Full-size pickup customers who prioritize fuel economy may want to put Chevrolet and GMC back on their list. The 2014 GMC Sierra and 2014 Chevrolet Silverado with the 4.3-liter V-6 will be EPA-rated at 17-18/22-24 mpg city/highway with rear- and four-wheel drive, GM has announced.
The 4.3-liter V-6 in the 2014 Silverado and 2014 Sierra is SAE-rated at 285 hp at 5300 rpm and 305 lb-ft of torque at 3900 rpm. Of course, that's noticeably lower than the available 5.3-liter V-8's 355 hp and 383 lb-ft, but higher in torque compared to six-cylinder versions of the 2013 Ram 1500 (269 lb-ft), 2013 Ford F-150 (278 lb-ft), and 2014 Toyota Tundra (278 lb-ft). The GM pickups' 285 hp falls below the Ram (305 hp) and Ford (302 hp), but above the Toyota (270 hp).
Ultimately, though, when it comes to entry-level full-size truck performance, we're looking forward to evaluating the pickups in the real world. The 2014 Sierra and 2014 Silverado have a maximum available towing rating of 7200 pounds, and a maximum available payload rating of 2108 pounds. Both, GM claims, are best-in-class figures for standard V-6 full-size trucks, but we have trouble believing any best-in-class towing claims until automakers start following the revised J2807 towing test procedures.
Consider the fuel economy numbers of full-size trucks with V-6s and it's easy to see why some automakers balk at investing money in the midsize truck segment. The 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and 2014 GMC Sierra can't claim best-in-class mileage, but GM points out the trucks' EPA estimates "are achieved without expensive add-ons and apply to all three cab configurations." In other words, while the GM trucks' estimated rear-drive 18/24 mpg rating applies to a few different body configurations, the 2013 Ram 1500's 18/25 mpg is more expensive than a base-model Silverado and is only available as a regular-cab model. Even without the 1500's HFE trim, its 17/25 mpg beats the Silverado on the highway and ties in combined mileage, at 20 mpg. The 2013 Ford F-150 with the 3.7-liter V-6 is good for 17/23 mpg in rear-drive form, while the 2013 Toyota Tundra V-6 is rated 16/20 mpg.
The 2014 Silverado and 2014 Sierra are estimated to get 17/22 mpg with four-wheel drive, which surpasses the Ford's 16/21 mpg and is competitive with the Ram's 16/23 mpg. GM's 4.3-liter V-6 has direct injection, cylinder deactivation, and continuously variable valve timing.
GM says the average truck is more than 11 years old, and with many trucks in the full-size segment increasing capability of standard V-6 models, we may start to see more buyers considering V-6s instead of more costly V-8s.