By on October 10, 2011

Editor’s note: GM has officially confirmed what the UAW already let slip: Chevy’s new midsized Colorado pickup will be built at the Wentzville, MO plant and sold in the US. More details on that decision are forthcoming, but in the meantime, here’s Edd Ellison’s report from the global launch of the Colorado in Bangkok, Thailand.

Chevrolet has launched its new-generation Colorado in Thailand where it will be built and exported to 60 global markets. In true GM style, the ceremony was lavish – a cluster of truck ploughed their way through a large field of crops planted in a Bangkok exhibition hall watched by the media, dealers and VIPs packed into several grandstands – and the message was just as upbeat, the automaker feeling it has a product that can compete in the crowded mid-size segment.

In ten days time Thai customers will be able to pass judgment on whether GM have got this right, quickly followed by Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. The New Colorado has to make up ground – the outgoing model, introduced seven years ago, never gained traction with consumers, particularly in the U.S. where robust initial sales tailed off very quickly. In the developing world, customers continued to prefer offerings from Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Isuzu – the latter somewhat ironically, as it shares its architecture with the Colorado.

GM is confident it has dotted all the ‘i’s and crossed the ‘t’s in developing the new Colorado. It has been a long and expensive project, involving the refitting of the Rayong factory, the construction of new engine plant next door to produce the new family of diesel engines, while styling was carried out in the carmaker’s Sao Paulo studios and extensive R&D was undertaken in Thailand and elsewhere. “It’s the most clean-sheet mid-size truck programme,” in GM history, said Martin Apfel, President GM Thailand/South East Asia.

According to Brad Merkel, GM Global Vehicle Line Executive, the big lesson which came from listening to customers was that they perceive pickups as “rough and tough” – but they don’t want “rough” to be a fundamental characteristic anymore, or even see why it should be. Growing aspirations and consumer demand that sees half of all pickups in Thailand bought as private cars has seen all OEMs scurrying to improve the comfort and luxury of their trucks. Toyota, the mid-size market leader, improved its Hilux this summer, and the others are following suit. Merkel says that the truck is now “refined” and points to the lack of vibrations, improved stability, and the dialing out of wind noise and rattles as key achievements. “It feels car-like,” he reckons.

The new Colorado will start from a low base here – 7,347 sales for the year to the end of August. That compares with 100,187 Hilux sales for tsunami-hit Toyota, 91,161 for the Colorado’s twin, Isuzu’s D-Max, 41,508 for Mitsubishi’s Triton and 16,032 for the Nissan Navara.

GM is anxious to emphasise the new project hasn’t been conducted in tandem with Isuzu, the two focusing on different directions after developing a common architecture. Addressing perceptions that the Colorado is more expensive to run has been a priority – the new model will go 20,000 km before its first scheduled service, while 100,000 km of running should be achieveable for a cost of no more than 20,000 baht.

Styling-wise, much of the design language has been carried over from the acclaimed Colorado “show truck” displayed at several major motor shows this year; however, some of that impact has been lost in the translation to production reality. The front end is dominated by Chevrolet’s twin-grille ‘family’ look which works quite well on what aims to be a big, butch pickup. It’s grown, too – the Colorado is now 5347mm long and there is a healthy choice of seven body colours. Inside the cabin is quite well laid out, but – as is to be expected with a pickup – there is a lot of hard plastic. The air-con controls are nicely laid out and backlit, there are umpteen storage areas and decent seats, but a number of areas, such as the instruments and door catches, feel basic and a bit clumsy.

The new four-cylinder diesel engines are based on the 6.6-litre V8 Duramax. They come in 2.5 and 2.8 litres and can be mated to 5-speed manual or 6-speed auto transmissions. The 2.5 (which should account for 75-80 percent of Thai sales) develops 150 HP and 350 Nm while the 2.8 has 180 HP on tap and 440 Nm (manual) or 470 Nm (auto).

Underneath, the body-on-frame chassis has been stiffened in torsion, and there are the expected safety features including front airbags, ESP, ABS, BA, CBC, HBFA and a deformable steering column.

GM is cautious about putting numbers on targets. The Rayong plant will assemble 12,000 new Colorados up to the end of this year, but management say they will be following demand. Capacity is likely to be around 100,000 units a year with a split between domestic and export. Only the 2.5 has been priced so far; it starts at 537,000 baht for the single cab, rising through extended/double cab, low/high ride and 2/4WD before reaching a range-topping 808,000 baht. That leaves the Colorado pretty much in line with existing pickup pricing here.

