The EcoTec3 family is up-and-coming, after taking over from the Vortec family of engines. Of the three variants, we’ll be discussing the 5.3L as well as the 6.2L. Both of these V8s are big brothers to the smaller 4.3L engine that rounds out this EcoTec triplet set found in many popular Chevy engines today and in years past.
If you’re looking at trucks and need to choose between the 5.3L and the 6.2L, the choice might not necessarily be cut and dry. After all, the best truck for you is equipped with an engine that can handle all you throw at it, so sometimes the most obvious choice isn’t always the best option. It pays to do your homework in this case.
To help you decide between the 5.3L and the 6.2L EcoTec3 engines, we’ve put together this guide on their performance, reliability, towing, and more. We’ll break out all the nitty-gritty details to show you exactly which engine will best fit your needs—and what issues you should be prepared to deal with in each instance.
Let’s begin with the smaller engine of the two, the Chevy 5.3L EcoTec3 V8.
If you would rather consume this content via a video, check out our 5.3 vs 6.2 EcoTec3 video below or on YouTube:
Chevy 5.3L EcoTec3 Engine
The 5.3L EcoTec3 engine took over where the Vortec engines left off in 2014. Found in the Chevy Silverado, Corvette, Suburban, GMC Sierra and Yukon, and the Cadillac CTS-V, the 5.3L EcoTEc3 V8 is a small block, all-aluminum V8 known as the L83.
The 5.3L EcoTec3 is commonly paired with a 6-, 8-, or 10-speed automatic transmission, depending on the trim you choose.
Variants of the 5.3L V8 engine include the L8B, the L82, and the L84. The L8B variant was semi-hybrid and was only found in select models. Fuel economy savings only improved by 2 MPG in both city and highway.
Both L82 and L84 variants can be found in Silverado and Sierra models. Most L82 variants are found in lower trims, while higher trims carry the L84 variant. These engine variants use active and dynamic fuel management.
GM 6.2L EcoTec3 Engine
If you’re shooting for the biggest gas engine you can find in the Sierra or Silverado 1500 series, you’ll have to pick the 6.2L EcoTec3. This particular engine can also be found in the Corvette C7 and the Camaro SS and was developed to be more fuel efficient with dynamic fuel management.
The all-aluminum 6.2L engine brings with it a larger displacement than the 5.3L has, along with larger valves; otherwise, the power plant is roughly the same. The dynamic fuel management allows it to choose one of a dozen or so firing orders in order to increase fuel efficiency. This is supported by a stop-start system that conserves fuel while idle.
Of the six variants out there, the 6.2L EcoTec3 is known as the L87, which uses dynamic fuel management. It was first launched in 2019 in both Silverado and Sierra 1500 platforms and is paired with a Hydra-Matic 10-speed automatic transmission. It can also be found in the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Suburban and Tahoe, and GMC Yukon models as well.
Here are the other five variants of the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine:
- LT1: Found in the Chevrolet Camaro SS and the Corvette C7.
- LT2: Known as the successor to the LT1, this engine is found in the C7 Stingray with a bit more horsepower and torque output.
- L86 and L87: These engines take the LT1 as their base and are meant for pickup duty.
- L8T: This detuned version of the LT1 has 401 horsepower and 464 lb-ft of torque.
- LT4: This engine is found in the Corvette and CTS-V and features a 1.7L Eaton Supercharger.
- LT5: A 2.6L Eaton Supercharger is the cherry on top of this engine, which is featured in the 2019 Corvette ZR1.
GM 5.3L vs. 6.2L Performance
When it comes to performance, a higher displacement nearly always takes the lead. In this case, it’s by about 70 horsepower.
The 5.3L EcoTec3 harnesses 335 horsepower under the hood, paired with 383 lb-ft of torque. However, those numbers increase to 376 horsepower and 416 lb-ft of torque on E85. That’s still not quite enough to beat the 6.2L’s numbers, which top out at 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque.
5.3 vs. 6.2 EcoTec3 Reliability
Discussing the reliability of both of these V8 engines requires taking into account the fact that they’re both engines that implement active fuel management, or AFM. This type of fuel management feature has been the subject of a few class action lawsuits over the years, most likely due to the fact that the technology is still in its early phases, albeit with a few kinks to work out.
For example, the most recent lawsuit includes models from 2014 to present of the Cadillac Escalade and CTS-V, the Chevrolet Silverado, Avalanche, Corvette, Suburban, Tahoe, and Camaro, and the GMC Yukon and Sierra. The lawsuit notes that the “active fuel management lifters, dynamic management lifters and valve train systems in these vehicles are defective, causing the lifters to malfunction and prematurely fail.”
