A 2016 Colorado Duramax Diesel after an off-road drive testing the smart diesel exhaust brake. Photo by Chris Wolski.
When the announcement of the Chevrolet Colorado’s relaunch was made in late 2014, the first question out of most of the media’s mouths (including mine) was when a diesel version would be available?
The wait is over and the 2016 Colorado Duramax Diesel is here. Was it worth the wait? And, how!
During a recent media drive in Solvang, Calif., I had the opportunity to put the 2016 Colorado through its paces on highway, through easy (and sometimes not so easy) suburban routes, and off-road. Through all these courses, the Colorado delivered not only a pleasant, effortless ride, but the kind of fuel economy that would have been considered wild fantasy only a few short years ago.
The 2016 Colorado diesel is equipped with a Duramax 2.8L turbo diesel that delivers 181 hp and 269 lb.-ft. of torque. The engine is mated to a Hydra-Matic 6L50 6-speed automatic transmission. The Colorado is available with either as a 2WD or 4WD. The diesel is available in the LT and Z71 Crew Cab models only at this time.
I first put the diesel to the test on the highway, driving a 2WD variant with a tonneau cover (cutting wind resistance). The highway was essentially deserted, so I was able to maintain legal highway speeds throughout my drive. The Colorado handled well, was comfortable to drive, and, most important, achieved an impressive 29.5 mpg (other journalists at the event were able to achieve more than 30 mpg). As of this writing, GM has yet to release its official mpg figures for the 2016 Colorado Duramax Turbo Diesel.
City-type driving was a canyon course that meant winding, narrow roads, uphill climbs, and frequent stops. The Colorado handled them all well with no strain on the engine.
Photo by Paul Clinton.
For me the most impressive test of the Colorado’s capabilities as a day-to-day fleet vehicle that might be called on to navigate smooth super highways or rugged off-road conditions was a test of the downhill descent assist afforded by the smart diesel exhaust brake. Essentially, "downhill cruise control," as one GM engineer at the ride-and-drive event put it, the feature allows the driver to set the downhill speed and just requires he or she steer down a steep incline.
The course that was used to test the feature was on a working cattle ranch, with deep-rutted paths and steep ascents and, pointedly, descents. While a little apprehensive going down the 30-degree-plus grades at first, I got pretty used to it by the end of the six mile course. I could a number of benefits of the downhill descent assist feature for service fleets that may have to navigate tough terrain loaded with equipment.
The Colorado is rated for 7,700-pounds trailering on the 2WD model.
The 2016 Colorado also continues to be equipped with OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot — which I put to use several times — and is equipped with Apple CarPlay. This allows only essential apps, such as navigation, phone, and other audio apps to be accessed.
The Colorado comes standard with six air bags, including head curtain side air bags and rearview camera. Other safety features include lane departure warning and forward collision alert.
The 2016 Colorado once again delivers both utility and a really fun drive, with the added benefit of great mpg.