GM Reveals Next-Generation Colorado; US Prospects Unclear

By Chris Haak

On the eve of the Bangkok International Auto Show, GM has revealed photos and some details of its next-generation Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickup.  The company left open the possibility that the truck could come to the US market eventually, but the likelihood of doing so may be low.  The current Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins are scheduled to go out of production in July 2012 when their Shreveport, LA assembly plant closes its doors.  GM has found the Colorado/Canyon to be slow sellers in the US, where their purchase price and efficiency relative to a larger full-size pickup make them a difficult sell.

Currently, the only compact pickup on the US market is the Ford Ranger.  The other smaller pickups – just the Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma, and the Colorado/Canyon twins – have all grown up to the midsize class.  With the Ranger’s impending demise later in 2011 as its assembly plant closes – and Ford having no plans to launch its new international Ranger in the US – there will be no new compact pickups in the US for sale, unless Mahindra manages to finally launch its star-crossed pickup after years of delays.

While small pickups in the US – particularly now that they’ve grown to midsize – are a tough sell, that is not the case in Thailand.  The Southeast Asian nation, despite being the 50th-largest country in terms of land mass and 21st-largest in terms of population, is the number one largest market in the world for midsize pickup trucks.  That’s why Ford assembles its global Ranger there, and it’s why GM is introducing this lightly-tweaked Colorado there.  GM plans to export the new Colorado to Europe and parts of Southeast Asia.

The truck itself is larger than the outgoing Colorado, and certainly has a much cleaner, more upscale look.  It combines the global Chevrolet horizontal split grille with backswept headlamps.  According to GM, the concept truck is very close to the production vehicle, and it’s easy to see what would likely be toned down or removed for the final production-spec Colorado.  Chief among those items would be the tonneau cover (which gives the truck a Honda Ridgeline-like appearance), large off-road tires on 20 inch wheels, and some of the lighting details.

Inside, there is a dual-cockpit theme in the dash, not unlike what you might see in a Malibu, with the same ice-blue lighting and wraparound effects that you’ll see in the likes of Chevy’s Equinox crossover.  Creature comforts such as digital dual-zone climate control – once unheard-of in small trucks – are present in the Colorado concept.

GM has bestowed the concept Colorado with a 2.8 liter turbodiesel to allow the small(ish) truck to move smartly and efficiently.  One of the chief complaints of the current Colorado/Canyon in the US has been their oddball I-4 and I-5 powertrain choices, though more recent Colorado buyers in the US can thank teh Hummer H3 Alpha for donating the engineering for its optional 5.3 liter V8 to the cause.  The V8 didn’t help fuel economy, but certainly helped torque.

Look for the trucks to go on sale in Thailand later in 2011.  GM plans to release additional details later in the year.  As for its US prospects, although GM hasn’t closed the door officially, it seems pretty unlikely we’ll ever see this truck on these shores.

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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