While there are no active recalls on these vehicles for this particular issue, the manufacturer did issue a Component Coverage letter providing extended warranties for those customers who had their vehicle in at least twice for repairs. While many of these repairs were covered under warranty, some of these issues occurred on trucks before their first service interval.
We discuss this issue further in our post on deleting and/or disabling the AFM systems in your Chevrolet or GMC vehicles. In short, active fuel management is what makes these V8 engines go from 8-cylinder “guzzlers” to V4 “fuel-efficient” power plants, but the process isn’t necessarily a perfect one. That said, there are certain things you can do to mitigate the issues apparent in AFM systems. Read further into it by checking out our post above, but keep this issue in mind as we discuss both the 5.3L and the 6.2l EcoTec3 V8 engines.
5.3L EcoTec3 V8 Common Problems
Since the 5.3L EcoTec3 engine is a direct injection type power plant, the issues with it largely stem from this design. Here’s a short list of the most common issues owners have seen with this engine type:
- Carbon build up: Direct injection causes carbon to build up on the valves, as there’s nothing to clean them throughout the firing cycle. There’s no solution for preventing build up; instead, you’ll have to invest in either an oil catch can or a cleaning solution. Many consumers have used a GDI cleaner that’s sprayed directly into the intake ports, but walnut blasting is another common solution. The finely-ground walnut shells are biodegradable and soft enough to gently clean engine components.
- Fuel injector failure: This failure is a direct result of the high temperatures and pressure ratings the injectors withstand at the heart of the combustion chamber. Most injectors in direct injection engines operate at about 1,500 PSI or above, and commonly fail closed.
- Transfer case sensor failure: If you find yourself stuck in either 2WD or 4WD, it’s time to replace your transfer case sensor. The life expectancy of this component depends largely on how often you use it.
- Spark plug failure: Carbon build up is to blame here, as excessive carbon can foul the plugs and cause firing issues. Most often you’ll see a rough idle, misfire, or even decreased power as a result.
- Excessive oil consumption: Spark plugs can also deteriorate due to excessive oil consumption as well. Other common wear points include the piston rings, the camshaft, and the rod bearings. Pushrods can bend and lifters can collapse as a result as well.
- Valve cover seal: Failure of this component will result in heavy oil burn, which can lead to any of the above issues (minus the transfer case sensor failure).
As we discussed, the active fuel management (AFM) systems continue to cause issues in these V8 engines. Due to the nature of the system, the engine consumes excess oil, which can cause (premature) lifter failure. Consumers have also complained of a droning noise when the engine becomes a “V4,” an irritant that becomes especially apparent when a modified exhaust is installed.
6.2L EcoTec3 V8 Common Problems
Because the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 is a larger displacement variant of the 5.3L, it suffers from many of the same issues the smaller power plant does. That said, there are a few unique issues you’ll want to keep an eye out for as well.
- Carbon build up: Again, this is a direct injection issue that typically shows up anywhere between 80,000-100,000 miles. Install a catch can or invest in a GDI cleaner.
- Lifter collapse/bent pushrods: These issues are most likely covered under warranty, but are a result of the AFM systems. Failure can come at any time during the engine’s life cycle, so keep an eye on them during use.
- A8 transmission vibration: This issue typically occurs within the first 20,000 miles and there is a Technical Service Bulletin on it. Rough shifts from first to second and down shifts from second to first are common signs of this issue.
- Engine mounts: Constant four-wheel drive can put stress on the engine, and falling mounts can cause vibrations and rattles most commonly on the driver’s side, but apparent on the passenger side as well.
- Exhaust manifold bolts: Exhaust leaks caused by broken bolts is a common issue that could lead to a check engine light. Inspect bolts whenever possible to check for wear.
- Lower intake manifold gasket: This gasket can go bad and create vacuum leaks, which in turn leads to poor idles, sluggish acceleration, and decreased performance.
Potential customers should note that the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine is not an option on the 2500 and 3500 series trucks for either Chevy or GMC. This should be an indication that, while it might be a good power plant for the 1500 series, it’s not the workhorse heart that the larger pickups demand.
Towing: 5.3L vs. 6.2L EcoTec3
The max towing for both of these V8 engines depends on which configurations you pair together. That said, the tow rating for both EcoTec3 power plants is respectable, no matter how you slice it.
