2014 Chevy Silverado

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Trucks are honest things. Or at least, they ought to be. Straightforward. Functional. Get the job done.2014 Silverado lead

Hold the frou frou – please.

The just-redesigned GM 1500 series trucks embrace that ethic – and are a sharp counterpoint to their (and every full-size truck’s) chief rival, the Ford F-150.

No overhead cam, “EcoBoosted” multi-turbocharged flapdoodle. Instead, rawboned and effective pushrod power (including a newly invigorated 4.3 V-6 that’s based on the optional V-8 and which makes almost 100 more hp than last year’s standard V-6) wrapped in a handsome hardhat package.

If you like it as much as I like it, the F-truck is in trouble.

WHAT IT IS2014 Silverado dash view

The Silverado 1500 is Chevy’s version of GM’s full-size truck. It’s available in regular, extended and crew cab versions, and offers three different bed lengths as well as RWD or 4WD and V-6 or V-8 power.

Base price for a regular cab Work Truck with 4.3 liter V-6, 2WD and 6′ 6″ bed is $26,670. A top-of-the-line Crew Cab High Country with 5.3 liter V-8 and 4WD starts at $48,775.

Main rivals are the Ford F-150 and the Dodge Ram 1500.

WHAT’S NEW2014 Silverado side profile

The ’14 Silverado is completely redesigned, with new bodywork (including forward-hinged rear doors on extended and crew cab models) a much stronger base engine – and massively powerful optional engines (up to 420 hp).

GM is also tossing in free scheduled maintenance (oil changes and so on) for the first two years or 24,000 miles as part of the deal.

WHAT’S GOOD

Newly muscled up base V-6 makes opting for the V-8 not necessarily necessary.

Heightened tow capacity – now class best with just the mid-range V-8.2014 Silverado doors

Forward hinged rear doors on extended/crew cabs allow them to be opened without opening the front doors first.

Pushrod/OHV engines are simple and take up less room in the engine bay than OHC and turbocharged engines. Probably fewer down the road repair debacles.

Much improved ride on uneven pavement/gravel/dirt roads.

Built-into-the-bumper foot steps so you can access the bed – and LED bed lighting under the bed rails, so you can see inside the bed on a dark night, even with a camper top installed.

WHAT’S NOT SO GOOD

Base price is $1,600 higher than base model F-150 ($25,065) and $1,375 more than base Ram 1500 ($25,295)

LCD display for the audio and GPS is not canted toward the driver.

Hemi-equipped Ram offers more hp – and an eight-speed automatic. Dodge also offers a diesel V-6, something no other full-size truck does.

Like all current 1500-series trucks, the Silverado’s bed walls are so high even tall people will need those foot steps built into the rear bumper.

UNDER THE HOOD2014 Silverado 4.3 V-6

GM has pulled the one loose tooth the old Silverado had – the preposterously under-powered 195 hp V-6 that was standard-issue last year. With Ford giving buyers of the base F-truck a 302 hp 3.7 liter V-6 and the base Ram 1500 packing 305 hp, the ’13 Chevy’s 195 hp base engine seemed downright pitiful. Which it was. Upgrading to the optional 5.3 liter V-8 was almost mandatory, if you wanted to pull anything – or get anywhere quickly. But even then, the Chevy’s step-up 315 hp V-8 only made a handful of hp more than the Ford’s base V-6 – and wasn’t even in the same ballpark as the Ram’s optional 395 hp Hemi.

You see the problem.

GM finally saw it, too. Hence, the new direct-injected 4.3 liter V-6. It makes 285 hp – almost a 100 hp uptick from last year – and more importantly, it produces more torque (305 ft.-lbs.) than the Ford’s smaller displacement base V-6, which only makes 278 ft.-lbs.2014 Silverado action shot The Ram’s standard 3.6 liter V-6 put out even less torque than the Ford – just 269 ft.-lbs.

With the new 4.3 engine, the ’14 Silverado can pull 7,200 lbs. – considerably more than the base F-truck (6,400 lbs.) and on par with the V-6 Ram’s 7,450 lb. rating.

The Dodge Ram’s newly available 3 liter turbo-diesel can pull 9,200 lbs.

