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Chevrolet's next-gen minitruck

What Should be next for the Colorado?

Chevrolet's next-gen minitruck
Posted July 13 2009 02:06 PM by Brandan 
Filed under: Editorials

SEMA Colorado

 There were some rumors a couple of weeks ago that with Pontiac's Matrix ending production at the GM/Toyota joint venture at the NUMMI factory in California, that GM would seek to build the next generation Colorado there, alongside the Toyota Tacoma. Seems like the rumors were wrong.

Chevrolet Colorado Photoshop

 If I had my way, the 2nd-generation would look more like the Australian version of the Holden Colorado, the one I photshopped a Bow Tie onto on the left, as opposed to the SEMA concept pictured above. I do my fair share of browsing Internet forums to know that I'm not alone in some of my wish lists. Here are the things that I'd change, and what I'd keep the same.

Caution, this is the rambling of a so-called journalist and truck enthusiast, my thoughts are clouded fantasies of a no-compromises truck that will never be. Further, I make guarantee as to the validity of any of my engineering and production-related estimations.

Size: Many people are under the impression that the Colorado is much larger than the S-10 it replaced. It's not. It's definitely closer to the Ford Ranger in size than the Nissan Frontier or Toyota Tacoma, which have both grown into mid-sized trucks. Keep the size the same. In fact, use the same body stamping for the cab and doors for the next-gen trucks, to keep the cost down.

Price: Here's why I'd like the Colorado to keep some of the body stampings. In order for these trucks to stay out of the Silverado's price range, they need to keep some things cheap. By using the same cabs you should remove some of the major costs of tooling for a new model, right?

Interior: Here’s where the Colorado gets a lot of criticism, and rightly so. The interior is boring. For a base model truck, the interior is fine. It’s solid; no squeaks, no rattles, but it’s boring gray plastic. It’s fine on a stripped model like mine, and for work trucks, but on the higher-end trim levels it just doesn’t fit, especially now that we’ve seen GM step up their interiors big time ever since the launch of the GMT-900s. All of their interiors since then have been great. Like the GMT-900s, it would be nice to have two different interiors, but for simplicity’s sake, one rugged work truck interior and the option to upgrade to nicer materials, navigation and leather would be good enough for me.

Engine: I have the 2.9L Atlas 4-cylinder. It was not bad at all when stock, and with an intake and exhaust it’s got plenty of power and gets great fuel mileage. It’s got more power than any base 4-cylinder that I can think of. The problem is that with the Trailblazer and its siblings out of production, the Colorado is the only truck with an Atlas engine, which has got to make them more expensive since volumes are low. This engine will probably be discontinued soon, which is too bad; I’d have liked to see what they’d do with direct injection. Speaking of SIDI (Spark Ignition Direct Injection), the 2.4L SIDI Ecotec would return great fuel economy, but it might not have enough torque for truck use, so maybe a RWD version of the direct 3.0L SIDI V-6 found in the Equinox could be used. Direct injection has to add to cost, but the added volume of putting the engine in more vehicle lines could help offset some of the expense. The 3.7L I-5 could be replaced by the 3.6L SIDI V-6 (288hp and 270 lb-ft. torque) that’s already in RWD applications in cars. Several websites have reported that it will be coming to Colorado/Canyon soon. The next generation of GM V-8s is already in development for the fullsize trucks, using direct injection to improve mileage and power. I can’t help but imagine that a 350hp 5.3L would be a ton of fun in a Colorado.

Suspension: With the Hummer brand leaving GM, the H3 Alpha’s drivetrain would make a great Z71. A 4:1 transfer case, front and rear lockers, and a heavier front axle would make the Colorado much more capable off road. A prerunner version with a rear locker and a long-travel suspension from the factory would also be a good upgrade and allow the Colorado to compete with the Tacoma, which has a ton of travel in stock form. This is Truckin’ magazine after all, so what about the lowered suspension? I really liked the ZQ8’s handling, so don’t fix what isn’t broken there, just do something about the transmission crossmember to keep it from scraping. Tucking it up out of the way would benefit the lowered 2wd guys and the off-road fans. Finally, the wheelwells, both front and rear, need to be opened up to allow for more wheel travel. Again, this is something that lowered and lifted fans will appreciate.

Body: The Australian Holden Colorado is almost there. The front is almost perfect, like a scaled down Tahoe, but like I said before, larger wheelwells would help. I would also like to see wider fenders and bedsides for 4WD models. 'Bagged trucks would appreciate the additional clearance.

Like I said, this has just been the ramplings of a truck fan, feel free to comment and add your thoughts and let me know about all of the things I forgot.

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