Who’d have thought: A turbocharged four-cylinder Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck gets beaten by a similar with Silverado with a V8 engine? It happened when Car and Driver ran them on the same highway driving route. Both are rated by the EPA at 22 mpg in highway driving.
“We couldn’t have been more shocked by the result,” writes Car and Driver of its own highway fuel economy (HFE) test, which spanned driving 200 miles at 75 mph. The four-cylinder Silverado got 18 mpg while a heavier V8 Silverado got 21 mpg in the hands of C/D, equating to a 17 percent advantage for the V8 over the inline-four.
The vehicles were roughly equivalent. Both were 2019 Silverado 1500s with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The smaller-engine pickup was the Silverado 2.7T RST with a DoubleCab configuration. The V8 was the Silverado was the 5.3-liter RST Crew Cab with a weight penalty of 314 pounds. And still, it managed better mileage.
How’d that happen? Car and Driver says:
For all the chest pumping that manufacturers do over downsizing and turbocharging, we found it curious that a pushrod V-8 could even come close to challenging it in any area of efficiency. … Our real-world test runs vehicles at relatively high speed, and while the downsizing and turbocharging approach is a benefit to the EPA test cycles, the 2.7 still needs to move a brick through the air. We suspect it is on boost or making use of the turbo at 75 mph. The exact opposite—the engine essentially operating as a naturally aspirated four-banger—is probably true during the 48-mph EPA highway test cycle.
The 5.3 also benefits from some fancy bit of tech that GM calls Dynamic Fuel Management [variable cylinder shutdown], which is capable of running 17 different ignition cycles to maximize fuel economy.
Chevrolet and sibling GMC are both working on other engines to provide more horsepower, torque, and efficiency. A six-cylinder diesel is coming. Maybe the combination of six, not four, cylinders and diesel technology will show a more upbeat result for fans of fewer cylinders, where appropriate.
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