A positive spotlight shines on the GMC Canyon and the Chevrolet Colorado, a pair of midsize pickup trucks with an available turbo-diesel engine.
In light of the Volkswagen diesel scandal, GM has managed to undergo extra scrutiny of its new-to-the-US-market turbo-diesel engine and has emerged with both its reputation and its mileage claims intact.
Indeed, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado 4×2 equipped with a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder turbo-diesel is EPA-rated at 31 mpg on the highway. The Colorado and its GMC Canyon twin will also get 29 mpg on the highway for its 4×4 models. All models come paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
Not Scandalized by Volkswagen
GM was preparing for EPA testing, when the Volkswagen scandal broke in September. In response, the EPA noted that it would pay extra special attention to diesel models seeking certification.
Not only do the GM twin midsize pickup trucks set a new fuel mileage bar, but these trucks discharge pollutants within the federal government’s stringent emissions range. The new trucks are now certified to go on sale within the next few weeks.
Both pickup trucks arrived on the market in 2015 after a three-year hiatus. The segment had long been declining with two aged models — the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier — remaining. The Ford Ranger and the Dodge/Ram Dakota were also canceled as buyers turned their eyes to larger trucks.
But the Colorado and Canyon brought fresh attention to the segment and sales have increased across the board. For 2016 a new Tacoma debuts; a new Frontier should arrive by 2017.
New MPG Threshold
The 31 mpg threshold is two mpg better than the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, a full-size pickup truck. The Ram model is the first light-duty pickup with a diesel offered in about 15 years. Only heavy-duty models have offered diesel variants, trucks powered by substantial turbo-diesel six- or eight-cylinder engines.
Moving into diesels will give GM an immediate edge as neither Toyota nor Nissan has such choices available. Toyota is the undisputed segment leader and with its most recent update it should easily retain its position. But, for customers desiring the ultimate in pulling power — up to 7,700 pounds in 4×2 trucks equipped with the trailering package— and engine longevity, the GM diesels are certain to thrive.
“The Colorado Duramax diesel is in a league of its own,” said Sandor Piszar, director of Chevrolet Truck Marketing. “Colorado’s gas models already led the segment in fuel efficiency, and the new diesel – which no other non-GM competitor offers on a midsize truck – gives customers even greater freedom to go where they want with fewer fill-ups.”
That range is an estimated 651 miles for the trucks’ 21-gallon fuel tank. The trucks are also flex fuel capable, designed to take B20 fuel — 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent straight diesel.
The trucks also come with what is known as smart diesel exhaust braking — designed to depreciate brake wear by reducing the need for braking on downgrades, thereby providing improved vehicle control. An integrated trailer brake controller works in tandem with the antilock brake system in a bid to supply brake force and to dispense with an aftermarket trailer brake controller.
Diesel Engine Availability
The diesel engine is an upgrade option with LT and Z71 Crew Cab models only. It can be had in two- and four-wheel drive variants.
Place this engine against a comparably equipped V-6 gasoline model and you’ll pay a $3,730 premium for diesel. That’s a 5 mpg edge, one that may take years to recoup with the added cost, but the long-term benefits of owning such an engine should help customers enjoy a premium market value as well.