We’ve put together the towing figures below for quick reference:
|5.3L w/8-speed transmission||5.3L||5.3L w.8-speed w/Max Trailering Package||5.3L with Max Trailering Package|
|Tow Rating||9,300 pounds||9,800 pounds||11,000 pounds||11,100 pounds|
Both engines achieve a max payload of at least a ton: the 6.2L can handle 2,020 pounds in the 2022 GMC Sierra 1500, while the 5.3L hauls 2,030 pounds in the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500.
|6.2L||6.2L with Max Trailering Package|
|Tow Rating||9,400 pounds||12,500 pounds|
When it comes to comparing base engines without the towing package, the 5.3L seems to win out over the 6.2L by about 400 pounds. That said, the 6.2L does have a bit more torque at its command, so you’ll likely see better acceleration while towing from the larger V8 power plant.
GM 5.3 V8 vs. 6.2 V8 Fuel Economy
As with the tow rating on these engines, the fuel economy depends on what body configuration the engine is strapped to. We’ve compiled the data below in a table to help you quickly reference the fuel economy numbers for these two engines and their various configurations.
|2022 Chevrolet Silverado||Fuel Economy Rating (city/highway)||2022 GMC Sierra||Fuel Economy Rating (city/highway)|
|5.3L V8 2WD w/10-speed||16/21||5.3L V8 RWD w/6-speed||15/19|
|5.3L V8 4WD w/10-speed||15/19||5.3L V8 RWD w/8-speed||16/21|
|5.3L V8 2WD w/6-speed||16/19||5.3L V8 4WD w/10-speed||15/19|
|5.3L V8 4WD w/6-speed||14/18||5.3L V8 4WD w/6-speed||14/18|
6.2L V8 4WD
|5.3L V8 4WD w/8-speed||15/20|
|6.2L V8 4WD||14/19|
Choosing a 5.3L four-wheel drive V8 with a 6-speed transmission in either the 2022 GMC Sierra or the 2022 Chevy Silverado will get you the lowest fuel economy from that powerplant, with one less mile per gallon than the larger displacement engine.
The best numbers come from the two-wheel/rear-wheel drive variants with the 8- or 10-speed transmission, as they achieve just over 20 miles per gallon on the highway. Considering the typical use of most trucks, however, the 4WD variants will be the most popular. At that rate, you’re still getting about 15-16 miles per gallon around town and nearly 20 on the highway.
Chevy 5.3L EcoTec3 vs. 6.2L EcoTec3 Summary
To declare a clear winner between the 5.3L and the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8s is a difficult task. Nearly identical in many ways, the larger engine is simply a bored-out version of the smaller power plant. Both are plagued by the faults of the active fuel management systems that help achieve fuel efficiency numbers that, again, are in close proximity to one another.
With that said, the 6.2L edges slightly ahead with more horsepower and torque. This increased torque rating adds to the engine’s towing ability, which can make all the difference for some owners. Passing power and the oomph to boost up a hill with a heavy payload behind you are a true test of the guts of a truck, which leads us to our conclusion.
Whether it’s trucks or food or anything else you purchase, getting more for your money’s worth is what defines value. In this case, the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 provides more value to the consumer, even if it is just a slightly bigger bore diameter than the 5.3L. With more towing, horsepower, torque, and at a comparable fuel economy, the 6.2L may fall victim to the same AFM issues, but it will give you more during its lifetime than the 5.3L necessarily could.
Mike Thomson says
Is there an aftermarket replacement that addresses the faults of the EcoTec3 5.3? I used Range on mine however my 3 5.3 gave up the ghost last week. I’m not sure the direct injection is a good idea. Can an older technology 3.50 work with the 2015 computer? I think I’ll need a long block.
Thanks, appreciate the information. The GM pick up sure has changed since the purchase of my 1998. Getting quite the education to replace my old die hard. Thanks again for the insight and information.
Thanks for the article. The one piece that is missing is that the 5.3 L uses regular fuel while the 6.2 L uses premium fuel. I have the had both engines and pull a 28′ travel trailer so I like the extra oomph of the 6.2L but am thinking of going with a 5.3L with the higher fuel prices (which i have used in the past with this trailer no problem). Given they are so close in performance, maybe get the regular fuel user!
Will T says
Agree. Before delivery the dealer filled my new 6.2 powered Sierra 1500 with 87 gas and it knocked noticeably. Surprising that the ECM couldn’t fully compensate with timing. Not surprising that the dealer went cheap/didn’t know/didn’t care :/
I really didn’t like the thought of breaking it in like that. My first fill with 93 cured it.