Your Move, Ram: Chevrolet Throws 27-MPG Gauntlet With Silverado 1500 Diesel

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Diesel photos by Evan Sears

By Kelsey Mays

When GM's new 3.0-liter Duramax diesel engine becomes available on the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 pickup truck this fall, it might be the most fuel-efficient pickup truck in its class. And by class, we mean all pickups for the 2019 or 2020 model years rated by the EPA as of this writing. Chevrolet announced today that the 2020 Silverado 1500's turbo-diesel Duramax engine, a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder, will achieve EPA-estimated ratings of 23/29/25 mpg (city/highway/combined) with four-wheel drive or 23/33/27 mpg with two-wheel drive.

Related: Driving the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500's Baby Duramax: It's Smooth, Baby

The EPA has yet to publish ratings for the 2020 Silverado 1500 diesel. Asked today about GM's announcement, a spokesperson for the agency did not corroborate the ratings to Presuming the agency does corroborate, the 2WD EPA rating would dethrone the current mileage champ among pickups, the 2019 Ford F-150 with a Power Stroke diesel V-6 and 2WD (up to 25 mpg combined). The diesel 2020 Silverado 1500 could also rank as the most efficient 4WD pickup by EPA-combined ratings, a title currently with the 4WD F-150 diesel (up to 24 mpg combined). The prior-generation Ram 1500, sold as the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic, offers a second-generation EcoDiesel that tops out at 23 mpg combined.

Six weeks ago, crosstown rival Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said it expected a new, third-generation EcoDiesel V-6 in its redesigned Ram 1500 to "lead the segment on fuel economy." But, FCA said, pricing and EPA numbers wouldn't come until closer to the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel's on-sale date as a 2020 model.

So for now, and possibly later, the Silverado 1500 leads the pack.

The Silverado 1500 3.0-liter diesel employs a 10-speed automatic transmission and auto-stop technology, making 277 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque. That's enough to accommodate maximum payload and towing capacities (with 4WD) of 1,870 pounds and 9,300 pounds, respectively. The Duramax is a smooth operator, too, with swift power delivery in the Silverado 1500 and easily attainable highway mileage in the 30s, according to the truck's trip computer during our stint behind the wheel in June.

Related: Find a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 for Sale Near You

The ratings also lead any mid-size pickup, including GM's own Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins with a Duramax 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel (up to 23 mpg combined). Of course, anyone buying a diesel purely for savings at the pump should account for the higher cost of diesel fuel, which averages 24 cents per gallon nationwide — about 9 percent — more than 87-octane unleaded, per AAA as of this writing.

EPA ratings for the 2020 F-150 remain unpublished as of this writing. Barring significant retooling from Ford, FCA would need something in the neighborhood of a 20 percent mileage leap between the second- and third-generation EcoDiesel to deny fuel-economy bragging rights to GM.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 3.0L Duramax Diesel

Optional on most mid-to-high trim levels, the Duramax diesel adds another $2,495 to $3,890 depending on the trim — equivalent to springing for GM's powerful 6.2-liter V-8 in the up-level LTZ and High Country. Monte Doran, a spokesman for the automaker, told in an email that the EPA ratings "are based on the standard 3.0L Duramax configurations — no additional equipment required."

That means the upgrade gets such EPA ratings without any extra efficiency-oriented package, though it's unclear if further options could lower mileage, as often is the case for many cars. GM will also offer the engine on the Silverado's GMC sibling, the Sierra 1500.

Diesel variants of both trucks, which GM redesigned for the 2019 model year, were delayed due to longer-than-expected emissions certification amid heightened scrutiny over all things diesel.

"We are aware of the scrutiny surrounding diesels," Doran wrote, and GM has "received approval from all relevant agencies that the 3.0L Duramax is in full compliance."

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