2020 Chevrolet Silverado Diesel pickup (Photo: Chevrolet)

2020 The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 diesel just hung a large number of the wall, challenging Ford and Ram fitted it .

Chevy's new diesel scored 33 mpg on the highway in EPA fuel economy tests, and topped the 2019 Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 with 3 mpg and 6 mpg respectively.

Three miles per gallon is a huge advantage in a race where engineers sweat bullets to get fractions of a gallon. Six mpg is out of sight, although Ram can be expected to at least limit the gap when it launches a new diesel later this year.

"It's seldom air," said Silverado chief engineer Tim Herrick, pointing out that GM's new Flint-built 3.0L straight-six Duramax diesel engine gives the Silverado full-size pick-up fuel economy on the highway than any popular mid-sized sedans.

2020 Silverado 1500 diesel would be in dealerships in late summer or early fall. The engine produces 277 horsepower and 460 pound feet of torque. The maximum towing capacity is £ 9,300.

I found the engine smooth, powerful and surprisingly quiet in a recent test hitch through hills in western Oregon.

More: How Silverado's quiet, powerful diesel is like a BMW

Sales of full-size pickups grew rapidly in the second quarter of this year, according to figures from Diesel Technology Forum, which represents companies selling diesel technology

"Any consumer looking for a fuel-efficient, powerful alternative, can find one in the diesel alternative to America's favorite car, the pickup truck," said Diesel Technology Forum Allen Schaeffer.

Diesel represents a small percentage of lightweight pickup sales, but their fuel efficiency and high towing capacity make them major players in the fierce battle for pickup boast rights among Chevrolet, GMC, Ford and Ram.

Chevrolet Silverados brand new 3.0L Duramax inline six turbo diesel engine. (Photo: JESSICA LYNN WALKER)

The full EPA ratings of the Silverado 1500 diesel are 33 mpg on the highway, 23 in the city, 27 combined for rear-drive pickup and 29/23/25 for four-wheel drive models. GMC Sierra should match Silverado when Chevy's cousin brand reveals fuel economy.

The optional engine adds $ 2,495 for the price – the same as 6.2L petrol V8 – by a Silverado in the upper trim level. On lower-level trucks, it costs $ 3,890 more than the based 2.7-liter turbocharged petrol engine.

Chevy engineers employ a variety of tools to maximize fuel economy. The right six-engine is inherently smooth, so the new Duramax didn't need a balance shaft, a component that reduces vibration, but puts the engine extra. Chevy also uses three electric fans to cool the engine to its most efficient temperature and avoid pulling on the engine, as the fans in other pickups do. The motor is connected to a 10-speed automatic transmission.

"We designed the Silverado with this engine in mind," Herrick said.

Diesel engines have fallen out of favor with car buyers since VW was caught and lying about it emissions, but they are still popular among truck owners, both for the fuel economy and the power they generate for pulling trailers.

"We think this engine will pull new buyers into diesel convenience pickup," Herrick said. "It will surprise and delight people who have no previous experience with diesels."

Contact Mark Phelan at 313-222-6731 or Follow him on Twitter @ mark_phelan . Read more about cars and sign up for the car's newsletter.

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