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How will Ram beat the four-cylinder and diesel Silverado pickups?

by David Zatz on

With pickups taking an ever-larger share of the GM, Ford, and FCA sales, and gasoline prices starting to rise, fuel efficiency has become increasingly important. Ram went with a small diesel and eight-speed automatic, then two hybrids; Ford went with aluminum, then added a diesel and ten-speed automatic; and now Chevrolet and GMC have thrown down their gauntlets.

2019 Chevrolet Silverado

GM had already announced that the next-generation Silverado, America’s second best selling vehicle, would have an optional three-liter straight-six diesel engine and an optional ten-speed automatic, along with three V8 engine choices and a gasoline V6. Now, the company has announced a 310-horsepower four-cylinder turbo — with peak output higher than that of the Ram V6, in both horsepower and torque (348 pound-feet).

The new 2.7 liter engine also easily outpowers FCA’s new 2-liter turbo, used in the Wrangler and Cherokee. What’s more, when full power isn’t needed, it can run on just two or three cylinders.   Chevrolet’s  gasoline V6, in contrast, is rated at just 285 hp and 305 pound-feet — and weighs 380 pounds more, with all ancillary equipment.

Those worried about a pickup that can’t get onto freeways may be impressed by the Silverado four-cylinder’s performance, with 0-60 mph in under seven seconds.  The payload is, according to GM, comparable to Ford 3.3 and Ram 3.6 pickups, though torque is far greater than either one. Still, Chevrolet expects four-cylinders to account for around 10% of sales, even as it gives the company a high gas mileage rating to advertise.

Around 80% of buyers currently buy the 355-horsepower 5.3 liter V8, with 383 pound-feet of torque; GM doesn’t expect that number to change much. GM brackets the Hemi in power with a 6.2 liter V8 rated at 420 hp (with 460-pound-feet of torque) as well.

FCA is planning an upgraded 3-liter diesel-powered Ram 1500, as well as hybrid-electric gasoline V6 and V8 versions which should boost city-cycle fuel economy. All 2019 Ram 1500s have eight-speed transmissions with gear ranges similar to the GM and Ford ten-speeds.

FCA’s turbo four-cylinder, displacing just 2.0 liters, will be coupled with electric motors on the heavy Wrangler; if fuel prices rise quickly, the company might be able to add that setup to the Ram as well.

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