Spied! U.S.-Spec Colorado Seen Testing

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We just got these spy shots lat last week from our friends who make a pretty good living tracking down and getting pictures of prototype, pre-production test units, and these are the notes they sent along. From what we're hearing, the new Chevy Colorado is likely to be a 2015 model, but we can always hope it will get here sooner. For now, we know GM will have its hands full with the coming 2014 Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra half-tons. 

Here's what Chris Doane Automotive wrote us: 

When the export-only, 2012 Chevy Colorado made its debut in the fall of 2011 in Thailand, a not-so-small portion of American truck buyers were miffed. With dwindling and dated midsize truck offerings in the current U.S. market, pickup customers wanted a chance to buy the new Colorado.

Fortunately, GM has heard their pleas, and we've just spied a pair of U.S.-spec Chevy Colorado crew cab pickup mules out on their first drive in Southeast Michigan, testing against a Toyota Tacoma.

Caught at the very end of last week, our run-in with the American Colorado was much too brief. In those few seconds, we still got a pretty good look before the two trucks disappeared through a gate and into a GM facility. Even though time did not allow for much of a view inside the new Colorado, one important thing we did see about the interior is that this Colorado test vehicle is lefthand-drive.

On the outside, it appears the greenhouse and the doors on the Colorado won't change much from the export model. We've heard the U.S. Colorado will get updated front and rear ends, with the front of this prototype appearing a little more upright and squared off than the current, export model.

That said, at least one source informed us that it was still quite early in the development process for the U.S. Colorado, and that these mules might not be wearing all the final, U.S.-specific sheet metal.

In Asia, the Colorado is sold only with diesel motors. That won't be the case in the U.S. Here, we're hearing it will get a 3.6-liter V-6, and a smaller, four-cylinder for the entry-level model. That four-banger could be the 2.0-liter turbo from Cadillac ATS, or the 2.5-liter from the Malibu. And it would be nice if a four-cylinder turbo-diesel could also be offered.

We've also been told by one of our sources that GMC fans will be happy to hear that a Canyon pickup is also said to be in the works, and quite differentiated from the Chevy.

While most were hoping for the new Colorado to go on sale in 2013, that's probably too much to hope for. Since this new Colorado was never originally intended for the U.S. market, quite a bit of engineering work needs to be done to update it for U.S. federal standards and regulations.

As reported earlier, the factory chosen to build the U.S. Colorado is GM's Wentzville, Missouri, plant. Since this plant currently builds the Chevy Express and GMC Savana full-size vans, it will require extensive retooling and expansion to build the Colorado. GM plans to spend $380 million to do just that.

The end result of the needed vehicle engineering, and plant prep, is that the U.S. Colorado likely won't be able to start down the line until very late in 2013 or early 2014. This could push the Colorado to a 2015 model year vehicle.

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I hope you get the 2.8 diesel, as its very torquey. They cost about the same a V6 and give much better fuel economy.

That rear axle doesn't look like it belongs in that truck, maybe that's why the shock absorbers appear all wrong.

They also come as hi riders and sit the same as a NA pickup in 2WD, not like previous "imported" trucks.

Oxi didn't retire after all!

Some of you are correct about the low hanging frame. At least GM has a midsize entry into the NA market Lou I don't disagree that you might need the bigger F-150. One sizes does not fit everyone's needs. Colin there is absolutely nothing wrong with a Tacoma that would be high on my list too along with the Frontier. I keep my vehicles for more than 10 years. I have a 99 S-10 as well going on 14 years that looks new and runs like new. Nothing wrong with getting your moneys worth but some would argue that this is why the small truck market is disappearing and maybe they are right there might not be enough incentive to invest in smaller trucks. You could use that argument on anything except that they already designed the Colorado for Asia and the rest of the World so there are no new development costs just production and marketing costs. I think the future half ton full size trucks will be about the size of the current midsize retaining the bigger bed sizes and the midsize will be about the size of the 90s compact trucks. That is my opinion and it could be wrong but with future fuel standards for trucks nearing there will be a lot of changes. Yes Lou my Isuzu has more hp than most 80s and 90s full size but the manufacturers all have been caught up in the power wars as well as upsizing. The future for trucks will be challenging but interesting.

