Explore The Dominance Of Chevy's 6.2 Engine

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When Chevy’s 6.2L engine first came out, it was considered a solid engine, but hardly anyone would have foretold that it would dominate for the next 20 years.

The 6.2L V8 (376 ci) is one of the most powerful engines GM has ever produced. The Eco-tech engine (L87) delivers 420 hp and 460 ft-lb of torque and is used in GM trucks. The first Vortec 6200 appeared in the ‘07 Cadillac Escalade and in various other vehicles, including the ‘08 Corvette.

If you want to talk engine power and performance, any discussion must include Chevy’s mighty beast, the 6.2L engine. When the original 6.2 (L92) emerged in 2007, the new Escalade was the first car to receive the new powerplant. With its all-aluminum construction and variable valve timing, it was born for power (403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque). Within a year, GM slapped the motor into everything it could, from the Yukon Denali to Tahoes to Hummers. In 2008, Chevrolet announced that the 6.2L (LS3) would be standard on the Corvette and a different variant on the fifth-generation Camaro in 2010. Before long, the 6.2L small block was showing up everywhere, and its dominance seemed to know no bounds. While Ford and Dodge struggled to keep up, the 6.2L quietly continued its business. While V8 engines have come and gone over the years, the 6.2 small block remains. Today, the engine is the most powerful engine that GM produces. Over the years, these engines have provided the raw power and reliable performance American drivers demand. Let’s take a closer look at this dominant beast to see if we can learn a little bit more about what makes the 6.2 engine one of the best on the planet.

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What Was The Basis For the 6.2 Chevy Engine?

When Cadillac decided to create its third-generation Escalade in 2007, it moved the luxury SUV to an entirely new platform (GT900) and needed a bigger engine to go with the redesign. The desire was to offer a powerful V8 to compete with the 5.4 Triton V8 in Ford’s Expedition. In the early part of the decade, GM had been outselling Ford in the SUV market with the Suburban and Yukon, but a gasoline price spike in ‘05 had forced customers away. GM needed the Escalade to exceed, so it tasked its engineers with creating the new Vortec V8. When their work was finished, the 6200 Vortec V8 was a reality.

The Corvette folks had been working on their version of a high-performance 6.2L V8 codenamed LS. (The Escalade folks took the LS, tweaked it, and slapped in the version they called the L92 into the Escalade). When Chevrolet developed a 6.2L (LS3) V8 for use in the ‘08  Corvette (the SUV version of the engine, L92, had already been in the Escalade for a year).

The LS3 variants soon found their way into the 2010 - 2015 Camaro SS (L99), the 2009 - ‘13 Corvette ZR1, and a supercharged version in the 2009 CTS-V. The engines differed from earlier Vortec engines because they had aluminum blocks, heads, and variable valve timing.

When GM moved into the Generation V small blocks and its Ecotech design, the 6.2L had done so well that it seemed natural to extend its life. Multiple variants have appeared in cars and trucks for several years. The LT1 worked into the 2014 - 19 Corvette and 2016 - present Camaro. The LT2 has been in the Corvette since 2020. The L86/L87 power trucks and SUVs. The LT5 powered the 2019 Corvette, and even the variant (LT4) made it into other cars (Corvette Z06 for a few years and present-day Cadillac CT5-V and 2023 Escalade).

What Are Some Of The Important Features Of The 6.2L Engine?

Over the last few years, several important upgrades to the 6.2L engine have shaped its versatility.

Aluminum Construction

When the 6.2L Chevy engine came on the scene, it was the first all aluminum. The alloy reduced the engine’s weight, which helped fuel economy and allowed the engine to work more efficiently. GM had been moving away from the traditional cast iron engine since the 60s. (The 1960 Buick was the first car to begin using aluminum alloy as engine block material)

Active Fuel Management

In 2005, Active Fuel Management became a reality when it first appeared in conjunction with the 5.3L Vortec engine on the GMC Envoy and Chevy Trailblazer EXT. The technology allows cylinder deactivation to “shut off” half of its cylinders during light loads. The purpose is to save fuel, with the EPA estimating the fuel savings to be around 7.5%.

