Ever since General Motors announced that the Chevy Colorado and its cousin, the GMC Canyon, would be making their way to the U.S. market in fall of 2014, they have claimed that the pair of pickups will “redefine the mid-size truck.” At first I took the statement with a grain of salt as just about every automaker boasts that their new offerings will indefinitely “change the game” or “redefine the segment,” but just this morning, GM released the official 2015 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon fuel economy ratings and it’s now clear to see that their segment-redefining proclamation rings true.
That’s not to say that the Colorado or the Canyon are “changing the game” entirely, however.
Official 2015 Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon Fuel Economy Ratings
When equipped with the 3.6-liter V6 engine—which GM expects to be the top option—the Colorado and Canyon will be able to achieve ratings of 18 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway for a combined rating of 21 mpg. The ratings apply to two-wheel drive models, but somewhat surprisingly, they’re not far off from those produced by those configured with four-wheel drive. With all four wheels at work, both of the pickups are rated at 17 mpg in city driving and 24 mpg on the highway for a combined 20 mpg rating.
Considering the fact that the two-wheel drive variations of the Toyota Tacoma—which is currently the king of the class—is only able to pull in ratings of 17 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, the numbers of the Colorado and the Canyon seem undoubtedly impressive. The ratings are not only higher than those of the Tacoma but of the Nissan Frontier—another heavy-hitter in the segment—as well.
In fact, the estimated ratings of the 3.6-liter V6 are even competitive with the four-cylinder-equipped models of both the Tacoma and the Frontier, which have combined ratings of 23 mpg and 21 mpg respectively. Official fuel economy ratings for the 2.5-liter four-cylinder that will come standard in both the Colorado and Canyon have yet to be announced, but considering that the engine will fire on two fewer cylinders and will displace nearly a full liter less than the V6 powertrain, the combined rating of the four-cylinder will more than likely surpass the 21 mpg estimate of the six-cylinder.
So, if the ratings are among the best in the class, what, then, is the issue? Well, when you step outside of the mid-size truck segment and take a look at the economy estimations on a broader scale, it’s immediately apparent that the ratings of the Colorado and the Canyon are middle-of-the-road at best.
In even just the past year there has been a massive push for efficiency in the full-size pickup segment. Chevy refined their engines and introduced a slew of new technologies to them, Ram brought a diesel engine into the mix and Ford went aluminum. All of the efforts either have, or are expected to, significantly improve fuel economy of the half-ton offerings.
With power directed exclusively to the rear wheels, the 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V6 of the Silverado 1500 is able to travel up to 18 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. The ratings are eerily similar to the Colorado which on average, weighs about 880 to 1,400 pounds less than the full-size pickups currently on the market. Official ratings of the 2015 Ford F-150 haven’t been announced yet, but as the aluminum body will cut the overall weight of the best-selling pickup by roughly 700 pounds, it will likely exceed the 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway ratings achieved by previous generation models.
The tight gap in efficiency is a bit too close for comfort, especially when you consider that the other full-size pickups on the market are able to deliver a more attractive set of capabilities. That’s especially true for the Silverado 1500, which is able to do quite a bit more than the Colorado and the Canyon. It boasts a more impressive power output, as well as a maximum towing capacity that is roughly 5,000 pounds above what the Colorado and Canyon can pull. With the smaller size of the mid-size trucks the lack of power is justified, but the reason as to why the efficiency ratings aren’t more impressive still remains a mystery.
This is not to say that fuel economy estimates are the only factor in determining whether or not a car or truck revolutionizes the industry. The Colorado and Canyon are set to come stocked with a slew of available new features such as the 4G LTE hotspot that continues to make its way into all of the new 2015 Chevy models, but regardless of what comes standard or available in either of the mid-size trucks, if you ask me, GM’s claim that their set of new trucks will redefine the segment is about one year premature.
According to the automaker, a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder Duramax diesel will be coming to both the Colorado and the Canyon, but unfortunately, it won’t be an option until next year. This is what I’m talking about. This is what will redefine the segment. Neither the Tacoma or the Frontier currently offer a diesel option, and although Nissan has suggested that the Frontier may soon get a Cummins to complement the one found beneath the hood of the 2015 Nissan Titan, the diesel-powered Frontier is still just in the conceptual stages.
On top of being the first to bring a diesel to the nose of a mid-size truck, GM is pushing for a highway fuel economy rating of 30 mpg for the diesel four-banger. The official ratings aren’t likely to be confirmed until sometime next year, but if they’re anything like the automaker is hoping for, there’s no arguing that the Colorado and the Canyon will have a fighting chance at dethroning both the Tacoma and the Frontier.
In short, based on the fuel economy ratings alone, it’s clear that the Colorado and Canyon hold an advantage over their mid-size competitors, and while that can technically be translated to say that they are redefining the segment, in all honesty, neither of the pickups contain anything that we haven’t seen before.
Next year, however, when the Duramax diesel option arrives and makes the Colorado and Canyon the first mid-size trucks to equip a diesel, I will have no problems agreeing with GM’s game-changing claims.