The 4.3 liter V-6 comes paired with a six-speed automatic and can be ordered with either 2WD or part-time 4WD. Mileage stats are 18 city, 24 with 2WD and 17/22 with 4WD. This is slightly better than the V-6 F-150 – 17 city, 23 highway for the RWD version and 16 city, 21 highway for a 4WD – and slightly worse than the V-6 Ram 1500, which is still the class leader at 17 city, 25 highway with 2WD (16 city, 23 highway with 4WD).

The Chevy’s optional 5.3 liter V-8 has also been muscled up – to 355 hp and 383 ft.-lbs. of torque. This puts it even-Steven (just about) with the F-truck’s optional 5 liter V-8, which makes a bit more hp (360) and a bit less torque (380).The Hemi Ram is stronger, hp and torque-wise (395 hp and 410 ft.-lbs. of torque) but take a look at the towing numbers:

Equipped with the 5.3 V-8, the new Silverado can tug 11,400 lbs. now – up from 10,700 lbs. maximum last year and more than the F-truck with its top-gun 3.5 liter twin turbo “Ecoboost” V-6 (more on this in a moment) and more than the Hemi-equipped Ram’s 10,450 lb. max rating. 2014 Silverad 5.3 V-8 pictures The 5.3 equipped Silverado even out-tows the SVT Raptor – a special high-performance version of the F-150 – which maxxes out at 11,300 lbs.

And Chevy’s got one more engine in the batter’s box: a 6.2 liter V-8 that will deliver at least 420 hp – completely outclassing the F-truck’s Ecoboost V-6 in every way, from on-paper power to on-street acceleration, as well as maximum tow capacity.

Chevy has not yet (at the time of this review in mid-November, 2013) released the official numbers, but the 1500 with the 6.2 V-8 ought to be the clear class leader, towing-wise, given that the 5.3 V-8 already out-tows the competitions’ strongest available engines. The 6.2 Silverado might also out-accelerate them as well. That includes the SVT Raptor – which, remember, has only 411 hp.

As with the base V-6, a  six-speed automatic with stalk-mounted Tow/Haul mode is paired with both of the Silverado’s optional V-8s.2014 Silverado trailer brake

Driver-adjustable electric trailer sway control comes standard, too.

The optional Trailering package adds a locking differential – and for the really serious, there’s the Z71 Package (LT and LTZ trims only) which includes underbody skid plates and tow hooks, off-road HD shocks and suspension and a heavy-duty air cleaner to deal with off-road dust.

ON THE ROAD

The new V-6 makes one hell of a first impression. In every way except for the sound it makes, you’d swear there’s a V-8 under the hood. This is not surprising, given it is a V-8 . . . sans two cylinders. The 4.3 liter engine is based on the current-gen GM aluminum small block V-8. Same basic block/heads/valvetrain/intake layout – just with six pistons (and so on) instead of eight.2014 Silverado road 1

Its larger displacement, as alluded to earlier, gives it a torque advantage over its gas V-6 rivals that makes it feel stronger coming off the line and in the middle of the powerband, too. Dodge’s new turbo-diesel V-6 one-ups this, of course. But it is hp deficient (just 240 hp) and so while it has powerful grunt coming off the line and can certainly tow more, it’s not the high-speed runner the Chevy is – or can be, if you want it to be. This truck achieves triple digit speeds with deceptive ease. You’re at 90 before you know it – and it feels good.

Easy.

The overdrive gearing of the six-speed automatic is so steep that even pulling all that weight – and even with the aerodynamic profile of an ice chest stacked onto a refrigerator lying on its side – you can run all day at 70-75 and not crest 2,000 RPM on the tach.

Arguably, the Chevy’s optional V-8s have become superfluous – or simply indulgent – unless you really do need to pull a five figure load.2014 Silverado off road 1

Same goes for the others in this class. However, I personally would be more comfortable with the Chevy because that 4.3 V-6 is based on the superb Chevy OHV V-8 while the competition’s V-6s are not design-sourced from the respective manufacturer’s V-8 line. Moreover, the Ford V-6 is shared with passenger cars (Mustang, et al) as is the Ram’s V-6 (Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, etc.). They were primarily conceived for cars – not trucks – and so are hp rather than torque-biased. Also, Chevy has been making the 4.3 V-6 for a long time. The new engine is updated (aluminum and direct injected, with cylinder deactivation technology) but the basic layout dates back decades and has an established track record for durability the others don’t.

