Silverado 3.0-liter diesel is the most fuel-efficient half-ton on the market

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3.0L Duramax

For the first time in more than 20 years, Chevrolet will be offering diesel power in its light-duty pickup trucks as the 2020 Silverado 1500 debuts the all-new turbocharged 3.0-liter Duramax. It’s also the first inline-six-cylinder diesel Chevy has ever offered in a half-ton pickup. It packs 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque and delivers the best fuel economy of any half-ton truck on the market. The two-wheel-drive Silverado is rated at 23 mpg city and 33 mpg highway while the 4WD version gets 23/29. The four-wheel-drive models have a maximum payload of 1870 pounds and are capable of towing up to 9300 pounds, which Chevrolet says will meet the towing needs of about 90 percent of light-duty pickup buyers.

Those figures should be at least competitive with other light-duty domestic diesel-powered pickups, though we can't make a direct comparison because Chevy hasn't yet released payload and towing figures for the two-wheel-drive models. The 240-hp and 420-lb-ft 3.0-liter EcoDiesel V-6 available in Chrysler's Ram 1500 is EPA-rated at 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway in rear-wheel-drive configurations, with a 1640-lb cargo limit and towing capacity of up to 9290 lbs. Ford's F-150 with the 3.0-liter Power Stroke turbo-diesel V-6 is rated at 250 hp and 440 lb-ft, with EPA mpg figures of 22 city and 30 highway. It boasts a 1940-lb payload and an 11,500-lb towing capacity.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3.0L Duramax
Chevrolet

“We designed the all-new Silverado and the all-new 3.0-liter Duramax turbo-diesel to deliver both performance and efficiency,” said Tim Herrick, Silverado executive chief engineer. “The engine utilizes state-of-the-art technologies to optimize every drop of fuel, and takes advantage of architectural changes to make Silverado larger, lighter and more aerodynamic than before. The resulting combination offers all of the performance, refinement and capability customers want in a full-size truck, with highway fuel efficiency you would expect from a family sedan.”

The new motor has an aluminum engine block for light weight, with iron cylinder liners for durability, forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods, and hypereutectic silicon-aluminum alloy pistons. With double overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder, the new diesel's specs sound like they could be describing a high-performance, high-revving gasoline engine not a torquey diesel.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3.0L Duramax
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 3.0L Duramax

The 3.0 Duramax has a new active thermal management system to get operating temperatures up quickly, for lower pollution and better fuel efficiency, along with a driver-selectable stop/start system, and an exhaust brake available when in tow-haul mode, for those steep declines.

The 3.0-liter Duramax comes exclusively with GM's 10L80 Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission.

Available on trucks with LT, RST, LTZ, and High Country trim packages, the three-liter diesel is a $2495 option on LTZ and High Country models, the same as the 6.2-liter gasoline V-8, and $3890 more than the base 2.7-liter gasoline turbo-four in the LT and RST.