2015 Chevrolet Colorado: I'll Wait for the Diesel
February 2, 2015
I was showing the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado to a friend of mine. He likes trucks and leans Toyota (fourth-generation 4Runner for the wife and two kids, Corolla for the daily commute, a Tundra way back when), but he was impressed with the Colorado on first impression. He poked around the cabin, sat in the front seats, and liked the rear step bumper feature.
I've found fuel economy doesn't come up much, as a deal-breaking concern anyway, among core truck guys. But neither he nor I are hardcore truck guys, just guys who like trucks and the sort of utility and adventure they inspire. So fuel economy came up.
He was unimpressed that our Colorado indicated low 17's in combined mpg for the current tank. I didn't know offhand what we were averaging after almost 5,000 miles, but thought out loud that it must be better, maybe closer to 19 mpg. Turns out our Colorado is averaging 17.7 combined mpg, falling quite a bit short of the EPA claim of 20 mpg combined.
For comparison, our V8-powered 2014 Silverado 4WD averaged 17.4 combined mpg during its year with us (also short of the 19 mpg EPA rating). Keep in mind that with cylinder deactivation, our V8 did a lot of miles as a V4. We should also bear in mind that our Colorado hasn't done any significant road-tripping, so after a year and more highway miles, that lifetime average is bound to climb. This post may be a bit premature after all.
Claimed fuel economy has been one of the biggest knocks on the new Colorado, primarily how it's no more efficient than a full-size V8 Silverado. This has forced Chevy fans and officials to pivot to the Colorado's "lifestyle" and small-footprint character. It's a legitimate pivot, given how much smaller and easier the Colorado drives around town and even on the highway.
When you're just running out to the hardware or grocery store, or to pick up some take-out, the Colorado moves fluidly, a midsize crossover for people who don't want a crossover. Despite the fuel economy, or lack thereof, this truck has real, useful size and appeal. Big enough for truck stuff, small enough to drive tight.
All of this makes the prospect for the Colorado's forthcoming 2.8-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder more enticing. Can GM deliver a diesel-four that achieves 30 mpg on the highway and 26-28 mpg combined? If Ram can achieve 22.4 mpg combined with a turbodiesel V6 (according to our long-term Ram 1500 test), that seems like a reasonable expectation for a GM diesel-four.
The Colorado and Canyon are two trucks I'm considering on the long-range radar to replace an aging Jeep Cherokee. The Colorado beats the Cherokee on many levels, but fuel economy isn't the whopping difference you might think. My 2001 4WD Cherokee averages 15 mpg combined, dead on with the EPA rating. After 14 years of industry engine development, it's a little disappointing to see a new Chevy truck beat an old Chrysler product by just 2.7 mpg.
At this point, I'll wait for the diesel.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor @ 4,850 miles