2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Four-Cylinder: Quicker than some V-6s

2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 Four-Cylinder: Quicker than some V-6s

Your preconceptions about this truck are wrong, OK? The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 proves that four-cylinder engines can make sense in 5,000-pound full-size trucks. After extensive real-world and track testing, we can tell you exactly where the 2020 Silverado 1500 RST and its 2.7-liter turbo-four fit into the truck world.

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For all the engine downsizing we’ve seen over the years, a four-cylinder full-size truck has remained unexplored territory in the modern age—until now. Chevy’s 2.7-liter turbo-four’s specs make it look like the V-6 competitor it is, but with one key advantage: The 310-hp 2.7-liter engine has 348 lb-ft of torque available from 1,500 to 4,000 rpm, so you don’t have to work it hard to get a response. And unlike some experiences we’ve had with the Silverado 1500 and its 5.3-liter V-8, the 2.7-liter I-4’s eight-speed automatic is responsive. Very little gear hunting is required, and partially as a result, the cabin might seem quieter than you’d expect.

On the track, our 2020 Silverado 1500 RST tester hit 60 mph in only 7.1 seconds, quicker than the Ford F-150 XL with a 3.3-liter V-6 (7.9 seconds) and a Ram 1500 Tradesman with a 3.6-liter V-6 (7.5 seconds). Our long-term 2018 Ford F-150, with its more powerful and torque-rich 2.7-liter V-6, easily beats the four-cylinder Chevy, reaching 60 mph in 6.3 seconds. Within the Silverado family, a 5.3-liter LT Trail Boss (with the eight-speed automatic) reached 60 mph in 6.7 seconds, and a 4.3-liter-equipped work truck found its way to 60 in 7.2 seconds.

In the real world, the 2020 Silverado RST 2.7’s smooth shifts are a real advantage, the engine stop/start system is relatively smooth, and you never want for more power. You may miss the traditional sound of a naturally aspirated V-8, but that’s about it. At 2020 Truck of the Year testing, the Silverado 2.7’s powertrain met almost universal praise. “This thing pulls like there’s nothing there,” features editor Scott Evans said after testing the Chevy truck with a 4,000-pound trailer. “Anyone who says this engine doesn’t belong in a truck can shut up.” Or, we’d add, just drive it.

a car parked in front of a mountain: 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 RST 1© Motor Trend Staff 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 RST 1

Those who do will find an improved truck. It’s still not class-leading, but Chevy loyalists will be slightly happier with the 2020 model. From road test editor Chris Walton: “It drives like a pickup, but better. It heaves over bumps as a single unit, but settles. It’s quiet even with big crosswinds. The steering is medium/light but precise. Brake pedal is medium/light but progressive.”

Fuel economy is a glass-half-empty/glass-half-full situation. Against the six-cylinder Ram 1500, our 2019 Truck of the Year, the Silverado 2.7 is slightly less efficient (19-20/22-23 for the Chevy, 19-20/24-25 for the Ram). If you were comparing the Silverado 2.7 to the 4.3- and 5.3-liter Silverado engines, you’d get better fuel economy with the 2.7 and spend more miles on the road before needing to refuel.

That’s a great advantage, but the 2020 Silverado 2.7’s value quotient depends on the trim you’re considering. You’ll find the 2.7-liter engine as an option on the WT, Custom, LT, and RST trims. On those first two entry-level trucks, the 2.7-liter turbo-four is a premium of over $1,000 above the 4.3-liter V-6 and just about even with the 5.3-liter V-8. Move to the LT or RST trims, however, and that four-cylinder engine could save you $1,395. Go for the four-cylinder Silverado, and towing capacity is 6,600-7,000 pounds, down from the 5.3-liter V-8’s 9,400-11,600 pounds. This all assumes you’re only considering the Silverado.

Widen the search beyond the Silverado, and that Ram 1500 looks mighty tempting. Just one year after its full redesign, we’re still unimpressed by the 2020 Silverado’s interior, which was panned at 2020 Truck of the Year testing for uncomfortable front seats, uninspiring interior materials, and what struck some editors as a generally ordinary design compared to the Ram at similar equipment levels. That Ram rides well (with or without the available air suspension), has similar fuel economy, and performs better in IIHS safety tests. Clearly, we’re still fans of the overall Ram 1500 lineup, but if your new truck search starts and ends with the Silverado, consider the 2.7 before you sign for a Silverado 5.3.

Senior features editor Jonny Lieberman encapsulates our feelings on the Silverado 1500 2.7 and excellent Duramax diesel: “[These are] perfectly ordinary trucks with great powertrains.”

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Research the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 | Seek out a Chevrolet Silverado 1500 near you

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 RST (CrewCab 4WD 2.7L)
Base Price/As tested $46,095/$49,235
Power (SAE net) 310 hp @ 5,600 rpm
Torque (SAE net) 348 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
Accel, 0-60 mph 7.1 sec
Accel, 0-60 mph (loaded)* 8.7 sec
Accel, 0-60 mph (towing)** 14.1 sec
Quarter mile 15.3 sec @ 90.8 mph
Quarter mile (loaded)* 16.5 sec @ 83.3 mph
Quarter mile (towing)** 19.3 sec @ 68.7 mph
Braking, 60-0 mph 124 ft
Braking, 60-0 mph (loaded)* 129 ft
Double Lane Change Score 3.52
Davis Dam Frustration*** 8.9 sec @ 591 ft
Cruise Control 65-mph overrun 1.2 mph
EPA City/Hwy/Comb 19/22/20 mpg
Vehicle Layout Front-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door truck
Engine, Transmission 2.7L turbo DOHC 16-valve I-4, 10-speed automatic
Curb Weight (F/R dist) 5,022 lb (57/43%)
Wheelbase 147.4 in
Length x Width x Height 231.7 x 81.2 x 75.5 in
Energy Cons, City/Hwy 177/153 kW-hr/100 miles
CO2 Emissions, Comb 0.96 lb/mile
* 1,500-pound payload | ** 4,000-pound trailer
*** 35-55-mph uphill acceleration with 3,160-pound trailer


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