A rumor is in the wind about GM’s plan to re-engineer the Chevrolet Colorado and its corporate sibling the GMC Canyon for 2023. Over the past few years, the Colorado has been a strong seller for buyers in the midsize truck market, especially the rough-and-ready ZR2 model that holds its own with the crowd-pleasing Ford F-150 Raptor. In 2018, 134,842 Colorados were sold in the U.S., second only to the sale of 245,659 Toyota Tacomas in the same market category.
Why This News Matters to Chevy Colorado Lovers
Dubbed the Swiss Army Truck by Car and Driver, the second-generation Colorado is a great choice for truck buyers who want a tough, versatile pickup that has good acceleration yet is fuel-efficient. Since its introduction in 2012, GM has only made minor changes to the Colorado each year, with the exception of 2015 when a few more substantial refinements were made. In that model year, the body styling was modernized and the truck was given a more upright stance. The interior of the 2015 Colorado boasted a larger and improved center stack that featured more tech gadgets. GM also simplified the buyer’s choice to two powertrains instead of three in previous years.
When compared to a complete redesign that many automakers implement every 10 model years or so, these refinements are not that significant. While most Colorado owners seem to be happy with their choice, the Colorado will be in the time window for a design overhaul by 2023. But it’s unclear how much of an overhaul GM will do.
A Plan that Began and Ended in Brazil
According to Muscle Cars & Trucks, anonymous sources claimed that GM initially planned to develop the new Colorado in Brazil. But the recent unpredictability of South American markets has forced the automaker to abandon this plan, despite its 95-year history of manufacturing in the region. The truck’s proposed GM 32xx platform, a generational step up from the current 31xx platform, has also been scrapped in the process.
Evolutionary Instead of Revolutionary?
In place of its original plan, the word is that General Motors hopes to launch a new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon during or possibly after 2023 using a 31xx-2 platform. GM’s reluctance to step up to the 32xx platform signals progressive changes in the current platform instead of any radical new changes. The auto manufacturer has been using the GM 31xx platform for the second-generation Colorado and Canyon since 2012.
GM has succeeded in gradually evolving other models in its line, so there is no reason to believe that it would handle the Colorado differently. Chevrolet has made steady, less drastic changes in its Corvette (C5-C7) model, while Dodge has refined both the Charger and the Challenger every one or two years. This slower approach to updating means that GM can stay aligned with current safety regulations as well as staying responsive to market demands.
Unifying the Platform: The Colorado Goes Global
The next-generation Colorado with 31xx-2 architecture is expected to be sold in both domestic and international markets, according to the rumor. Right now, GM sells two versions of the Colorado: the North American Chevrolet Colorado and the Chevrolet Colorado for international markets such as Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia, South America, and the Middle East. The versions have different styling, interiors, and powertrain components but do share the same 31xx platform. GM would like to merge the two versions into one.
What this means is that it is very likely a Chicago buyer who purchases a new GM Colorado in the year 2023 will own the same or very similar truck as a buyer in Canberra or Bangkok or anywhere else in the world. GM’s move to unify the Colorado platform would enable the automaker to reduce manufacturing costs and buckle down in the face of an unreliable market.
An Earlier Hint of GM’s Plan
One clue as to where GM seemed to be heading with the idea of a global Chevrolet Colorado emerged just last year in the plans for the next generation of the Holden Colorado, the international model of the truck that has Australian rebadging. In May 2018, 4X4 Australia reported that a larger, longer Holden Colorado would be developed for the global market. In the article, the Holden engineering team indicated that the Chevrolet Colorado and the Holden version will have many more design features in common in the future than previously, suggesting that a unified platform was in the works for the truck.
This announcement is especially significant because Holden and Izusu worked in a joint venture to produce the Izusu D-Max and the Holden Colorado on the same platform under the GM umbrella beginning in 2002. The partnership was dissolved in 2016, and both GM and Holden have been moving away from the influence of Izusu since that time. GM, in particular, benefited from this break-up, because it was paying for the development of two separate trucks.
Beyond the Rumors, What’s Next?
It’s difficult to say whether GM will follow through on its plan for the next-generation, single-platform Chevrolet Colorado in the reported timeframe. But because GM has been working on a strategy to unify all body-on-frame models since 2014 to save money and has a history of making conservative changes in the re-engineering process, it would come as no surprise that the rumor might just become reality in 2023. While Chevy truck fans wait for the new Colorado for the next four years, the rest of us can dream about a proposed rebooted Hummer as an SUV from GM in the meantime.
All images provided by the manufacturer unless otherwise noted.