By Chad Kirchner
The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 due at dealerships in the fall has more engine choices than ever before, offering six different power options for the new pickup truck. One of those new engine options is a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine. We had a chance to go behind the scenes to get all the details about the new engine and drive a 2019 Silverado equipped with it during a media event in Milford, Mich.
The 2.7-liter makes 310 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 348 pounds-feet of torque from 1,500- 4,000 rpm. That engine is mated to an updated version of GM's eight-speed automatic transmission.
The Tech Behind the Numbers
To achieve these numbers, Chevrolet developed a dual-volute turbine. Unlike a twin-scroll turbocharged, a dual-volute system sends exhaust gas into the turbine through two separate inlets, coming off the exhaust manifold. Because the gasses aren't combined before going into the turbocharger, flow is smoother and boost pressure builds faster.
An electronic boost controller keeps everything in check as the 2.7-liter builds up to 22 pounds per square inch of boost. The results are impressive. Chevrolet claims that the 2.7-liter turbo engine reaches 90 percent torque quicker than any other engine in the class. In layman's terms, turbo lag is virtually nonexistent. To reduce friction, the new engine uses a computer-controlled continuously variable oil pump. An offset crankshaft also is at play here.
The 2.7-liter is also lighter than the 4.3-liter V-6 by 80 pounds. Compared to a similar-spec 2018 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 380 pounds are saved overall from the V-6. A die-cast high-pressure aluminum block and lower crankcase extension saves weight. The oil pan and air-fuel module are also made of composite material.
Engineers spent a lot of time developing three different modes for the valvetrain. A high valve lift configuration is used for full power. A low valve lift profile is used for cruising. No valve lift is employed for the active fuel management system.
The various profiles improve torque in the active fuel management mode by up to 24 percent and up to 5 in the low lift configuration. The key here is that Chevrolet is trying to make improvements across the board in normal driving situations, not just when the engine and truck is under maximum load.
An active thermal management system is employed on the 2.7-liter. An integrated exhaust manifold, electric water pump and coolant control valve allows the Chevy to control cooling independently via computer. On cold startup, the system can reduce cooling so that the engine and transmission oil warms up quicker. As the engine heats up, the system can increase cooling to maintain optimal temperature. When the engine is warmed up, the system improves combustion efficiency and exhaust cooling.
Another neat trick is that when the truck is in a stop-start situation, the system can continue to heat the cabin without the use of a secondary heating system. Yes, the 2.7-liter has stop-start, but Chevrolet does include a button to disable the system.
To help minimize vibrations from the four-cylinder engine and cylinder deactivation, Chevrolet uses a centrifugal pendulum absorber in the torque converter to smooth everything out. It's a similar setup first employed in the Chevrolet Colorado diesel.
Chevrolet emphasized that this engine was built from the ground for the new Silverado. It's a truck engine through and through. To convince auto journalists of that, Chevy invited us to drive the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado with the 2.7-liter back-to-back with a 2018 Silverado equipped with the 4.3-liter V-6. Chevrolet set up a short loop around GM's Milford Proving Grounds with different types of road conditions, so we could get a small taste of what the truck is like to live with. To make things interesting, Chevy didn't tell us that the new truck had the new engine in it. All we knew is that the engine was different, so we were shocked to learn it was new.
The new 2.7-liter engine is quite impressive. Acceleration is brisk and the shifts are imperceptible with the new transmission setup. All the telltale signs of a four-cylinder engine just weren't there. Driving the 2019 Silverado 1500 unloaded, it's clear why Chevy went with this engine as the base engine on the volume models. Current owners who have the V-6 are going to be blown away by the 2.7-liter. Even some 5.3-liter V-8 owners are likely to be impressed.
This setup is also light. The biggest impression from our short time behind the wheel was just how light the new truck is. The weight savings up front make the truck feel nimbler than before.
Chevy didn't provide details about suspension and chassis tuning, but you can tell shortly after you start driving that this new truck is special. Its lightness translates into a noticeable improvement in handling. Crossing over simulated railroad tracks really emphasized how much stiffer the chassis is, and how much freedom engineers had to build a lighter truck that can handle that kind of choppiness.
Compared to the 3.3-liter base engine and six-speed automatic in the 2018 Ford F-150, the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500's 2.7-liter setup is more powerful and more refined. Performance numbers for this four-cylinder inch up on the performance of Ford's 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6.
Some unknowns remain. Chevy has yet to provide towing and payload numbers for all configurations of the truck, including the new four-cylinder. We also don't know what the EPA fuel economy numbers will be, nor do we have pricing information. What we do like is when you walk into a dealership this fall to purchase a new truck, the volume models you'll see will likely have this engine.
The 5.3-liter V-8, which we also drove during the same event, remains an upgrade option. Chevrolet isn't getting rid of the V-8 anytime soon. But the new 2.7-liter in the lower trim levels isn't a penalty box for someone who doesn't want to spend a ton of money on upgrading.
We'll spend a lot more time behind the wheel as the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 gets closer to launch, including testing its the towing capability. But this early teaser has whetted our appetite.