few claim the ability to use 87, they almost all recommend 91 or higher octane, which is priced some 30¢ higher per gallon than regular. Add that most of this is also 10%-15% alcohol by content at a lower energy per volume and you’re risking that engine with anything lower than the recommended octane rating. Don’t look at $3.00/gallon but rather $3.30+ per gallon, depending on where you live. You’ve just added 10% to your calculations above, not even considering the likelihood that gas prices will continue to rise.

        Now imagine using a slightly larger V6 engine with turbo that can already get better fuel mileage than the 2.6T in a heavy body like that.

        • 0 avatar
          VW4motion

          87 octane is recommended for this engine. 10 years ago, yes turbo engines needed higher octane fuel, as for this engine your point is meaningless.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @VW4: That only makes me worry more about this engine’s longevity in a Silverado. A lighter vehicle with lighter towing/hauling capacities would worry me less.

            I would NOT try to tow a 10,000# trailer behind this engine.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Good thing it’s not rated for 10,000 lbs., then. As stated in the article (which I’m sure you read), it’s 7,200.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @Doc: My Colorado has that beat with a 4-cylinder diesel and almost ties it with a normally-aspirated V6 that STILL gets better fuel mileage! More horses and almost as much torque, too.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Good for your Colorado, then. I just have to wonder why you brought up a 10K lb. capacity in the first place. Last I checked, max towing for any Colorado was 7700–definitely worth touting (I can remember when that was strictly half-ton territory), but not 10K.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Max tow in most half-ton pickup trucks is 10,000#, not 7200#. That 7200# or so was typical of full-sized trucks back in 1990, where mid-sized trucks were lucky if they could handle 4000#.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Max tow in half-tons /today/ is over 10,000, but as I said, /I can remember/ when 7000 was more typical, in the early ’00s. At that point, the highest (at least for an F-150) was in the high 8s.

            Unless I’m mistaken, the first half-ton to break 10K was the 2004-08 F-150, and even then, only on 4×2 HDPP models (11K).

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            You just made my point, Doc.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        @VW4Motion Sorry, I don’t remember mentioning Toyota at all, I get that you feel obsessed to mention them in every thread on here, what’s up with that?

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Engines like these are chosen to game the EPA test cycle, not provide better real-world fuel economy.

    It shouldn’t be shocking to anyone that something that looks and weighs like a locomotive doesn’t get great MPGs.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    Everything about this engine is a steaming pile of poo compared to the competition. It’s a not so transparent way to have an up charge for the “used to be standard” V8. GM is pretty much ensuring that I’ll never own another one of their vehicles.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    This article pretty much proves what I said when we first heard about this engine in the Silverado. It’s too small to be effective for fuel economy and will be forced to work harder than necessary throughout it’s all-too-short lifespan in this truck. Take away the turbo and even WITH 8-10 gears, it doesn’t have enough power to provide economy, especially at cruising speed, which would be where the economy should be greatest.

    To me, generating a turbo version of the 3.6L V6 in the Colorado and putting that into the Silverado would be a far better choice. Smaller than the 4.3L base V6, it would offer better economy at cruise speeds while offering more power than the 5liter+ V8 for towing and hauling. It truly would offer the best of both worlds at a lower cost to the owner.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      “…will be forced to work harder than necessary throughout…”

      That’s true for anything more than 4,000 lbs, midsize and up, with capacity to haul that much or more. Automakers, please stop trying to reinvent the damn wheel.

      V8s are god’s gift the automotive world. Buy anything else (when available) and you’re proving to automakers you’re a true sucker, and will back their BS designed to game the EPA, leaving you with worse real-world fuel economy, worse reliability/longevity, worse resale value, increased maintenance, higher octane required, and gladly pay higher MSRP to boot!

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    So if I drive 15K miles a year and I sell my Silverado and buy a used Yaris and accept the free offer for mulch home delivery 2x/yr from the Garden Center does that mean I will potentially save 48K dollars not counting interest over 7 years?

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    It would be nice to know the respective weights of the comparable Ford and Ram trucks. If the GM one is a few hundred pounds heavier that alone could explain the results.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    GM…WHAT A DISGRACE!

  • avatar
    Tele Vision

    I get 16.8 mpg in my 2010 F-150 with the 5.4L 3V. Admittedly it’s 90% highway but I’m already into some 4X4 runs to work, which will drag the numbers down a bit. 320 HP and 390 TQ. Old School, baby.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    For real world reference, from someone with a heavy foot – my 17 Z71 4 door 6 speed with the 5.3L gets about 17 city, 23-24 HWY (peak of 25.3 over 100 mile) average is sitting at 20.3 mpg.

    I think this engine was a waste of time and money – better spent developing a Big Block LT engine with cylinder deactivation and other modern goodies.

  • avatar
    pdog_phatpat

    After all these years of dogging Ford and their BS anti-aluminum ads, add on Chevy pitchman no one can stand and is a laughing stock, what do they do? Slap on reverse Ford F150 headlights and add a demoralizing FOUR CYLINDER as base engine to their new trucks? I’m sorry guys but seriously, I cant stop laughing.

