2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2.7L Turbo I-4
Those numbers compare well to the competition’s base engines. Ford’s naturally aspirated 3.3L V-6, which replaced the 3.5L V-6 in the 2018 F-150, produces 290 hp and 265 lb-ft. The 2019 Ram 1500 and its 3.6L Pentastar V-6 get an eTorque mild-hybrid system, good for 305 hp and 269 lb-ft (with eTorque adding 90 lb-ft from a standstill). Like the Ram V-6, Chevy’s 2.7L turbo four is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, while Ford’s base engine gets by with a six-speed auto.
Chevrolet claims the 2.7L I-4 was developed as a truck engine from the start, with key goals being efficient performance, a high specific mass to power output, and leading low-speed torque and turbocharger response. In order to achieve these goals, engine designers incorporated a variety of technologies, including a tri-mode valvetrain: high valve lift for maximum power, low valve lift for low-demand cruising, and a no-lift profile that shuts down the second and third cylinders for improved fuel efficiency. This system, which is the first application of Chevy’s Active Fuel Management on a four-cylinder engine, retains the low-lift valve profile for cylinders One and Four.
Furthermore, the 2.7 also includes a dual-volute, twin-scroll turbocharger to nearly eliminate lag. Twin-scroll technology separates the exhaust manifold into one section for the second and third cylinders and another section for the first and fourth. This helps ensure the turbo keeps spinning through two distinct exhaust pulses. However, unlike other twin-scroll turbos, the 2.7L engine’s snail also includes dual-volute technology, which keeps both exhaust pulses separate until they reach the turbine at two locations opposite one another. This helps the turbo respond almost immediately to each and every twitch of the loud pedal. Electronic boost control and an electrically actuated wastegate further help improve operating efficiency.
Furthermore, driving the 2018 and 2019 Silverado 1500 back to back showed just how much the new truck has improved over its predecessor. Impact harshness over GM’s deliberately harsh proving ground pavement is reduced, and the ride is much smoother. Driving through curves with midcorner washboard, wheel control is much improved with less skittering on the front wheels. And interior quietness, long a hallmark of GM’s fullsize trucks, is as good or better than the previous machine.
We’re also eyeing the turbocharged 2.7L I-4 with some skepticism, as Ford’s similarly sized EcoBoost V-6 drives well unloaded but can sometimes feel a bit winded when saddled with a trailer or a full bed. The 2.7L Turbo’s payload, towing capacity, and fuel economy numbers are still to come, but the engine’s Assistant Chief Engineer Craig Marriot says we won’t be disappointed with the compact engine’s performance in the real world. And our experience with the truck on a closed course cast no aspersions as to the truck’s usability as a daily driver, family hauler, and weekend errand machine.
Ten years ago, if someone told us a four-cylinder engine could haul around a well-equipped 1/2-ton pickup, we’d have laughed in their face (or at least politely suppressed a guffaw). But our brief time proved that a turbocharged 2.7L I-4 can indeed pull around the 2019 Silverado 1500 not just adequately, but eagerly. We can’t wait to put Chevrolet’s new I-4 through its paces in other situations, but our first impression of the engine is very, very good.
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