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General Motors surreptitiously had the word out at the start of 2018, and excited customers were sure that the 3L Duramax would roll out of assembly lines in 2019. The official release has not happened yet, though, partly because of the supplier problems that disrupted the production of this remarkable new engine.

The other hurdle for the manufacturers were the difficulties in obtaining the final certification for emission tests. As it stands, it appears that GM will only roll out the engines sometime in 2020, if the rest of the process goes off without a hitch.

Before we look at the drive, let’s delve into the specs. The three-liter Duramax by GMC is a flagship turbo diesel engine for the half-ton segment, low on noise and better on fuel economy. Though not as powerful as other models, it can tow significant weight.

Fuel Economy and Torque

  • Fuel economy is approximately 23 mpg in city-drive mode, 30 mpg on the highway, and 26 mpg on average.
  • This engine yields 277 hp and 460 lb./ft of torque (slightly less than the EcoDiesel).
  • Peak horsepower kicks it at 3,750 rpm, making it one of the most potent light-duty diesel engines for GM trucks.

When half loaded, the light-duty Sierra zooms out of the starting blocks thanks to a 3L Duramax that can chug out 460 lb./ft of torque. The advantage of pulling weight with this engine is that its brake is integrated with two/haul mode, unlike the exhaust braking typical in heavy-duty trucks.

So, you can’t switch it on and off independently.


Pulling isn’t a problem for the Duramax-powered truck. It can do so effortlessly while cruising steadily at decent speeds. A little effort and your truck can climb a steep hill, too.

It will change gears when it hits 3,500 rpm. This engine is still behind its powerful counterparts, however, like the 6.6L Duramax that does well with the Sierra HD 4WD.

Thanks to it torque band and horsepower, even driving on a steep gradient with 8,000 pounds in tow is a pleasant experience. This feature is what differentiates the 3L Duramax from its close rival the EcoDiesel on a Ram 1500.


A price that matches that of the 6.2L, and slightly higher than the 5.3L V8, the three-liter Duramax turbo engine is an irresistible proposition for GMC customers. It’s suitable for drivers who want an off-road truck with better fuel economy for day-to-day towing. The Duramax engine injects a layer of comfort and capability that’s been entirely lacking in similar light-duty engines.

Driving features

Driving the a4 Trim up and down a hill, we had the chance to test the Hill Start Assist and Descent Control function so popular with early reviewers. Drawing close to the peak, we applied the brakes and let it go within a second. Unsurprisingly, the Hill Start Assist function kicked in immediately, preventing us from plunging down the steep incline that would have fit into any dramatic Hollywood cliffhanger.

What are you most looking forward to for the launch of the 3L Duramax?

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