Handling – both on-road and off- has been night and day improved. Chevy mounted the ’14 Silverado’s cab to the frame using new body mounts that dramatically limit fore and aft movement – which exponentially reduces the reverberations transmitted to the interior and passengers when the truck is driven over rutted, washboard roads. There’s less unsprung weight, too (the base V-6 regular cab weighs 250 pounds less than its 2013 equivalent) and that no doubt helped Chevy engineers fine-tune the ride for less bounce. There are also structural braces tying things together under the hood – as well as more high-strength steel used throughout. There is even acoustic laminated exterior glass and lined/insulated wheel wells to help quiet things down.

You will have to drive the truck to believe how good it is off-road now – not just in terms of not getting stuck, but also in terms of not beating you up.

On road, it’s a similar deal. For a leaf-sprung son-of-a-gun, this thing can hustle through the twisties – and as noted above, feels granite solid (and granite quiet) at very high road speeds, too.

My test truck had the optional (and not cheap) All Star 18-inch wheel and tire package – which probably helped the handling. You can go as high as 20s, if you want to.

AT THE CURB2014 Silverado bold view

GM has been perhaps the most conservative overall in terms of styling its big truck over the past 20-something years. Remember the ’80s-era advertising jingle, “Like a Rock”? That’s how GM truck styling has evolved – which is good.

Trucks should look like trucks (not like melting sticks of butter, the mistake Ford made back in the ’90s, thankfully since corrected).

Chevy calls the new Silverado’s blunted, squared-off looks “Fist in the wind.” That fits. Who cares about aerodynamics when you have horsepower? The big white ‘fridge in the basement? That’s your model, guys. Add some heavy chrome to give it some flash. Yeah, buddy. Now that’s a truck!2014 Silverado bumper step

But that doesn’t mean niceties have been overlooked. Such as the dampened tailgate, which doesn’t just drop anymore but instead gently lowers to the horizontal. And those molded-in foot steps on each side of the rear bumper. They’re cleaner-looking (and easier to use) than the clumsy mini-ladders tried in the past. They won’t break, either.

Ever.

Clever Chevy has also added under-rail bed lighting. So much better than the light affixed way up high on the rear of the cab – which is rendered useless if you have a cover on the bed. It is astonishing no one else thought of this before now.

But these are small things. How about the big things?

Like, for instance, the way the back doors are hinged on extended and crew cab versions of the ’14 Silverado. Instead of the former (and typical) rear-hinged layout, they are now mounted conventionally (car-style) on the B pillar, which means it is no longer necessary to open the front doors to open the rear doors. Probably, the presence of the beefy B pillar helps structurally, too (see earlier comments about the much reduced cabin shakes on washboard roads).2014 Silverado crew pic

You can also now order the crew cab (four full-size doors and a larger cabin) with a longer six foot, six-inch bed (or go with the the standard “short” five-foot-eight-inch bed). This increases the usability of the Cowboy Cadillac version of the Silverado. However, if you order the extended cab (in Silverado-speak, “double cab”) you must accept the six-foot, six-inch bed. Regular cab models may be ordered with up to an eight-foot bed.

The new interior layout cribs some from the current F-truck – especially the Super Duty-ish layout of the gauges. I’m all for it. Much better than the car-ish cockpit in the previous 1500.

Trims higher than the base Work Truck get a 4 inch LCD display in the center stack, with oversize touch inputs that can be operated with a gloved hand. That’s smart. Even smarter would have been canting the display slightly to the right and toward the driver, so it would be easier to see – and use. No big thing, though.2014 Silverado interior

The base Work Truck includes AC, 17 inch wheels, cruise control, power windows and locks and a four speaker stereo with USB inputs. That plus the new 4.3 V-6 makes this a ready-to-go truck as it sits.

For work – or play.

The upmarket trims add to the opulence but not the necessaries – other than additional power for towing.