Hey oxi,

If you are reading this, give us your opinion on this truck. Unlike Lou, many of us know you are not just a Toyota fan, but an expert in off-roading and small trucks.

Big Al from OZ The few that claim they would buy a diesel mid-size pickup are talking 'used' pickups. Diesels cost 1000s more in NA and new truck buyers won't be lining up to take that kind of hit. Part of the problem is, you have to completely shut down the assembly line to switch to diesels.

The TDI Jetta is $5,000 option, but they throw in a sunroof and lots of other gadgets to make you feel better. 8 to $10K more for full-size diesel pickups.

That kind of money buys a lot of unleaded and hell, if you're towing anywhere near a mid-sizer's max tow rating on a repeated basis, you'd save yourself a lot of greef by going full-size.

@DenverMike - you have a good point. I put a v8 in a first gen ranger. Having the power to pull is very different from being able to tow. Oxi is the exception to the rule, he doesn't play by the same laws of physics the rest of us do...

I agree with you that diesel are more expensive.

The 4 cylinders are much cheaper especially the commercial style engines. In Australia the Navara V6 diesel has a huge premium over the 4 cylinder diesel. The VW Amarok is very expensive and it runs a more refined car like diesel.

But as changes occur to your CAFE regulations diesels will become more attractive.

In 2016 Euro VI and USD will be very similar. So there might be some kind of consensus between countries.

Anyway its good to see some new mid size trucks in NA.

@Jeff S - I fully agree that one size does not fit all. I am just concerned with the "size that fits me". If it doesn't exist, then one must compromise. I do believe that the size and HP wars need to end. I shouldn't complain since my current truck is much heavier, safer, and considerably more powerful than my old 3/4 ton and gets about 7 mpg better highway fuel economy. I'd be willing to sacrifice some HP for better fuel economy. I helped out a friend a while back and got roped into hauling 2100 lb of landscaping aggregate. He lived 5 miles away but there was a very steep switchback onto the highway. I was amazed at how easy my truck pulled up that hill. I never went much over 3,500 rpm on the climb.
I'd like to see a true compact truck as there isn't a huge difference between the #1 Tacoma and full sized truck. The "globals" do seem to be getting bigger as well.

I figured they would change the front for the US colorados. Its hard to tell but could be missing bedside panels, may a shortage in parts for now, so they could be useing a fullsize truck rear axel or maybe even a old colorado truck axel. So they could test different rear axel gearing for mpg, new transmission, or something like that.

This should make for some interesting reading.

It wouldn't be hard for GM to drop this in as they are already doing it.


@Lou-Agreed that is my opinion as well. I try to find as close to what I need and want not just in trucks but in anything. I sometimes get frustrated with the choices and sometimes a product that I really like is no longer available. I try to just find the closest thing I can. If I had to replace what I have I will find the closest to what I need and not worry. All the manufacturers make competitive trucks.

In this day and age of shared platforms and development cost why wasn't this platform developed for ALL markets standards to begin with so last minute production decisions didn't lead to years of delay in offering a product?

Why the switch to Mo. when they have a plant available in La. to handle this production, which may not require so much revamping?

GM, get this product to market already! As it is now we'll be getting an older product that the rest of the world will have had for several years already then have to wait another 5 to get an update of that ones replacement.

Once again.... The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Not much is visible from under all that camo. The truck looks big. I agree with some that it looks like there is a lot of padding on top of the hood. The way the front end looks now it reminds me of the Nissan van that just came out.

I just noticed. On the second picture it looks like the passenger is taking a photo at the same time somebody took a picture of them

@fear the voices - These would steal thunder from GM's all new full-size twins therefore will be released after. There's no other rational explanation for the long delay. Full-size generate much more profit for GM. The entire full-size line is currently 60% of GM's revenue stream.

@CE: If you ask me, there's a significant demand for SMALL trucks, but not so much for mid-sized trucks that run at nearly the same prices as their full-sized brothers. Drop the size by about 20% and drop the price about the same (20%) and I'll bet the little trucks will out-sell the big ones.

@Allistar E: How about I refute your argument line by line.

