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There is no question that the introduction of GM’s redesigned midsize pickups made a splash in the segment, attracting customers back to smaller trucks.

And not just GM is benefitting. The entire U.S. midsize pickup segment is up about 49 percent year-over-year in 2015, a kickstart that began when the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon came to town.

But even though GM’s trucks lay claim to segment-best towing, payload and fuel economy numbers, the Colorado and Canyon combined still haven’t outsold the Toyota Tacoma in any single month since they returned. GM is surely hoping that the introduction of the segment’s only small diesel engine will help turn that tide with the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel.

The engine in question is a 2.8-liter Duramax diesel that is built in Thailand and is already fitted in international versions of the truck. It cranks out 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 rpm here in the U.S. That’s more twist than what is found in the Silverado V6 and just 14 lb-ft shy of what’s found in the 5.3-liter V8 from Chevy’s half-tons. It also outclasses its biggest rival, the V6-powered Tacoma, by 104 lb-ft, clearly setting itself apart.

If you’re interested in my thoughts on the interior, bed or other facets of this truck, check out one of my many reviews on the gas-powered Colorado or Canyon. The reason you’re here is the diesel, so let’s talk diesel.

The Diesel Difference


There are a few differences between the diesel truck and its gas-powered brethren, most of which are geared towards towing. Every single diesel-powered GM midsize comes fitted with the Z82 trailering package, which includes an integrated trailer brake controller, a driver selectable diesel exhaust brake, and a hitch.

Maximum pulling power is capped at 7,700 pounds, a full 700 more than the V6-powered truck.

The Colorado and Canyon have been lauded for their refinement, though a good way to ruin NVH is to introduce a diesel engine. GM knows that North American customers can be sensitive about diesel engine noise and roughness, so it spent extra time here in the U.S. to make sure the powertrain is smooth and the interior is quiet. And it worked.

A centrifugal pendulum absorber, a smart bit of engineering included in the U.S. truck’s six-speed automatic transmission, helps to manage torque fluctuation and keeps the power coming from this little torque-monster nice and smooth. It uses a set of springs to damp the power coming from the driveshaft, giving the transmission a moment to catch up, rather than sending all of its power straight to the wheels all at once.

Interior noise is nicely muted, with only the faintest diesel rumble penetrating the cab. From the exterior, the diesel is clearly pronounced.

Despite a slight weight gain, there is no noticeable difference in the ride and handling of the diesel pickup either, which is a good thing. This small truck continues to be easy to drive, with decent steering feel that errs on the side of comfort, but still lets just enough feedback through to your hands to let you know what the wheels are doing.

The suspension setup remains comfortable, riding pretty smooth over rough roads.

That Diesel!

And surprise, surprise; power from this diesel engine is fantastic. With all of the torque coming on at just 2,000 rpm, this little engine pulls with confidence and strength. It does exhibit some typical diesel traits, like losing some power in the top end, but by the time it runs out of juice, you’re already at highway speed. There’s also a slight lag off the line while the turbo spools.

A 3.42 rear axle is fitted to every diesel-powered Colorado and Canyon, a play by GM to pick up some fuel economy numbers. On a trip from Los Angeles to just north of Santa Barbara, a total of about 130 miles, we managed an average of 34 mpg and that includes sitting through dreadful L.A. rush hour. Best of all, with the cruise control set at 65 mph and a flat road, it’s not uncommon to see the readout hit 40 mpg on occasion.

Around town, we were seeing fuel economy in the low 20s, which means that with a good mix of driving, you’d probably manage an average of 30 mpg, setting itself as one of the strongest selling points for this configuration.

Trailer Time

Where the fuel economy and the engine really shines is when this engine is under load with a trailer hooked up.

Having pulled a lot of trailers with a Canyon V6, I can tell you that this diesel just owns the weight without breaking a sweat, while the gas engine lives its life in the high revs trying to keep up with big trailers because it makes peak torque right at its redline. The addition of the diesel exhaust brake ...
For the rest of this story, 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel Review please visit AutoGuide.com.
 

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The Canyon/Colorado are just too big to be a 'compact' truck. I guess they re more 'midsize'.

