Of mankind’s many destructive illusions, none will prove more costly than the idea that gas has always been cheap.
This notion hit me this week as I listened to a Bloomberg News report on East Texas cattle farmers in “panic mode” to liquidate herds as prices for feed, fertilizer and fuel soar alongside temperatures that turn hay pastures into bowls of dust.
Do you think beef prices are high right now? Wait a few months. The price you pay at the pump will continue to be a small slice of what it costs us to live on carbon-based fuels, and those to come.
Oh, it would have been quite simple to avoid thinking about such things. After all, I was pleasantly cool and comfortable in the redesigned interior of the Chevrolet Silverado LT. Premium materials, a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and large 13.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system give the 2022 Silverado a contemporary feel.
Comfortable seats and a powerful cooling system made the triple-digit atmosphere outside the tinted windows an otherworldly experience. Yet when I scrolled through the info windows, it was there.
Despite having GM’s innovative 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, the Silverado averaged 14.3 mpg in the city. “Who,” I wondered, “would deliberately buy a vehicle that burns almost seven gallons to go 100 miles?”
I don’t have a real answer, but yet some people do it because Chevy sent me a $52,000 crew cab powered by a four-cylinder engine. I understand this is a nice option as it saves about $1500 which can be spent on other options but there are concerns about the longevity of small high pressure motors and the value of exchange for a pickup powered by one.
After having several conversations with people outraged by the amounts they pay at gas stations, I found that few people seem to be aware that fuel economy is not just a public record, it is prominently displayed in the window of all new vehicles, except heavy trucks. Vehicles.
Even if one is buying a used vehicle, estimated EPA fuel economy ratings are available at fueleconomy.gov. People like to argue with statisticians, especially government-employed statisticians, but that’s mainly because statistics is an established area of mathematics with tested methodologies and proven principles and, therefore, gives us headaches. head when we think about it.
For now, let’s just go with Consumer Reports and other independent testers, who generally agree that the EPA is pretty much right. Over the years, my data has closely tracked that of the EPA, but I’m a retired math professor, so here we know I can’t be trusted.
It all leads to this: Chevy’s four-cylinder fuel economy ratings are a headache. The EPA says the engine can deliver a combined 20 mpg when bolted to an 8-speed automatic transmission. Add in 4WD tires and mud-terrain tires like our tester, however, and the EPA’s estimate drops to 17 mpg, a number we didn’t hit, nor did Car and Driver during its tests.
Chevy offers four engines in the Silverado lineup, the four-cylinder, a 6.2-liter V8, a 5.3-liter V8, and a 3.0-liter Duramax diesel inline-6. The EPA pegs the 5.3L V8 at 17 mpg, one mile per gallon better than the big V-8 and four-cylinder.
Consumer Reports tested the diesel and found it to achieve around 23 mpg. The Duramax gets good reviews across the board for smoothness and towing ability, but CR points out that its increased fuel economy will take nearly a decade to justify its extra cost due to high diesel prices.
The 6.2L offers the greatest towing capacity, up to 12,000 lbs. in the correct configuration. Chevies have long been known for low-end grunt and the 5.3L and diesel are great tow shops, too.
Fuel economy aside, we found the Sierra to be a thoroughly enjoyable driving companion. With 439 lb-ft of torque, the truck is smooth, powerful and as quick as a scalded cat speeding through traffic. The steering is tight and well balanced. The truck has little body tilt. Yes, it’s big, but it goes where it says.
The same cannot be said for the journey. Like Ford, Chevy continues to use leaf springs in the rear, unlike Ram’s coil-over-shock multi-link rear. The first two are inflatable, especially for the rear passengers.
It’s one of the reasons independent testers like Consumer Reports and US News and World Report continue to rank the Ram 1500 as the king of America’s pickup truck. This includes the all-new Toyota Tundra, which still gives ground on creature comforts and workability.
The Silverado also suffers from a reliability image problem. According to Consumer Reports, the 2016 and 2019 redesigns resulted in engine, transmission, body hardware, braking and drive system issues.
CR gives the 2022 Silverado an overall rating of 46. The Ram leads with a 75, followed by the Tundra at 71 and the Ford F-150 at 60.
On the other hand, getting Ford and Chevy owners into other-brand trucks is a bit like getting Methodists and Baptists to change churches on Sundays. It happens, but when it does, everyone notices because it’s so rare.
It’s a tough time to buy a new vehicle right now due to supply chain issues. If you’re looking for a deal, however, Chevy has cash incentives on a few pre-facelifted 2022 Silverados identified as “LTD” models.