"It doesnt matter what price the small/ compact and midsize trucks are."
Not true. Not everybody wants to pay the same price for a utility vehicle that they would for a luxury car. Ford's "Lariat" trim package now prices almost the same as a Jeep Wrangler Sahara (luxury version) and still lacks some of the standard features that the Sahara carries. Adding only a couple of options drives the truck well over $30K in the US.

"No matter the price, they will affect the sales of full size trucks."

"As some fans of these smaller trucks like these other guys on this site, you do have a choice."
If you consider 10% smaller at 5% cheaper, then maybe so. I don't see it as a choice any more. The Canyon/Colorado are just about the same size now as the full sized trucks were in the '70s.

"However, your choice is narrowing, and eventually your needs will coincide with the removal of anything other than full size trucks."
Bad wording--or at worst, simply wrong. Yes, that choice is narrowing, but by no means does that mean a person's NEEDS are narrowing. There are a lot of people who feel the mid-sized trucks are unnecessary (too close to full-sized) while a smaller truck would suit them much better. My needs don't coincide with moving up to full-sized at the price. I'd be far happier even now if my truck were the size of the original Ranger/S10/Luv/etc.

"You can speak with your money, but you are just one person. One person alon does not make a difference." Ok, True. However, it's not JUST one person who wants a smaller truck, is it? Money talks and if enough people make enough noise, then eventually you will see significantly smaller trucks on the horizon. I fully expect to see the fuel economy ratings pretty much force the automakers to bring back small trucks just to wrangle that high average gas-mileage rating due before the end of this decade. It's just a matter of time.

"Embrace full size trucks and stop complaining about full size trucks being too big to park in the garage or too big to park."
Why? If something is too big, then buyers need to express that opinion very vocally. It's the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, as it were, and a lot of us are becoming very vocal about our needs and wants.

"Stop saying that it gets miserable fuel economy or that its off road angle departures are terrible."
Why? When I could get 25 mpg from a compact truck 30 years ago, why should I settle for less from a big truck today when gas prices are almost 3x higher? (I'll ignore the 4x4 reference because it doesn't relate to fuel mileage.)

"Full size trucks are here to say, unlike their smaller brethens."
I think you're wrong. I believe what we're going to see really soon is a complete split of the truck market to full-sized commercial-grade trucks (like the Ibeco, Mitsubishi, Isuzu and others) and compact personal trucks that are licensed as cars. This is really going to be the only way Auto manufacturers are going to meet future economy ratings unless there's a huge breakthrough in fuel type/supply before then.

Using corn to 'extend' gasoline or even to make all-bio fuel is only a patch; we need something significantly more efficient now that doesn't draw on limited resources. Electric needs to go a long way before it can really become economical and with its current demand for relatively rare metals even that won't eliminate the problem, only shift it. Hydrogen is an option, but a massively dangerous one in the event of a wreck that even damages the fuel system, much less ruptures the tank itself. We don't yet have the technology needed to meet our modern world's fuel usage in a sustainable manner. If we don't find something soon, the economic crash we see on the horizon will destroy society as we know it.


Drop the size by about 20% and drop the price about the same (20%) and I'll bet the little trucks will out-sell the big ones.

As much as I would love to belive that, it seems over a 1/3 of the trucks sold are sold to image wielding dads who see a midsize or compact trucks as not enough extension of their manhood. Most of those people as well as others who actually use their trucks for more than grocery runs would be fine with a midsize, it's just their brains won't let them fall in to that catagory. Not to mention heaven forbid they don't offer cooled leather massaging seats with power everything and what not...

One more thing, there were comments about the rear window not being square, has anyone looked at a Tacoma crew cab lately? Similar design where the body lines goes up in to the window some.

@Bobby 1971: I think they got the year wrong on that, here is the 1993 base pricing, look at the same source (MSN.com) for 1991 pricing, you will find it is about $7900 then.

