Colorado slims down with advanced materials, engineering

Detroit, Michigan — March 13, 2014 — Proving there is more than one way shed pounds, General Motors says the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado uses engineering techniques and lightweight materials to create true pickup capability in a mass-efficient midsize package.

The 2015 Colorado 4×4 crew cab, expected to be the most popular version of the new trucks, weighs 400 to 635 kilograms less than a full-size truck.

This weight saving is a result of the slightly smaller overall dimensions of the Colorado, along with extensive use of lightweight materials, including high-strength steels and aluminum. The outcome is a truck the company says has been designed to be the most fuel-efficient in its segment. Chevrolet expects fuel efficiency ratings for Colorado this summer.

The graphic above shows some of the weight-saving materials employed in the design of the new Colorado.  

The Colorado will begin arriving in showrooms this fall at the same time as the new Ford F-150, which General Motors says will set up a sharp contrast between two strategies for reducing the weight of pickups.

“When it comes to building lighter pickups, there is more than one answer,” said Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer. “Building on our experience with the new Silverado, we engineered the Colorado to be highly mass-efficient, while still providing the performance, capability, dependability and features that midsize truck customers are asking for.”

In overall size, Colorado fits neatly below the Silverado 1500 in the Chevrolet lineup. The short-bed crew cab is 5,404 mm (212.76 inches) long, 431 mm (17 inches) shorter than a comparable Silverado 1500, making it an easier fit in many garages.

Colorado’s overall width of 1,887 mm (74.3 inches) is 127 mm (5 inches) narrower than Silverado and 50 mm (2 inches) wider than the Equinox, providing easier maneuverability around town with a surprisingly spacious interior.

This slightly smaller package comes with real muscle, though. Based on GM’s latest testing, Colorado is expected to lead the midsize segment with up to 3,039 kg (6,700 pounds) of available towing capability.

“For many customers, a midsize pickup is simply a better solution,” said Luke. “You get the versatility and capability of a truck in a package that is fun to drive and easier to maneuver and park.

“Colorado will meet the unique needs of midsize pickup customers, while also providing an attractive, cost-effective alternative for anyone seeking a more fuel-efficient pickup.”

In creating Colorado, GM engineers chose materials that would make the most of the strength, safety and refinement of the truck, while balancing dependability and cost of repairs and total ownership.

Like Silverado, Colorado extensively uses lightweight, high-strength steels. Fully boxed frames formed primarily from high-strength steel reduce weight and increase stiffness for a quieter ride and better handling.

Key areas of the body structure also benefit from high-strength steels, reducing mass and enhancing strength and safety. Overall, about 71 percent of the body structure is comprised of high-strength steels.

The pickup box consists of roll-formed steel, which is lighter and stronger than traditional stamped steel.

Major aluminum components include the hood, front steering knuckles, and cylinder heads and engine blocks for both the 2.5L four cylinder and 3.6L V-6. Reflecting the attention to weight savings found throughout the Colorado, the aluminum heads for the V-6 feature integral exhaust manifolds, which save about 5.5 kg (13 pounds) over traditional cast-iron manifolds.

The front of the Colorado features a composite grille opening reinforcement with active shutters that seals the front of the truck, reducing aerodynamic drag and improving cooling performance. Another weight-saving feature, electric power steering, also helps improve steering assist for easier maneuverability in tight situations.

Because of its mass-efficient design, Colorado engineers skipped the cost and complexity of turbocharging Colorado’s four-cylinder and V-6 engines.

In addition to the lightweight aluminum cylinder heads and blocks, both engines feature direct fuel injection and continuously variable valve timing for better performance and more-efficient operation. Based on current GM testing, the standard 2.5L four is estimated at 193 horsepower, while the available V-6 is estimated at 302 horsepower.

Both the Colorado and its engines have been tested and validated to the same tough standards as the full-size Silverado.


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