2017 Chevrolet Colorado Gets New V-6 & Eight-Speed Auto
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.
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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.