If you want proof of how much the full-size pickup truck market has changed recently, look no further than what’s under the hoods of some of the most popular models.
We’d argue the changes began in 2011, when Ford introduced the F-150’s first EcoBoost turbocharged V6. Ram was next with the segment’s first light-duty diesel, which it dubbed EcoDiesel. As those monikers suggest, both of these engines were conceived to change the pickup truck’s image as a gas guzzler.
Domestic brands continue to lead the charge with tech to make trucks more efficient for everyday drivers. Here’s a look at the engines you’ll find under the hoods of some of today’s best-known pickups.
Ram 1500 eTorque
One of the Ram brand’s latest developments is eTorque, a mild hybrid system available on Ram 1500 trucks since 2019.
Offered in models with the 3.6L V6 and 5.7L V8 gas engines, eTorque adds 9 hp and 90 lb-ft of torque to the V6 (for 314 hp and 359 lb-ft) and 16 hp and 130 lb-ft to V8 models (for totals of 411 hp and 540 lb-ft).
It also promises significantly reduced fuel consumption. With eTorque, the 2020 Ram 1500’s V6 is rated at 11.9/9.4 L/100 km (city/highway), while the non-eTorque model’s estimates are 13.9/9.6. The Ram 1500’s V8 eTorque estimates are 14.1/10.3, down from 15.7/11.0 without the mild hybrid system.
All of those fuel consumption estimates are for 2WD models.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Ford F-150, GMC Sierra 1500 and Ram 1500 diesel engines
Diesels have long been popular in heavy-duty truck lines, but Ram’s 2014 EcoDiesel was the first of its kind in a light-duty truck. Ford followed with a diesel F-150 in 2019, and GM’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra followed in 2020.
The Ford and Ram engines are 3.0L V6s (250 hp/440 lb-ft of torque for the F-150 and 260 hp/480 lb-ft in the Ram), and the GM engine is a 3.0L inline six-cylinder that makes 277 hp and 460 lb-ft.
Chevrolet lays claim to the most fuel-efficient full-size truck with its diesel Silverado, which is estimated at 10.2/7.2 L/100 km (city/highway). Next is the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel at 10.5/7.3, whose maker claims the longest driving range – 1,600 km! – in trucks with an optional 125L fuel tank.
Interestingly, the GMC Sierra 1500 diesel is less efficient than its Chevy sibling at 10.2/7.8 L/100 km. Finally, the F-150 diesel is rated at 11.1/8.3 L/100 km (city/highway).
Again, all of those fuel consumption estimates are for the 2WD versions of those trucks.
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 2.7L four-cylinder turbocharged engine
General Motors is the first modern pickup maker to offer a four-cylinder engine in a full-size truck. It’s a turbocharged 2.7L unit that makes 310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque.
The decision to put a four-cylinder in a full-size truck seems like a brave move in the competitive pickup segment – especially considering it’s neither the most powerful nor the most efficient engine of its size.
Ford’s F-150 also offers a turbocharged 2.7L engine, but that one’s a V6 that makes 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. The Ford engine also boasts lower combined fuel consumption, at 10.6L/100 km for 2WD models, compared to the GM four-cylinder 2WD’s rating of 11.1 L/100 km.
Ford EcoBoost turbocharged engines
Speaking of Ford’s EcoBoost engines, the 2.7L is one of two turbo V6s in the F-150 lineup. The other is a 3.5L introduced in 2011 that today makes 375 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. Those figures are impressive compared to the 395 hp/400 lb-ft of the F-150’s 5.0L V8. Meanwhile, its combined 2WD fuel consumption estimate is 12.7 L/100 km, while the V8’s is 12.6 L/100 km.
8-, 9- and 10-speed transmissions
General Motors and Ford lead the transmission race with 10-speed automatics in their Silverado, Sierra and F-150 models. The new-for-2020 Nissan Titan comes with a nine-speed, and the Ram 1500 uses an eight-speed gearbox.
It wasn’t that long ago that transmissions with four, five and six ratios were common. Adding more gears helps keep an engine operating in more efficient speed ranges, which improves fuel economy and performance, especially when towing and hauling heavy loads.