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Chevrolet Silverado to finally get its diesel engine, but is it worth the wait?

Chevrolet promised a diesel engine for the Silverado 1500 when the pickup truck was redesigned for the 2019 model year. But the 3.0-liter Duramax turbodiesel inline-six was delayed for an entire model year. The engine will finally make it to showrooms under the hood of the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado, but will it be worth the wait?

One of the main reasons to choose a diesel engine over gasoline is torque, and the Silverado’s Duramax engine has plenty of that. It makes 460 pound-feet of torque (as well as 277 horsepower), matching the twisting force of the largest Silverado engine, the 6.2-liter gasoline V8. The diesel will likely offer better fuel economy than the V8, but we’ll have to wait for official Environmental Protection Agency fuel-economy figures for confirmation. The diesel engine is teamed with the same 10-speed automatic transmission used with some gasoline Silverado engines.

The Silverado diesel has more horsepower and torque than the rival Ford F-150 Power Stroke, which uses a 3.0-liter turbodiesel V6 to deliver 250 hp and 440 lb.-ft. Chevy didn’t release payload or towing-capacity figures for the Silverado diesel, so we’ll have to wait and see how the two trucks compare in that regard. The Ram 1500 was previously available with a diesel engine, but the option was dropped in a recent redesign. Instead of competing directly withethe Silverado and F-150 diesels, the Nissan Titan gets a larger 5.0-liter turbodiesel V8 in a beefed-up XD model that’s designed to bridge the gap between full-size pickup trucks and heavy-duty models.

This is the first time an inline-six diesel has been offered in the Silverado. Chevy said it chose the inline configuration instead of the V6 used by rival Ford because it offered greater refinement. Inline-sixes are better balanced than V6 engines, meaning less vibration. The Duramax engine also has an aluminum block, which is unusual in a diesel engine designed for a pickup truck. Aluminum saves weight over the traditional iron (Chevy claims a 25-percent weight reduction), but diesel truck engine components generally prioritize beefiness over weight savings. Chevy gave the aluminum block iron cylinder liners to boost durability. The truck also features an aluminum double-overhead cam (DOHC) cylinder head.

The Duramax diesel engine will be available in the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 when the truck goes on sale later this year. Chevy said the diesel engine will be priced identically to the 6.2-liter gasoline V8, at a $2,495 premium over the 5.3-liter gasoline V8, which sits one step lower in the lineup. Chevy also offers 2.7-liter turbocharged inline-four and 4.3-liter V6 engines in lower trim levels. In addition to the diesel engine, the 2020 Silverado gets a number of small updates and new tech features, including a camera system that allows the driver to “see” through trailers.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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