General Motors officially took the wraps off its retooled mid-sized 2015 model Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck—a model discontinued several years ago along with its GMC Canyon cousin.

In a pre-launch media conference held by GM in Detroit ahead of the official introduction of the Colorado at the Los Angeles auto show, Jeff Luke, GM’s executive chief engineer for full-size and mid-size trucks, explained that the Colorado is a truly “all new” vehicle that incorporates many of the lessons learned from the OEM’s development of the full-sized 2014 Chevrolet Silverado.

 “But we also made a very deliberate effort to make these trucks look and feel different from our full-sized and heavy-duty truck models,” he emphasized. “Aerodynamics and fuel economy in this segment are also a big deal, and the design reflects that.”

For example, to help keep overall mass down and improve the front-to-rear weight balance, the Colorado features an aluminum hood as well as “active aero” front grille shutters, which close at certain highway speeds to enhance aerodynamics, GM noted.

The Colorado, which goes on sale in the fall of 2014, will come standard with a 193-hp 2.5 liter I-4 gasoline engine cranking out roughly 184 ft.-lbs. of torque, with a 302-hp 3.6 liter V-6 gasoline engine generating roughly 270 ft.-lbs., or torque available as an option – with both mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

Luke noted a 2.8 liter I-4 Duramax turbocharged diesel engine will be offered as an option in “year two” of the Colorado program – likely with the 2016 iteration of this mid-sized pickup, he said.

Scott Yackley, assistant chief engineer for the Duramax, said that while the Colorado will be built at GM’s St. Louis, MO, the diesel engine will be built in Thailand. He added that while the exact specifications of the North American-tuned 2.8 liter Duramax are still being worked out, the global version of the smaller 2.5 liter Duramax diesel currently produces 369 ft.-lbs. of torque.

Yackley also said GM is expecting about 10% of the Colorado’s overall sales to feature the Duramax diesel once it gets introduced in the 2016 model year.

Luke added that, when compared to the 2014 full-size Silverado pickup, the 2015 Colorado is 900 lbs. lighter, five inches narrower, three inches lower and 16 inches shorter in total height.

He also pointed out that only extended and crew cab options will be available for the Colorado. “We looked closely at offering a regular cab and looked at the volumes produced for the previous [Colorado] model which were very small with very low margins,” he said. “So we think we can give regular cab customers what they want with an extended cab; more capability with a seat-delete option.”

Three configurations of the 2015 Colorado will be offered – an extended cab model with a 6-foot bed, a crew cab with a 5-foot bed and a crew cab with a 6-foot bed. With the tailgate down, the 6-foot bed allows 8-foot-long items to be hauled within the vehicle. Also, payload and trailer-hauling capacity for the Colorado is expected to exceed 6,700 lbs. when properly equipped, GM added.

The Colorado will also feature three trim levels – WT, LT and Z71 – with two-wheel drive and four-wheel drive options for all of them, according to GM.

Other features on the new Colorado mid-size pickup include:

  • Projector headlamps and 17-inch aluminum wheels
  • Triple-sealed doors inlaid in the body sides for improved aerodynamic performance and a quieter interior
  • Standard “CornerStep” rear bumper
  • Available EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate that uses an internal torsion bar to make raising the tailgate easier with one hand, and a damper for more-controlled lowering
  • Standard two-tier loading that allows a platform to effectively split the bed into upper and lower sections, making it easier to haul, store and conceal items such as tools
  • Thirteen standard tie-down locations throughout the bed for use with available, movable cargo tie-down rings
  • Standard bed rail and tailgate protectors
  • Optional factory-installed spray-in bed liner
  • Optional upper-instrument panel storage bin and large glove box volume
  • Standard center console with room to store a tablet computer
  • Rear under-seat storage
  • An 8-inch diagonal color touch screen on LT and Z7 time models plus multiple USB drives
  • A 3.4-inch diagonal driver information screen in the instrument cluster
  • Optional next-generation OnStar and MyLink enhancements with gesture recognition and natural language voice recognition
  • Six standard air bags, including head side curtain air bags designed for occupant ejection mitigation
  • Optional forward collision alert technology
  • Optional lane departure warning system
  • Standard StabiliTrak stability control system with rollover mitigation technology, trailer sway control, hill start assist and hill descent control for the Z71 off-road package

Joyce Mattman, commercial product director for GM’s Fleet & Commercial division, told Fleet Owner that a “work truck package” will also be provided for the 2015 Colorado, including a “box delete” option so the pickup bed can be removed to provide for the installation of a wide assortment of service body styles.

“The work truck package will include the option for steel wheels, a rear seat delete, rubber floor mats, and a vinyl seat package,” she said.

Mattman added that the growing traffic congestion in cities coupled with “real interest” in fuel economy is expected to drive demand for the “work version” of the mid-size Colorado.

“Work fleets have really nowhere to go below a half-ton pickup today, yet the trend towards downsizing and ‘lightweighting’ is gaining speed,” she explained. “In the past, the mid-size pickup didn’t have all the capability a work fleet needed. That’s why we’re bringing that expanded capability back to this segment.”

The 41 foot turning radius of the Colorado is also expected to help in terms of maneuvering on crowded urban streets, in parking lots, and at job sites, Mattman noted.

The other dynamic at play, according to Mattman, is the growing “acceptance” in the market for smaller displacement engines – something that will be critical for future fuel economy gains within the mid-sized truck segment.

“The dynamic we’ve seen is that U.S. truck buyers, who used to favor only big engines, are growing to accept the V-6,” she said. “Certainly now the car buyer is accepting of V-4 engines and we expect to see that eventual acceptance among truck buyers, too.”

Alan Batey, senior VP-Global Chevrolet, added during the pre-launch event in Detroit that the new Colorado is also part of what he calls GM’s “three-truck” strategy.

“We believe we need to provide the right truck the customer wants; trucks that offer capability, versatility and fuel efficiency in each segment,” he explained. “So now with the Colorado we add a mid-size pickup with those attributes as an option alongside our heavy-duty and full-size models.”