Of all the recent GM introductions, one of the most interesting is the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup truck that will go on sale in the fall of 2014.
Unveiled for the U.S. on Wednesday, GM says Colorado will have the “DNA” of the full-size trucks, which would be a good thing; the new Silverado is a nice truck. Chevy also says the Colorado will have class-leading power, payload and towing capabilities in a truck that is about 10% smaller than the Silverado.
Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, said, “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. 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.”
With choices of a 193-horsepower, 2.5-liter four that produces 184 lb-ft of torque or a 302-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 with a respectable 270 lb-ft of torque; extended-cab or crew cab; several trim levels and two bed lengths, including a six-footer that can accommodate an eight-foot load with the tailgate down, the Colorado would seem to have all the most popular configurations except a basic standard cab.
A six-speed transmission is standard with both engines and Chevrolet promises the 2.8-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel already offered in the Colorado sold in about 60 other markets.
That’s right: the “all-new” Colorado is all-new only to us. It’s old news to much of the rest of the world as it has been built Rayong, Thailand and São José dos Campos, Brazil since 2013. Ours will be built in Wentzville, Missouri beginning next year.
To set the new Colorado apart from the more experienced version, Chevrolet has updated the styling with themes from the new Silverado. Frankly, it’s a nice update to those who thought the bisected grille was getting a bit long in the tooth.
But will that DNA be enough to make the new Chevy midsize capable of taking on the segment-leading Toyota Tacoma? And is there room in a market that’s just over10% of that for full-size trucks? In 2012, Americans bought a total of 196,800 reduced-size pickups compared to 1,637,373 of the larger trucks.
The junior pickup market was once more populated with the then-Dodge Dakota, Ford Ranger, Chevy S-10 and Colorado, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier as the major players and small-volume entries from companies like Subaru and Volkswagen. But over time, the Dakota grew to where there was little difference in it and the standard Ram pickup; Ford never developed the Ranger and finally dropped it (there is a new Ranger, but it’s not sold in the U.S.); the S-10 was superseded by the Colorado, which along with the Tacoma and Frontier, which also are sold in multiple markets around the world, managed to hang on.
Last year, between the Colorado and its GMC Canyon clone, GM sold 45,575 midsize trucks. This compares to 55,435 for the Frontier and 141,365 for the Tacoma: and 575,497 Silverados and Sierras.
“We designed the Colorado to be the most versatile and most capable in its segment, bar none,” said Jeff Luke, executive engineer, GM Trucks. “Not everyone needs full-size capability, but they still deserve the strength and true-truck attributes that come in larger models. The Colorado delivers capability with confidence – and a fun-to-drive spirit that complements active lifestyles.”
Depending on price point and payload, the new Colorado could be popular with fleet buyers looking for a truck that’s more economical to operate. But it will be interesting to see if it can catch on with consumers, individual tradesmen and small business owners.
When the original Colorado and Canyon made their debuts in 2004, I had the chance to drive both of them. I preferred the Colorado, which I found to be a darn nice truck, roomy enough to be comfortable and with cargo space for most of the applications I could envision, including camping and everyday vocational use. The 3.5-liter, five-cylinder Atlas engine provided decent performance. My only real quibble was that the rear end seemed a bit light, something that’s not uncommon in an unladen pickup.
Unfortunately, the Colorado never really got any traction in the U.S. market. I have a hunch part of the problem was its introduction at the time the American love affair with vehicular conspicuous consumption was beginning to wane. By the end of last year, sales of the Colorado had fallen 68.6% and those of the Canyon plunged 67.9% from their first-year peaks.
Perhaps the conditions are more favorable now, especially as pickups are one of the hottest segments of the U.S. light vehicle market. Year-to-date sales of smaller pickups are up 13.9%.
A lot is going to depend on Chevy successfully not just positioning the Colorado as an alternative to the larger trucks but as being more desirable for many buyers. Economy is a selling point but I have a hunch capability is going to be just as important, if not more important as many Americans buy trucks based on what they might do someday instead of what they actually do everyday. The images of the pickup being loaded with scrap iron or towing the Space Shuttle while bouncing across the open prairie are powerful motivators to opt for overkill.
Personally, I am looking forward to the time when I have the opportunity to drive the new, but not-so-new Colorado. I liked the first one and I liked the new Silverado, so the 2015 Colorado should be fun, too.