To be fair, both the base-trim versions of the F-150 and the Ram 1500 are more or less comparably equipped – and cost less to start. What you get with the Chevy is a more truck-minded V-6, with more low-end grunt – and superior towing/pulling power. Probably also a longer-lived, more reliable truck. I’ll get into that now.

THE REST2014 Silverado side inside view

I know the F-truck is the current (and long-time) best-seller, based to a great extent on its past reputation. But I wonder about its future. The turbo-Ecoboosted V-6s Ford is hard-selling as the replacement for the traditional V-8 is a complicated – and problem-prone – engine. Ford is already dealing with unhappy customers – and if the issues aren’t resolved, there is going to be trouble.

GM was smart to stick with the tried and true, large displacement/pushrod V-8 (no turbo, thank you) layout. These engines are understressed, make scads of torque down low and hp up high – and are relatively simple, proven designs that we know are good for 200,000-plus miles of trouble-free operation if given regular oil changes and not deliberately abused. We do not know this about the twin-turbo’d Ecoboost V-6.2014 Silverado load pictures In fact, we know there are problems with it now – long before the warranty has run out. See here for more about that.

Ford committed to smaller, on-demand-power turbo engines in order to placate the FedGov and its increasingly strident fuel-efficiency-uber-alles mandates (set to rise to 35.5 MPG by 2016). But, the actual differences, MPG-wise, between the Ecoboosted F-truck’s MPGs and its V-8 equivalent Silverado competition are so slight as to be a wash – as far as you, the owner are concerned.

Check it out.

A 2WD F-150 equipped with the Ecoboost V-6 rates16 city, 22 highway (1 MPG less on each count with 4WD). A 2WD Silverado equipped with the 5.3 liter V-8 rates 16 city, 23 highway (16 city, 22 highway with 4WD) which is slightly better than the twin-turbo’d Ford V-6

Dodge’s new diesel V-6 option will surely draw some sales away from both Chevy and Ford – but Chrysler has its own issues to sort out, including some reliability/durability issues with automatic transmissions and electrical stuff.2014 Silverado tail view

And neither Dodge nor Ford toss in two years of free scheduled maintenance – which GM does, just to sweeten the pot a little more.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Chevy might finally have what it takes to upset Ford’s apple cart – and leave the number two spot to Dodge.

Throw it in the Woods?

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  26 comments for “2014 Chevy Silverado

  1. MikePizzo
    November 17, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Yep, the full sized truck competition is about as tough as it gets.

    The 2014 Chevy is clearly a better effort than the 2014 Tundra, which is more of a refresh than a really new model.

    Ford however will introduce an all new truck in next year. I’m neither a Ford or Chevy fan. But I suspect that after the 2015 F 150 hits the market, the Silverado will be “number two” again.

    You’re right that Ford’s twin turbo Ecoboost engine intrinsically has less long term reliability than Chevy’s naturally aspirated pushrod. It’s a pretty sure bet though, that the missing/stumbling Ecoboost issues that have occurred will be fixed and eliminated.

    And your strong bias in favor of GM is showing when you emphasize the 6.2 Chevy’s ability to out accelerate the Ford Raptor. It sure as hell better be able to, because the Raptor is weighted down with a huge amount of gear specifically intended for high speed off road running.

  2. chiph
    November 17, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    Glad to hear that they stiffened up the cab. In the previous generation, if you slammed the door closed it rang like a bell, as the steel flexed like mad.

    The under-rail lighting sounds really clever. A lot of the cap makers (Leer, etc) will bring the high-mount stop light to the back (because it’s obstructed when the cap is on there), but interior lighting is an option, if it’s available at all.

  3. Eightsouthman
    November 18, 2013 at 9:22 am

    I take all the hoopla about power in pickups and then drive them to find out their strong points. I recently drove a friends Ford Super Duty 3/4 T 4 WD Ext. cab down my driveway that’s smooth for the most part but part has grass that’s grown into it and collected dirt so there’s about an inch difference in going over the grass and the base underneath. The Ford just hurt me, actually made my back hurt, transmitted every bit of that small amount of raised area and then lower area right into my butt, back, hands. Why so jittery? What’s the point? My old Chevy one ton 4WD eats this stuff up so much I’d never noticed it. Another friends new Dodge crewcab dually diesel fairly much ignores it too. When you have to live with a truck all the time it’s things like that unnecessarily stiff ride that will have you looking for a different brand. If a Ford held up better than GM or Dodge, I’d be there but they don’t, in fact, they don’t hold up nearly as well. In my part of the world where pickups are worked, you can barely find a pickup from the 80′s or 90′s that’s still alive with a blue oval. But there’s still a plethora of GM trucks all the way back to the 70′s you see working every day. This ain’t rocket science here.

