All of the major truck makers have been posturing as having the most powerful V-8 engines, fuel-efficient, turbocharged engines, and some sort of tow rating that’s enough to shame yesteryear’s commercial vehicles.
Yet, there’s been little talk about V-6s, especially from General Motors, which has kept its engine specifications top secret for its new trucks until now. Today, GM gave specs for the 2014 GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado’s base 4.3-liter V-6, bringing new interest into the base-level truck segment, as far as we’re concerned. The engine has been rated at 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. For reference, that’s more horsepower and nearly as much torque as the 5.3-liter V-8 engine that was considered the must-have option in the 1999 Chevrolet Silverado.
It also handily out-performs the 2013 Chevrolet Silverado’s base 4.3-liter V-6, which produces 200 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. With its added strength, courtesy of a thorough reworking that adds cylinder deactivation, direct fuel-injection for a cleaner burn of gasoline, and variable valve timing, GM boasts that the new 4.3-liter V-6, dubbed EcoTec3, can tow 7,200 pounds. That’s 500 more than a similarly equipped 3.7-liter V-6 Ford F-150, but it falls behind the 11,200 pounds of the uplevel EcoBoost Ford F-150 and 9,050 of the more comparable V-6 Ram 1500 when paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. General Motors has not yet posted fuel economy figures, but expect it to surpass the 5.3-liter V-8′s 23 mpg.
What this all means, no matter which truck you’re looking at, is that today’s V-6 engine’s will handily out-perform the V-8 engine truck you’re trading in when it comes to power, towing ability, performance, and fuel efficiency. Even though this is GMC and Chevrolet’s trump card at the moment at the bottom of the segment, don’t expect them to rest on their laurels with increased fuel-economy regulations coming into effect.
The 2014 GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado go on sale a little later this year, and we’ll have a full First Drive review on them later this month.