There has been much debate about the future of midsize trucks in America. For years, the only available ones have been the Toyota Tacoma and the Nissan Frontier; both have been good consistent performers but are dated and lackluster in terms of fuel efficiency. Ford, of course, has its well-received Ranger but has made the strategic decision to not sell it in this hemisphere.
Enter the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado (and its in-the-future partner, the GMC Canyon) — both announced some time ago and now seen for the first time at the Los Angeles Auto Show. This truck was specificially designed for the North American marketplace, and will offer the most power, towing and payload capacities in the segment. It will also offer the segment’s only diesel engine. No fuel efficiency numbers yet, but GM has done a great job of upping the ante on their new 2014 full-size trucks so I am expecting they will be something to write home about when they are released.
Jeff Luke, executive engineer, GM Trucks (and one of the most knowledgeable truck guys out there) says that the new Colorado was designed to be the most capable truck in the segment offers “true truck attributes” for those who don’t necessarily need a full-size.
Engines, powertrains and other performance info
There are three available engines for the new Colorado, including the new diesel. The 2.5L and 3.6L are not new, but are tuned to provide more torque at lower rpm (highly desirable for trailer pulling or hauling a load).
The 2.5L 4-cylinder is estimated at 193hp and 184-lb-ft. of torque3 with approximately 90% of peak torque available from 2,000 rpm to 6,2000 rpm.
The 3.6L engine is estimated at 302hp and 270-lb-ft of torque. Both are awaiting certification of power ratings from the Society of Automotive Engineers. Standard on both engines is an aluminum block and forged-steel crankshaft, dual-overhead camshafts with variable valve timing, direct injection and jet-spray piston cooling. An effort was made to utilize extended-life components to reduce maintenance intervals and cost of ownership.
The diesel is a Duramax 2.8L I-4 turbodiesel. It is already offered in other global markets and gives GM to see just how well it is received by the market. Everyone in the truck business is watching diesel trends these days.
Like the Silverado, the Colorado has a fully-boxed perimeter frame, a coil-over-type front suspension with aluminum knuckles for low mass and high strength. There is also segment-first electric power steering for energy efficiency. Turning radius is a very respectable 41 feet. Four-wheel disc brakes is four-piston front calipers are standard and feature the Duralife brake rotors designed for the 2014 Silverado. GM boasts up to double the service life for these components.
Not everything is new — or needs to be.he Colorado has the G80 automatic locking rear differential that Chevy introduced more than 40 years ago showing that if it ain’t broken, why fix it. This is standard on the Z71 and optional on thge WT and LT.
On the outside
If you like the look of the new Silverado — and many of its exterior features — you are definitely going to like the new Colorado. Executive director of Chevrolet Design, Ken Parkinson describes it :…like the younger, more eager brother of the Silverado — a Chevy truck through and through, with great zeal and a spirit of adventure.”
The Colorado has taller bedsides than its competitor, along with a raked belt line on the cab. There are three trim levels, WT, LT and Z71, all in 2wd or 4wd configurations. The off-road oriented Z71 also has a gunmetal tone grill surround, projector headlamps and special 17-inch aluminum wheels.
As with the new full-size GM trucks, the Colorado’s doors are inlaid and triple-sealed in the body sides for a quieter cab and improved aerodynamics. An aluminum hood helps to reduce mass and maximize front-to-rear weight balance. Also improving aerodynamics is the segment-first active grille shutters. These close at certain highway speeds to enhance performance and fuel efficiency. Other features include:
- Standard rear corner step integrated into the bumper for ease of access
- Optional tailgate that utilizes an internal torsion bar allowing one-hand raising and controlled lowering
- Standard two-tier loading that allows a platform to split the bed for easier hauling, storage and concealment of cargo
- Thirteen standard tie down locations for use with available movable cargo tie-down rings
- Standard bed rail and tailgate protecctors
- Available factory-installed spray-in bed liner
In its segment, the new interior should be a great selling factor since the competitors vehicles have been in the field for years. The instrument panel is laid out like that of the 2014 Silverado and there is a center console with floor-mounted shifter that gives some of the feel of sporty mid-size cars and crossovers. The sculpted headliner provides headroom, key controls feature halo lighting and there is a well-executed open space in the front of the console for charging phones and other items. The seats feature dual-firmness foam for comfort. The standard is a long-wear, stain-resistant cloth. Leather-appointed seating is available. Interior details also include:
- Exclusive color and trim details on the Z71, including embossed seatbacks and contrasting stitching
- Sculpted door panels for easier access
- Well-executed storage throughout the cabin, including space for a tablet computer in the center storage console
- Storage under the rear seat
What would a new vehicles be without state-of-the-industry electronics? That was a purely rhetorical question, of course. Connectivity, control and safety technologies are almost mandatory on anything that is being introduced for this year and next. The Colorado features an eight-inch diagonal color touch screen on both the LT and Z71. (The base vehicle is just that.) There are multiple USB ports in good locations. A 3.4-inch drigver information screen is located in the instrument cluster.
There are lots of available enhancements including next-generation OnStar and MyLink with gesture recognition and natural voice recognition, as well as available navigation. There are six standard airbags, large rearview mirrors and standard rear-vision camera. StabiliTrak electronic stability control system, trailer sway control, hill start assist are standard. Segment-first forward collision alert, lane departure warning and hill descent control (Z71 only) are all available as options.
It will be interesting to see if GM is right about the midsize segment. While both of its competitors are dated in their offering, they do rock it as off-road vehicles and are still popular as small business vehicles. The Z71 should give them a run for their money on the off-road front; and with both a 4 and a 6 cylinder engine available as everyday drives, things could get interesting.
Both Toyota and Nissan are rumored to have updated vehicles for both the Tacoma and Frontier in the works but they will need to move fast to compete with the Colorado for adopters in late 2014 and 2015, and I don’t think that is in the cards.
Both Ford and Ram have committed themselves to their 1/2-ton strategy, believing that they will steal business from themselves if they introduce mid-size trucks into their lineups. I don’t see the Ranger coming here anytime soon, but I’ve learned that — in the truck business — you never say never.