How Small Can We Go? Four-Cylinder Half-Ton Pickups Have Arrived

2019-Chevrolet-Silverado-RST-025 II

It wasn't that long ago that four-cylinder engines were rigidly relegated to the likes of subcompact and hybrid cars. The very idea of a four-banger making it into a full-size pickup truck would have been (and was) ridiculed just 20 years ago. Then came Ford's EcoBoost V-6 engines in the F-150; they gained momentum and resistance wilted. Now, a twin-turbo V-6 is Ford's top-of-the-line performance engine and the new Ford F-150 Raptor is selling just fine without a V-8.

But GM's move to a four-cylinder engine for the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has quite a few people scratching their head.

V-6 engines traditionally have been the base engine for half-ton pickups, but that's all changed now. Close to 70 percent of the No. 1-selling Ford F-150s leave the lot with a V-6. In fact, if you include the new turbo-diesel Power Stroke V-6 and two versions of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost, the only remaining engine not a V-6 in the lineup is the stout 5.0-liter Coyote V-8. That's six different engine choices and only one is a low-volume V-8. Pretty interesting for a company that at one time offered three different levels of V-8 power for its F-150. (Do you recall when that was?)

Now comes GM with its all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 boasting an impressive high-tech four-cylinder as an option. Granted, GM is predicting only a small number of shoppers will choose that engine — 10 percent is the estimate — but depending on the trade-offs those buyers will have to make, it could become more popular as word spreads. For now, the engine is restricted to just two mid-level trims.

From the mechanical side of the equation, using dual exhaust flow tubes (or volutes) to feed the oversized turbocharger, with all sorts of versatile cooling options, is quite ambitious. No doubt it will sound different than most half-ton pickups. Ford addressed that issue with the EcoBoost V-6 engines by using an active sound modifier that made the V-6 sound like a V-8. We'll let you decided whether that's clever or deceptive. We don't know what GM will do, but with almost 350 pound-feet of torque, our pre-production first-drive impression was an eye-opener.

However, we're pretty sure GM engineers have exhausted themselves hunting for the right tones and sounds. Lord knows pickup buyers are particular about truck design and exhaust notes, even if they're saving a good chunk of money on a new truck with an efficient engine that offers strong fuel economy. Understanding exactly which trade-offs are non-negotiable and which ones are is more art than science, no matter how many focus groups you use.

We'll know more about the new GM half tons after we spend more time with the different powertrains in August, when we'll be able to haul and tow with each of the new engines (except the diesel). In the meantime, we're guessing GM's 10 percent number might be optimistic, unless it can build some credibility with a 400-horsepower high-performance model. But we won't hold our breath waiting for a four-cylinder Silverado SS.

Manufacturer images

2-7L-Turbo-with-Active-Fuel Management-and-stopstart-technology (1) II

2-7L-Turbo-with-Active-Fuel Management-and-stopstart-technology (2) Turbo 1 II

 

Comments

Geez what are you guys thinking? GM is going down hill fast, time to trade mine in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Good luck turning that truck, not to mention the lack of power. GM has lost its mind like TNT.

Turbo's mean less long-term reliability, so go ahead GM, how else are you going to lie about the longest lasting big trucks only based on registrations which means rebuilt engines and tranny's are common place in that data.

The FAKE papajim (above).

the solid-gold real deal Papajim says that the four cylinder DOHC design can produce a TON of power (You never hear anyone complain about the big RAM Cummins being a six, right?). During the 1950s, 60s and 70s four cylinder engines RULED at the Indy 500.

Remember? They could make 1000 hp with turbo Offenhausers.

So, keep your powder dry until this new Chevy actually hits the showrooms. It might surprise you.

We are seeing the fruits of what is learned from my favorite sport: car racing. I have grown to like fours in recent years. They certainly aren't the weak and raspy mills they once were thanks to advanced turbo charging, VVT, DI, 10 speed transmissions, etc.

I'm interested to see how the market reacts to this power plant.

And don't forget.

Since 2004 Subaru has been building a four cylinder turbo that makes 300 hp 300 tq in passenger cars. If it was really that big a problem you'd hear about it.

I tried to street-race a guy in a Subaru WRX about 10 years ago. I was driving my wife's 350Z Nissan roadster (which was quick) and the Subie smoked us. Not even close.

Go back to 2004 and there were very few (if any?) half ton pickups with 300/300 figures.


@papajim


So what does a big Cummins 6 cylinder diesel have anything to do with your defense of a small 4cyl in a full size truck?

"(You never hear anyone complain about the big RAM Cummins being a six, right?)"

