First Look: Next-Generation Chevrolet Colorado Show Truck

First Look: Next-Generation Chevrolet Colorado Show Truck

Posted by Mike Levine | March 21, 2011

GM takes the covers off the Chevrolet Colorado Show Truck at the Bangkok International Auto Show in Thailand, and the rugged concept previews the next-generation Colorado midsize pickup that officially goes on sale in Thailand later this year — and eventually will arrive in North America, our sources say.

The Colorado Show Truck is a body-on-frame, all-wheel-drive extended cab that sports sleeker styling than the current 2004-2011 Colorado sold in the U.S., Asia and Australia (as the Holden Colorado). The stout front end shares a strong family resemblance with other recent bowtie-badged vehicles, like the Chevrolet Equinox and the upcoming Orlando. There’s a two-tier grille with wraparound headlights, LED running lamps and small heat extractors on the sides of the hood. An aerodynamic “cab collar” ties the cab and bed together. Integrated steps in the cargo box make accessing the business end of the truck easy, and for security and improved fuel economy there’s a hard tonneau cover. Twenty-inch aluminum wheels are paired with Cooper 285/50R20 Zeon LTZ all-terrain tires to give the Colorado a tough-looking stance.

Inside, the Colorado Show Truck’s twin cockpit design is more stylish and sculpted than the Colorado’s current basic cabin. The instrument panel and dash flow into the doors, and motorcycle-inspired three-dimensional gauges use ice blue lighting for sporty effect. Dark wood trim with chrome highlights provides an upscale feel with plenty of soft-touch surfaces instead of hard plastic. There’s also plenty of storage space and cubbies inside to keep items secure at night on the street or while bouncing around off-road. High-tech features include a 7-inch flat-screen display for audio, navigation, hands-free phone and web access. There’s also a dual-zone climate control system to keep the driver and front passenger comfortable.

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“Although this is a show vehicle, the basic proportions and form convey the vision for the next-generation Colorado that we will bring to market,” Brad Merkel, GM’s global vehicle line executive, said in a statement. “It reflects a stylized version of the new truck, one that takes into account rugged dependable truck capabilities for commercial use as well as sophisticated refinement for personal-use needs.”

While the Colorado Show Truck provides a robust look at the production pickup’s exterior and interior design direction, GM is keeping other key details under wraps. Chevy isn’t saying much about the new Colorado’s powertrain other than the concept has a 2.8-liter diesel.

Chevrolet spokesman Mike Albano told PickupTrucks.com that the inline four-cylinder compression ignition power plant is all new and was developed in-house by GM. Horsepower and torque ratings haven’t been released.

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“This is a show vehicle, so all of the technical data will be available closer to production stage,” Albano said.

It’s unlikely that a North American version of the Chevrolet Colorado would offer a diesel engine because of strict U.S. emissions regulations, even though there is demand from truck enthusiasts for a fuel-efficient oil burner. With a gas engine for the U.S. and Canada and diesels overseas, second-generation Colorado sales could exceed 100,000 units of production annually, exceeding worldwide sales goals for one of its major competitors, the recently introduced Volkswagen Amarok.

The Colorado will also compete with other world trucks not available domestically, including the all-new global Ford Ranger, Toyota Hilux, Mazda BT-50 and Mitsubishi Triton.

GM will also compete against a former manufacturing partner. The 2004-2011 Chevy Colorado was code-named GMT355 when it was co-developed with commercial truck and diesel engine manufacturer Isuzu. Isuzu sold the first-gen Colorado as the i-Series in the U.S. and as the D-Max in foreign markets until GM and Isuzu parted ways in 2008. The all-new Chevy Colorado, code-named GMI700, was developed in-house by GM while Isuzu is developing an all-new midsize D-Max for overseas markets that shares nothing with this Colorado.

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Isuzu remains a minority partner in the production of Duramax diesel engines used in GM’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Heavy Duty pickup trucks.

Why is Chevrolet unveiling the second-gen Colorado in Thailand? Globally, Thailand is the second biggest market for pickups, after the U.S. Last year, pickup trucks made up more than 40 percent of Thailand’s auto sales, and midsize and compact trucks sold in Thailand outnumber those sold in the U.S.

“Thailand’s 2010 [auto] industry volume ended at 800,000 units [in 2010],” said Albano. “Trucks are about 57 percent, or 454,000 units.”

The country is called the “Detroit of Asia” because strong government tax incentives encourage both manufacturing and sales of pickup trucks to the country’s population of 65 million people. The Southeast Asian country also offers convenient access to more than 600 million people in that region.

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Colorado production is expected to start by October, and more details about its capabilities will be released later this year.

What about the U.S.?

“We are not naming any specific markets outside of Thailand at this time, but we can say that this truck will be sold in several global markets,” Albano said. “It will be the first truly global truck offering by GM. I can say, aside from Thailand we have plans to sell the truck in other key [Southeast Asian] markets like Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.”

We also expect the Colorado will be sold in Brazil under the S-10 badge.

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