While General Motors has made incredible strides in developing hybrid car technology and fuel efficient small vehicles, its bread-and-butter remains full-size trucks and SUV’s. And these customers are demanding when it comes to their trucks, wanting V8 power as well as reasonable fuel economy in this time of rising gas prices.
Ford opted to offer customers a twin-turbocharged V6 engine with hopes that customers wouldn’t miss the lack of displacement. For GM though, the answer lies in cylinder-deactivation technology that preserves the guttural growl and stump-pulling power of a V8, while delivering comparable fuel economy.
Indeed, as potent as Ford’s 3.5 liter EcoBoost engine is, it doesn’t have that same V8 sound. Nor has it had a chance to prove its reliability. But GM’s Active Fuel Management system has already been deployed on over 4.6 million pickups equipped with the 5.3 liter V8 engine. AFM can deliver up to 21 mpg on a 2013 Chevy Silverado 4×4, comparable to Ford’s EcoBoost setup.
This technology has also been deployed on all 5th-generation Camaros built with automatic transmissions (400 HP L99) since the 2010 model hit dealerships. Some Camaro owners have reported 30+ mpg out of their auto transmission-equipped cars. And as this technology matures, it could deliver even better fuel economy by shutting down half (or more) of the V8’s cylinders.
GM’s technology may mean that us fans of old-school, large displacement V8’s may still be able to have our cake, and eat it too.