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2016 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel First Drive

By on March 29, 2021 0

Posted by Mark Williams | October 8, 2015

Finally, there is a mid-size pickup truck with a factory turbo-diesel option; the two were specially created to work together. And it’s here in the form of the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax.

For the sake of full disclosure, let’s note that we love the Chevy Colorado; after all, we selected the mid-size pickup earlier this year as our Best pickup of 2015. If that gets us a little biased when testing the Colorado with this new powertrain, we’ll own it. But don’t let that deter you from trying out that new little Colorado turbo-diesel when you get the chance. It is one of the most powerful small extractors that we have driven in a long time.

Turbodiesel will only be offered in Crew Cab configurations on the LT and Z71 trim levels. However, you’ll be able to choose between two or four-wheel drive with the long-bed (6ft, 2in) or short-bed (5ft, 2in) wheelbase options.

Compared to a choice of a similarly equipped 3.6-liter V6 gasoline engine, the Duramax Colorado will cost $ 3,730 more. It will take some midsize truck buyers to breathe deeply. So, we’re going to discuss what this cost offers in terms of the features included in that extra cost, and what kind of fuel economy and enhanced capabilities you’ll get in return. Let’s break it down.

What you get

By opting for the new Duramax 2.8-liter DOHC 16-valve turbodiesel – rated at 181 horsepower at 3,400 rpm and powerful 369 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm – the Colorado will come standard with the towing package, an integrated trailer brake controller, a unique tachometer, a special diesel exhaust fluid screen in the information center to display the fluid level, a dedicated exhaust brake button combined with tow / haul switch, separate 5.5 gallon DEF tank, unique diesel exhaust system and special vibration absorption technology in the torque converter.

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When you consider that all of that extra technology comes with better towing capacity – that’s just the diesel option with a 7,700-pound towing capacity – and overall performance, that price tag might not seem that high to people. looking to get good value for money with a smaller work truck. Prices for the 2016 Colorado with turbodiesel will range from $ 33,000 to $ 45,000.

On our first chance to get behind the wheel, we were able to do a bit of towing and highway cruising, as well as up and down coastal mountain canyons where we took full advantage of Baby Duramax’s performance capabilities. Here is what we found.

How it rolls

The Duramax engine adds just under 250 pounds of extra weight in Colorado, with the actual total average pickup weight likely to be around 4,700 pounds. Add an additional 15 pounds for all other support tech in the exhaust and final 40 pounds for a full tank of DEF, and you can see there’s a bit more weight than expected for this engine option. But that’s not exactly a bad thing.

From the start, GM knew that this engine was going to fit into this new pickup; engineers didn’t let it fall into a frame built for other engines. So this torquey engine, which delivers 100 lb-ft more torque (with a flatter torque curve) than the gasoline engine option with two more cylinders, is a perfect match for the six-speed automatic transmission. Integration engineers obviously spent a lot of time working with the engine controls to ensure that the engine’s power curve matched the transmission’s shift commands.

Hard starts are loud and immediate, thanks to Honeywell’s variable geometry, quick-response turbocharger. The overall feel of launches and races at full throttle is as good as its gasoline-powered sibling, if not better. We were lucky enough to drive the mid-size diesel on twisty country roads and found the extra front weight and quick response throttle a lot of fun to drive. We dived in and out of the corners with a little more control and precision than in the past. We found ourselves thinking that if Chevrolet lowered the suspension a bit, put on high performance street tires and a bigger steering wheel, it could have the first midsize performance sport truck worth its weight in gold.

We were also fortunate enough to drive through congested city streets, hit quite a few traffic lights, as well as cruising a two-lane highway at a speed of 65-70mph. During our impromptu 58 mile test route (we admittedly ran a bit on the “enthusiastic” side), we averaged a combined 33.5 mpg with the air conditioning on, windows open, and just one. adult passenger in a vacuum Crew cab 4×2 Colorado LT.

Accelerating on our stretches of highway offered nominal diesel sound – although you always know you’re driving a diesel on the highway and at idle – and a quick, responsive passing personality when needed.

Exhaust brake, towing

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The exhaust brake combined with tow / haul mode works well in this small pickup. When the brake is engaged, the engine and computer controls provide a more aggressive shifting pattern when accelerating, holding each gear longer before upshifting. It also provided more control when idling, downshifting quickly and holding gears for longer. Plus, the setup provides a more aggressive grade braking algorithm that GM engineers borrowed from the heavy-duty Silverado’s exhaust brake setup. The Colorado diesel’s ability to combine the exhaust brake with cruise control to provide better engine braking downhill when towing a large trailer or hauling a heavy payload works just like in the Silverado 3500 dualie with the 6.6-liter Duramax V8.

During our test drive we pulled out a properly hitched 3,800 pound horse trailer and found the quality braking to be exceptional, and in some cases even better than what we remembered from the last Silverado HD dualie we drove. with a monster trailer. The added control and the engine’s ability to handle weight at different rpm’s depending on our comforting cruise control setting allowed us to relax enough on our hilly highway cruising.

The biggest surprise we had while driving this new turbo-diesel pickup was the smoothness of the line, especially between 1st and 2nd gears as well as between 2nd and 3rd gear changes, this which is generally a difficult thing to modulate in an engine producing so much torque. When you have a lot of torque, it can be difficult for the computer to handle gear changes without creating strong impacts.

New transmission technology

To address possible gear shifting issues, GM incorporated a centrifugal pendulum vibration damper used on some European luxury diesel cars. It is a rotating disc that sits inside the torque converter and has a series of springs mounted on the disc. The mass of the spring vibrates in a direction opposite to any torsional vibration that might be transferred through the drivetrain when shifting gears, choking off a fair amount of vibrational energy.

We were particularly impressed with the shifting feel when manually changing gears with the toggle button mounted on the stick, as well as letting Drive mode make the decisions. The small diesel engine tachometer goes up to 5,000 RPM and doesn’t seem to worry about being in the 3,500-4,000 RPM range when downshifting quickly to maintain speed with a trailer on a downhill stretch of road. This was the only time we were aware of excessive engine noise entering the cabin with a small amount of floor vibration. Colorado diesel comes standard with hill start assist and hill descent control.


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The Z71 Trail Boss set turned out to be one of Colorado’s most popular options at this media event. The set includes Goodyear Wrangler DuraTec mud tires, LED bed light bar and headlamps, fender flares and spray-on bedliner. It might not seem like much, but it looks pretty cool.

This set has created one of the funniest and most balanced pickups we’ve ever driven. It offered a massive 7,700-pound towing capacity, a smooth and relatively quiet ride on the freeway (where we had no trouble following and steering traffic), and it had the appearance of a solid player. All Terrain. We were lucky enough to take the Trail Boss to a ranch where we did a few up and downs in the sand, crossing several peaks and valleys. While the Trail Boss doesn’t offer any additional suspension or upgrades, the more aggressive tires and flexible four-wheel drive system (two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, 4-Up and 4-Down) allowed us to unpleasant terrain that we might find. Whether it’s towing, hitting freeways to get to the trail, digging in loose sand, or climbing rocky slopes, our Colorado Trail Boss barely broke a sweat.


Pricing the 2016 Colorado with the Duramax engine will be an issue for some mid-size truck buyers, but there is value here. If you want more pulling power, better fuel economy, and a sportier driving experience, this little diesel in this midsize player could be the most well-balanced, fun-loving pickup we’ve ever had. led. We hope Toyota is watching closely.

Manufacturer images

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