A four-cylinder pickup truck is usually a sad-looking thing on tiny steel wheels with a lawn mower and some rakes sticking out the back. It’s nothing someone aspires to. And yet, this 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Double Cab painted a brilliant red drew numerous unsolicited compliments of “Hey, nice truck” despite having a mere four cylinders taking up minimum real estate in its huge engine compartment. There’s no badging on this Silverado to indicate it has the optional 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, and the LT is a chrome-clad, volume-selling model — not some gardener special with a face of black plastic.
So there’s no visual tell, but there sure is an audible one. At idle and start-up, this is a much quieter truck than one firing twice as many cylinders. At full throttle, it has the warbling whir of a hot hatch rather than the roar of a V8. This is more a matter of cognitive dissonance than an actual problem — you expect a truck to sound a certain way, and when it’s so profoundly different, you take notice.
It’s therefore difficult to doubt its capability, and thanks to having fewer cylinders, a smart eight-speed automatic and active fuel management (it can run on only two cylinders), the 2.7-liter Silverado achieves an EPA estimated 18-20 mpg city, 21-23 mpg highway and 19-21 mpg combined depending on cab and drivetrain. That’s the best among non-diesel engines (such as the one eventually offered in the Silverado), and in theory, can save you an EPA-estimated $250 per year compared to a Silverado with the 5.3-liter V8, which achieves between 17 and 19 mpg combined.
It’s typical for manufacturers to present top-dollar, high-powered trucks for media evaluation, so it’s refreshing to see a mid-grade choice like this 2019 Chevy Silverado LT pass through our garage. Extended cabs in particular are rare, as are the longer bed lengths they’re attached to. This really did feel like the sort of truck the majority of buyers would take home, as opposed to this. However, the real question will be how much of that majority chooses the four-cylinder engine option. Saying “no” seems likely to be the knee-jerk reaction for many truck buyers, but given its stronger power and fuel economy (however negligible it might be), it’s certainly more appealing than a base V6. But when compared to a Ford turbo V6 or a Ram mild-hybrid V8 for similar money, it’s a much tougher sell.