So that means in 1991 you could get a single cab without any airbags for less then $8000. It would be a 5 speed 4 cylinder. Now add the weight of the 4 air bags (2 in front of driver and passenger, and 2 side curtain) Now add some more weight to make it safer cause it was the unsafest in class, both the Ranger and Dakota were safer. Now that you added all that, it needs a more powerful engine, unless you want a gutless truck like Oxi has (big tires and 4 cyl) You already had the worse highway mileage compared to Dakota and Ranger, but the the S-10 did manage 2 more city mpg then the slightly bigger Dakota. Now add some high tech to make it run cleaner. It's not 1991 anymore. Now how does it compare, moneywise after you added all that? That's without all the fancy stuff they will want to put on it, which I believe they could do well selling a stripped model, no power locks, no power windows, a/c an option?, FIVE or SIX SPEED MANUAL, maybe a base model having a cd player in the stereo (unlike Fords cheapest F-150, no cd player) bare necessities! I hope the Dakota replacement has an available MANUAL trans. They need to get in that game.


Toyota is still making money selling 200k Tacomas a year. You do not have to sell millions a year as long as you keep your development and production costs down, share components from other products, and competitively price the product. Also the product needs to be advertised. Ford did very little advertising and still managed to sell plenty of Rangers even before they were priced to move. Developing the truck as an international product and sharing platforms (example the new Thai Colorado & Ranger), Also limit trim levels and options so that less variations of parts are needed and quicker assembly similiar to what the Japanese did on their earlier small trucks. You can't have as many variations as the F-150 because that would raise the production costs. F-150s can get by with the different trim levels and variations because there is a higher markup and the consumers are willing to pay for those options on a bigger truck. Smaller trucks for now need to go for the value conscious consumers. Eventually that could change as it is changing in the small car market after years of consumer reluctance to pay for a premium small car. For now just reduce the size, lower the price, and squeeze more mpgs out of the motors.

@Tyler: So you're saying the other 2/3rds won't at least consider a smaller truck? Personally, with limited exceptions I believe that most of the people driving the biggest available trucks already have their BoyToys while others truly do have a need for hauling and towing capacity. That still leaves maybe 20%-30% who don't want a BoyToy and don't need a hauler/tow vehicle. They're the ones waiting--again--for the compact trucks that meet the minimal needs of the average homeowner yet offer daily-driver economy.

Better yet--bring back the '59 El Camino

@vulpine - I looked at small trucks and 1/2 tons when I looked at buying a new truck. I even took at look at some gasser 3/4 tons. I've owned two compacts, one 3/4 ton, and one 1/2 ton. I agree that "boytoys" are one reason to buy a 1/2 ton but in reality most of the "boytoys" I see are lifted 1 ton diesels with emission delete kits and performance (read loud) exhaust. I even see a large number of lifted small trucks that never see dirt. Those 2 groups have more "boytoy" trucks than the 1/2 ton ranks. 1/2 tons are very versatile family vehicles. I agree that most never see full load or full tow capacity, but their versatility is greater than that of comparable compacts or comparable 3/4 tons for overall operational/purchase costs. I can seat 6 comfortably in my truck and with my kids friends frequently carry six. A Tacoma double cab can cram in 5. I can tow or haul more than a Tacoma, and I have a minimal mpg penalty for that extra capacity. Sure, my truck is much bigger but that extra length, width, and mass makes for a much more stable platform. Try to follow me on a gravel road in a compact truck and you'll find out what I mean.

since GM is going to build the new colorado/canyon, does anyone think that Ford might build the overseas Ranger here??

Why attack Lou? At least what he writes you have to consider the basis of his opinions against your own knowledge. Or research to learn more.

Don't worry Lou I enjoy reading what you write.

I not only hope you get the T6 Ranger. I also hope you guys get the new Mazda BT50, Izuz D Max, Hilux and VW Amarok (the Canadians really might be getting them). All with diesel options as you guys will love to drive them.

I know I would have been happy with the size of my 2007 Dakota had the bed on the crew cab (5'3") ben the same size of the club cab. Had that truck had the current Pentastar V-6, and just the gear ratios found in the 2012 2500 Hemi, I woulda been a much happier camper. Even more so had the 2009 and up Hemi been used in Dakotas. But we know that won't happen, maybe a smaller version with less cubic inches and the same tech. If full size Rams with 3.21 gearscan get 21 highway miles, in a smaller truckpushing less air and weighing less and smaller tires, 23 highway shouldn't be that hard with plenty of pull.

