No disrespect against the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, but neither truck has changed substantially for the better part of a decade. With the discontinuation of the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota, and the temporary pause of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, the segment has grown a little stale. But General Motors looks like it's ready to give both the Tacoma and Frontier a run for their money with the new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Below are some of the features we'd like to see on the new trucks. The official reveal of the 2015 Colorado will happen this week. Check back to see how close we are.
Better Fuel Economy
The previous-generation Colorado and Canyon were actually not that bad in terms of fuel economy, considering their four-speed automatic and five-speed manual transmissions. As far as the current Tacoma and Frontier, neither is especially known for fuel efficiency. Many full-size models with substantially higher capabilities deliver better fuel economy than the midsizers, a sad testament to how many resources have been committed to the full-size segment, some would say to the detriment of the midsize trucks. We're hoping the new Colorado will be substantially more fuel-efficient than the Toyota or Nissan, with all available engines, which brings us to our next point.
Diesel Engine Option
We've harped on this one for so long, you're probably tired of hearing it. But based on the feedback from our readers, you feel much the same way. The global Colorado is offered with a 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel I-4. In its latest update, power was increased to 197 hp and 369 lb-ft for the global models. Realistically, we know those numbers will probably come down slightly for U.S. emissions compliance, but we're still expecting more than 185 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, a robust number for a midsize truck. What would be icing on the cake is a 30-mpg highway rating, at least on the 4x2 model.
Manual Transmission Availability
Each year, we compile a list of trucks and SUVs that offer a manual transmission, and every year, the list gets smaller . The traditional advantage of a manual transmission, fuel economy, has largely disappeared with multi-ratio, electronically controlled automatics that can match or surpass the EPA figures of a manual transmission. But there's still nothing quite like the experience of driving a manual-transmission truck, whether big or small. We're hoping at least the entry-level model will get a stick, but in all likelihood, the new Colorado will come slushbox-only across the line.
Call us softies, but we've become spoiled by the refinement in the newer full-size trucks and crossovers. The age of the Frontier and Tacoma shows in their sometimes awkward ergonomics and coarse NVH and ride characteristics. We know trucks are still trucks, and have to make some concessions to comfort for utility, but the bigger trucks have proven that sacrifice can be minimal. We're expecting the new Colorado to raise the refinement bar substantially for the segment, in cabin noise, as well as ergonomics and interface.
Value is a subjective term, but generally, you know it when you see it. We're not expecting the Colorado to undercut the Tacoma or Frontier, but we do expect it to be in the same ballpark for an equivalent model. Even if it gets class-leading fuel economy, and has state-of-the-art technology and bells and whistles, customers won't bite if it's too far beyond what the competition is asking.
True Off-Road Model
We fondly remember the Chevy S-10 ZR2. With its chunky fender flares and beefy off-road tires, it was packed with attitude and attracted a reasonably strong enthusiast and aftermarket following. Chevy has lately leveraged the Z71 pretty heavily across its truck and SUV line. Although it has strong recognition and brand equity, it's more of a trim level than a distinct package. Perhaps a mini-Raptor is too much to hope for, but we'd like to see a more aggressive off-road package or model offered. Might not show up in the first model year, but by year two or three, it could happen.