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2021 Trucks With 4-Cylinder Engines

Which New I-4 Powered Pickup Is The Best?

2020 GMC Sierra Elevation

With advancement in engine technology happening at a rapid pace, we've seen a continued rise of V-6 engines that make great power while getting phenomenal fuel economy ratings. This has been bad news for 4-cylinder engines, which up until now have been a mainstay of the compact and midsize pickup classes. In fact, for the 2021 model year, only four 4-cylinder gasoline engines are offered in a pickup, and none come with the option of a manual transmission. Will we see a resurgence of 4-cylinder engines in coming years as the same technology that's made V-6 engines so desirable drifts over to the smaller displacement mills? Or is this the end of the line? Only time will tell.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado & GMC Sierra

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra are the only -ton pickups to offer a 4-cylinder engine. Sporting a turbocharged 2.7L I-4, these trucks are capable of towing up to 9,600 pounds while getting 23 mpg on the highway. Torque is immense at 348 lb-ft, and it peaks at a diesel-like low RPM of just 1,500 with the curve staying flat through 4,000 RPM. If we were the betting type, we would expect this engine to have a long life in the General's -ton trucks and to even find its way into the midsizes as well. For 2021, the 2.7L I-4 is available in Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Work Truck, Custom, LT, and RST trims along with GMC Sierra 1500 Sierra, SL, and Elevation trims.

2.7L I-4

Bore and Stroke: 3.63 x 4.01

Block Material: Aluminum

Head Material: Aluminum

Horsepower: 310 @ 5,600 RPM

Torque: 348 lb-ft @ 1,500 RPM

Max Towing: 9,600 pounds

Max Fuel Economy: 20 city, 23 hwy

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

2021 Chevrolet Colorado & GMC Canyon

The base engine in the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize trucks is a naturally aspirated 2.5L I-4. This engine churns out a modest 200 hp and can tow a 3,500-pound trailer. Most impressively, when properly equipped, a truck with this engine can achieve 26 mpg on the highway. The 2.5L I-4 is available for Colorados in WT and LT trim, along with Canyons in base Canyon and SLE trims. This engine is only available with a six-speed automatic transmission.

2.5L I-4

Bore and Stroke: 3.46 x 3.97

Block Material: Aluminum

Head Material: Aluminum

Horsepower: 200 @ 6,300 RPM

Torque: 191 lb-ft @ 4,400 RPM

Max Towing: 3,500 pounds

Max Fuel Economy: 20 city, 26 hwy

Transmission: 6-speed automatic

2021 Ford Ranger

Since its reintroduction in 2019, the Ford Ranger midsize pickup has only offered one drivetrain. Powering the pickup is a turbocharged 2.3L EcoBoost I-4 backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission. Packing 310 lb-ft of torque, this midsize can tow 7,500 pounds while still boasting up to 26 mpg on the highway. In other applications, the 2.3L EcoBoost engine is tuned to make even more power, and we'd certainly love to see Ranger get a boost in the future.

2.3L EcoBoost I-4

Bore and Stroke: 3.45 x 3.70

Block Material: Aluminum

Head Material: Aluminum

Horsepower: 270 @ 5,500 RPM

Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 3,000 RPM

Max Towing: 7,500 pounds

Max Fuel Economy: 21 city, 26 hwy, 23 comb

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

2021 Toyota Tacoma

We find it a tad interesting that Toyota still offers a 4-cylinder engine for Tacoma. Fuel economy is equal or better with the 3.5L V-6, while the V-6 makes 119 more horsepower than the I-4. The 2.7L I-4 is only offered with a 6-speed automatic transmission, and only on the base SR and SR5 trims (sorry, there's no 4-cylinder option for SR5 Double Cabs with the 6-foot bed either). And Tacoma only tows 3,500 pounds when fitted with the 2.7L. So, we feel Toyota either needs to give the 2.7L a bump in power, improve fuel economy, or put it out to pasture.

2.7L I-4

Bore and Stroke: 3.74 x 3.74

Block Material: Cast Iron

Head Material: Aluminum

Horsepower: 159 @ 5,300 RPM

Torque: 180 lb-ft @ 3,800 RPM

Max Towing: 3,500 pounds

Max Fuel Economy: 20 city, 23 hwy, 21 comb

Transmission: 6-speed automatic