Chevy challenges with inline-6 diesel

The 2020 Silverado offers roomy and quiet four-door cabin. (Bud Wells photo)

Regarding the light-duty turbodiesels for half-ton pickups, I’ve now driven the Big Three – Chevy, Ford and Ram.

They’re powered by 3.0-liter, turbocharged engines; the Chevy an inline-6-cylinder, the Ford and Ram with V-6s.

A relatively short drive to Fort Collins and back home completed my test of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Double Cab RST (Rally Sport Truck) with the turbodiesel.

In a move maximizing its fuel-mileage capability, the rear-drive version, rather than four-wheel-drive, was provided, and due to deep snow and continued icy conditions of nearby streets the pickup remained in the garage most every day.

The Fort Collins run resulted in fuel-mileage reading of 27.2 miles per gallon for the Silverado. A rear-drive 2020 Ram 1500 Tradesman QuadCab EcoDiesel V-6 averaged 26.1 mpg, and a year ago a 2019 Ford F-150 4X4 SuperCrew Power Stroke V-6 diesel posted only 20.7, though it was hampered by strong winds from Sterling to Ogallala, Neb.

EPA esimates for the three trucks, with rear-drive configuration, are 23/33 for the Chevrolet, 22/32 for the Ram and 22/30 mpg for the Ford. The 30-33 mpg highway ratings are attracting attention from light-duty truck drivers.

The Chevy rear-drive did a fairly decent job of maneuvering over the slick street surfaces and through the deep snow and slush at intersections, and sailed along almost effortlessly over the cleared and dried highways. The four-door pickup rides on Michelin Primacy M&S 265/65R18 tires.

Chevy opts for an inline-6 version of light-duty diesel power. (Chevrolet)

Tied to a 10-speed automatic transmission, the Chevy I-6 Duramax diesel is built in Flint, Mich., and generates 277 horsepower and 460 lb.-ft. of torque. Throttle response is very satisfactory; the engine is smooth and quiet. The pickup is assembled in Roanoke, Ind.

Several times, someone said of the pickup, “That’s the one with the fancy tailgate, isn’t it?” “No,” I’d explain, “GMC Sierra has the six-way tailgate; Chevy hasn’t yet been given it for the Silverado.” Some say it will be available soon. What the Silverado does have is a power button to push inside the cab to lower the tailgate outside.

It’s a 6 ½-foot bed, with a handy step at each rear corner of the pickup. An inconvenience is lack of running boards or step rails to enter the cab.

The added cost for the turbodiesel power over a Silverado gas engine is $3,890. That and another $4,000-plus for front bucket seats with leather, heated steering wheel, trailering package, Bose sound and  Bluetooth/Apple Carplay/Android Auto increased sticker price from a base of $38,800 to $48,685.

There is all sorts of room inside the four-door’s relatively plainly finished cabin, which includes color driver-information center and steering wheel audio controls. Among features are remote start, power adjustable heated mirrors and a rear-seat reminder for objects left in the back while exiting the vehicle.