2020 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Duramax: Difference-making Engine

There’s an all-out war in the full-size pickup segment, mostly involving the Americans. Competition between the Ford F-150, Ram 1500 and GM’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra is so fierce that manufacturers must be relentless when it comes to innovation.

One trick they like to do is to launch more and more variants. There are so many now it’s hard to find your way through all of them. The selection of engines, drivetrains, cabs, cargo beds, trim levels, options and accessories can be dizzying.  

Over the last few weeks, The Car Guide had the opportunity to test both the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado High Country Duramax and the 2020 GMC Sierra Elevation Duramax. Here, we’ll review their respective packages and also the diesel engine they share.

GMC Sierra Elevation

The Elevation package is merely for show. You get a nicer-looking truck and that’s about it. A black grille, black wheels, LED lights and an eight-inch infotainment display are included.

Nearly all variants of the Silverado can get the Elevation treatment, whether you choose the base turbocharged 2.7-litre four-cylinder engine, the 5.3-litre V8 or the 3.0-litre six-cylinder Duramax.

Is it worth the money? At $55,000, we’d expect a bit more. That eight-inch screen looks tiny in the middle of the gigantic dashboard. The seats are appointed in cloth—not leather—and the standard suspension is really not that good.

One thing we forgot to mention is that a Traction Select system is part of the Elevation package, allowing the Sierra to tackle rougher terrains even without off-road tires or specialized equipment.

Chevolet Silverado High Country

What exactly is High Country? We’re not geography experts, so let’s just say it’s the most expensive Silverado you can buy.

As such, we need to compare it with the Ford F-150 Platinum and Ram 1500 Limited. The problem is that the Silverado High Country doesn’t feel all that luxurious. The infotainment display is too small and some of the cabin materials look and feel cheaper. Considering the price of about $80,000, it’s disappointing.

On a positive note, the Silverado High Country can be equipped with the Z71 off-road package, which includes a sublime suspension almost on par with Ram’s world-class air suspension.

Duramax: The Kicker

By the way, the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado deliver the same exact combination of ride and handling. Styling and branding are really what sets them apart.

While their respective packages left us wanting more, these two pickups impressed with the quality and performance of their common engine.

The 3.0-litre Duramax generates 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, the latter available from just 1,500 rpm. This small-displacement diesel engine is fuel-efficient and capable of towing more than 9,000 pounds.  

Operational refinement is exceptional. Compared with the Ram 1500’s EcoDiesel V6, the Duramax is much smoother yet just as frugal at pump, achieving a combined 8.9 L/100 km in 4x2 configuration.

Some of the credit goes to the 10-speed automatic transmission. At any given time, it feels like there’s way more than 277 horsepower at your disposal. Only when you push the truck to around 140 km/h does the engine start to reach its limits.

Efficient, responsive, hard-working—the Duramax is a great ally. Too bad it costs a ton of cash: both Chevrolet and GMC require a premium of $9,000 over the 5.3-litre V8. You’ll have to drive far and often to get a return on your investment.

That said, no one buys a diesel pickup to save money (unless they travel 100,000 kilometres a year, which is unlikely). The Duramax is more about maximum durability and fun, hence the name.

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

NewsChevy Silverado Realtree is Back and Ready for the Wild
Following the success of the 2016 Chevrolet Silverado Realtree Edition five years ago, General Motors decided to bring this special edition back for the 2021 model year. The unveiling took place at the 2020 SHOT Show in Las Vegas this week. Developed in collaboration with Realtree, a company that specializes …
First Drives2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Duramax: The Diesel is Back
When Chevrolet introduced the next-generation Silverado 1500 last year, we were promised the return of a diesel engine in the lineup. Following a delay of several months, the 3.0-litre Duramax is now ready to make its debut in Canada for the 2020 model year. The Car Guide was invited to …
First Drives2020 GMC Sierra HD: Towing the Competition
JACKSON HOLE, Wyoming— The heavy-duty pickup segment has become so competitive that the latest product on the market automatically becomes the king of the hill. This year has been a historic one. It all started with the 2019 Ram Heavy Duty and its 1,000 pound-feet of torque. Then, Ford made …
New Models2020 GMC Sierra 1500 Gets Key Powertrain and Towing Updates
Light-duty pickup manufacturers are engaged in a cut-throat battle and they simply cannot rest. Take the GMC Sierra 1500 for example. Completely redesigned for 2019 with the industry-first MultiPro tailgate, it is getting a series of updates just a year later. For starters, the 2020 Sierra 1500 will be available …
News2021 SVE Yenko/SC Silverado Unleashed With 800 Horsepower
A few weeks after the 750-horsepower GMC Syclone, Specialty Vehicle Engineering (SVE) is introducing an even stronger pickup. Meet the 2021 Yenko/SC Silverado. The project started about a year ago and the result is scary good: 800 horsepower and 720 pound-feet of torque. Using the expertise gained with the Yenko …
NewsGM Ramps up Full-size Pickup Production to Meet Demand
Demand for full-size pickups is even stronger than it was before the COVID-19 pandemic hit North America and production sites were forced to close for two months. In some parts of the U.S. and Canada, customers must wait an unusually long period of time to receive their orders. In order …
NewsUpdated 2021 GMC Sierra Trucks Make Towing Even Easier
General Motors cannot realistically catch the Ford F-150 in terms of sales, especially with the latter coming to market this fall with a brand new generation, but that doesn’t mean it should wait a year or two to make some upgrades. After launching a completely redesigned GMC Sierra for 2019 …
News2021 Chevrolet Silverado Adds Multi-Flex Tailgate, More Towing Power
One of the main differences between the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and its cousin, the GMC Sierra , will be a thing of the past in 2021 as the former adds the option of a Multi-Flex tailgate. Several other enhancements have been made to Chevy’s full-size pickup, so let’s do a …
News2021 Chevrolet Silverado HD Can Tow up to 36,000 Pounds
Just a few weeks after announcing a series of updates and enhancements to the Silverado 1500 for 2021, Chevrolet strikes back with a revised and more capable Silverado HD . The towing war is far from over, folks. Thanks to hardware upgrades to the suspension and packaging changes to the …
News800-hp Yenko/SC Chevy Silverado Turned Into Off-road Beast
Remember the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado Yenko/SC unveiled this summer? It’s an 800-horsepower street truck designed for straight-line performance and little else. But since off-road pickups are becoming more and more popular these days, the tuning company that built this machine, Specialty Vehicle Engineering (SVE), decided to create a more rugged, …
NewsGMC Sierra to Offer Super Cruise Tech by 2022
The GMC Sierra 1500 is our Best Buy for 2021 in the large pickup segment and it doesn’t have many reasons to envy the competition. However, there’s one area where the brand needs to catch up. As we’ve just found out, the Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving system that is so …