The time has finally come for General Motors to release the long-promised 2.8-liter four-cylinder Duramax turbodiesel in its Colorado and Canyon midsized pickup trucks. The engine has been on the books for production for the 2016 model year ever since GM debuted the trucks back in 2014.

Until now, the two trucks have utilized the base 2.5-liter four-cylinder and previously range-topping 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engines as the only options. With the introduction of the “baby” Duramax, customers demanding higher towing, payload, and fuel efficiency numbers can opt for the new engine.

Chevrolet has set the diesel upgrade price at $3,730 more than the 3.6-liter V-6. The price includes some add-ons as well, making the cost seem more reasonable. A new six-speed automatic comes standard while 4WD models use a new transfer case. All Duramax Colorados get a diesel-exclusive exhaust brake and integrated trailer brake controller, along with all the emissions equipment that allow the engine to pass EPA standards.

Those trailering aids help boost the Colorado’s max towing capacity by 700 pounds to 7,700 pounds on 2WD models. Those equipped with 4WD can tow a maximum of 7,600 pounds. In keeping with the theme, a frame-mounted two-inch receiver hitch comes standard with the Duramax.

Chevrolet says the new Duramax won’t sacrifice comfort for capability. The transmission includes a new style of torque converter called a Centrifugal Pendulum Vibration Absorber. Long story short, the CPVA keeps excessive vibrations out of the driveline and therefore out of the cabin.

The EPA fuel economy estimates have not been released yet, but expect the Duramax Colorado to achieve better than 30 mpg on the highway. Sales should begin by late summer 2015.

Continue reading to learn more about the Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel.

  • 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    181 @ 3400
  • Torque @ RPM:
    369 @ 2000
  • Energy:
  • Displacement:
    2.8 L
  • 0-60 time:
    10 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    99 mph (Est.)
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; 2WD, 4WD
  • Price:
    31700 (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • car fuel:
  • body style:


2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Exterior
- image 638246
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Exterior
- image 638245
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Exterior
- image 638247
Spotting a Duramax-equipped Colorado is best done with the badging on the front fenders.

Spotting a Duramax-equipped Colorado is best done with the badging on the front fenders. Beyond that, the classic diesel knock will likely be the second best way to spot this oil-burner. Other than that, the 2016 Colorado hasn’t changed since its introduction for 2015.

Of course there are plenty of special editions and optional trim packages available, but the standard look of the truck is unchanged. That’s not bad, however, as the Colorado and its GMC fraternal twin still look fresh. The Chevy’s front grille gives off a sporty vibe with its aggressive styling. The Colorado’s tail end still offers the best solution for getting into and out of the cargo bed with its bumper-mounted side steps and stake pocket handgrip.

All around, the Colorado still holds its handsome good looks – even compared to the newly revised 2016 Toyota Tacoma.


2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 - Driven High Resolution Interior
- image 628046
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are new additions for 2016 as well

Like the outside, the interior is carried over from 2015. The only cosmetic differences are the addition of the integrated trailer brake controller and rearranged numbers on the tachometer. The Colorado’s interior offers room for five when equipped with the Crew Cab and room for four in the Extended Cab configuration. Like before, no regular cab configuration is offered.

The Colorado continues to offer Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system on the optional eight-inch touch screen. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are new additions for 2016 as well. A second screen, this one measuring 3.4 inches, resides in the gauge cluster and offers the driver information on vehicle conditions.

From my experience in the 2015 Colorado Z71, the interior’s fit and finish are good, but not great. Rubbery plastics dominate the landscape while the seats feel somewhat small. Still, the truck is a good place to pass the miles with excellent outward visibility and good ergonomics.


2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 638249

Now to the meat and potatoes of the Colorado’s 2016 update: the Duramax engine. The 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder is constructed with an iron block and aluminum heads that feature a DOHC design. A forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods are the heart of the engine and offer plenty of strength for dealing with typical diesel combustion pressures. Oil jets help keep piston temperatures down by squirting oil at the underside of each cylinder head. A laminated steel oil pan is constructed with an upper aluminum portion that Chevy says helps add structural rigidity to the block.

Chevy doesn’t list how much boost the turbo spools out, but its enough to produce 369 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm

The Duramax’s turbo is a variable geometry unit that gets its own oiling supply. Chevy doesn’t list how much boost the turbo spools out, but its enough to produce 369 pound-feet of torque at only 2,000 rpm. Those who understand diesels know torque is what’s important. The fact this little four-cylinder is cranking out 369 pound-feet is far more important than what looks like a low horsepower rating. Chevy says the 2.8-liter Duramax is rated at 181 horsepower at 3,400 rpm.