It would not be until 2010 before AFM paired with the L94 engines that made their way into the Escalade and Yukon with a 6.2L engine. Over the years, the AFM system would grow into the Dynamic Fuel Management system that first appeared on the 2018 Silverado. The engine would be named one of Ward’s Ten Best Engines for 2019, partly because of this technology.

Direct Injection

The 2014 Generation V 6.2L V8 was equipped with direct injection, which allowed a cooler air/fuel mix into each combustion chamber. The technology allowed for a better burn inside each chamber, lower emissions (more efficient burn), and better fuel economy (because the gas burned more completely).

While GDI technology has existed since the late 90s (Mitsubishi was the first mass-produced electronic direct injection), GM began adding it to its smaller engines in the early 2000s. Even though it was slow to add it to large displacement V8s, the innovation eventually became part of Generation V Ecotech engines.

What Are The Specs Of The Current 6.2 L V8?

The current 6.2L V8 (L87) is a part of the Ecotech3 family that powers many GM trucks and SUVs. First offered as a V8 option for the 2019 Silverado and Sierra, the engine is known for its reliability and efficiency.

Item Specification
Engine Production 2019 - Peasant
Displacement 6.2L - 376 cubic inches
Horsepower 420 hp
Torque 460 lb-ft torque
Bore 4.06 inches
Stroke 3.622 inches
Aspiration Naturally aspirated
Valve Configuration OHC
Valves per cylinder 2
Firing Order 1-8-7-2-6-5-4-3
Redline 6,000 rpms
Block Cast Aluminum Alloy
Heads Cast Aluminum Alloy
Fuel System SIDI (Spark Ignited Direct Injection
Engine Oil Weight SAE 0W-20
Oil Capacity 8.45 qts
Compression Ratio 11.5:1

What Are Some Issues With the L87 V8 Engine?

While the 6.2L V8 Ecotech is the most powerful engine that GM makes and is considered to be a reliable engine. However, that does not mean that there have been some issues.

Poor Fuel Economy

The earliest versions of the 6.2L engine got very poor gas mileage, and the addition of the DFM system significantly improved engine performance and observed fuel economy.

Carbon Build Up

Any direct-injected engine will suffer from carbon buildup on intake valves, and the 6.2 Chevy V8’s Dynamic Fuel management means it can happen. The carbon accumulating on the valves is usually due to an incomplete air/fuel mix combustion. The residue particles left after the combustion tend to cling to hot surfaces (the intake valves tend to get very hot). Over time, the carbon buildup can create engine inefficiencies or complete valve issues if the soot gets too layered. The easiest solution is to purchase an additive to add to the gas tank, use high-quality oil, and maintain your engine regularly. (Fresh fluids help engines perform at their peak).

Dirty Throttle Body

The 6.2 engine is known for needing its throttle body maintained. Excessive grime and dirt can clog the throttle, causing it to falter. The symptoms of a dirty unit are rough idle, poor acceleration, and engine starting issues. Most dealerships offer throttle body cleaning services.

Bent Pushrods or Lifters Collapse

When a lifter gets stuck, it can bend a pushrod. Since the V8 engine is a pushrod, this situation can occur. Replacing the valve bank is expensive. Lifters tend to be noisy when they fail, which is why your grandfather taught you that you can learn a lot about an engine by listening to how it sounds.

Intake Manifold Gaskets

This is an issue for the newest 6.2 liter V8, and almost every engine GM makes. When an intake manifold gasket fails, it messes up the air/fuel mix, and oxygen sensors tend to go off. The car or truck will begin to misfire and lose power. We recommend taking it into the shop as soon as possible and minimizing driving until you can complete the repair.