If all trucks hadn't become so bloated..... put them all on a diet. My Tacoma is the size of a full size truck from the 80's/90's.

lol the level of salt in these comments are amazing. I for one don't care for the 4 cylinder, but I also don't think it's the demise of GM. GM has been making cheap (quality) vehicles for decades. The only thing they ever really have going for themselves over the competition are their power plants. I'm pretty certain they know what they're doing with a 4 cylinder model. While it's not ideal, turbocharged engines are the future, if we plan on sticking with petroleum based fuel. They can make the power and torque needs while meeting the emissions requirements. The era of the big naturally aspirated engines are gone. Sure there will be a few models around, typically in sports cars and the like, but even those are dying off (Ford GT for example).

Fake TNTGMC

Get a life!

I'm not a fan of this, but more and more people these days buy trucks for family haulers! They don't tow with them as much as others so this could be a great choice for them!
Not for me though!

@dapetik

Exactly! I look at the F150 and think to myself, "That thing is huge! How practical would that be to take it on a trip, or to go get groceries in a busy parking lot?" Not very... I want something like a 2010 Chevy Colorado, or a late 90's ford ranger.

I don't need a big ol pickup. Give me something small to haul a bit of lumber around or to move a couch. I'm not hauling farm equipment around, and I highly the truck they bough is really what they need. But, more power to them.

Engine looks a little like my '89 E30 M3 engine. Well just the head with its' dual overhead cam. Ie those two round black things. Well really it's a stretch of a comparison. California version of the 2.3L was 195hp. Can't help but like these compact four bangers, even though I grew up around muscle car 428ci, 429ci, 351ci Fords, 302ci, 350ci Chevy. I read an article where the E30 race engine pumped out 700hp. So yah, lots of bang for the buck. Ie, lots of bang for 2.3L, without Turbo. How'd they do it I'm not sure, but it came with a two piece head. Cam followers and shims, in my opinion, gave it solid lifter high reving capability. I've had it up to the rev limiter 7500rpm max a few times over its' life. I suppose the race version spun much higher is partly how they got 700hp. I never expected a two piece head, very unique. Had to overhaul the head once with my race boat motor buddy. We debated whether to mil the head the normal amount that all head machine shops want to do, but we didn't because it was actually not warped and still within spec. He'd changed head gaskets on his 2000 hp race boat motors in the field with no machining, and things were fine. I thought that by keeping the metal on the head, and because it was still in spec, was one way to keep that unique heads' long life in tack. It's still running good 5-6yrs later. It was a big job for me, but a real confidence builder. I'm looking forward to hearing more about the dual volute engine. Hope it turns out to be reliable since that's really the test of long term acceptance.

I hope it works out, maybe put this motor in a Colorado instead of the Silverado, detune it a little so it fits between the 2.4 and 3.6

buddy has the Explorer with the 2.7 turbo, says they get 14 around town...

Interesting how no one is complaining that some bigger trucks like Isuzu has had a 4 banger for a really long time.

Not sure what years Ford had the three V8s, but I remember in the 70s they had the 302, 351, 361, 390, 400 and 460. I just don't remember which engines were available in which trims of trucks. Our '73 3/4-ton had the 390.

@Dave: maybe your buddies Explorer has issues. Or he like as to floor it.

I get 18 plus mpg around town in hilly area.

2018 F-150 F-150 Crew 4x4 FX-4. 10 speed, 3 55 gears and 18" wheels.

The 18" wheels do not help it. It would have 265 70 17s if I had a choice, but the package I wanted only had 18s.

At least I could fit a 17 on there, unlike the new Rams.

I get 23 to 24 in hilly area at 60 mph.

Not sure what years Ford had the three V8s, but I remember in the 70s they had the 302, 351, 361, 390, 400 and 460. I just don't remember which engines were available in which trims of trucks. Our '73 3/4-ton had the 390.


Posted by: Longboat | Jul 9, 2018 9:55:17 AM


I'd say in the mid 90's where the F-Series got 302, 351W, 460

Ford and GM both have now gone the 4-cyl direction to improve fuel mileage, while BOTH ignore the gorilla in the room... a big, flat nose with a tall aspect, making even a low coefficient of drag irrelevant due to huge frontal area. The CoD is multiplied by frontal area to give a realistic aerodynamic rating and with all the air these things push around, those tiny engines simply can NOT get the kind of economy those same engines could with a smaller and re-shaped front end.

Don't believe me? Try putting that exact same engine into a similarly-weighted, same-footprint sedan or coupe and I'd bet you'd see a 50% improvement in fuel mileage on the highway. Take away 25% of the weight and that could rise to a 33% improvement. This, of course, assumes the drivetrains from engine to wheel diameter were identical. We know they wouldn't be.

