GM is pushing its North American midsize trucks into uncharted territory with the addition of a new 2.8-liter four-cylinder diesel that the company says will help its truck twins claim a number of best-in-class stats.
Both the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon will get the new engine, which has been in development for more than eight years. The engine is built in Thailand and is currently available in global versions of the trucks. GM estimates that the U.S. versions of the small four-cylinder diesel will make around 181 HP and 369 lb-ft of torque.
That means the diesel puts out more twist than the 269 lb-ft available from the 3.6-liter V6, and is nearly equivalent to the 383 lb-ft found in the 5.3-liter V8 available in the Silverado and Sierra. More importantly, GM promises that these diesel-powered small trucks will claim best-in-class fuel economy. Something north of 30 mpg is a safe assumption for combined fuel economy.
SEE ALSO: 2015 GMC Canyon Long-Term Review
Towing is clearly a focus for these trucks, as every single diesel-equipped Colorado and Canyon will come with an integrated trailer brake controller and a hitch receiver, a combination that GM promises will be able to provide best-in-class towing numbers.
Many of the engine parts used in the international versions of the truck, such as the the cast iron block, pistons, cylinder heads, and connecting rods are identical, though the two versions aren’t exactly the same. Extreme heat and cold weather conditions were both taken into account for North America, which resulted in a larger cooling fan and ceramic glow plugs. Better operation at high altitude is taken care of by a new variable geometry turbo.
Reducing noise, vibration and harshness was also a priority for the North American market. A new centrifugal pendulum absorber was added to the six-speed automatic transmission to help managed torque fluctuations, keeping power flow smooth.
The last part of the equation is cost. GM says that the diesel will be available on mid-trim crew cab trucks, though a base Work Truck version with a diesel is being considered, mainly for fleet customers. Take rate on the diesel is estimated to be roughly 10 percent of all sales.
The introduction of the Colorado and Canyon seems to have invigorated the entire midsize truck segment, which has grown by 51 percent year-to-date compared to last year. The Toyota Tacoma still leads the segment with a total of 73,000 units sold through May of this year, but GM is not too far behind with 48,000 sold in the same time frame.
Because the models we drove at this preview event were development mules, we aren’t permitted to talk about driving impressions, but stay tuned for our full review coming soon.
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