    • eric
      November 18, 2013 at 9:46 am

      Morning, Eight!

      The new B pillar really tightens things up. I guess the new-design body mounts help, too.

      I was impressed, regardless.

      And I respect the GM small block as one of the finest engines ever mass produced. It is a brilliant piece of work – and as I see it – vastly to be preferred over a DOHC/multi-turbo layout in a truck that you expect to give you 15-20 years or more of reliable, every day service.

      • Eightsouthman
        November 18, 2013 at 10:28 am

        eric, morning. I opened a mag the other day and saw this two page ad for a new GM truck.
        A man.

        A man and his truck.

        A man and his truck and a mission and a mission control.

        While the radio and a/c vent controls seem to be rotary switches, everything else appeared to be touch control

        For the past 15 years GM pickups have been in the shop more for dash problems than mechanical.

        I don’t just subscribe to one brand out of some reason like my cousin who has never owned a pickup, has never driven one except briefly on a runway when the guys at the skunk works were trying out a new concept in model form and needed to generate some wind. He told me GM pickups were ‘pure junk’. So I said how do you know? Well, he said everybody knows. I damn sure don’t and I’ve used them all. I have friends with big shops, transmission shops too, and they stay full of trucks being used by big companies for work vehicles, you know, the ones that come in with the body work nothing but mesquite tree scrubs and undersides that looked like they’ve gone to war. I’ve seen the trucks in there for different reasons. I’ll stick with GM’s thanks. And while the way something drives and handles isn’t the final word, for most people who spend the extra bucks for GM’s, for many that’s the bottom line. A friend has a new Dodge dually diesel 4WD that’s a nice truck. I asked him how come not a GMC which he normally would have. He said it came down to price and financing, probably more financing than price if he were to sort it out. He said ‘I hope I can trade this in for a GMC’. Another friend started a construction company, actually, 3 friends. They started buying used trucks as needed since they didn’t want to blow money unnecessarily. They’d go to auctions and get trucks cheap cheap. I asked one day why they had only bought Ford’s and Dodge’s and they said Cause the damned used GM trucks we wanted to buy were over twice the price. Let me get this straight. You get twice as much or more on trade in so the other trucks are better how?

      • Bevin
        November 18, 2013 at 10:49 am

        Dear Eric,

        You wrote,

        “This is not surprising, given it is a V-8 . . . sans two cylinders. The 4.3 liter engine is based on the current-gen GM aluminum small block V-8. Same basic block/heads/valvetrain/intake layout – just with six pistons (and so on) instead of eight.”

        Does that mean it’s a 90 degree V-6?

        If so, isn’t that supposed to be a bad thing? I thought V-6s ought to have 60 degree angled blocks in order to ensure a more evenly spaced, smoother firing sequence?

        I am far less knowledgeable about automobiles than many others here, so I’m wondering, am I missing something?

        • Uwe
          November 19, 2013 at 6:04 pm

          60 degrees is indeed optimal for purpose-designed V6, but such an engine obviously can’t be built on the same tooling as a 90-degree V8.

          90-degree V6s are very common these days. The firing sequence isn’t really a problem; balance is the real issue, but it’s fairly easily solved with the addition of some balance shaft(s).

          • Bevin
            November 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm

            Dear Uve,

            Right. The article I stumbled across also said,

            “To overcome the problem of uneven firing intervals with a 90-degree V-6, Buick engineers… produced a so-called split-pin crankshaft.

            The reason for the 90-degree cylinder spacing on early V-6 engines, especially as designed by Detroit, was that the 90-degree V-8 was the mainstay of their engine production, and this allowed much of the machinery and tooling to be used, thus providing a huge cost savings. In contrast, the European manufacturers that produced a 90-degree V-6 did so for the opposite logic–they wanted the tooling in place so they could move up to building V-8 engines in the future. ”

            From a purist perspective, this strikes me as a pretty crappy solution, done strictly to save a few bucks. The article went on to say,

            “… the first-generation odd-firing Buick V-6 that appeared in the early 1960s… was very reliable and economical, but extremely rough-running due to the variation in firing impulses. Not only did the public reject the engine, but it caused a good deal of collateral damage to GM’s reputation for its lack of refinement. The corporation did not want the same rejection to impede its brand-new series of cars. “

  4. Eightsouthman
    November 18, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Bevin, most of the time V-6 engines are a compromise for space. The fact is, a V-6 engine has no reason to last as long as a V-8 simply because of a non-even number of cylinders on each bank. A 90° V-6 is a great design if you have the room. A 90° design fairly much is best for producing the most power. If you had the room, a 180° design would probably be even better. GM produced a number of big blocks and their most powerful engines for the most part were not the smoothest firing orders such as the BBC and BBP(Pontiac). You might want to recheck this with a religious genius though since I know countless people smarter than me. Just an old gearhead.

    • Bevin
      November 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Dear 8sm,

      Thanks. That helps.

      I just came across this pretty decent article. Fairly recent too. Last year.

      The Firing Squad
      Detroit explores the ignition’s firing order
      Feature Article from Hemmings Classic Car
      March, 2012 – Ray T. Bohacz

      http://www.hemmings.com/hcc/stories/2012/03/01/hmn_feature15.html

      The middle of the article has a section on the special problem of V-6s.

      The V-6 engine is a unique design that requires special consideration. When Lancia pioneered the production V-6 engine in 1950, they inclined the two banks of cylinders at 60 degrees to each other, which, together with a six-throw crankshaft, created equally spaced firing intervals of 120 degrees. However, this was not generally true of other early V-6 engines. Their designers adopted an included angle of 90 degrees between the cylinder banks and used a shorter, three-throw crankshaft with three pairs of connecting rods, each sharing common, double-length crankpins. This arrangement resulted in firing intervals of 90 and 150 degrees alternatively, instead of even 120-degree intervals. Although these engines were more economical than a V-8, they were not particularly smooth-running.

  5. Eightsouthman
    November 18, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Bevin, to be honest, from the strides made in the 60′s I thought we’d have rotary engines of some sort by now. Airplane engines have gone more and more to turbine engines as I thought vehicles would also. They’re very flexible fuel-wise. I have seen some that will burn most any liquid fuel. For the most part jet fuel is No. 1 fuel oil with some additives. Diesel is No. 2 fuel oil with the other being a higher cetane rating.
    20 years ago a guy stopped and began working here and left his diesel pickup idling. I asked why he didn’t shut if off. He said That’s what they’re made for. Nope, wrong, that’s not what they’re made for they just hold up better because they’re a better made engine and fuel injected as not all gas engines were then and because they operate at less than half the rpm of gasoline engines of comparable design and power.
    Leaving a diesel running is stupid unless you have some reason such as needing to keep the a/c going, heater going. There was a time 50 years ago when battery technology sucked and starting one was a pain sometimes. I don’t ever remembering starter technology not being up to the task, just batteries not so great. Many big rigs used to be air started but that’s a pain as well, generally requiring a compression release to get the engine spinning fast enough and then gradually letting the compression come up so it would start. Equipment that sat for long periods often would have a small gasoline engine or kerosene engine that was the starter for the large diesel, with the small engine having a pull rope so battery power was needed. There’s a lot to be said for old school too. I don’t intend to have a diesel any newer than the 92-93 model GM turbo diesels that had NO computer, mechanical fuel injection that gave up almost nothing to the newer computer-controlled save complexity and slightly higher fuel economy with a much greater risk of the fuel system simply failing to work because of any little thing. It won’t be sitting and idling either unless CJ is staying cool under the a/c or I”m headed right back to it and in that case I don’t shut off a gas engine either since they build a great amount of heat for up to half an hour after shut down. I used to have a truck with timing problems so I’d run the initial timing way up which made it run hotter than usual. I’d get to work at 3pm sometimes in the middle of the heat and at 11pm it would still be almost running temperature. I had a mechanical temp gauge that would often show temps well over 100 8 hours later.
    I have often thought a good bugout vehicle would be one of the older Ford or GM or Dodge pickups of the non-turbo diesel sort. Not much to go wrong there except the lift pump and having a spare would be cheap enough.

    • Bevin
      November 18, 2013 at 8:24 pm

      Dear 8sm,

      “Bevin, to be honest, from the strides made in the 60′s I thought we’d have rotary engines of some sort by now. Airplane engines have gone more and more to turbine engines as I thought vehicles would also. ”

      Ditto.

      The reciprocating piston engine is fundamentally a questionable design. It basically tries to tear itself apart during every power cycle. The 180 degree reversal of direction at TDC and BDC is, from a physics perspective, nuts.

      Some sort of rotary engine, either Wankel or gas turbine makes more sense in terms of the physics.

      A shame that government regulations, including emissions standards, pulled the rug out from under Mazda’s bold commitment to the rotary design. The company should have been rewarded for its decision, not punished.

      • Eightsouthman
        November 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm

        Bevin, Uwe makes a good point about turbine engines. Every ounce of weight that can be pared form a flying vehicle is money in the bank, esp. over the life of the vehicle. He’s right about a narrower range of power too(not the way he put it but that’s what it boils down to in vehicles), they need to turn fairly fast no matter the load.
        I have a question about vehicles and cooking in your part of the world. Is it a consideration? In my part of the world cooking a meal while traveling is an art and one people who detest prepared food are good at. When you see a pickup or other large vehicle pulling an travel trailer or RV, you might just be witnessing a meal being prepared underhood too. Even just pulling the boat, I often cooked food with engine heat. Open the hood on many pickups and you’ll see platforms that bolt up on top of exhaust manifolds that hold the things you want to cook. It’s an art form but one I love.

        Working in the oil field, we used engines of every sort to cook. I worked in a lab for several years. We had ovens and driers of many types and I used the driers mainly to heat up prepared food I’d brought. My co-workers hated the days I had bbq since you could smell the mesquite cooked meat(wrapped in foil, but every time you could smell it, go figure)heating. People would simply be there to speak with us for a while and end up saying God, that bbq is killing me. Where is it coming from? (they’d point to me) I gotta go eat….at the bbq place. Out on the lake for the day? Guess what I have on the engine? Actually, it might be anything from quail with basil fettucini to smoked salmon(I always used this for luck in fishing, never could tell it helped). Other people pulled out balogna sandwiches or cheese crackers from the convenience store. I’d make a spread with chilled wine and beer(I always bring enough for everybody). Hell, enjoy, you’re gonna be there all day and if the fish are biting THAT good, leave the stuff in the cooler….and that’s happened too. I’ve been through this damned drought crap once tonight but I’m going to sell out and move if it doesn’t break soon. I have a need to fish.

        • Horse Badorties
          November 19, 2013 at 10:36 pm

          8southman — talk about steppin’ in high cotton.
          Now why didn’t I ever think of that? Though I’ve never heard of it being done in CA, too many fast food joints out here perhaps.
          Would have worked fine in the 65 Chevy van, maybe better in some ways since the doghouse was insulated. Hmmm.

          • Eightsouthman
            November 20, 2013 at 12:36 am

            Horse, I’ve seen it on vans although not many people pull travel trailer with vans. The reason nobody hears about this is because it’s mainly much older people who do this and they don’t blog about it. It became popular in the 60′s and more popular as time passed. I used to work in a repair center for RV’s and saw it all. The first time I ever saw it I was like, Hell, why did I never do this? It doesn’t make sense if you like fast food but I have never been a FF freak, in fact, have avoided it.
            When I was trucking I’d hear people who didn’t have a clue say Eat where you see lots of trucks, that’s the place with good food. I’d say Bullshit, that’s the place with parking for trucks, not an easy thing. I’ve had half a dozen meals in my life from truck stops. They don’t realize truckers carry all sorts of cooking equipment and food with them. Back in the 60′s I got to trucking with a bunch of coon asses(one word). I really got along with those people and loved the way they cooked. If I move from Tx. I’m headed to La. Boudain sausage, greens, okra gumbo, shrimp, I’m there.

          • Horse Badorties
            November 20, 2013 at 1:12 pm

            …and Blackeye Pea soup, crawdads, and…
            I hear ya.

          • Eightsouthman
            November 20, 2013 at 1:50 pm

            Horse, a side note. For the first time ever we had no west Tx. grown black eyes this year, no rain.

      • Bevin
        November 19, 2013 at 10:28 pm

        Dear 8sm,

        Re: using engine heat to cook

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone here on Taiwan do that. But I may not be the best person to ask about that. I’ve never owned a car while living here. Always used buses and the subway, or taxis.

        Re: RVs

        RVs are very, very rare here. I’ve only seen one in all the years I’ve been here.

        The idea of using engine heat to cook is very appealing to me. I like the concept of making use of something that would have simply gone to waste otherwise.

        One idea I had was to turn the lid of a toilet tank into a wash basin. The grey water could then be used to flush the toilet. I later discovered they have that in Japan.

        Another was to collect rainwater from the roof of high rise condos and use that to flush toilets or water plants on the balconies.

    • Uwe
      November 19, 2013 at 6:18 pm

      Turbine engines are wonderful for airplanes because they have an unbeatable power/weight ratio. They also scale up very well, allowing an immensely powerful engine that’s still very light in weight. However, their specific fuel consumption (the amount of fuel required to make a certain number of horsepower for a specific length of time) is still lower than piston engines. So in applications where weight is of great importance such as an airplane, where every pound requires fuel to be burned to overcome drag induced by generating lift) turbines are the engine of choice. But in cases where weight is not important and specific fuel consumption rules, e.g. cargo ships, piston engines are used. Another drawback to using turbines in cars is the fact that they spool up and down relatively slowly, i.e. they don’t like to change RPMs quickly at all.

    • me
      November 25, 2013 at 3:22 pm

      The only non-turbo Dodge diesel I know of was a mitsubishi or nissan 6 cylinder that probably needed a calender in place of a speedometer. And I’m a Dodge man.

      • Eightsouthman
        November 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

        me, it had Dodge Ram on the front didn’t it? Same could be said about a LUV diesel but both were good trucks. Dodge was a Mitsu with a 4 cylinder diesel, Nissan had their own 4 cyl. diesel. I drove a Ram in 84 testing all the compact trucks. Something like a nut was inside the seat frame tube on the front that went rackity rackity all the way to one side and then back when making corners. I got out laughing, gonna be hard to sell that one. I bought a Nissan and couldn’t find a diesel but wished I had looked longer.

  6. Bill in NC
    November 18, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    And some Asian OEM will come along with a diesel-powered light pickup and eat the Big 3′s lunch.

    If Mahindra hadn’t gotten greedy and shafted its distributors they’d have owned that market.

    And rotary engines are dead, dead, dead for vehicle use for two main reasons – poor fuel efficiency & difficult to control emissions compared to the traditional engine.

    • Eightsouthman
      November 18, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      Bill, I don’t recall the first rotaries as gas hogs, just the opposite in fact. I have a video from the mid nineties of an engine being developed that had spark plugs around the outside and vanes on the inside like a vacuum pump with ports so any leftover gas was just spun around with the new air and kept with new air and fuel injected. It looked like a great idea to me and I wished I’d had the $200,000 my wife and I had saved and then burned up in the cattle market to burn up in something not associated with the drought and not so much damned hard work. I’m going to look for that vid tomorrow. Someone remind me.

    • Bevin
      November 19, 2013 at 12:18 am

      Dear Bill,

      My understanding is that Wankel fuel efficiency was greatly improved by the time the RX-8 came along.

      Emissions and fuel economy standards were a clear example of government overkill.

      Given that these were the biggest blows to the Wankel, it is hard to argue that Mazda’s Wankel strategy constituted “market failure” rather than bureaucratic sabotage.

    • chiph
      November 19, 2013 at 11:51 pm

      >> And some Asian OEM will come along with a diesel-powered light pickup and eat the Big 3′s lunch. <<

      Funny you should mention that — Nissan will be offering a light-duty Cummins V8 diesel in the Titan in a year or two.

      • me
        November 25, 2013 at 3:24 pm

        A Datsun with a diesel rattle! What’s the world coming to?

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