2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel First Review: Give diesel a chance
There's been a lot of bad news about diesel lately, but we're going to turn the page and spread a little good news in the form of the new 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax. The midsize pickup is now available with a 2.8-liter Duramax 4-cylinder diesel engine in LT and Z71 models, and this new diesel should put the Colorado on every midsize truck buyers' must-shop list.
We've covered the mechanicals of the new Duramax diesel before, but now that we've driven it around the Solvang, California wine country and our own offices, we can safely say this is THE Colorado to get. The 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque come on smoothly and strongly, but remarkably quietly, too. There's not a lot of turbo lag, and the Duramax also lacks a lot of the intake whooshing that seems so common in diesel trucks. Obviously, torque is excellent, as Chevy demonstrated with an off-road course that let us slide around in sand and test the low-speed hill control feature, which uses the brakes to slow the Colorado on long slow grades. On the highway, we were seeing just under 30 mpg on the instant fuel economy meter, which bodes well for future fuel economy numbers once they're published.
More than just torque
But the new Duramax diesel doesn't just expand the capabilities of the Chevy Colorado, it also improves the way the Colorado drives. It's smooth, remarkably so considering 2.8-liter size of this 4-cylinder diesel, and we must assume that the vibration damping Centrifugal Pendulum Vibration Absorber (CPVA) in the 6-speed automatic transmission's torque converter is part technology, and part magic. The transmission shifts smoothly and quickly, and we've already been impressed with the Colorado's smooth and controlled ride and around-town maneuverability.
With diesel emissions the hot topic these days, we should point out that Chevrolet insists the 2016 Colorado Duramax is the cleanest diesel truck engine it has ever made. It uses a specialized exhaust gas recirculation to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, and it went through the same durability testing as the big V8 Duramax diesels used in Chevy's lineup of full-size trucks. It even has an exhaust brake, or what's sometimes called a Jake brake, to help slow the Colorado without using the mechanical brakes.
It's tempting to say that the $3,700 price premium for the 2016 Chevy Colorado Duramax is a shortcoming, but we'd disagree. This isn't just about frugality, it's the top-line engine in the Colorado range. Still you can get into a 2016 Chevy Colorado Duramax for about $31,500. That makes it the least expensive diesel-powered pickup you can buy, and the only midsize diesel, not including the corporate cousin GMC Canyon, which will also get this engine. For best-in-class towing and hauling, smooth power and torque delivery, a refined driving experience, likely best-in-class fuel economy, and all the bells and whistles the LT trim comes with like Apple CarPlay, it's actually kind of a bargain.