I like my truck with a fair amount of options, but they (be it Ford, Ram, GM, Toyota, Nissan) need to not forget the base models without power windows, manual trans (!!) no power locks, and just go with it.

@Big Al from Oz - thanks. I've enjoyed your posts. It is nce to get a "outsidr's" perspective on the NA truck market.

if you take a good look at the headlight cutouts on the coverskin they are low like the export model, so my guess in a sleek lower hood design, the bunper will most likely be beefed up for the 5 mph safety specs in the U.S.. The diesel engine option as a 2,8 would be perfect in a small truck since rimor has it Doge is working on a diesel model of their 1/2 ton full-size. Small trucks still have a market in the U.S. it's just ford did'nt update the ranger to keep up with the changing times, Dogde made the Dakota a mid-size so GN dropped the better selling S-10 to make the Colorado a mid-size to compeete with Dodge that's when the sales went flat, why buy a Colorado 4wd for $30,000 when you could get a Silverado 1.2 ton Z71 for $35,000. GM needs to learn to price their vehicles accordingly so people can afford them more, more sales at a lower cost equals a higher profit than less vehicles at a higher cost. market % is everything in such a competive market. Personally I would rather have a smaller pickup as an everyday driver, since I really don't have a use for a full-size truck Every now and then haul a few 2 x 4's or a garden tractor, and that's all the use my Silverado gets other than just just places with an empty bed. A lot of carpart stores and urban drivers prefer a smaller truck over a full-size, for the uses they need them for, now GM needs to get the MPG's in a zone like the S-10 had and it will be a popular seller, for an affordable price since they have made strides in lowerhourly wages with the UAW to keep the employee costs portion of the vehicles lower, now the executives need to make that same choice to lower their wages to help save the company and increase overall profits, by selling more volume.

Last thing I heard was ford is dropping the ranger completely and will off a ranger option on the F-150, Dodge is dropping the Dakpta and is working on putting a diesel in their 1/2 ton Ram. GM originally wasn't going to offer the new version of the Colorado/Canyon here, it was just goint to be selct world markets such as brazil, thailand, india,where small trucks are in high demand. It Wasn't til after the North American Auto Show that Chevrolet announced theat the Colorado and canyon would be offered here with updates to meet U.S. safety specs and emissions. GM just broke ground in early May2012 for a new assembly plant in Wentzville, Mo. to assemble the Colorado/Canyon within the U.S. for the U.S. Market, Shreveport,La was shutdown and shuttered at the end of the current 2912 model yea where the Colorado/Canyon were being produced. Wentzville currenty builds the express/ Savannah full size vans in another assembly facility. Fort Wayne may be on it's way out unless GM allocates a new vehicle to be built there since Arlington, Texas has been allocated the majority of the full-size pick-up aseenbly (they are adding onto the existing facilty to handle the increase in production), along with sending a blanking press and transfer press to Arlington that Use to be in parma, Ohio and originally in the now shut-down Mansfield, Ohio Metal fabrication facility.

@Jerry L
All of these new mid-size trucks are far safer than alot of the cars you guys have and much safer than any pickup sold in NA.

The new Colorado/D Max is supposed to achieve a 5 Star ENCAP and ANCAP safety rating.

The new T6 Ranger, BT50 and VW Amarok have 5 Star ENCAP (Europe) and ANCAP (Australia) safety ratings this is the same a most prestige cars.

If safety ratings become lower its only because the NA parent companies are trying to build them cheaper.

@ Big Al from Oz
Thanks for ur feedback. I work for a local trucking company in arkansas, and me and some of the guys were talking about the chevy/holden colorado. and were wondering if Ford might change their minds once the new colorado hits the streets here in NA, and builds the T6 Ranger. If Canada gets em, then it wont be too long before we get em, otherwise, im going to canada to get one and bring it back to the states.

if you want to see what it looks like go to the chev thailand site its the same truck in the pics

I would like to see a duel fuel natural gas crew cab 2015 colorado from chevrolet! With a home refueling station offered by chevrolet

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