Backing up the baby Duramax is a new transmission to the Colorado, GM’s Hydra-Matic 6L50 six-speed automatic. Inside its torque converter is what’s known as a Centrifugal Pendulum Vibration Absorber – that in layman terms – reduces the amount of vibrations felt in the cab. Chevy says this is GM’s first application of a CPVA and is also a segment first. This should help make the Duramax a pleasure to drive on long trips – something the four-cylinder diesel should feel right at home doing.

The Duramax’s exhaust brake works just like one on a semi truck., helping to reduce speed while going down a hill. This keeps the brakes from being overworked and fading. Adding to the stopping power is the integrated trailer brake control. It is wired into the Colorado’s braking system and activates the trailer’s brakes to help aid in stopping. What’s more, the system even ties in the truck’s ABS system to the trailer, keeping the trailer’s brakes from locking up.

Drivetrain Specifications

Type 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel
Output 181 HP @ 3,400 RPM
Torque 369 LB-FT @ 2,000 RPM
Transmission Hydra-Matic 6L50 six-speed automatic


2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 638250

The list price for the 2.8-liter Duramax is roughly $3,730 – or that’s what Chevy says a Duramax-equipped truck costs above the 3.6-liter V-6. The diesel is offered only on Crew Cab models decked out in LT or Z71 trim levels. It is offered with both 2WD and 4WD.

That means the lest-expensive diesel-powered Colorado will list for roughly $31,700.


2016 Toyota Tacoma

2016 Toyota Tacoma High Resolution Exterior
- image 609467

The new Tacoma has been redesigned to better compete with the Colorado, though no diesel is in the works. The Toyota offers two engines that do compete with GM’s gas offerings – the carryover 2.7-liter four-cylinder and the new 3.5-liter V-6. Though the two trucks are closely matched, Toyota says the Tacoma is targeted towards more youthful buyers looking to have a good time rather than the contractor needed a workhorse truck.

Nissan Frontier

2015 Nissan Frontier Diesel Runner Powered by Cummins High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 541096

The current Frontier is an aging truck that will have to soldier on for another year or so when Nissan is set to bring an entirely new model to market. Rumors have been swirling about a small Cummins powerplant making its way into the truck, with Nissan going so far as to showing a concept truck with the a Cummins mill. Diesel or not, the next Frontier will have to be much improved to compete in this new league of midsized trucks.


2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Exterior
- image 638251

The new diesel should bring a slew of new sales to the Colorado and Canyon trucks – both from buyers that have been waiting for the 2.8-liter Duramax to arrive and those who should find the towing and fuel economy numbers appealing.

Not only is this big news for General Motors, but can also be seen as the canary in the coalmine for other truckmakers. Nissan and Toyota will surely be watching how the Duramax-equipped Colorado does in sales. Only Nissan has expressed interest in equipping its midsize truck with a diesel, with Toyota saying diesels are not cost effective for its Tacoma. Ford and Ram, on the other hand, are still absent in the midsize segment, though both are likely watching the battle between Toyota and GM with a close eye.

It will be interesting to see how well the Duramax Colorado does. I figure GM could have a small-scale hit on its hands.

  • Leave it
    • Horsepower rating is a marketing nightmare
    • Still expensive for an engine option
    • Not available on lower trim grades
Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read full bio
About the author

Press Release

The fastest-selling truck in the market now offers an available turbo-diesel engine. The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel takes midsize truck capability and efficiency to unprecedented levels.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Exterior
- image 638246

With 369 lb-ft of torque (500 Nm) generated by its all-new 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel, the Colorado’s maximum trailering capacity rises to 7,700 pounds (3,492 kg) on 2WD models, with estimated fuel economy projected to top the already segment-leading efficiency of the gas models.

It is also the cleanest diesel truck engine ever produced by General Motors.

“Simply put, there’s no other midsize truck that can do what Colorado can with its all-new Duramax diesel,” said Sandor Piszar, director of Chevrolet Truck Marketing. “Along with greater capability and efficiency, it expands the Colorado lineup to give customers more choices and the capability of exploring more possibilities on and off the road.”

The new Colorado diesel goes on sales this fall, offered in LT and Z71 Crew Cab models, with 2WD or 4WD. It is priced $3,730 more than a comparably equipped 3.6L V-6 model.

