We all know that truck drivers are resistant to change. After all, if you rely on your pickup truck for a living or trust your truck to get you home after a tough off-road adventure, you don’t want to risk newfangled gadgets that might fail. That’s why today’s trucks still rely on proven technologies like coil springs, solid axles, and big V8 engines. It’s getting harder and harder to find these features in cars and SUVs, but it’s hard to find a pickup truck that doesn’t have them. However, times are changing, especially when it comes to V8 engines.

When you visit your local Chevy dealer to look at a new Silverado or Colorado, you might be surprised how many of those trucks no longer have a V8 or even a V6. Instead, you’ll find Chevy’s new turbocharged 2.7-liter I-4. Four-cylinder? In a full-size truck? No, Chevy is not crazy. In fact, this might be one of the best truck engines Chevy has ever developed, and we expect it to start appearing in even more of Chevy’s lineup as the years go by.

There is a replacement for volume

When it comes to truck engines, conventional wisdom says that bigger is better. More cylinders and more displacement mean more power. So why would Chevy ditch the old 7.4-liter and 8.1-liter V8s of the past in favor of a tiny 2.7-liter I-4? Well, it turns out there is a substitute for displacement, and it’s called forced induction. Add a turbocharger or supercharger to the engine and it will perform much higher than its size would suggest. In fact, the new 2.7-liter High-Output Turbo delivers about the same power as the old 8.1-liter Vortec that was in the first generation Chevy Silverado!

How is this possible? Forced induction uses a supercharger to force more air into the engine. More air means more fuel can be added, resulting in more power. In essence, it artificially increases the volume of the engine. The two most common forms of forced induction are turbocharging and supercharging, but turbocharging is the most common because it is more efficient and produces more power. Unlike a supercharger that is always active, a turbocharger only kicks in when you need the extra power, allowing you to save the fuel of a smaller engine when cruising and the power of a larger engine when the job calls for it.

Turbocharging is a proven technology

Now, turbocharging isn’t exactly new technology, and Chevy has built quite a few turbocharged engines in its time. In fact, the very first production turbocharged car was the 1962 Chevy Corvair. Initially, the higher costs and maintenance requirements of turbocharged engines meant they were limited to high-performance models, but as the technology became more reliable, turbochargers began to appear on more and more cars. The extra power and efficiency was just too good to ignore, and today the only non-electric models in Chevy’s lineup that don’t offer some form of forced induction are Travers and the Corvette.

Trucks were one of the last segments to offer turbocharged gasoline engines, but Ford broke the ice in 2011 when it introduced the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 for the F-150. Many old-timers predicted the worst, claiming that the small-displacement turbo engine would inevitably fail when put to heavy work, but the EcoBoost soon proved itself. Ford added a smaller 2.7-liter EcoBoost to the F-150 lineup in 2015, and the two turbocharged engines now account for the majority of F-150 sales. After seeing Ford’s success with turbocharged truck engines, Chevy knew it was time to get in on the action, introducing its own 2.7-liter Turbo for the Silverado in 2019.

However, it should come as no surprise that turbocharged gasoline engines have been so successful – after all, trucks have always used turbocharged diesel engines. In fact, GM developed its first turbo diesel engines for trucks in 1938! For a long time they were limited to tractor-trailers and other large commercial trucks, but in 1992 the Chevy C/K pickup truck got its first turbodiesel option. Since then, turbodiesels have been prominent in Chevy’s heavy-duty trucks and made their way to the light-duty Silverado 1500 for 2020. Today’s Duramax turbodiesel is prized for performance and durability, so why is Chevy’s 2.7-liter turbocharged gasoline engine any different?

Powerful and flexible 2.7-liter turbo

When it was first introduced in the 2019 Silverado, Chevy’s 2.7-liter turbo produced 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque. Those are competent if not particularly impressive numbers, placing the engine between the base 4.3-liter V6 and the optional 5.3-liter V8. However, when the Silverado was redesigned for 2022, Chevy overhauled the 2.7-liter engine to make it stronger and deliver significantly more power. With an impressive 430 lb-ft of torque – nearly 50 lb-ft more than the 5.3-liter V8 – the new 2.7-liter High-Output is a good choice for any pickup driver.

Not only does it offer comparable power to Chevy’s 5.3-liter V8, but the 2.7-liter High-Output delivers solid towing and payload figures. Capable of towing up to 9,500 pounds, there are very few tasks fit for a light truck that the 2.7L Silverado can’t handle. In addition to this reliable level of performance, the 2.7L engine is extremely efficient. Because the turbocharger kicks in only when needed, this engine allows the 2022 Silverado to deliver up to 20 mpg combined – a significant increase over the 5.3-liter V8’s 18 mpg combined.

One of the less obvious benefits of a turbocharged engine is that it can be tuned to produce different power levels simply by changing the amount of boost the supercharger creates. This means that Chevy can offer multiple versions of the 2.7-liter Turbo that are mechanically identical but have different performance figures. This is on full display with the redesigned 2023 Chevy Colorado. Instead of offering several different engines, the new Colorado has three different versions of a single 2.7L engine.

Base engine for 2023 Colorado it’s a 2.7-liter Turbo that makes 237 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque. This detuned version offers improved reliability and efficiency while outperforming the Colorado’s old 2.5L non-turbo engine. If more power is needed, simply choose the 2.7-liter Turbo Plus or the 2.7-liter High-Output Turbo. Turbo Plus delivers 310 hp. and 390 lb-ft of torque, which is more than 100 lb-ft more than the Colorado’s last-generation V6 engine and 20 lb-ft more than the 2.8-liter Baby Duramax turbodiesel. . Finally, the 2.7-liter High-Output Turbo is a Silverado engine that gives the average Colorado the power of a full-size truck.

A blue 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is shown from the side as it kicks up sand.

Will the V8 disappear?

As engine technology continues to improve, we will have to continue to reexamine what makes a good truck engine. The old rules of thumb that said more cylinders are better no longer hold true when faced with options like Chevy’s new 2.7-liter High-Output Turbo diesel––and that’s before considering just a little more 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel, which is available in the Silverado. While Chevy has yet to offer a turbocharged gasoline engine to replace its 6.2-liter V8 and compete with Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost, the 2.7-liter High-Output Turbo deserves serious consideration in compared to the more traditional 5.3-liter V8. With more torque and much better fuel economy, this small turbocharged engine is a good fit for the Silverado 1500 and won’t let you down on the job or at the track.