  • avatar
    MBella

    The question is which engine is the volume model. Ford doesn’t want to play Let’s Make a Deal on anything besides a 2.7 Ecoboost. I suspect that the 5.3 will remain the volume engine for GM.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    It’s the Geo Metro of full size pickup trucks.

    *Brought to you by Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GGM LLC), now with even 75% more Chineseium,
    Silaoan, and other absolite lowest-cost bid parts content!

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    p.s. – This Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors (GGM) Chrevolet Chinarado has cylinder deactivation that allows it to run on 2 cylinders (even when motor is not technically FUBAR).

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Sure will be interesting to see how they’re able to compensate for the vibrations from umpteen different cylinder-activation profiles, even with just four cylinders!

      Maybe they’ll have thick enough rings on all of the cylinders to stop oil use.

      Nahhhhh..we’re talking GGM here! But..I’d rather see how that multiple-profile displacement-on-demand goes in the larger engines..might make for a pleasant surprise if the technology is well-executed.

  • avatar
    Matt Foley

    I hate to admit it, but you’re right as rain about this. I might trust this engine if it ran on all four cylinders all the time. But…

    The Honda J-series V6 and GM LS V8 are two of the best engines ever made, yet both have had significant problems with cylinder deactivation. If it doesn’t work reliably on such proven engines, what are the odds that GM can make cylinder deactivation work reliably, over the long haul, in a new forced-induction large-displacement four cylinder engine?

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Dude you’re crazy, and obviously don’t understand/appreciate modern engineering /sarc

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I like watching SavageGeese and seeing Turbowski roll his eyes every time that someone mentions AFM/cylinder deactivation. He does this because of how many higher mileage cars with that feature that he sees in his show with issues due to that feature.

        If I had a Charger/Challenger/300 with Hemi and cylinder deactivation I’d leave it in Sport Mode 24/7/365 just to defeat the cylinder deactivation.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          I think the reasoning of some of the guys here “but the engineers MADE it reliable, they know what they’re doing!!” is perhaps a bit too far removed from the service side of cars. I guess the guys in the garage can generally come across as incredibly jaded and resistant to change, but they’re the ones dealing with all the stuff that craps out, that was engineered with a focus on bumping fuel economy, at a cost of increased complexity, which in turn more often than not means decreased reliability.

          The latest criticism I’m hearing from guys in the know in Russia is that the latest transmission tuning on regular automatics with aggressive torque converter lockup is causing issues, even on transmissions that were A-OK historically. We got a notice for my wife’s 2012 Camry extending the transmission warranty out to 150k iirc, I’ve noticed it definitely acts very aggressively with leaving the TC locked up really low around town, causes some unpleasant vibes sometimes, it had been reflashed at the dealer a few years back, some sort of factory fix for complaints about said vibes and roughness from lugging the engine.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    The reality is that the efficiency improvement is small. It takes a lot of fuel to make 300+ hp/tq. GM already had their truck powertrains pretty efficient and reliable.

    There has to be some other reason why they chose to put this engine in this truck. Maybe it is a testing ground for other applications. Maybe it is because the length is similar to the V8 options. Maybe there is a real cost savings to only having one head and a narrow block.

    What I do know, is that I am not the target audience for this truck. Based on specs alone, the engine should perform better than the small V8s we had 20 years ago. Most of us ‘older’ truck buyers, who remember the 70’s and 80’s, will never willingly choose to buy a 4 cylinder full size truck. My kids? They could care less. They have no nostalgia for a V8 or even an I6.

    I would pick the Pentastar option only because I only want a turbo on my truck if it is a diesel. Because I am old, and I am set in my ways.

    • 0 avatar
      ahintofpepperjack

      *They couldn’t care less.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      And to those of us who came of age in the ‘80s remember the blown turbos in K-cars and others, which gives us pause.

      Granted today’s turbocharged engines are likely designed appropriately. But you still can’t argue that moving the same weight of vehicle with a smaller, harder-working engine isn’t going to have the potential for negative consequences somewhere down the road.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I’m highly suspect of the EPA’s mileage figures with this truck and many other vehicles. One example being the 2019 volume Silverado with the new DFM 5.3 V8 that rated exactly the same MPG as last years AFM model despite losing 400 LBS of weight, gaining the DFM system which is claimed to improve MPG by up to 7% and the new 8 speed transmission. The new truck is also more aerodynamic.

    Even more telling is a recent C&D fuel economy test of the new Ram with the eTorque 3.6 V6 which fell well under it’s EPA rated figures. In fact they said it wasn’t far off the 5.7 engine! I would be willing to bet this new 2.7 will exceed it’s highway figure by at least 1-2 MPG in real world driving.

  • avatar
    road_pizza

    Hmmmm…. in the 1400 or so miles I’ve put on my 2018 F150 XLT 2.7EB 4X4 Supercab I’m getting 20 in the city and 23 on the highway. Not impressed.

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