The small truck industry in America is about to see a hefty shakeup later this year. That’s when GM will be launching a new Colorado and its twin, the GMC Canyon. Though the trucks be largely the same as the ones we already have, a key difference will set them apart from any other truck in their segment: They’ll be diesel-powered. Granted, the “small truck” label is a bit of a stretch; the new Colorado is bigger than its big brother Silverado was a decade ago. But they’re still a part of the smallest class of truck that currently offered here.
The diesel isn’t exactly news — we’ve known about it since the new Colorado and Canyon were presented, as it’s always been apart of GM’s strategy for the overhaul of the two trucks. Until now though, we didn’t have the stats to back it up: the four-cylinder unit will produce 181 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque, and be available as a $3,730 option on trucks in LT or Z71 trim Crew Cab models with two- or four-wheel drive.
“Simply put, there’s no other midsize truck that can do what Colorado can with its all-new Duramax diesel,” Sandor Piszar, director of Chevrolet Truck Marketing, said in a statement. “Along with greater capability and efficiency, it expands the Colorado lineup to give customers more choices and the capability of exploring more possibilities on and off the road.”
That extra three grand will buy consumers more towing potential (7,700 pounds, up by about 600 pounds over a comparably equipped gasoline V6 model), as well as better fuel economy — though those numbers haven’t yet been revealed.
The Duramax diesel will give GM’s new smaller trucks a strong edge in the segment that, overall, hasn’t seen a whole lot of change in the past decade. Since Ford exited with its Ranger and GM pulled the previous Colorado and Canyon out in 2012, Toyota and Nissan have had the small truck market to themselves, and their offerings have languished as a result: the Tacoma is finally getting its first meaningful overhaul in years, and the Nissan Frontier is a downright dinosaur by automotive standards. Neither offer an alternative powerplant outside of the typical four-cylinder and six-cylinder gas-powered options.
But the diesel option does create some interesting dynamics within GM’s own stable. The Colorado and Canyon twins aren’t really that much smaller than their larger Silverado and Sierra siblings, and the Duramax diesel offers nearly as much torque as the base model V8 — the 5.3 EcoTec, which serves up 383 pound-feet to the diesel’s 369. For those not working on construction sites, farms, ranches, or other load-intensive professions, the case for the larger and more profit-rich full-size pickups looks a little less compelling.
For the diesels, there’s also the question of resale value as well. Diesels the industry over have a better reputation for retaining value over time, and the cost of ownership overall is considerably more favorable. Coupled with better performance where it counts, a small diesel pickup has the potential to send seismic ripples through the so-far sleepy small truck market.
The diesel will also come with some exclusive goodies like a new integrated trailer brake controller, and a ‘smart diesel exhaust brake system’ that will help hone vehicle control and relieve brake wear on steep inclines. The market has been clamoring for a small, suburban diesel truck for some time now; hopefully the Duramax will be the kick it needs for Toyota and Nissan to realize that the potential is there.