"I hope it works out, maybe put this motor in a Colorado instead of the Silverado, detune it a little so it fits between the 2.4 and 3.6" ---- Posted by: Dave | Jul 9, 2018 9:33:26 AM

And with that you point out one of the problems with the Big Three for decades... They would go out of their way to ensure the small trucks were never better-performing than their big ones. They usually re-geared the small-bodied models so that they simply couldn't provide the torque needed for proper performance and economy, so that only rarely did they demonstrate better economy and never had sufficient pull to compete. Even if you chose the V6 over the i-4, the horsepower might be good but the gearing had the torque at the wheel so low a 4-cylinder could outrun it.

The only fix would be to re-gear the tranny and differential and, of course, the speedometer, to see any significant improvement. Yet, you look at what's been done with other types of cars and those fours are blowing away the 6s and 8s on economy while still showing decent, albeit not great, acceleration. Anything less than a ten-second 0-60 is pretty good when fifteen-second times used to be the norm.

So what does a big Cummins 6 cylinder diesel have anything to do with your defense...Posted by: FullSize_only

@Fullsize

With a name like that I'd figure you could answer your own question. In the old days if you had a half ton truck it probably had an old Ford or Chevy straight six. Later came V6 base motors. But it was kind of lame to have a six. Still is actually, unless it's a Cummins.

What that so hard?

the solid-gold real deal Papajim says that the four cylinder DOHC design can produce a TON of power (You never hear anyone complain about the big RAM Cummins being a six, right?). During the 1950s, 60s and 70s four cylinder engines RULED at the Indy 500. ---- Posted by: papajim

Remember, one of those races in the 80s was won with a used Chevrolet school bus V6 engine block, not an Offy or one of those other exotic names.

@Vulpine

Wrong. The winning V6 was a Buick 3.8 turbo.

AJ Foyt's team ran a 4.3 Chevy V6 with George Snider at the wheel but it did not qualify on its lap times, IIRC

@Vulpine

Please stop bringing the aero discussion into these conversations about pickups. With the exception of cruising the Interstate pickup owners don't need to worry about much streamlining.

How much does aero matter if the truck is parked, or if it's idling in traffic?

So that thing is gonna have a weed eater engine HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA and all the GARBAGE MOTORS FAN GIRLYS WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT FORD turbos V6. Let me tell you this KARMA is a beach HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT GARBAGE MOTORS FAN GIRLYS ENJOY YOUR WEED EATER ENGINE WHILE IT LAST HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.


Are you kidding??

I ask this confused person this:

"@papajim


So what does a big Cummins 6 cylinder diesel have anything to do with your defense of a small 4cyl in a full size truck?

"(You never hear anyone complain about the big RAM Cummins being a six, right?)" "

And he answers this:

"So what does a big Cummins 6 cylinder diesel have anything to do with your defense...Posted by: FullSize_only

@Fullsize

With a name like that I'd figure you could answer your own question. In the old days if you had a half ton truck it probably had an old Ford or Chevy straight six. Later came V6 base motors. But it was kind of lame to have a six. Still is actually, unless it's a Cummins.

What that so hard?"

I should have known that with a name like yours that old age might confuse you and have you answering questions you weren't asked. Nonetheless i got my answer.....

Right on Chingon....PREACH IT MY BROTHER!!!!

@ Frank

During 92/to 96/ ford offered the 5.0, 5.8, and the 7.5L V8/engines. Last years of the 2 Windsor V8s

@ full size

I'll chime in and try to help. What my father has always said being a mechanic is that an in line 4/cylinder or 6/ run better and have less friction because they move up and down instead of a V6 or V8 bc they move diagonally.

I had a ford probe in high school, father maintained it every 3k miles. About 200k miles started to burn a little oil. Tore engine down. It looked fantastic no wall wear, just the rings were bad. Changed out rings and it ran till I sold it 3rd year of college.

Now before and Ford guy chimes in...thats a Mazda motor in the Ford!

but I absolutely loved that car. The 89 to 92 model years are still sexy and futuristic looking. I had an 89/LX with the digital displays

Wanted a GT with turbo but insurance was way to high for a 16 year old. Plus those things were pretty fast in 1989 standards. Father didn't want that either!

TNT,

I remember those Ford Probes from the 80s and 90s. A friend of mine had one back in the day. He hated the car and called it the @nal Probe. hahahahaha

"Turbo's mean less long-term reliability, so go ahead GM, how else are you going to lie about the longest lasting big trucks only based on registrations which means rebuilt engines and tranny's are common place in that data." ---- Posted by: oxi

--- Turbo used to mean that, Oxi, but not so much any more. We've had turbos in 4-cyl cars for a long time now--nearly 40 years at the consumer level. Yes, 40 years ago they used to need kid-glove handling, up to and including cool-down time before shutting the engine off. That isn't so true today. Ford has been running those Eco-Boost engines for over 15 years and their reliability is notably better than even in 2007 and that means a design and engineering team willing to learn from their mistakes and find ways to ameliorate the conditions that used to make turbos so problematical. Clearly, if Ford can do it, GM can.

