When it comes to regulations pertaining to environmental protections, the automobile industry has (perhaps unnecessarily) become a target. Over the last decade the goal posts for fuel economy have shifted tremendously, mandating automakers to find every extra MPG available in their portfolios. During this time we have watched as natural aspiration has given way to turbocharging across all segments. General Motors even developed its 2.7L four-cylinder turbo engine for application in its truck lineup, something that would have been unheard of fifteen years ago. But is this what customers are looking for in a GM truck?
While the 2.7L turbo four found in the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra might be small, it does pack a punch. The engine was designed from the start with its eventually truck-shaped home in mind, and features a 4.01 inch piston stroke for improved low-end torque. Other elements such as offset dual-overhead camshafts and a dual-volute turbocharger help the four-pot produce 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque, which is 22 percent more than the standard 4.3L V6 engine. The extra torque doesn’t make the engine more capable however, as its 2,280 pound payload capacity and 7,200 pound towing capacity are both lower than the old V6’s ratings.
In short: it’s a stout little motor on paper.
The name of the game with smaller displacement engines is all about fuel economy, and the 2.7L engine borrows some fuel-saving tech from its larger siblings. For the first time, General Motors is offering Active Fuel Management on a four-cylinder engine with the 2.7L, meaning at times the engine will run on two cylinders for increased efficiency. However, there have been a number of outlets that have reported that in the real world, the 2.7L engine is actually less efficient that the larger and more capable 5.3L V8 on offer.
So then it begs the question: what does the 2.7L engine really offer for GM truck buyers? GM offers four other powertrain options for their full-size trucks that all offer more capability than the four-pot in one way or another. At the Chicago Auto Show, we sat down with two GM truck representatives to discuss the relatively small engine.
As it stands, the 2.7L L3B turbo is not the majority choice for GM truck buyers. Director of Chevrolet Truck Marketing Bob Krapes told MC&T that the take rate on the turbo four is “probably 10-15 percent,” while he sees the more efficient Duramax diesel on the rise.
“Duramax is averaging about 6 percent and I see it going up… it’s the real deal,” said Krapes. The mix otherwise largely skews small block V8.
The 3.0L Duramax diesel engine is true choice for the fuel conscious customer in the GM truck lineup, as it offers a class leading 33 mpg on the highway, which is actually 11 mpg more than the four-cylinder. For the LTZ and High Country, the 3.0L LM2 Duramax is a $2,495 option, equal to the price of the 6.2L L87 V8. For the LT and RST trim levels, the D-Max is a $3,890 premium over a 2.7L Turbo engine. Chevrolet has priced the engine so that buyers can choose between power or fuel economy, with no financial tradeoff.
While trailering takes a hit compared to the 6.2L V8, GM engineers are actively working on upgrading the tow ratings for the 3.0L Duramax.
Meanwhile, there’s the all-new, ever-important GM SUV lineup. As it stands, the 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and 2021 Suburban, as well as the 2021 GMC Yukon family and 2021 Cadillac Escalade will not offer the turbo-four. But they will offer the Duramax.
“We talked about using the 2.7L,” Stuart Pierce, Senior Marketing Manager, GMC Trucks & Full-Size SUVs told MC&T when speaking about the new GMC Yukon. “It’s something we’re still considering. These vehicles are heavier and more expensive… the customer expects more of a V8 engine at the price point but we’re still thinking about it. The whole powertrain landscape is changing so rapidly.”
The 2.7L engine is otherwise found in the Cadillac CT4-V.