ProPickup Product Review
EDGE CTS Programmer
Plug-and-play performance for 2011 GMC Sierra 5.3L; rear-view camera and speedometer recalibration a bonus
Electronic engine upgrades have been around as long as we’ve had computers handling engine management, and Edge Products was one of the early technology pioneers in that field.
The company started in 1999 and has never looked back – much to many a pickup lover’s delight.
One of Edge’s newest offerings, the Evolution CTS (Color touch Screen), is actually a multi-function programmer that provides several performance levels and serves as a digital gauge package and backup camera monitor.
I had the CTS programmer – and the optional Edge backup camera – installed on my 2011 GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab 4×4 to see how the package performs in day-to-day driving.
It’s been on Project Bedrock, as it’s known around the office, for six months. Here’s my take:
Edge CTS Installation
All too easy. Edge’s installation and booklets are some of the best on the market. Plug the connector cable into the back of the CTS and the other end into the truck’s OBDII port under the steering column.
Run the cable around the driver’s side of the dash and attach the programmer to the windshield suction mount. That’s it. As soon as the truck starts, the programmer turns on.
The screen is touch-sensitive and the menu is setup in a logical manner so it’s easy to navigate.
It takes about 4 minutes to download the truck’s stock program, which it stores, and replaces it with the “Trans Only“shift program or one of Edge’s four performance programs: Economy; Towing; Performance; and Extreme.
- Level 0: Stock
- Level 1: Transmission Tuning Only
- Level 2: 5 Horsepower – 5 Foot Pounds of Torque
- Level 3: 12 Horsepower – 12 Foot Pounds of Torque
- Level 4: 20 Horsepower – 20 Foot Pounds of Torque
Edge on Performance
I ran the truck at our local dragstrip, Holiday Raceway, and on a 105-mile round-trip on I-20/I-59 south of our Tuscaloosa, Alabama offices.
Trans Only (Level 1) program provided slightly firmer shifts at higher rpm, much like the stock trans does in Tow/Haul mode. The change did nothing to better our dragstrip times or fuel economy.
The Economy mode (Level 2/5hp) was tested during the 105-mile loop at a constant 70mph and on a 250-mile trip averaging 65mph.
Both tests were run during a two-day window when weather conditions were in the mid-70s with no wind.
The GMC averaged between 17.5-17.9mpg in stock mode – and 17.4-17.8mpg in the Economy mode.
I recorded the same results three months of logging city/urban fuel economy; the GMC averages around 14.5mpg with or without the CTS Economy program.
The Towing program (Level 3/12hp) worked in a similar manner, with no perceptible changes on the road and only a .1 second improvement in the 30-50mph track times over the stock setting, while 0-60mph and 1/8th-mile speed/time were within .1 second and .1mph of stock.
I didn’t run the Extreme mode (Level 4/20hp) mode. The reason was two-fold: 1) The program warns “91+ Octane Required” to run in this mode or else risk engine damage, and 2) I didn’t want to spend $4-plus for a tank of Premium fuel just to see if I could gain a mph or two and shave a second off my dragstrip times.
My review is focused more on workday results than weekend racing.
Edge’s programmers really make a difference in diesel. But the CTS Gas ($662) does very little for the performance of a small-block V8 like the 5.3L GM unless you run Premium fuel and run the engine hard. Not something the typical contractor is likely to do.
The optional license plate-bracket backup camera ($280) is nice and looks sweet. So are the multitude of digital gauges the CTS monitor shows while you are driving. And the speedometer calibrator program is great when you change tire sizes.
The scan/diagnostics tool can be handy as can the maintenance manager that keeps tabs on mileage and flashes service reminders.
But if you are looking for neck-snapping, tire-smoking power or gaining miles-per-gallon, I just didn’t see it. And for a monetary investment of this amount, I want to both feel and see results. – Bruce W. Smith