2017 Chevrolet Colorado Features New V-6, Eight-Speed Auto
More Power, Extra Gears to Help With Performance and Efficiency
The 2017 Chevrolet Colorado is getting a new V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission as a powertrain option, offering extra power and a wider gear ratio spread for improved performance.
The new engine, which displaces the same 3.6 liters as the current V-6, is the second generation of GM’s DOHC architecture. For the first time in a Colorado, Active Fuel Management makes an appearance on the new V-6. GM’s cylinder deactivation system will shut down two cylinders at light load, turning the Colorado into an efficient V-4 engine when power isn’t needed. Furthermore, improved variable valve timing and optimized direct injection provide better throttle response and performance, and GM claims the engine will feel more muscular when accelerating or towing. A slightly higher output backs up that claim, as the engine produces 308 hp and 275 lb-ft (up from 305 hp and 269 lb-ft in the 2016 Colorado V-6).
Just as important as the next-generation engine is GM’s first application of an eight-speed automatic to its midsize pickup. Improving on the six-speed auto currently seen in the Colorado, the eight-speed has a wider gear ratio spread (7.0, up from 6.0), with a lower first-gear ratio for snappier throttle response and a higher axle ratio for relaxed freeway cruising. The new 8L45 transmission weighs somewhat less than the 8L90 found in the Chevrolet Silverado, so the gearbox is suitably optimized for the Colorado’s lighter-duty task list. The transmission also uses advanced materials, meaning the 2017 Colorado weighs pretty much the same as the 2016.
That all sounds very well and good, and we hope GM can deliver on the promise of a more responsive pickup. We appreciated the 2015 Colorado we tested for the Pickup Truck of the Year award, but the engine felt a little flat-footed while towing or climbing grades. We had to dig into the accelerator pedal to prompt a reluctant downshift, which then happened very suddenly and aggressively once the powertrain electronics got our message. That was our only complaint on an otherwise pleasant midsize pickup, so if the new eight-speed auto plays nice with the torquier 3.6L V-6, Chevrolet’s continued popularity with midsize customers should be a given.
We presume these updates will apply to the 2017 GMC Canyon as well. There’s no word on if the new powertrain will add any green to the Colorado’s price, but those details should be available as the 2017 Colorado hits dealers, sometime in the final quarter of this year.
Now, how about an eight-speed/2.8L Duramax combo for the pickups?