Now it comes down to whether these turbo-fours can hold up to the typical use for which the full-sized pickups are designed. I can easily see this engine working in a true compact truck like the S-10 but can it hold up to dragging a 5000# truck AND its highly-variable loads around on a daily basis?

"Wrong. The winning V6 was a Buick 3.8 turbo.
AJ Foyt's team ran a 4.3 Chevy V6 with George Snider at the wheel but it did not qualify on its lap times, IIRC" --- Posted by: papajim

Ok, do some more digging. Maybe it was an inline six, hmmm?

"How much does aero matter if the truck is parked, or if it's idling in traffic?" --- Posted by: papajim


You obviously don't drive in the places I drive. I-95 has pickup trucks commonly doing 75mph or faster, so does I-81... on runs of 20 miles and more, which means an easy gallon of gas that could have been almost half that much with an aerodynamic design.

Ford's aerodynamic design has their average economy better than GM's while Ram's averages better than Ford's.

Wrong. The winning V6 was a Buick 3.8 turbo.

AJ Foyt's team ran a 4.3 Chevy V6 with George Snider at the wheel but it did not qualify on its lap times, IIRC


Posted by: papajim | Jul 9, 2018 11:02:08 AM
———————————-

If you’re referring to the Indy 500, Buick V6 never won

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Indianapolis_500_winners

This is the first of GM's Ecoboost fighters. The next will likely be a replacement for the 5.3. With Ford selling more Ecoboosts than GM sells V8s this must happen. The days of the pushrod V8 are numbered.

The three engine series was in the 70s.
302 windsor
390 FE
460 Lima

I've cut Chingons hair for years now. HE is a helluva guy!!

I agree with him 100% and will also say that GM GARBAGE MOTORS SUCKS AND 4 CYL TURBOS IN FULL SIZE TRUCK SUCK TOO!!!

HAHAHAHA

@ Sammy

Well I really liked mine. Nothing wrong with it other a scheduled maintaince for 200k. That's pretty good in my terms. Especially for a kid in high school, bc I was never gentle on it

This is the first of GM's Ecoboost fighters. The next will likely be a replacement for the 5.3. With Ford selling more Ecoboosts than GM sells V8s this must happen. The days of the pushrod V8 are numbered.


Posted by: frankinFL | Jul 9, 2018 12:01:12 PM

Please leave your remedial math out of this.

After the last time you tried to explain how you came to this conclusion, we've all had enough laughs.

No factual data from either side to prove the point. Although some rough numbers tend to prove you wrong.

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

18 races....

9 wins Toyota

8 wins Ford

1 win Chevy


Ahhhaaahaaahhhaah!

And the only reason Chevy won their only race was because Austin Dillon, with 2 laps to go, crashed the leading Ford of Aric Almirola in the right rear,sending him into the SAFER wall.

2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

18 races....

9 wins Toyota

8 wins Ford

1 win Chevy


Ahhhaaahaaahhhaah!


Posted by: BA | Jul 9, 2018 12:30:09 PM

Nascar died with the car of tomorrow by eliminating the manufacturer advantage.

Who cares......

Nascar died with the car of tomorrow by eliminating the manufacturer advantage.

Who cares......


Posted by: andrwken | Jul 9, 2018 12:40:47 PM

i do WTF is your problem today your Chevy break

I want to see an all EV pickup that looks like Dodge A100. Only wider and with a taller cab. A full size, deep bed with a cover. All under A/C and with 110v plugs in the bed.

Who cares??
Only a dumba*s like myself! I just love Ford, I know nobody really cares but anything I can dig up that has a Ford victory is worthy because it's so rare..

NASCAR died when the sanctioning body let the GM teams use the FWD, non V8 powered W Body to create a RWD V8 race car.

Hey PapaMoron

Once again you were proven wrong when saying a Buick V6 won Indy 500.

You really are getting senile

NASCAR died when the sanctioning body let the GM teams use the FWD, non V8 powered W Body to create a RWD V8 race car.


Posted by: Brick | Jul 9, 2018 1:00:03 PM

That didn't help either.

Now before and Ford guy chimes in...thats a Mazda motor in the Ford!


Posted by: TNTGMC | Jul 9, 2018 11:32:49 AM

Ford has about 25% Shares with Mazda back then, so what's your point?

I'd bet you'd spin when I say GM had shares with Isuzu and used their Diesel but you still call it a GM Design.



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