2019 Chevrolet Silverado 2.7T review: Turbo tradeoffs
Even though engine downsizing is a common trend among all types of vehicles of late, people still tend to associate full size pickup trucks with big V8s. Six-cylinder engines have become more commonplace these days, with trucks like the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 offering solid six-pot options. But Chevrolet is taking matters one step further.
The 2019 Silverado can be optioned with a 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine -- yes, a turbo-four in a 5,000-pound truck. Can this relatively tiny engine still handle full size pickup duties?
Smooth engine, but not a stunner
The 2.7-liter engine is just one of many powertrain options available on the new Chevy Silverado. We've already spent time with one of the V8-powered versions, and recently got our first drive of the brand-new, 3.0-liter diesel-powered truck.
The 2.7T puts out 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. You can get the turbo engine on several Silverado trim levels, including the sporty-ish RST tester you see here.
I'm pleasantly surprised by the turbo-four engine. The RST gets up and scoots fairly well and isn't afraid to rev its way up to redline to make the most of the engine's available power. Cruising down California's Interstate 5 freeway, I have no issues keeping pace with smaller vehicles in the fast lane. The transmission works seamlessly in the background, and smoothly handles heavy power requests, like while climbing the steep Grapevine as I head toward Los Angeles. The turbocharged Silverado RST has a Sport driving mode, but honestly, behind the wheel I can't really feel much of a difference from the standard mode.
Where the 2.7T engine is really supposed to impress is with its fuel economy, and I'm sorry to say that it doesn't. The EPA rates two-wheel drive, turbocharged models at 20 miles per gallon city, 23 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. But after a week of testing, including a 950-mile round trip mostly on the highway, I'm only seeing 19.6 mpg. Ouch. I'm not the only one having trouble with the turbo engine's fuel economy, either.
The smaller engine means this Silverado isn't the most capable, though it still puts up respectable numbers. It'll tow a maximum of 7,200 pounds and can haul 2,280 pounds of payload. That's more than enough for your average full size truck buyer. Plus, the Silverado has one of the biggest beds in the biz -- even the short box can hold 63 cubic feet of Home Depot goodies.
But when you look at the competition, that's where things start to get bad for the Chevy. The Ford F-150 can be had with a 2.7-liter turbocharged V6, and can tow a maximum of 8,500 pounds. Furthermore, Ford's more powerful V6 posts better EPA ratings than the four-cylinder Silverado, at 20 mpg city, 26 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. The Ram 1500 with its mild-hybrid, 3.6-liter V6 can tow as much as 7,750 pounds, and is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city, 25 mpg highway and 22 mpg combined. I'd much rather drive one of those trucks day to day.
Good infotainment, missing driver assistance features
Chevy's latest Infotainment 3 multimedia system is simple and really easy to use, with a screen that instantly responds to my touch. Base Silverados get a 7-inch touchscreen, but I'm rocking the larger 8-inch display with OnStar-based navigation. A marketplace app lets drivers order food, or make hotel or restaurant reservations while on the go. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard, nicely integrating into Chevy's system.
I love the sheer number of charging ports available in the Silverado. The front and rear seats and center console are all equipped with USB Type-A and Type-C ports, and there are 12-volt outlets in both rows. Further, a three-prong, 120-volt, 400-watt outlet is available up front, with an additional one in the truck's bed.
On the other hand, the Silverado really lacks advanced driving aids. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are only standard on the top High Country trim, and can only be had as optional extras on the LT and above. Lane-keeping assist, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking are all options, and only on the top two trim levels. Adaptive cruise control isn't available on any Silverado, though I'm told it joins the truck's tech roster in 2020. The Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 not only offer more robust suites of tech, but they're available on more trim levels, too.
Bland inside, polarizing outside
The Silverado is a brand-new truck, but its interior materials both look and feel like a step behind what you get in the F-150 and Ram 1500. At least there are plenty of storage cubbies, and the center console is big enough for my whole computer bag.
Even in its shorter Double Cab guise, the Silverado's back seat is roomy. Step up to the Crew Cab to get 8 more inches of rear legroom. The front seats are fine, but I'd like some more support. Overall, the cabin just feels outdated. I worry how bad it'll feel years from now.
On top of that, I can't write this review without mentioning the new Silverado's exterior design. It's... polarizing to say the least. The headlamps are small and the grille is wide. I don't hate it as much as other Roadshow staffers, but make no mistake, Ford and Ram offer better-looking trucks.
Good in a class of greats
My two-wheel drive Silverado RST 2.7T comes out to $47,795, including $1,595 for destination. Personally, I can't recommend the 2.7-liter engine option -- the loss of power and capability doesn't seem to net any real fuel economy gains, and Chevy's key competitors offer downsized powertrains that are just plain better.
If I'd never driven the Ram 1500, I'd say the Silverado was the best-riding truck in its class. If I hadn't experienced Ford's awesome trailer back-up tech and massaging seats, I'd say the Silverado was loaded with tech and convenience features. But because I have driven these other trucks, I can see the Silverado for what it is: a good pickup in a class of greats.