The smaller Ranger is more of the right size for a 'compact' pick-up.

 

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View attachment 21026

I don't think the ranger is that much smaller, if at all than the Canyon/Colorado.
Yes, it's only slightly smaller.
I'll post the dimensions again (in inches) for comparison.

2016 Ford Ranger
Length: 207.8 in w/o rear bumper (210.8 in with rear bumper)
Width: 72.8 in
Height: 71.7 in
Wheelbase: 126.8 in

For comparison:
USDM Chevy Colorado
Length: 212.7 in w/o rear bumper
Width: 74.2 in
Height: 70.6 in
Wheelbase: 128.3 in


I mentioned this a couple of times before, the New near-global Ranger is about the same size as the Explorer Sport Trac, but with a shorter wheelbase.
2010 Explorer Sport Trac
Length: 210.2 in
Width: 73.7 in
Height: 71.6 in
Wheelbase: 130.5 in

 

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GM showed some serious gumption by introducing these trucks in the first place, considering that there was some concern that they would cannibalize half-ton sales. The risk was clearly worth it though, given their massive market share gains in the segment.

By the same token, I would expect them to sell every single one of these they make. With a 7600 pound tow rating, it will make towing a snap-and seeing as how many of the owners of compact trucks have toys like off-road motorcycles or personal watercraft, you can be sure they use them for towing.
 

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The Ranger is smaller but heavier than the GM trucks...which is not exactly an advantage. I also sincerely doubt the longterm viability of a Midsize truck which offers cramped interior dimensions and reduced utility while not costing significantly less than the full-size truck. Ford can certainly do much better than GM's somewhat lazy short-term solution and I expect that to be the case with Ranger (which is not going to be the T9 Ranger). There is no question sales are coming from full-size trucks, but GM wants you to think these are actually Crossover customers, which I'm sure is part of the customer base. GM has a fairly weak Crossover portfolio right now, especially compared to Ford, so this works better for them than Ford. And of course, F-150 essentially crushes anything GM is doing with trucks to begin with. Ford and GM are not the same company, by a long shot, and GM's plugging holes by introducing complications.

FWIW, Ranger and Everest have been appearing allot around Ford HQ lately which may be normal, or might be related to some UAW talks...who knows.
 

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I too have seen the Ranger and Everest around Dearborn.

And as much as I would love to spill some rumors out here about what I know, it is just way too early. Sorry for the teaser, but I think Ford has a better idea and they are hard at work on it.

And hopefully they won't price them (yes I said them) out of reach for the average user.
 

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The Ranger is smaller but heavier than the GM trucks...which is not exactly an advantage. I also sincerely doubt the longterm viability of a Midsize truck which offers cramped interior dimensions and reduced utility while not costing significantly less than the full-size truck. Ford can certainly do much better than GM's somewhat lazy short-term solution and I expect that to be the case with Ranger (which is not going to be the T9 Ranger). There is no question sales are coming from full-size trucks, but GM wants you to think these are actually Crossover customers, which I'm sure is part of the customer base. GM has a fairly weak Crossover portfolio right now, especially compared to Ford, so this works better for them than Ford. And of course, F-150 essentially crushes anything GM is doing with trucks to begin with. Ford and GM are not the same company, by a long shot, and GM's plugging holes by introducing complications.

FWIW, Ranger and Everest have been appearing allot around Ford HQ lately which may be normal, or might be related to some UAW talks...who knows.
I'm not sure how a comprehensive overhaul of a two year-old platform and engine for NA constitutes laziness on GM's part, although I concede that the segment was stagnant. As an example of this, I cite C/D's November issue, where the V6 Colorado ran away and hid from the facelifted Tacoma. A proper thrashing it was-27 points. The final nail in the coffin for any accusations of laziness on GM's parr is the Diesel engine itself. It's hard to say they're lazy when they're offering a powertrain that hasn't existed in this segment here in possibly ever.

On the other hand, it's quite easy to point fingers at the likes of Honda or Ford for lacking ambition to keep pushing forward in this segment, or at least not beating GM to the punch. Future products are all well and good. But GM is selling these as fast as they can make them today.
 
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