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A four-cylinder engine in a full-size pickup can sound like an oxymoron. Calgary driver Peter Wettlaufer discovered that was not the case. For 2021, Chevrolet and GMC will continue to offer the turbocharged 2.7-liter inline four-cylinder power plant that they first placed under the hood of the Silverado 1500 and Sierra 1500 for the 2019 model. Wettlaufer wondered how the smaller, more fuel-efficient 2.7L engine in a new Sierra would compare to his 2014 Sierra powered by a 6.2L V8, and spent a week behind the wheel of a new GMC.
“This engine is more than powerful enough for everyday driving conditions,” says Wettlaufer about the 2.7L grinder. “And the nice thing about it is the very low fuel consumption. I saw 9.0 to 9.6 L / 100 km sometimes. You absolutely can not do that with an eight-cylinder truck, and I actually find it difficult to achieve that with our 2013 Ford Escape. ”
Wettlaufer first bought a pickup in 2004. It was a new Chevy Silverado that the family used and towed a 26-foot holiday trailer. In 2014, Silverado replaced a crew cabin, standard box Sierra SLT with the 6.2L engine. Wettlaufer has 53,000 kilometers on the Sierra and continues to tow its 5,725-pound dry (nearly 6,200 lbs. Loaded) trailer on an annual basis. His 6.2L V8 delivers 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. By comparison, the Turbo I-4 produces 3,310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque. Equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission, GM says the crew cab, short-wheel-drive four-wheel drive truck with the 2.7L engine, like the one tested by Wettlaufer, can pull 4,037 kilos, or 8,900 pounds using a weight distribution traction.
The Wettlaufer tester was a base model Sierra 1500 with an MSRP of $ 43,998. Options included the $ 1,995 Sierra Value Package and some other upgrades such as 20-inch black alloy wheels and integrated trailing brake control. To drive away from the plot, the total price with destination fee but before taxes was only one shade less than 50,000 USD.
“The truck looked very attractive,” says Wettlaufer of the ’21 Sierra. “I liked the darkened grille and the bumpers, and everyone I showed it to liked the look of it too. This truck sits on the same wheel size as my ’14 and is about two inches taller. Trucks seem to get taller all the time, and I do not know whether it’s good or not. ”
Like a base model truck, the Wettlaufer Sierra tester was equipped with fabric seating surfaces. All seat adjustments were manual, and without a telescopic steering wheel, the Wettlaufer, 6 feet two inches high, simply could not find an optimal position. Despite its height advantage, the Wettlaufer did not find it easy to get into the truck because it was not equipped with treadmills.
“I’m spoiled by the features of my own truck,” he explains, adding, “as basic as this Sierra was, however, nothing looked cheap, and it had a very good quality fit and finish with power windows and rearview mirrors. All controls were well designed. “I was not looking for anything. The meters are all analog, with a digital information screen in the middle of the cluster, which is simple and efficient.”
When Wettlaufer got started in the truck, Wettlaufer discovered that the acceleration was good and the eight-speed gearbox shifted smoothly through the range and never searched or chased for a gear. Wettlaufer says that his biggest thought when he started this test was that the 2.7L engine would not have enough power to tow. To test his theory, he hooked up his trailer and towed it on a short loop southwest of Calgary to Turner Valley.
“It actually worked very well on that stretch of road,” he says. “On paper, that 2.7L gives the same power as the 5.3L V8 I had in my first Silverado in 2004. It would definitely be slower to pull up a long rating, but it performed better than I expected. You knew that it pulled a load, and it used more fuel to pull. “
For most of its test, the Wettlaufer kept the truck in two-wheel drive and never had the vehicle in gravel or slightly coarser. The Sierran rode smoothly and was well-suspended in all driving conditions without body rolling. Handling also got a thumbs up, and Wettlaufer said it was a light truck to drive around town. There was plenty of room in the cabin, and Wettlaufer transported rear seat passengers. They were comfortable, without complaining about legroom.
“There is a flat floor in the back, and it would be easy to carry extra load there with the seat folded upright,” he adds. “I liked the electric tailgate, which is lockable, but without a tonneau cover or a lid, that function is not so good. It is a step in the rear bumper, and it was not difficult for me to climb into bed. ”
Wettlaufer returns the key and says: “It’s a great vehicle for someone who needs a pickup with good fuel economy. It’s a very good truck, and I’m impressed that it could pull a trailer my size. We did not have to turn around, we could have continued. “
Picked up the truck and drove with my wife to Canmore for lunch with friends. Found the engine as very powerful and responsive. Able to cross at speed limit at 1,500 rpm climbing Scott Lake Hill, easily revving up to 2,000 rpm while maintaining speed with cruise control. Ride was comfortable to have basic interior. Had preferred a telescopic steering wheel to be able to stretch my legs as my hips were not at a 90 degree angle. Impressive fuel consumption of 9.6 liters / 100 km over 225 km.
Did errands today near home. The vehicle is easy to maneuver in tight spaces such as parking spaces. The engine’s automatic stop / start function was faultless, as it was ready to be driven as soon as the vehicle in front moved. Accelerates from a complete stop, the engine is responsive but loud, with a very “throaty” sound. The most missed accessory is the help steps. Even six feet two inches long, I struggled to get into the vehicle while my wife, who is much shorter, started using a stool.
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Traveled to the Calgary Herald for the photo shoot and did a couple of errands on the way home.
Stayed close to home, did errands and checked out some of the newer communities in the southeast and southwest. Fuel consumption varied from 9.0 to 10.3 l / 100 km for about 50 km per day.
For someone who needs a full-size pickup with lower towing capacity, this would be an ideal vehicle.
Connect my 26-foot camper and with friends, drove a circular road to Tuner Valley and back home. The trailer has a dry weight of 5,725 pounds and a heavy weight of 595 pounds. The actual weight is probably 6,200 pounds with the contents we carry. There are several hills along this road and the truck climbed them effortlessly. We cruised at 2,000 rpm and did not exceed 3,200 rpm while climbing. Could keep the speed limit at all times. Friends were impressed that a four-cylinder engine would perform so well. Fuel consumption for over 120 km was 23.1L / 100 km. This would be comparable to my 2014 Sierra 1500 with 6.2L engine.
I’m not a current user of Apple CarPlay, but tried the navigation feature. It did not turn off the radio while sending directions and actually missed a couple of laps near each other. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the hard heat cord that pulls through the grill. This vehicle requires you to remove a piece of plastic in the lower bumper near the fog lights and plug in a proprietary cord that has the standard NEMA-15 connector on the other end. Just one more thing to lose and I’m worried that the plug in the bumper will then require constant cleaning.
Refueled the vehicle and returned it to the delivery point. The total fuel consumption was 77L. On-board computer indicated 12.4L / 100km for 600km. I was impressed with the turbo engine. For someone who needs a full-size pickup with lower towing capacity, this would be an ideal vehicle. Fuel consumption is much lower than the 8-cylinder engine options offered. Although it performed well on my tow test, this is just one of several routes we travel each year. I would not try mountain passes on Trans-Canada or the Icefields Parkway. The standard mirrors worked for towing, but I would still get the larger towing mirror option.