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2020 Chevy Silverado: A Case Strong for Diesel

By Sue Mead, August 10th, 2019

Chevy's truck division is bringing some new versions of its pickups and cool technologies to the street for the "Average Joe," they told me when I showed up in Bend, Ore., to try out some of the brand's newest models.

Now, more than ever, I know the 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 diesel will also be appealing to the "Average Jane" because I am one and more women are purchasing pickups. For the first time ever, the Silverado 1500 is available with a turbo-diesel engine. While diesel trucks aren't anything new, adding an inline-six turbo-diesel to the lineup with class-leading torque and horsepower and a notable focus on fuel efficiency is big news.

Some fast facts about the latest generation of Silverado 1500s: they weigh up to 450 pounds less than the outgoing model, and have a longer wheelbase, more passenger space, and more cargo room. Chevrolet says it has "the most functional bed of any full-size truck" and that it's also lighter, faster, bigger, and stronger.

This light-duty comes in eight trim levels and six engine options, and gets a host of new options with adaptive cruise control and 15 camera views to aid parking and towing. Now optional on the LT, RST, LTZ, and High Country trims, the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel is priced the same as the 6.3L V-8 option -- an upcharge of approximately $2,500 over the 5.3L V-8 and approximately $3,900 above the 2.7L turbo power plants.

Times have changed and so have diesels. Not so long ago, the majority of diesel-powered vehicles were purchased by truckers looking for torque to tow heavy loads and improved fuel economy for long hauls. Diesel powerplants sometimes had a bad rap for being noisy and carried the image of emitting black smoke out the tailpipe. Today, diesels are well worth evaluating for towing and fuel savings, but they are typically very clean and refined, and are being chosen by more everyday buyers.

I tried out the new Silverado 1500 with a 3.0-liter Duramax engine that makes 277 horsepower and has 460 lb.-ft. of torque; 95 percent of the torque is delivered at 1,250 rpm and peak is achieved from 1,500 to 3,000 rpm, which means it pulls well at slower speeds and when motoring up steep hills. It's paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission with a specialized torque converter that results in smoother power delivery and more efficiency. An air-tuned induction system and other smart engineering technologies keep it quiet, especially when under power.

During my drive of the Silverado 1500 High Country 4WD, I noted its great power, comfortable ride in an upscale cabin, quiet ride, and impressive fuel economy. I participated in a "fuel economy challenge" over a prescribed distance, with two companions in the cab. We netted 37.4 mpg, although another team posted a whopping 47.8 mpg.

strong>Other engine tech talk of note: To make a tougher engine while keeping the truck lighter, the 3.0-liter powerplant is crafted from cast aluminum with iron cylinder liners. This reduces 25 percent of the overall mass from a traditional iron block and brings a stiff, strong block that has been built to withstand the high pressure of diesel combustion and helps ensure greater durability. Lightweight overhead camshafts paired with a unique rear-drive cam (near the flywheel) aid in efficiency and durability.

To supplement the diesel engine, variable geometry turbocharging creates an efficient and powerful output. To achieve class-leading horsepower, closed-loop turbo vanes are paired with electronic boost pressure controls. A lower-pressure Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) system keeps temperatures lower for further efficiency and a variable intake manifold provides each cylinder with two air pathways that are controlled electronically for improved performance, as well. Other technologies include an advanced oiling system with oil jets and active thermal management that regulates heat throughout the engine to keep it as hot or cold as is necessary for optimal performance, ceramic glow plug, and stop/start technology that help burn diesel fuel cleaner for less environmental impact.

Specifications

Base price $59,295
Curb weight 4,965 lbs.
Displacement 3.0-liter
Engine type Duramax turbodiesel inline six-cylinder
Epa mileage rating 23 mpg city, 29 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 24 gal.
Horsepower (net) 277 at 3750 rpm
Overall length 241.2 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 460 at 1500 rpm
Transmission 10-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger 4WD full-size pickup
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