New V-6 powertrain give the Colorado a mid-cycle boost

Chevrolet introduced the second-generation Colorado for the 2015 model year, along with its GMC corporate counterpart, the Canyon. Both trucks have remained unchanged since then, besides the introduction of the 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel in 2016. But now for the 2017 model year, the Colorado is getting a heavily revised gasoline V-6 and GM’s eight-speed automatic transmission.

As we detailed in a news piece, the upgraded V-6 and eight-speed automatic bring more power, better off-the-line acceleration, and improved fuel economy. The rest of the Colorado remains unchanged for the 2017 model year. That’s not a bad thing as the pickup’s design still looks fresh.

The Colorado comes in both extended and crew cab configurations, with both short and long bed sizes. Three trim levels appeal to a wide range of buyers and budgets – from the base WT to the mid-grade LT and to the off-road oriented Z71. Three engines are available, as well, giving customers plenty of options.

The base powertrain is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. It can be mated to a six-speed automatic or six-speed manual transmission. Customers who drive long highway distances or regularly tow or haul will love the 2.8-liter Duramax with its 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Optioned in a 2WD Colorado, and the Duramax will return 31 mpg on the highway. The volume-leading engine is the 3.6-liter V-6. We’ll dive into that engine below.

Chevrolet has not released pricing details for the 2017 Colorado, but we expect a slight increase to the truck’s pricing scale.

Continue reading for the full run-down of the 2017 Chevy Colorado.

  • 2017 Chevrolet Colorado
  • Year:
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Transmission:
    six-speed automatic
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
  • MPG(Cty):
  • MPG(Hwy):
  • Torque @ RPM:
  • Displacement:
    2.5 L
  • 0-60 time:
    8.5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    99 mph
  • Layout:
    Front Engine; 2WD, 4WD
  • Price:
    21000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • size:
  • Purpose:
  • body style:

What Makes It Different

2017 Chevrolet Colorado High Resolution Exterior
- image 686537

Chevrolet has not released any official details regarding the changes for the 2017 Colorado beyond the powertrain updates, but the truck is expected to remain unchanged. That means the two cab configurations, two bed lengths, two other engine options, three trim levels, and all the available options will return.

There is the potential Chevrolet will release the rumored ZR2 package. Heralded as a dedicated off-roader that competes with the Ford Raptor, Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, and Ram Rebel, the ZR2 will combine heavy-duty suspension parts, beefy tires, and unique body adornments.

That aside, we have the nitty-gritty details on the new V-6.

2017 Chevrolet Colorado High Resolution Exterior
- image 686538

The engine is a heavily revised version of the familiar 3.6-liter engine found in the 2015 and 2016 Colorado. It now comes with an updated variable valve timing system for both the intake and exhaust sides. The direct injection fuel system also sees big improvements. Engineers also added Active Fuel Management to the V-6 for the first time, allowing the V-6 to operate as a V-4 in low-load situations. This, combined with the other improvements, helps the engine deliver better fuel economy.

Along with the fuel conservation efforts, the all-aluminum V-6 gains three horsepower and six pound-feet of torque. This means the 2017 3.6-liter now makes 308 horses and 275 pound-feet of torque.

Combined with the engine updates is GM’s Hydra-Matic 8L45 eight-speed automatic transmission, replacing the 6L80 six-speed auto. Not only does this give the Colorado two more overdrive gears, it also allowed engineers to shorten first gear, making it a lower ratio better suited for high torque output. This makes the 2017 Colorado faster off the line and better equipped to tow heavy loads.

There’s no word on whether the Colorado’s tow ratings or payload capacities will change, but the pickup’s EPA-estimated fuel economy numbers are very much expected to increase. Currently the 2016 Colorado in 2WD with the 3.6-liter gets 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway. We expect to see at least one mpg improvement around town and a two mpg improvement on the highway.

2017 Chevrolet Colorado High Resolution Exterior
- image 686539

Pricing has not been released for the 2017 Colorado, but once GM makes the announced, we’ll update you here.

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

For 2017, the Chevrolet Colorado offers an all-new V-6 engine and class-exclusive eight-speed automatic. It is the latest major update for Colorado, which entered the market for model year 2015. Chevrolet is on track to sell more than 160,000 Colorados in the first 24 months on the market, reigniting the midsize segment.

“Customers made the Colorado an overnight success and it remains one of the industry’s hottest-selling products,” said Anita Burke, Colorado chief engineer. “That fast success has justified our continued investment in midsize pickups, introducing new features for our customers such as the class-exclusive diesel engine, advanced technologies like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and now a class-leading V-6 and eight-speed automatic powertrain combination.”

Class-exclusive powertrain combination Automatic word wrap
The most significant update for the 2017 Colorado is an all-new V-6 engine and eight-speed transmission, creating a combination that’s unmatched in the midsize segment.

According to Stan Ludlow, chief engineer for the 2017 Colorado, the engine and transmission were calibrated to emphasize performance and refinement while optimizing fuel economy: “The Colorado is currently the most fuel-efficient pickup truck in America, with an EPA-estimated 31 mpg highway when equipped with the diesel engine. As such, for the new V-6 and eight-speed combination we focused on improving everyday driving performance. Drivers will immediately notice that it pulls harder when accelerating from a stop or passing on the highway; it is more confident pulling a trailer up a steep grade and it is more refined cruising at a constant highway speed.”

This second generation of Chevrolet’s double-overhead-cam engine architecture retains the same 3.6L displacement as before, with an updated suite of advanced engine technologies. This includes improved variable valve timing for intake and exhaust, improved direct injection and for the first time, Active Fuel Management (cylinder deactivation), which disables two cylinders under light throttle applications. Horsepower and torque increase to an SAE-certified 308 hp (230 kW) at 6,800 rpm and 275 lb-ft (373 nM) at 4,000 rpm.

The engine is mated to the class-exclusive eight-speed automatic. The GM-developed Hydra-Matic 8L45 is roughly the same size and weight as the 6L80 six-speed automatic it replaces. However, the eight-speed automatic offers a wider 7.0 overall gear ratio spread than the 6L80 transmission’s 6.0 ratio. This results in a numerically higher first gear ratio, helping drivers start off more confidently with a heavy load or when trailering, and numerically lower rear axle ratios that reduce engine rpm on the highway for improved efficiency.

Extensive use of aluminum and magnesium, combined with similar packaging to the outgoing 6L80 transmission, equates to no increase in overall weight for Colorado models equipped with the new 8L45 transmission.

The 2017 model year updates, including the new V-6 and eight-speed combination, will arrive at dealerships in the fourth quarter of this year.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release

Related Articles

Dealers Worried as the Supply of New Pickups Begins to Dry Up

The Chevy Colorado With An LT4 V-8 Engine Is Something That We Didn’t Know We Wanted

What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: