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2022 CHEVROLET SILVERADO 1500: WHY FOUR CYLINDERS ARE BETTER THAN SIX

The Upgraded 2.7L L3B Turbo Is “One Of The Best Combustion Engines GM Has Ever Done”

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT LTZ RST High Country ZR2 WT Custom Trail Boss
Image via Chevrolet

The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 debuted last month and the updates are much, much more than just cosmetic. On the inside, there’s a revised center console with a larger touch screen, a fully digital instrument panel, and more refined material use. Keeping all of this new technology functioning is a higher capacity electrical architecture that acts as a brain for the entire vehicle, and even allows for OTA updates. There’s also the introduction of the highly-anticipated ZR2 trim level for the new Silverado. And, mechanically, there are several updates, too. Recently, we touched on the improvements on the 3.0L LM2 Duramax I6 diesel engine in the 2022 Silverado 1500. Now it’s time to take a look at the major updates for the 2.7L L3B turbocharged four-cylinder.

“This is a re-release of the engine,” Kevin Luchansky told MC&T in an interview. “My take is this thing is a truck engine, it’s all about low end torque, and our low end torque speaks for itself.”

Updated 2.7L L3B Turbo Engine In The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado

“We’ve basically re-integrated the engine into the vehicle. We put a new torque converter, new engine mounts, retuned exhaust system, and more front of dash acoustics,” Luchansky said. “We wanted to improve the sound quality of the engine. So that’s how we got to a stronger crank and block, and that’s what keeps all of those combustion forces contained.”

Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra customers who have experienced the previous version of the L3B should immediately noticed a difference, according to Luchansky.

“The truck is quieter, sounds much more refined, it’s faster, the shifts are quicker, the passability is like night and day. It’s whole order of magnitude more refined.”

L3B Turbo 2.7L General Motors Engine
Image via GM.

Why Four Cylinders Are Better Than Six (In This Case)

The 2.7L L3B is about as big of a four cylinder engine as you can get before balancing issues start to happen. If you look around the competitive landscape, there really isn’t a four-cylinder gas engine that’s bigger. Moreover, it’s incredibly power-dense. Especially with the 420 lb-ft of torque figure; which comes in at 155.5 lb-ft per liter. There’s a Mercedes AMG turbo that’s more powerful, but it requires premium fuel.

“There’s no one in the world that’s doing what we’re doing with regular fuel, and that all comes down to having an awesome, awesome combustion system,” said Luchansky.

From the get-go, the power targets were to match a small-block V8.

“We wanted to make the same power and torque as the old 5.3L and make 115 hp per liter. So if you take 5.3L and divide by 115 you come out with a 2.7. And then we looked at line engines vs V engine versus six and four. And it came down to time-to-torque. It makes torque so darn fast, and gobs of it.”

A high displacement four-cylinder engine also means big pistons that can generate more force than six smaller cylinders amounting to the same displacement, as seen with the Ford 2.7L EcoBoost V6 in the F-150 and Bronco. Luchansky affectionately refers to the L3B pistons in the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 as “hammers.”

“(Compared from 4 to 6) it comes down to how much time it takes to spool to torque. Because the L3B has four big cylinders, think if them like hammers hitting on the turbine wheel. Think of four big bangs versus six little bangs,” said Luchansky. “The turbo spools up way faster. We make more torque at 1500 RPM and we do it twice as fast. That’s why it’s a four cylinder.”

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country
Image via Chevrolet.

Real World Testing

“Take a new 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and that competitive (Ford F-150) truck, put a trailer behind them at equal weight, and drive away from a stop light, and you’ll see why,” said Luchansky. “We did that out at Davis Dam, and I was blown away. That was a defining moment our team still talks about.”

All that said, the maximum tow rating on the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with a 2.7L L3B turbo engine is listed at 9,500 pounds, while the 2021 Ford F-150 with a 2.7L EcoBoost can tow at max 10,100 pounds. For those looking to pull more, there’s the 2022 Silverado 1500 Duramax, as well as the 6.2L L87 V8 option at the higher end. But Kevin notes that it’s more than just a number on a spec sheet.

“The capability at like 8,000 pounds is amazing… compared to the competitors it blows you away… the engine is not the limiting factor, I’ll leave it at that,” he said.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Engines Duramax V8 Diesel LM2 L87 L84 L83
Image via Chevrolet

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 L3B 2.7L Turbo Fuel Economy

Luchansky tells us that “fuel economy will be the same (as before)” with the 2.7L turbo, despite the power gains.

“My take is that customers want a truck that’s capable, fast and drives really well. That’s what we focused on. But oh by the way we have great towing fuel economy… we spent lots of time towing with this thing.”

The 2.7L L3B turbo is also the base engine for the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, and likely the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500, replacing the small-block based 4.3L LV3 V6, which is being discontinued. The engine produced 280 horsepower and 360 lb-ft of torque. It was rated to max tow 7,900 pounds. The 2.7L turbo comes in at 310 horsepower, and 420 lb-ft, with 1,600 more pounds of max towing capacity. The turbo is better on the EPA fuel economy cycle than the 4.3L V6, too.

“(L3B) has 13 percent better fuel economy than the 4.3L. From an engineering perspective that’s a big improvement. But that’s not the message we want to get out. It’s more about you don’t have to give up anything.”

Except cylinder count, perhaps. But four big kids usually will beat up six little kids at the school yard. Either way, fuel economy is not a primary factor when it comes to buying a full-size truck.

“We have the cleanest truck in the world in terms of emissions and greenhouse gas, but people don’t buy trucks for that. People buy trucks for torque and drivability.”

The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 are expected to go on sale in the first quarter of 2022. Pricing has not yet been announced.

New Silverado 1500
Image via Chevrolet

Written by Manoli Katakis

Detroit Region SCCA Member and founder of MC&T. Automotive Media Jedi Knight. Not yet the rank of Master.

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