QOTD: Would You Buy a Four-cylinder Half-ton Pickup?

qotd would you buy a four cylinder half ton pickup

General Motors is selling a full-sized pickup with a four-cylinder engine under its hood. Active fuel management, continuously variable valve timing, thermal management systems – Chevy’s put a good deal of thought and technology into this quad-pot effort.

Today’s QOTD is simple: would you buy a truck with four pistons?

Before you answer, let’s take a look at its specs. Standard on LT and RST trims, the new engine will make 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque. That’s not bad at all, especially considering it is a full 22 percent more torque than GM’s own 4.3L V6. Said to be developed specifically for truck applications, the new 2.7L turbo inline-four will deliver its peak torque between 1,500 to 4,000 rpm. Its electric water pump is a first for Chevy trucks.

On paper, that sounds pretty good. Blue Oval pickup truck fans have also been able to select an engine with 2.7L of displacement for a number of years. For 2019, that mill delivers 325 horses and 400 lb⋅ft of twist, with peak torque coming online at 2,750 rpm. Base specs between these two motors are pretty comparable, then.

Consider, too, that the mighty Fox-bodied Mustang of my youth only made 225 hp out of a honkin’ 302 cubic-inch V8. Progress, folks.

Here’s the difference: despite having an identical displacement of 2.7L, Ford’s engine has a cylinder count of six. Four bangers have long been associated with economy cars and small crossovers, not macho full-sized trucks with a grille the size of Texas. If GM’s new engine fails to capture a significant percentage of market share, your humble author believes it will be due to an image problem associated with the number of cylinders, not its capability.

I have not driven a four-banger Silverado yet, but our fancy-pants Managing Editor has, so hit up his review for more details. I do find it disingenuous at best that GM is comparing its 2.7L to Ford’s base 3.3L, since GM’s base mill is the old 4.3L V6. Most customers will – not unreasonably – compare the bowtie and Blue Oval 2.7L engines, whether The General wants them to or not.

How about it? Would you sign on the dotted line for a full-sizer with four-cylinders?

[Image: General Motors]

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2 of 104 comments
  • Vulpine Vulpine on Jan 08, 2019

    "QOTD: Would You Buy a Four-cylinder Half-ton Pickup?" --- In a word: No. Oh, I understand the little turbo four puts out a fair amount of horsepower. But if you're going for that four at all, then you're looking at a truck that's actually too big to take advantage of the engine's efficiency. This is almost identical to what was happening in the '70s, '80s and even '90s where they put the smallest engine into a vehicle possible and had to gear it (or turbo it) to such an extent that the efficiency is nearly impossible to achieve. This little four could easily replace the V6 in a mid-sized truck and realize even more fuel savings than the non-turbo model already residing in that mid-sizer. Essentially, the more torque available at low RPMs, the less the engine has to work when unloaded. Ford did well with putting a turbocharged, small, V6 in the F-150 but we can already see that the turbo four is averaging worse than the turbo six when empty and much, MUCH worse when loaded.

  • Nrd515 Nrd515 on Jan 09, 2019

    No, and I wouldn't buy any turbo'ed V6 either. I know one of these days, probably not too long from now, there will be very few, if any NA engines, but until then, I will pass on the turbos and be very happy. Right now, if I was looking for a half ton pickup, it would be a Ram with a Hemi. I like the looks, both inside and out(But not as much as the last gen's exterior), and everyone I know that has had a Ram since the hemi was introduced has loved theirs. I still miss my '03 1500 Quad Cab 4x4 this time of year.

  • Dennis Howerton Nice article, Cory. Makes me wish I had bought Festivas when they were being produced. Kia made them until the line was discontinued, but Kia evidently used some of the technology to make the Rio. Pictures of the interior look a lot like my Rio's interior, and the 1.5 liter engine is from Mazda while Ford made the automatic transmission in the used 2002 Rio I've been driving since 2006. I might add the Rio is also an excellent subcompact people mover.
  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.