Features included with or exclusive to Colorado diesel models:

Smart diesel exhaust brake system that enhances vehicle control and reduces brake wear on steep grades
Standard Hydra-Matic 6L50 six-speed automatic transmission matched with a Centrifugal Pendulum Vibration Absorber (CPVA) in the torque converter, which reduces powertrain noise and vibration
The Z82 trailering package is standard and includes a hitch receiver and seven-pin connector
An all-new integrated trailer brake controller is standard and exclusive on diesel models
The G80 automatic locking rear differential is standard
A 3.42 rear axle ratio is standard
A new, electronically controlled two-speed transfer case is included on 4WD models
Maximum trailering rating of 7,700 pounds (3,492 kg) for 2WD models and 7,600 pounds (3,447 kg) for 4WD
GVWRs of 6,000 pounds (2,721 kg) for 2WD and 6,200 pounds (2,812 kg) for 4WD.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Exterior
- image 638247

“A diesel engine was part of the Colorado’s portfolio plan from the very beginning, meaning the chassis, suspension and other elements of its architecture were engineered to support its capability,” said Scott Yackley, assistant chief engineer. “That means there are no compromises with the Colorado diesel. It offers exceptional capability delivered with a confident feeling of control.”

Colorado’s award-winning combination of refinement, maneuverability and connectivity complements the diesel’s capability, with segment-exclusive features such as Chevy MyLink with phone integration technology – and compatibility with Apple CarPlay – OnStar 4G LTE with Wi-Fi hotspot, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert.

Colorado’s innovative solutions for hauling and accessing cargo include a standard CornerStep rear bumper, EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate (standard on Z71 and available on LT), two-tier loading in the cargo bed, 13 standard moveable tie-down locations throughout the bed, an available, factory-installed spray-in bed liner and a line of available GearOn accessories.

Inside the new 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel
Colorado’s new 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel is part of GM’s global family of turbo-diesel four-cylinder engines designed to deliver value, capability and efficiency. It features a variable-geometry turbocharger for optimal power and efficiency across the rpm band and a balance shaft for greater smoothness.

Power is SAE-certified at 181 horsepower (135 kW) at 3,400 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque (500 Nm) at 2,000 rpm. A broad torque band makes it very powerful at low rpm, while the turbocharged performance provides a confident feeling of immediate and smooth horsepower on demand.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Exterior
- image 638248

“It is a no-compromise turbocharged engine that is also really fun to drive, with excellent responsiveness,” said Yackley. “It was also designed specifically for trucks and has undergone many of the same validation tests as the 6.6L Duramax, contributing to legendary Duramax durability and reliability.”

Additional engine features:

Iron cylinder block and aluminum DOHC cylinder head
Forged steel crankshaft and connecting rods
Oiling circuit that includes a dedicated feed for the turbocharger to provide increased pressure at the turbo and faster oil delivery
Piston-cooling oil jets
16.5:1 compression ratio
Common rail direct injection fuel system
Ceramic glow plugs for shorter heat-up times and higher glow temperatures
Balance shaft that contributes to smoothness and drives the oil pump
Laminated steel oil pan with upper aluminum section that contributes to engine rigidity and quietness
B20 bio-diesel capability.

The Duramax 2.8L is the cleanest diesel truck engine ever produced by General Motors, and meets some of the toughest U.S. emissions standards, thanks in part to a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system.

The cooled EGR contributes to lower emissions by diverting some of the engine-out exhaust gas and mixing it back into the fresh intake air stream, which is drawn into the cylinder head for combustion. That lowers combustion temperatures and rates, improving emissions performance by reducing the formation of NOx.

Controlling noise and vibration with the CPVA
To control vibration and noise inside Colorado, engineers integrated a device called the Centrifugal Pendulum Vibration Absorber (CPVA) in the torque converter used with the standard Hydra-Matic 6L50 six-speed automatic transmission. It marks the first application of a CPVA in a GM vehicle and the first time it has been used in the midsize truck segment.

The CPVA is an absorbing damper with a set of secondary spring masses, that — when energized — cancels out the engine’s torsional vibrations so the driver and passengers can’t feel them. In its unique design, the spring masses vibrate in the opposite direction of the torsional vibrations of the engine, balancing out undesirable torsional vibrations.

Smart exhaust brake details
The Colorado’s integrated, driver-selectable exhaust brake system is based on the system introduced on the 2015 Silverado HD models and uses the compression power of the 2.8L Duramax engine to improve vehicle control and reduce brake pad wear.

When the exhaust brake is engaged in cruise mode, exhaust cruise grade braking will help the cruise control system maintain the desired vehicle speed when travelling downhill, keeping the driver from having to apply the brakes and exit cruise control to maintain speed.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax Diesel High Resolution Drivetrain
- image 638249

When the exhaust brake is engaged in non-cruise mode, the transmission and the exhaust brake deliver the correct amount of braking to assist in vehicle control, regardless of vehicle load. It is a smart system that varies the amount of brakes needed for the vehicle, load and grade. The engagement of the system is smooth and quiet, while its performance enhances the driver’s feeling of control.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: