Driving The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500's Baby Duramax: It's Smooth, Baby
Posted by PickupTrucks.com Staff | June 22, 2019
The operative word for the Chevy inline-six is smooth, from startup to cruising and everything in between. Fire up the motor and it settles into a quiet, decidedly diesel-sounding yet not unpleasant cadence that reminds you that it's not a conventional gasoline engine. Power comes on in a surge, but what most astonishes is the complete absence of turbo lag or hesitation on accelerator application. Unlike the 2.8-liter four-cylinder Duramax found under the hood of the Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup, throttle response for the 3.0-liter I-6 happens proportionately to the application of the accelerator pedal — and does so exactly when you ask for it, not a half-tick behind your foot. In this way it feels rather unlike most other pickup truck diesel engines I've driven. There's no drivability deficit with the diesel here; it behaves in ways that make it a delight to drive.
My initial stint in the LT double cab was to participate in a maximum fuel economy loop of about 30 miles, which is of course not a long enough loop to truly judge fuel economy, but it did give us some idea of the 3.0-liter Duramax's fuel economy potential. I managed 38.1 mpg according to the Silverado's onboard computer, but other media members attending the drive posted even better numbers, with more than a few attendees showing north of 41-45 mpg. At average speeds of 45-50 mph, that's an astonishing number. By an equally statistically insignificant comparison, my jaunt in a Ford F-150 diesel returned 27.4 mpg over a roughly 10-mile loop. A longer stint of more than 70 miles in a 4WD Silverado 1500 RST crew cab that was not being driven like a Prius, and that had four people and luggage on-board, turned in 33.8 mpg, according to the trip computer, still an extraordinary number for a full-size half-ton pickup.
What's the official EPA fuel economy number for the Duramax? At the time of publishing, we still don't know. Chevrolet says that it knows what those numbers are, but apparently isn't ready to share the EPA's official rating yet. This would suggest that there's more tweaking going on before the official announcement, or that perhaps internal targets aren't quite being met, or that the EPA just doesn't have its act together. Chevy did present a graph of its internal testing results showing that the Duramax could achieve 40 mpg at 50 mph for a 2WD model or 35.9 mpg for a 4WD truck at the same speed. By comparison, Chevy's testing of a Ford F-150 with its 3.0-liter Power Stroke V-6 returned 31.3 mpg on the same loop, but we're not generally inclined to trust an automaker to present us accurate test numbers for a competitor vehicle.
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