Photos by: Rick Seitz
Now That The Mule Has Gotten Upgrades to Improve Handling, Braking, Appearance, and Utility, It’s Time for Bolt-On Horsepower!
Originally intended for towing around the GM EFI project cars, The Mule has quickly nestled it’s way into our project car lineup itself. While it’s still a daily driver, parts hauler, and tow pig, it’s been getting a slew of upgrades lately to increase performance and utility. It’s just further proof that gearheads can’t just let a vehicle remain stock, but then again, why would you even want to? There’s so much choice when it comes to performance parts that choosing not to upgrade some elements seems silly.
This platform is pretty amazing too, with its GEN-V 5.3L engine, plus it has 4-wheel drive. The 2016 Chevy Silverado is also a Z71 Rally Edition, which is an appearance package upgrade that gives it a mean, muscular look. Since joining the GM EFI family, it’s been track tested, received a set of Hellwig sway bars, a Brembo brake upgrade, XPEL protective film was applied, and right before this set of upgrades, a Chevrolet Performance cosmetic makeover.
So now that it’s all dressed with functional accessories, has some stopping and handling power, and a protective layer of film, it’s time to move on to some power adding upgrades that we’ve been wanting to do for a while. These next upgrades from Chevy Performance Parts are going to transform the way the engine inhales air and dispels exhaust gases. These two upgrades include:
Starting with the intake, this upgrade is made to reduce air intake restriction by as much as 15-percent. It’s not only made for better airflow, but it looks great in the engine bay. GM has spent a lot of time developing and testing these CAI systems to make sure they are durable, corrosion resistant, and offer a good performance upgrade.
GM advises that you make sure the ignition is in the OFF and LOCK position, that all electrical loads are off, and the battery be disconnected before beginning the install to avoid personal injury, as well as damage to components during removal of the old air intake and installation of the new CAI.
Now that it’s all clear from the factor air intake, it’s time to put together the new intake for installation. You can choose to do this before removing the old cleaner, but it’s up to you.
Onto the exhaust…
GM designed this system to increase the look, sound, and performance of the exhaust system. The whole system is constructed from 304 stainless steel. It has a 3-inch front pipe and tailpipe, with a highly polished 4.5-inch tip.
The kit comes with:
- Front Pipe with Flange
- Polished Tip
So what did all this add up to? Well, for one, it’s easy to feel the difference in the pedal, and the sound is really improved. We took it straight to the dyno to check the numbers.
Here’s the before dyno sheet, for a baseline reference:
Keep in mind that there wasn’t anything done to change the horsepower output before the intake and exhaust. With just the CAI, we saw a minor difference, but you can tell the Silverado’s 5.3L is breathing much deeper now, which makes throttle response slightly more immediate on the road:
Now before you wonder where the “big gains” are here, keep in mind that the Silverado has the Gen-V GM engine in it, which is controlled by a very prudish ECM. Nearly every change, especially with air or fuel, on the new GM engine platform requires tuning to make it run like it “should.” These engines aren’t like the old GEN-III LS, where you can simply bolt a part on and see substantial gains right away. You’ll see slight changes in torque and power, and you’ll naturally see an improvement in soundtrack, but for optimum gains you’ll need to recalibrate your ECU.
Also note that the CAI is a great supporting modifications on vehicles equipped with an aftermarket camshaft, heads, intake manifold, headers, and exhaust, but doesn’t necessarily reflect on the dyno when used on a stock vehicle.
The Mule feels much stronger and more responsive than before. These projects took no time at all, and we’re very happy overall. This is a great testament to using Chevy Performance Parts that are made by GM for the truck. Also note that these two upgrades are really going to shine during our next project on the Silverado, it’s getting a ProCharger! Stay tuned as The Mule really gets a performance makeover with a blower and tune, which could make it one of the faster project cars in the GM EFI garage!
Elizabeth is hardcore horsepower enthusiast with unmatched intensity for making things faster and louder. She wakes up for power and performance and only sleeps to charge up for the next project that’s heading to the track. From autocross to drag racing, Elizabeth is there with you, so stay tuned for her unique perspective on horsepower news, builds, tech info, and installs — with her, it’ll never be boring!