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Is the Diesel Chevrolet Colorado Good Enough to Buy?

In the automotive world, focus on sustainability clearly remains a priority in new cars and technologies. From electric cars to fuel efficiency, vehicle manufacturers are continuously looking for ways to improve the environmental footprint of their cars and impress customers.

In the world of trucks, one important tool that manufacturers are bringing to bear is the option for diesel engines. One vehicle that has received attention in this arena is the Chevrolet Colorado, which offers a diesel engine.  Read on to decide whether this upgrade is worth the money.

The Colorado’s diesel engine

2018 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel
2018 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel | Chevrolet

The standard engine in the Chevy Colorado is a 2.5 L 4-cylinder engine, offering 200 horsepower and 3,500-lb towing capability. The standard engine will give you 20 MPG for city driving and 26 MPG for highway driving. The Colorado also offers a diesel engine option – the Duramax 2.8L turbo-diesel engine.

The Duramax is a GM-exclusive engine that offers:

  • 369 lb-ft of torque
  • 181 horsepower
  • 7,700-lb towing capability
  • 30 MPG for highway driving

Chevy touts the 30MPG highway-driving statistic as best-in-class, and it is important to note that this statistic is based on the 2WD model. Chevy’s website also claims that a Colorado outfitted with the Duramax engine is the most fuel-efficient midsize pickup truck on the highway.  The Colorado is tailored to maximize the fuel efficiency of the Duramax engine by including exhaust-gas recirculation and diesel exhaust fluid injection.

Adding the Duramax diesel engine certainly affects the price tag of the Colorado. Opting to include the Duramax engine will increase the cost of the vehicle by up to $10,000.

Is it worth it?

2018 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel
2018 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel | Chevrolet

Fuel efficiency

In order to justify a $10,000 increase in cost, it is important to take stock of the potential benefits of the upgraded engine. The most obvious benefit is the improved fuel efficiency for highway driving. The Duramax will get you an addition 4 MPG for highway driving, which means you will need to do a substantial amount of highway driving to recoup the $10,000 cost. 

Reducing it down to simple math, let’s assume that you drive 10,000 highway miles a year and that gas costs $3.00/gallon. The Duramax will require approximately 333.33 gallons to cover this distance, while the standard option will require 416.66. 

That makes a difference of approximately 83 gallons, resulting in a savings of $249/year. If you are banking on fuel savings along making up the difference for the diesel engine, you either need to be driving a large amount of miles of plan to stick with your Colorado for many years.

2018 Chevrolet Colorado
2018 Chevrolet Colorado | Chevrolet

Improved towing

Another benefit of the Duramax diesel is its towing ability. The 7,700 towing capacity more than doubles the 3,500-lb of towing capability available with the standard engine. While it is much harder to put a dollar value on this improvement, it will certainly bring huge value for drivers who have significant towing needs. Being able to two up to 7,700 helps drivers avoid rentals to accomplish their towing demands.

Easy maintenance

Vehicles with a diesel engine can be easier to maintain than their non-diesel counterparts. They have no spark plugs or distributors, which means they don’t need ignition tune-ups.

The answer: It depends

As with most things, whether it makes sense to opt for the Duramax diesel engine in a Chevy Colorado will depend on your circumstances. How many highway miles do you drive a year? Do you have significant towing requirements for your vehicle?

At the end of the day, studies have found that the total cost of ownership for diesel vehicles is often much less than their petrol counterparts, ranging from $2,000 to $7,000 in savings over three-to-five years. The main cost drivers are slower depreciation of the vehicles and lower fuel costs.