Chevrolet just refreshed the Silverado for 2022. The headline over the hood is the new Silverado halo, the ZR2 F-150 Raptor off-road trim, but one of the other significant changes comes with what Chevy calls the “2.7 liter High Output.” engine — aka four-cylinder turbocharged.
For 2022, Chevy increased engine torque by 20 percent to an impressive 430 lb-ft, and switched to an eight-speed automatic transmission for more intuitive gearshifts. Is the change making the oft-maligned machine worthwhile? Chevy offered me a quick lap through Palm Springs, California to find out.
That 4 cylinder truck…weird
Body-on-frame trucks tend not to have four-cylinder engines. GM is the only brand to offer a full-size pickup; even at the smaller mid-size level, the six-cylinder engine is the preferred choice. The Colorado and Tacoma offer four-pots as a basic budget machine. Jeep doesn’t offer the 2.0 liter of the Wrangler in the Gladiator. The Ranger is the only truck that primarily uses one.
The ultimate sign how weird it can be to have a four-in-line engine in a modern full-size truck? You won’t find General Motors PR info about it that contains the words “four cylinder.”
2.7 liter Silverado capable, but not a V8
Four pots are quite useful in actual driving. There’s a bit of lag with the turbo, but the torque is strong when it’s turned on. The engine puts out more than enough tenacity to get off the beaten track, join the highway and pass someone once you’re there. It’s not the most attractive Silverado for towing, but the 9,000 pound capacity in the 4×4 version means it can still tow pretty much anything you could possibly want.
Performance will not be an excuse to avoid four pots. The main problem with the engine is the driving experience; four-cylinder engine sounded hoarse, like exerting power all the time. This is not a deal breaker alone; I found the clunky column gear shifting between me and the touchscreen on my test truck more distracting to the engine. But it’s not an experience one would choose over a naturally aspirated V8—especially when building a V8 is something GM does. very well.
Silverado 4 cylinder is not efficient enough to justify it
In theory, efficiency would be the main reason for choosing a four-cylinder engine in a truck. The “2.7 liter High Output” makes some difference, but not as dramatic. The 2WD version only gets 22 mpg on the highway — a whopping +1 mpg over the 5.3-liter V8. And the four-cylinder 4×4, delivering a combined 18 mpg, gets worse official fuel economy of the twin-turbo six-cylinder Tundra. There’s always the inline-six diesel if you want fuel efficiency, which offers up to a combined 26 mpg.
And Silverado doesn’t save a lot of money
Cost would be another theoretical factor for getting four pots. But the 2.7-liter motor doesn’t save a lot of money. Depending on trim and drivetrain, the savings are around $1,500-$2,500 over the 5.3-liter V8. It’s not a trivial amount, but it’s not a significant savings when you’re paying in the $50,000 range for the Silverado. And you might lose more than that at the back trying to sell a four-cylinder vs a V8.
The Chevy’s 2.7-liter four-pot engine isn’t a bad one. It’s definitely improved over the last generation. But it’s still a tough sell, even if you’re open-minded.
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