The fleet market was the last refuge of the first-generation Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon. General Motors officially suspended production of its compact (GM calls it “midsize”) pickup in 2011 — Ford killed the Ranger the same year — and built a few more for fleet operators in 2012.
But the Colorado soldiered on overseas and will make its return to our shores in fall 2014 as a 2015 model; there appears to be no plans for a GMC edition.
To compete against the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and the more carlike Honda Ridgeline, GM plans to deliver class-leading power, payload and towing capacity. The new truck made its debut at November’s L.A. Auto Show and will undergo a series of refinements before it rolls into showrooms; however, many of the specifications are already in.
The 2015 Colorado will be equipped with rear-wheel drive and a 2.5-liter inline four that is expected to deliver 193 horsepower (hp) at 184 pound-feet (lb.-ft.) of torque. Buyers will have the option to upgrade to four-wheel drive and a 3.6-liter V-6 that will deliver at least 300 hp at 270 lb.-ft.
Remarkably, the new Colorado will be available with a six-speed manual, albeit only with the base four-banger and two-wheel drive.
The gross vehicle weight rating has yet to be determined, but the first-generation Colorado hauled up to 1,700 pounds (lbs.). GM has established a towing capacity of 6,700 lbs., a figure that would top the current Tacoma and Frontier.
The party line states that the new Colorado was designed with the recently redesigned Chevrolet Silverado in mind, but the nonproduction model at the show looked nothing like the 1980s-throwback Silverado. Instead, it wore a heavy, matte-black front fascia and more dynamic, less boxy sheet metal.
Both trucks’ cabins would be at home in an SUV. The Colorado’s interior is more basic but no less inviting. GM installed an 8-inch touchscreen in the dash and a center console that was designed to hold a tablet computer.
GM will offer three trim levels: the base WT, midrange LT and off-road-ready Z71. Configurations include a 6-foot bed behind an extended cab or crew cab; crew-cab buyers can opt for a 5-foot bed. The 2-foot-high tailgate and bedrails create a base as long as 8 feet with the tailgate down.
Pricing is not yet available for the Colorado. MSRP and final specs should be available by late summer.