unveils later today at the Los Angeles auto show the ’15 Chevrolet Colorado, a redesigned entry for the automaker in the sleepy midsize pickup truck segment but one they think will satisfy unmet consumer demand for fuel efficiency, utility and sportiness.
The pickup, which will arrive at U.S. Chevrolet dealers in the third quarter of 2014, leverages a vehicle platform already underpinning a midsize pickup with same name in Asia but receives significant tweaks for the North American market.
It also borrows design and engineering bits from the ’14 Chevy Silverado fullsize pickup, which bowed earlier this year as a completely redesigned product.
It shares nothing in common with the Colorado midsize pickup GM sold in North America for a decade, before stopping production last year.
“Our strategy is simple: meet the needs of the broadest possible customer base, and let them choose precisely the right truck to meet their needs,” Mark Reuss, president- GM North America says in a statement ahead of the unveiling.
“The all-new Colorado benefits from the solid foundation established by the Silverado, and it reinvents the midsize truck, while reinvigorating the segment at the same time.”
GM also brings to market soon a redesigned Silverado Heavy Duty, giving the automaker three fresh entries in the light-duty pickup segment by this time next year.
GM says the new Colorado will lead the segment in terms of power, payload and trailering capability at a maximum of 6,700 lbs. (3,039 kg), relying on a standard 2.5L 4-cyl. engine or an optional 3.6L V-6. It will also feature for the ’16 model year a new diesel engine for North America in the form of 2.8L turbocharged I-4.
The three engines will mate to a 6-speed automatic transmission that include auto grade braking and a tow/haul mode, although Jeff Luke, executive engineer-GM trucks, says additional gearbox choices may lie on the horizon.
“Stay tuned,” he tells WardsAuto at a sneak peek of the truck earlier this month. “We might have something more to come.”
The Colorado’s 2.5L 4cyl. engine makes an estimated at 193 hp and 184 lb.-ft. of torque (253 Nm), with roughly 90% of the peak torque available from 2,000 rpm to 6,200 rpm, GM says. The Colorado marks the first truck application for the engine, which GM recently enhanced for its car portfolio.
The 3.6L V-6 engine, a workhouse GM uses in many car and CUV products, delivers an estimated 302 hp and 270 lb.-ft. of torque (366 Nm).
The engines share key technologies such as aluminum blocks and forged-steel crankshafts, dual-overhead camshafts with variable valve timing, gasoline direct injection and jet-spray piston cooling.
Specifications on the 2.8L turbodiesel are not available, although GM promises“exceptional levels of torque and efficiency, greatly expanding” the truck’s capabilities.
Revisions to the Colorado from a model newly on sale in Thailand include taller bedsides to better secure cargo, and likely to better accommodate some of the many accessories GM plans to market with the truck.
Fuel economy estimates, as well as pricing, will come closer to the on-sale date.
The automaker will make three body styles available, including an extended-cab model with a 6-ft. (1.8 m) bed; a crew cab with a 5-ft. (1.5 m) bed and a crew cab with a 6-ft. bed. With the tailgate down, the 6-ft. bed will accommodate items 8 ft. (2.4 m) long.
Three trim levels, each available with 2-wheel-drive or 4-wheel-drive layouts, will be offered. The trim levels include a Z71 off-road package.
Items borrowed from the Silverado include triple-sealed, in-laid doors, a new design that reduceswind noise for a quieter cabin.
Corner steps on the rear bumper and a grab area on the bedside make climbing into the cargo box easier, and the tailgate uses an internal torsion bar to make it easier to raise with one hand. A damper keeps the tailgate from slamming down when it’s lowered. Those ideas also come from the Silverado.
A fully boxed perimeter frame will contribute strength to support the Colorado’s capabilities, as well as a confident, smooth and quiet ride, GM says. The Colorado’s coil-over-type front suspension includes low-mass, high-strength aluminum knuckles expected to provide excellent steering response and efficiency.
The pickup also will bring to market the segment’s first application of fuel-saving electric power steering.
Stopping power comes via 4-wheel disc brakes featuring 4-piston front calipers as standard equipment and GM’s Duralife brake rotors, a heat-treatment coating that makes rotors last longer and retain a rust-free appearance.
The Colorado also will offer an automatic locking rear differential to improve traction. It will come standard on Z71 models and as optional equipment at lower trim levels.
Creature comforts take square aim at the target customers’ active lifestyles, with items such as an available 8-in. diagonal color touch screen and multiple USB ports; a 3.4-in. diagonal driver information screen in the instrument cluster; OnStar and MyLink infotainment technologies; and an optional navigation system.
Safety items include six standard air bags, including head side-curtain air bags designed to keep occupants inside the vehicle during a crash; large rearview mirrors and a standard rear-vision camera system for enhanced visibility; and segment-first availability of forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning. Trailer-sway control, hill-start assist and hill-descent control complement standard stability control.
GM expects together with a GMC Canyon cousin, the Colorado will breathe new life into a segment that has declined in sales by 5-fold since its peak in 1986.and have given up on the segment in the U.S., and will take a 2-year hiatus from it next year. Those exits will leave GM, Toyota and Nissan to battle over buyers.
“We think we will bring a lot of interest to the segment,” Alan Batey, senior vice president-global Chevrolet at GM, told WardsAuto during the sneak peek in Detroit. “We’ll grow that segment.”
Batey says GM is banking on both personal use and commercial buyers, who need the utility of pickup but not the size and brawn of a fullsize model.