Improvements translate to improved drivability and efficiently

After only two years on the market, Chevy is giving is midsize Colorado a new gasoline powertrain. The new V-6 engine keeps the familiar 3.6-liter displacement, but now comes with a host of upgrades designed at making more power with better fuel efficiency.

The mechanical changes to the V-6 include an updated variable valve timing system for both the intake and exhaust sides, an improved direct injection fuel system, and the introduction of GM’s Active Fuel Management system. Power levels modestly increase to 308 horsepower at 6,800 rpm and 275 pound-feet of torque at 4,000 rpm. That’s up from 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque in the previous-generation engine.

Additionally, the V-6 is now complemented by GM’s new Hydra-Matic 8L45 eight-speed automatic transmission. Engineers gave the transmission a lower first gear to help with acceleration and towing. A taller gear ratio in the rear differential, combined with the transmission’s two extra gears, allows for better fuel economy. Paired with the Active Fuel Management’s cylinder deactivation, the gas-powered Colorado’s EPA fuel economy numbers should see a marked improvement. Those numbers haven’t been assessed at this point, however.

“We focused on improving everyday driving performance,” says Stan Ludlow, chief engineer for the 2017 Colorado. ”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.”

Chevy says the 8L45 transmission is no heavier than the outgoing 6L80 six-speed automatic thanks to extensive use of aluminum and magnesium. The two gearboxes are similar in size, as well.

The 2017 Colorado will arrive in dealerships in Q4 2016. Pricing has not been announced, but a slight increase is expected. Finally, these same updates will transfer to the Colorado’s corporate cousin, the 2017 GMC Canyon.

Continue reading for more information.

Why it matters

General Motors has to keep up with the growing competition in the midsize truck market. The Toyota Tacoma still outsells the Colorado, the all-new 2017 Honda Ridgeline is staring to roll off dealership lots, the next-generation Nissan Frontier is only months away from debuting, and rumors suggest Ford is nearly ready to reintroduce the Ranger to the U.S. market. Even Tesla and Mercedes are getting into the game before the decade’s end.

These powertrain improvements will centrally help the drivability and efficiency of the gas-powered pickup. Combined with the potent 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel, the 2017 Colorado should post some impressive fuel economy numbers across the model lineup.

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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
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.

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