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  • General Motors Fits 2.8L Duramax to Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana

General Motors Fits 2.8L Duramax to Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana

Four-Cylinder to Supplant Diesel V-8 in Fullsize Van Lineup

Mar 2, 2016
General Motors announced today that it would fit the 2017 Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana fullsize vans with a version of the 2.8L Duramax I-4 currently found in the Colorado and Canyon midsize pickups. Starting in the first quarter of 2017, customers will have the opportunity to fit their vans with the diesel, which will be mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Photo 2/16   |   2016 GMC Canyon Duramax TurboDiesel Engine
The small-displacement diesel will be offered on both passenger and cargo variants of the van, with either the short or long wheelbase. A General Motors representative told us the 6.6L Duramax V-8 turbodiesel currently available in the Savana and Express would be eighty-sixed, leaving the 2.8 as the vans’ only oil-burner. It’s also the only small-displacement diesel available in a fullsize body-on-frame van.
That move confuses us a little bit, as we’re skeptical the 2.8 will have the necessary chops to move around the fullsize vans, particularly once they’re loaded down with cargo. After all, in the Colorado, the engine produces 181 hp and 369 lb-ft, down significantly from the 6.6’s 260 hp and 525 lb-ft.
Photo 6/16   |   2016 GMC Savana Side Profile
However, in its favor, the 2.8-ified cargo van will benefit from an additional two gears in its automatic transmission, as the 6.6L diesel had to make do with a six-speed. That, combined with the 2.8’s lighter weight, could bode well for economy-conscious fleet buyers, giving them an efficient option without sacrificing too much performance.
Photo 10/16   |   2014 Chevrolet Express Cargo Van Drivers Side
For our part, we’re big fans of the 2.8L Duramax I-4. Our only complaints surrounds the engine’s high cost of entry in the Canyon and Colorado, and we hope the Express and Savana’s aging bones mean there won’t be as much of a price premium for the little diesel. Otherwise, we came away impressed with the little engine’s torque-rich off-the-line response and significantly improved towing performance over other Colorado/Canyon engines.
Curiously, GM is going the opposite direction as Ford, which just replaced the ancient 5.4L Triton V-8 in its E-Series cutaway and chassis cabs with a larger 6.2L V-8. But as long as product planners can keep its cost in check, we expect the small diesel to be an efficient, torquey hit in the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana.
Source: General Motors Fleet
Photo 11/16   |   "A diesel engine was part of the Colorado's portfolio plan from the very beginning, meaning the chassis, suspension, and other elements of its architecture were engineered to support its capability," says Duramax Assistant Engineer Scott Yackley.