The LS3, LS7, and LS9 are among the most popular engine choices in the market. They all have distinctive features, advantages, and disadvantages, but how do you tell which one suits you best?
This article will compare LS3, LS7, and LS9, and pick the best one out of the three.
Let’s kick off things with a comparison table below.
LS3 vs. LS7 vs. LS9: Comparison Table
|Cylinder Heads||68-cc combustion chambers||70-cc combustion chambers||69.8-cc combustion chambers|
|Block||Cast Aluminum with 6-bolt cross-bolted main caps||Cast Aluminum with steel 6-bolt steel main bearing caps||319-T7 Aluminum|
|Horsepower||430 hp||505 hp||638 hp|
|Torque||420-428 ft/lbs||470-481 ft/lbs||470-481 ft/lbs|
|Longevity||100,000 miles||250,000 miles||100,000 miles|
|Engine Type||Gen IV Small-Block V-8||LS-Series Small-Block V8||Gen IV V8 Small Block|
|Weight||466 lbs||454 lbs||531 lbs|
|Fuel efficiency||14-17 MPG||30-31 MPG||22 MPG|
|Price||$7,000 – $13,000||$14,000 – $17,000||$21,403 – $26,403|
LS3 vs. LS7 vs. LS9: Detailed Comparison
Material (Cylinder heads, blocks)
All three engines are made from Aluminum and Steel components. That makes these engines slightly lighter than most others in the market. The Cylinder heads are all (68-70) cc combustion chambers.
All the engines are durable, and you won’t see a part frequently break or wear out.
Performance (Torque, Horsepower, RPM)
An engine’s torque, Revolutions per Minute, and horsepower will be one of the critical determiners when buying a vehicle. They determine what type of work the engine will be capable of withstanding.
Among the three engines, the LS9 comes with the highest horsepower, 638 hp, while the LS3 and LS7 come in at 430hp and 505hp respectively. Well, that’s a solid reason to conclude that the LS9 gives the most reliable performance of the three.
The LS7 and LS9 give 470-481ft/lbs of torque, making them better choices over the LS3. When it comes to RPM (Revolutions Per Minute) the LS7 peaks at 7,000 RPM while both the LS3 and LS9 give a maximum of 6,600 RPM. The LS7 seems to perform work faster. If you need some speed, the LS7 should be your choice.
Reliability & Longevity
Which of the engines is most reliable? Which one can you trust for that consistent output over a long period? Well, let’s find out.
The LS3 has slightly inferior characteristics in power, which is a vital aspect to consider regarding cars’ performance. The LS9 is the most reliable of the three when it comes to power. However, the LS7 goes the furthest when it comes to longevity.
Both the LS3 and LS9 have a lifetime of 100,000 miles, while the LS7 has 250,000 miles. Yeah, you know which engine will be lasting longer.
The LS3, LS7, and LS9 use an ECU-controlled 58X controlled system via the crankshaft position sensor. The system helps to save energy, increase output capacity, and burn fuel with precise timing. Moreover, GM integrated an Active Fuel Management system for effective fuel management, especially when the car is not dealing with heavy loads.
The LS3 is a 6162cc (376.0 ci) put right behind the crate engine, with a maximum output of 450hp @ 5900 RPM. It succeeds the LS2 6.0L V8 but comes with a more robust casting and slightly larger bores.
The LS7 is a high-power crate engine, which peaks at 570hp and 540 ft-lb of torque. It is among the strongest naturally aspirated engines in the world.
The LS9 is also a high-performance engine from General Motors. It is a Small Block V8 engine popular for its high peak performance. The LS9 gives a fantastic 638 hp at 6600 RPM.
All LS engines have the same firing orders. The firing order is essential in maintaining a sequential cylinder action and, therefore, preventing vibration of your car. The LS3, LS7, and LS9 all have the 1-8-7-2-6-5-4-3 firing order. It is the order in which the cylinders perform combustion.
The LS7 is the lightest of the three, averaging at 454 pounds. The LS3 comes with 466 lbs, while the LS9 is the heaviest, 531 lbs. However, these engines are lighter than most, thanks to their aluminum compound construction.
If you wish to save on fuel, it’s advisable to stay away from the LS7. It consumes a massive average of 30-31 miles per gallon, which is way higher than the other two. The LS3 has the best fuel efficiency, hitting 14-17 MPG on highways. The LS9 averages at 22 MPG, which is slightly more manageable than the LS7.
Even when the LS7’s fuel consumption may be higher than that of the LS9; the latter is more powerful due to its built-in supercharging property.
No matter how impressive an engine’s features are, it won’t be helpful if you can’t afford it. So, you have to consider the financial aspect of the engines.
These three engines have different capacities, specifications, and outputs, automatically translating to different prices. As you’d guess, the newer, more advanced LS9 is more expensive than the other two engines. It costs around $21,403 – $26,403. The LS7 is relatively cheaper, while the LS3 is the cheapest engine at $7000 – $13000.
LS3 vs. LS7 vs. LS9: Other Specifications
|Camshaft||Hydraulic Roller||Hydraulic Roller||Hydraulic Roller|
|Crankshaft||Nodular Iron||Forged Steel||Forged aluminum alloy|
|Bore/Stroke||Bore: 4.065 inStroke: 3.622 in||Bore: 4.125 inStroke: 4.000 in||Bore: 4.065 in.Stroke: 3.622 in|
|Exhaust runner volume||87cc||86cc||89cc|
|Fuel injector flow||42 lbs/hr||41.74 lbs/hr||59 lbs/hr|
|Rocker Arm Ratio||1.72:1||1.8||1.7:1.|
|Valve Size (Diameter)||1.590 in.||1.61 in.||1.590 in.|
Which Vehicles Have These Engines?
|+ Camaro Chevrolet Corvette|
+ Corvette Grand Sport
+ Pontiac G8 GXP
|+ Camaro Z28|
+ Chevrolet Corvette Z06
|+ Equus Bass 770|
+ Chevrolet Corvette ZR1
+ HSV GTSR W1
1. How much does it cost to do an LS3 swap?
Swapping your LS3 will cost you around $1500 to $2000. The value might vary due to fluctuations in hourly labor prices in various places. That price will cater for a swap with a standard truck engine, your existing cross-member, rear axle, and factory exhaust manifolds.
If you need to swap with fabricated oil pans, aftermarket cross-members and rear suspension overhauls will cost you more.
2. Can LS engines swap with each other?
Yes! LS engine swaps are made to increase vehicles’ quality, power, and productivity. They are versatile in their ability to ‘accept’ swaps, and it wouldn’t be a problem swapping an LS Engine with another one. However, please swap your LS engine with another one with a higher output – Don’t do it only for the cosmetics.
Which LS engine should you go for? Well, it depends on what you need from it. All engines are masterpieces from General Motors and have their share of strengths. The LS3 is the cheapest engine of the three, while the LS9 is good for power/output. However, the LS7 is the most preferred due to its longevity and lower price compared to the LS9.