General Motors’ midsize pickup trucks have shaken the segment, arriving on the market in 2015 following a three-year hiatus. Demand for the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon has exceeded expectations and a new turbodiesel engine will likely stoke that interest further.
EPA-Certified Turbodiesel Engine
The EPA recently approved GM’s turbodiesel 2.8-liter four-cylinder engine for sale, which was no small feat following the Volkswagen diesel scandal. Indeed, GM had to overcome more stringent EPA testing and oversight, but the additional scrutiny was worth it — the power plant has been certified as it falls within the government’s pollution guidelines. Furthermore, this engine is EPA-rated at 31 mpg on the highway, achieving the highest level of fuel economy for a pickup truck ever.
Arriving in Chevrolet and GMC showrooms this fall, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon offer a pair of gas engines. A 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine making 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque is standard, and models with this engine are EPA-rated at up to 20/27 mpg city/highway. A 3.6-liter V6 making 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque is available. V6-powered Canyon and Colorado models are EPA-rated at up to 18/26 mpg city/highway.
The new turbodiesel engine is available in Canyon and Colorado crew cab models only. Specifically, the diesel option can be taken in the LT and Z71 editions and in two- and four-wheel drive variations. On both models, the diesel engine is a $3,730 singular option that is not bundled with any other package.
The two-wheel drive Colorado Diesel and Canyon Diesel are officially EPA-rated at 22/31 mpg city/highway. Choose four-wheel drive and these pickup trucks deliver 20/29 mpg.
In achieving a 31 mpg highway fuel economy rating, the diesel twins better the EPA rating of Ram 1500 models that are powered by an available turbodiesel 3.0-liter V6. The Ram model makes up to 21/29 mpg city/highway. Incidentally, the GM midsize duo and the Ram 1500 are the only light-duty trucks offering turbodiesel engines.
The Benefits of Choosing the Diesel Option
Choosing the diesel option comes with benefits that go beyond the superior fuel economy and longevity such engines provide. With the Colorado and Canyon, this model also runs on B20 fuel, representing a blend of 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent straight diesel. With its 21-gallon fuel tank, the trucks have an estimated maximum highway driving range of 651 miles.
GM’s new diesel engine delivers 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The latter number is especially pleasing as it is reached at 2,000 rpm and is coupled with a 3.42 final drive ratio, which is the same gearing found on V6-powered Colorado and Canyon models. The result is a best-in-class trailering capacity of 7,700 pounds with two-wheel drive and 7,600 pounds with four-wheel drive.
GM also equips its trucks with a smart diesel exhaust brake system, which is an arrangement ideal for enhancing vehicle control and mitigating brake wear while traversing steep grades.
An integrated trailer brake controller is also included and is exclusive to the diesel models, with no need to purchase a special trailering package.
Both the Canyon and Colorado are equipped with a CornerStep rear bumper that provides easy access to the bed. Standard on the Z71 and available on LT models is the “EZ Lift-and-Lower” tailgate, and when you place items in the bed, there are 13 standard tie-down locations and they’re available for use with the movable tie-down rings.
Beyond Colorado and Canyon
What will it cost you to buy a turbodiesel Chevrolet Colorado? First, let’s look at the base price for a 2016 Colorado Crew Cab LT edition.
That model with no package upgrades and a V6 gasoline engine would cost you $29,690. Add in the $3,730 diesel upgrade and your price will come in at $33,420. Choose four-wheel drive along with an assortment of package upgrades and your final price will approach $40,000.
Other choices in this segment include gas-powered variants of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon that start in the low $20,000 range. Choose the competing Nissan Frontier and you can find base trucks for under $20,000. On the other hand, the all-new Toyota Tacoma is now priced from $23,300.
Full-size pickup trucks provide yet another option and include the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. The Ford F-150, Ram 1500, Toyota Tundra and Nissan Titan round out the segment. As mentioned previously, only Ram offers a diesel model, with the regular cab Ram 1500 Tradesman starting at $30,635 if the diesel option is selected.
Buying a diesel-powered pickup truck will cost you more, but it will deliver better fuel economy, longer range and optimum trailering power. Moreover, a 2011 study published by Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business noted that diesel-powered vehicles have a residual value that’s up to 30 percent higher than traditional gasoline-powered models, providing perhaps the most compelling reason to go with a diesel.