A close up of a Duramax badge on a 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500's hood is shown.

Exciting New Diesel Option for 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500


Let’s be honest; we expect a lot from trucks these days. With so much every-day demand put on trucks, we’ve come to expect a truck that can haul our boat, perform on a construction job site, and offer the drivability and comfort of a luxury vehicle. It also needs to not only be off-road capable, but a stout off-road performer; while also having the space for carpool duty; while also . . . we could go on and on. So, where do we find the most value in a truck now? It’s not really one specific thing that we’ve come to expect, it’s all of them. And no one makes a better all-round truck than Chevy. The 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 can stand with anyone, in any area.

Tim Herrick, executive chief engineer of full-size trucks, said of Chevy’s approach to building the 2020 Silverado: “In today’s truck market, customers continually demand more features, more technology, and more capability.” Clearly, Chevy is adapting to the ever-changing truck market, because the 2020 Silverado has something for everyone, and this starts with the wide range of engine options available for the 2020 year. More specifically, this starts with the new diesel engine Chevy is offering for their half-ton truck.

3L Duramax Turbo-Diesel is Fuel-Efficiency to the Max

If there is one feature of the 2020 Silverado that best exemplifies its all-round excellence, it’s the new turbo-diesel engine. The 3L Duramax turbo-diesel engine is an aluminum block inline six-cylinder with a 10-speed transmission. You can find this engine as an option for the LT, RST, LTZ, and High Country trims. On the LTZ and High Country, it’s a $2,495 upgrade, and on the LT and RST trims, you’ll find it as a $3,980 option.

A red 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 is driving on a treelined road.

This is an exciting engine because of the impressive performance numbers and amazing fuel efficiency. Let’s start with the power. You might think you’ll have to sacrifice power for fuel efficiency, but not with the Silverado. With 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque, you’ll have no issues with most projects. The four-wheel-drive option brings 9,300 lbs of towing capacity and a payload of 1,870 lbs. Big numbers, for sure. You also get a diesel exhaust brake included to better outfit the truck for towing. Of course, if you need more, when properly equipped, the Silverado can tow up to 13,400 lbs, but that’s a different engine for a different day.

“For 2020, we are delivering more in each of these areas. As a result, the Silverado now offers customers the most towing capability of any light-duty pickup and the most affordable light-duty truck with more than 400 horsepower.” Yes, it’s true, the 2020 Silverado does offer the most towing capacity out there in the half-ton segment, and there’s an engine with over 400 horsepower. But let’s look at the gas mileage first on this diesel engine.

The two-wheel-drive option puts the fuel efficiency ratings at 33 mpg highway and 23 mpg city. It’s hard to overstate how impressive this is—remember, we’re also talking about 460 lb-ft of torque and 277 horsepower. You might wonder what your family sedan gets in comparison. Well, you probably won’t like the answer. But let’s take a look anyway. We’ll use the 2019 Honda Accord as an example. This seems like a fair comparison since it’s known as a sensible car with a reputation for fuel efficiency. The Accord, on certain trims, comes in at 22 mpg city and 32 mpg highway. Now that’s a decent mpg rating, but can this be true? Does the 2020 Silverado really get better gas mileage than the 2019 Accord? Well, if we look at the four-wheel-drive model, then, no, but it’s close. The 2020 Silverado gets 23/29 mpg in the four-wheel-drive model, so it’s right there, and that’s truly impressive for a truck with this much power.

Towing and Off-Road Performance

If you look at the numbers even further, you’ll find this engine has a perfect combination of towing power and off-road chops. The engine makes 460 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 RPM, which is ideal for both towing and off-roading. Able to tow 9,300 lbs with torque that peaks at low revs make it a great all-around engine. You want high torque and low RPM if you are towing, and that’s what the Silverado brings. Simply put, torque is more important when towing than horsepower. Although they’re both important, you especially want the low-end torque—or higher power at lower speeds—when pulling because this allows the engine to pull heavy loads, without putting a heavy strain on it. Towing places a great deal of strain on the engine and drivetrain, so the more torque a truck has, the less wear and tear.

A blue 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 diesel is towing 2 side by sides on a trailer past a grassy field.

This is the kind of low-end torque rock-crawlers love, and we’re getting it from a truck that gets 29 mpg (4WD) on the highway. What you want out there on the trail is control more than anything else. You don’t want your truck spinning out of control when you find yourself in a precarious situation. Not requiring high revolutions to reach maximum torque means that you don’t need to sit on the gas pedal to move forward. And when you’re out in the middle of nowhere, you don’t want to have to be the guy who needs help getting out. It’s not like you can call a tow truck to help you out. You want to know your truck will perform in sand, mud, over boulders and logs, and that it will take you quickly over the obstacles and not spin you off the road. You might even be able to take some of these obstacles at idle—you never know with an engine like this.

Other Engine Options

Let’s take a quick look at some of the other available engines for the 2020 Silverado in case you’re looking for something else. The engines range from the base engine, a 4.3 liter V6, to the top engine, a 6.2 liter V8 (standard for the LT Trail Boss). The 6.2 liter gets 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, so that is a significant increase in power. This engine is available in more models than in previous years, now as an option for five trim levels: Custom Trail Boss, RST (four-wheel drive), LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country. Of note is that the most popular engine—the 5.3 liter V8—is now available paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission on the LT Trail Boss and High Country models.

It’s true that customers are demanding more capability and features now than ever before. The role of the truck has changed from one of utilitarian work-truck to the all-round vehicle we’ve come to expect. It’s not enough to put up big towing and payload numbers and call it a day. Now you need to build a truck for anyone—one that can take you anywhere and do anything. From the job site to your day-to-day chores, the Silverado is a truck that excels at anything you put in front of it. It’s rare to find this, and especially rare to find this kind of functionality with the fuel efficiency of a family sedan.