The new 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 truck lineup now offers no fewer than seven (7) powertrain options. How do you know which engine / transmission combination is best for you?
Let’s start with the base gas V6 engine and work our way up all the way to the big 6.2-liter V8 and the new 3.0-liter straight six turbo-diesel. In this guide, we will list the power specs, pros & cons, of each engine, and trims levels for which each engine is available.
What about the cabs?
- base regular cab 2wd: $29,895
- double cab adds: $3,540 (over reg cab.)
- crew cab short bed adds: $5,940 (over reg. cab)
- crew cab long bed adds: $6,240 (over reg. cab)
What about 4×4?
- 4×4 costs an additional $4,600.
- reg cab has the biggest tank at 28.3 gallons.
- all other double and crew cabs with gas engines have a 24 gallon tank.
- diesel-powered trucks have a 22 gallon tank.
4.3L Gas V6 with 6-Speed Auto
This is the base Silverado 1500 gasoline engine that carries on mostly unchanged from the previous generation.
- 285 hp @ 5,300 rpm
- 305 lb-ft of torque @ 3,900 rpm
- Active Fuel Management (AFM): can run in V4 or V6 modes
This engine is solely mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that offers overdrive gears, tow/haul mode, and grade braking.
Available on base WT trims.
This is an entry-level and most affordable engine in the new Silverado 1500 lineup. The starting price for a regular cab long bed 2WD WT trim level truck is $29,895 (including shipping) and before any discounts. GM currently states $6,000 total discount on these WT trucks.
It is still rated to tow up to 10,000 lbs in a 2WD truck.
The smaller gas V6 engine does not really offer any additional fuel economy. It’s EPA rated at 16/21 MPG.
5.3L Gas V8 with 6-Speed Automatic
The 5.3-liter gasoline V8 is still the prevalent engine option within the Chevrolet 1500 truck lineup. It has the widest availability across the Silverado 1500 trim levels, and it can be ordered with a choice of three different transmissions (depending on trim).
- 355 hp @ 5,600 rpm
- 383 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
- Active Fuel Management (AFM): can run in V4 or V8 modes
This engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that offers overdrive gears, tow/haul mode, and grade braking.
Available on WT and Custom trim levels.
$1,395 premium over the 4.3L V6 / 6-speed combination.
Big additional power over the base 4.3-liter V6. We are taking 70 hp over the V6. The torque is up 78 lb-ft. This is the most affordable way to get into a V8-powered Silverado.
The standard power is less than standard V8s from all competitors. We are talking the F-150 5.0-liter V8, the Ram 1500 5.7-liter V8, the 5.6-liter V8 in the Nissan Titan, or the 5.7-liter V8 in the Toyota Tundra.
Fuel economy is not great, as it is rated at 15/21 MPG.
2.7L Gas Turbo-4 with 8-Speed Automatic
This is a whole new engine for the Silverado, and it is the first four-cylinder turbocharged gas engine in any full-size pickup truck.
- 310 hp @ 5,600 rpm
- 348 lb-ft @ 1,500 rpm
- Continuously variable valve timing and valve lift. Uses Active Fuel Management (AFM) to turn off cylinders at light loads.
Not available on the two-door regular cabs.
$1,640 premium over the 4.3-liter V6.
Very little turbo-lag and good real-world fuel efficiency. The engine delivers strong performance around town. It’s rated at 19/22 MPG. It offers exceptional city fuel efficiency.
As you can see in the video above, we got a pump-verified 24.2 MPG on the highway with the 2.7-liter turbo I4 engine.
The truck registered a good Ike Gauntlet™ result with a 6,700 lbs trailer: 8 brake applications on the way down, a perfect 7 min 58 seconds on the way up, with a trip meter showing 3.7 MPG.
The extra power and efficiency comes at a considerable price increase. The maximum towing rating is a low 7,000 lbs with 2WD, and 6,700 lbs in 4×4. It’s good, but it’s less than the base 4.3-liter V6.
5.3L Gas V8 with 8-speed Auto
This combination is only available starting on the LT double cab.
The 5.3-liter V8 has exactly the same rating as before (355 hp / 383 lb-ft of torque), but this is a version with the newer Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) cylinder deactivation system.
This combination costs $1,395 more than the 2.7-liter turbo I4 costs.
The DFM cylinder management and the 8-speed automatic considerably increase the fuel efficiency over the base 5.3-liter AFM V8 with a 6-speed automatic. The epa-rated fuel economy is 17/23 MPG.
We tested a 2016 Chevy Silverado 1500 truck with this engine/transmission combination, and the truck returned 10.6 MPG on our highway towing loop with a 7,000 lbs trailer.
You can tow up to 11,600 lbs with this power combination.
This powertrain option does add considerable cost, but it does not offer the highest tow rating or quickest acceleration.
5.3L Gas V8 with 10-speed Auto
Now, it’s time to get to the premium powertrain options. While the 5.3-liter V8 remains the same (with DFM cylinder management).
Available on crew cab 4×4 LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country.
The lowest price for this powertrain combo is $50,095 when you choose a crew cab 4×4 LT Trail Boss. This is the truck we purchased this year for our long-term review.
The transmission is probably one of the smoothest. The real-world fuel economy is noteworthy. We got 20.7 MPG with an unladen Trail Boss on the highway and 11.9 MPG when towing around 5,000 lbs on the highway.
This powertrain is not available with 2WD or in a double-cab. It’s crew cab 4×4 only.
6.2L Gas V8 with 10-Speed Auto
This is currently the largest displacement and the most powerful V8 in the full-size half-ton truck segment. It’s the big 6.2-liter V8.
- 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm
- 460 lb-ft of torque @ 4,100 rpm
- this engine is equipped with Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM).
Available on Custom Trail Boss, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country.
The cost is $2,450 over a 5.3-liter V8. If you want the biggest and the most powerful engine at the best price, you can choose a Custom trim-level double cab 4×4 Trail Boss with the 6.2-liter V8 and a 10-speed automatic. The starting price here is $43,965.
This engine sounds great, and it makes the truck very quick. We regularly see 6.2-liter V8 0-60 MPH acceleration times at 7 seconds or less at 1 mile above sea level.
When configured with a maximum towing package in a double-cab 4×4, this truck has a massive rating of 13,400 lbs. This is absolutely class-leading for any half-ton truck.
The 6.2-liter V8 cannot be currently configured in a 2WD truck.
3.0L Diesel I6 with 10-speed Auto
This is currently the best small 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine in the half-ton segment.
- 277 hp @ 3,750 rpm
- 460 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm.
- high pressure common rain fuel injection, and exhaust brake/variable.
Available starting on LT, RST, LTZ, and High Country models. Not available in a Trail Boss.
Linear power delivery and fuel efficiency. We registered 34 MPG at the pump with unladen truck and 12.0 MPG when towing a 7,000 lbs trailer on the highway. This is one MPG better than a comparably equipped 2020 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.
It is still a premium engine that is not available in every trim level or configuration.