2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 2.7 first drive review: Daring to be different

Paradigm shifts tend to be either brilliant or disasters. Chevy’s made just such a gamble with its full-size pickup line with a new turbo-4 engine for its Chevrolet Silverado truck. The new engine takes over in LT and RST trims where a 4.3-liter V-6 once lived, and it makes the 2019 Silverado the first modern full-size pickup truck to offer just four cylinders in a market once dominated by V-8s.

It’s a shock but not a surprise. High-powered processing in fuel and ignition management plus advances in turbocharging have catapulted overachieving small engines past traditional configurations, or so GM says.

MORE: Read our 2019 Chevrolet Silverado review

The 2.7-liter turbo-4 uses a twin-scroll turbocharger to help low-rpm and low-load throttle response. The engine can deactivate two of its four cylinders in certain cruising situations—effectively running as an inline-2—and also uses a stop/start system when stationary.

The turbo-4-equipped Silverado’s 20 mpg city, 23 highway, 21 combined figures mean a 13-percent bump in city fuel economy over the previously standard Chevy V-6. And the turbo-4 generates a healthy 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque, with a maximum towing capacity of 7,200 pounds.

Over a leisurely 53-mile driving route in Arizona that combined twisty secondary roads and steady highway cruising but no real city stopping and starting, our turbo-4 Silverado LT returned 20.6 mpg according to its trip computer.

That’s a poor showing, though the truck had less than 800 break-in miles under its belt. That same truck with 1,500 to 2,000 miles might have posted a better figure.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Charting the competition

The Silverado’s turbo-4 stakes out new ground against its rivals. It requires the LT trim level though, which correlates with the Ford F-150 XLT, and that truck comes standard with the 325-hp 2.7-liter turbocharged V-6. That engine is rated up to 20/26/22 mpg and can tow up to 8,500 pounds.

Meanwhile, the Ram’s 3.6-liter V-6 engine generates 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, but it is also boosted by an additional 90 lb-ft through a 48-volt mild-hybrid system (though it’s not quite as simple as adding the two torque figures). In the Ram, the V-6 is rated to tow a maximum of 7,730 pounds and manages up to 20/25/22 mpg on the EPA test.

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