Edd Ellison is a Thailand-based auto journalist, covering the ASEAN markets and beyond. He can be contacted at [email protected]


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23 Comments on “Chevrolet Global Colorado Debuts In Thailand...”

  • avatar

    Have they managed to make the Colorado even uglier? Looks like a Toyota pickup swallowed a Cruze.

    • 0 avatar

      I dunno, pickup trucks from all manufacturers and in all sizes have gotten significantly uglier in the past few years; the Colorado is really just trend-following there.

      • 0 avatar

        I think most of the spreading ugliness can be blamed on the arms race in grill size. Somebody somewhere decided that the bigger the grill is the more macho the truck is and now we have Kenworth grills on half ton trucks.

      • 0 avatar

        A big square truck with a big square grill is coherent if nothing else.

        The anime eyes headlights treatment makes sense on suppository class compacts to disguise how tall and stubby the fenders are.

        Which is exactly the opposite of what looks good on a truck.

    • 0 avatar

      It may be ugly, but at least it looks like we’ll have it as an option.

      The things I could never get over about the current generation Colorado were the safety scores, and reliability. If they’re tailoring it to U.S. audiences I think they may have those things sorted out. At least, I certainly hope they do.

      • 0 avatar

        Put a diesel in a compact-ish truck for the American market, and I don’t care how it looks!

        (I actually kinda like the looks. I keep wondering why pickups can’t be more aerodynamic, at least up front.)

        But, alas, I’ll probably have to trade my (t)rusty old Ranger for a minivan soon. I’d consider a compact truck instead, though, if it were a) compact and b) an improvement over my 13-year-old Ranger.

    • 0 avatar

      REGARDLESS – I’d buy the ugly arse thing if I could get a mid-size crew cab pickup with a diesel. Since we’ll never see the VW Amarok in N America, I guess I just need to keep driving my 2010 Ridgeline like there is a baby kitten between my foot and the accelerator.

      I would have my doubts, however, that GM could deliver the outstanding ride & handling combo of a Ridgeline…but still, diesel economy and torque would probably win me over.

  • avatar

    Sure hope it’s a re-badged Isuzu!

  • avatar
    Rental Man

    Only left to see if Americans really want a “compact truck” that is not that compact… and while at it, Please bring it in the oil burning version. No one else has one. Might be a runaway hit. Might rot on dealer lot’s for those of us who only like buying used.

  • avatar

    I hope it sells like gangbusters in America, honestly, so Ford finally sees what a colossal F-up it was not to bring the new Ranger over.

    That said, if GM has the reliability and crashworthiness sorted better than the last-gen Colorado, and especially if they can bring the diesel (incredible that it’s half a Duramax…that’s got to be good news), I’ll be sure to consider it for a replacement for my beloved Banger Ranger, should I need to replace it anytime soon. Deer have a funny way of totaling my trucks just about the time I get fully enamored with them, so you never know…barring that kind of unfortunate event, I’ll probably be in the market in approximately 5 years. Which I hope is enough time for Ford to realize their mistake and bring the Ranger back!

  • avatar

    So the attempt to make Chevy cars look like Chevy trucks (’04 Malibu) didn’t pan out, so now they’re going to make Chevy trucks look like Chevy cars?

    Softer styling on pickups seems to be in vogue elsewhere around the globe (Toyota Hilux, non-USDM Ranger), but I just don’t see it playing here, where truck ownership is very much an image thing.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Much too small for my needs. Hey GM, how about sticking that 2.8 diesel/6-speed in your next 1/2 ton chassis. Trust me, you’ll blow every other 1/2 ton competitor right out of the water with an offering like that. Make it available in your Tahoe and Suburban as well.

    • 0 avatar

      GM has succeeded in making this new interior as cheap looking as the truck it replaces. Toyota also uses hard plastics in the Tacoma but tight tolerances, quality materials, excellent fit & finish, and attention to detail make a world of difference. The available diesel should be popular but until GM earns a reputation for reliability in their small trucks Toyota wins. (Yes I’m biased)

  • avatar

    The world’s gone whacked, when the auto has 6 speeds, while the stick has only 5. In theory, diesels, with their flat torque curves, shouldn’t need many speeds, but in reality they so unrefined only a narrow band is simultaneously responsive and half comfortable.

    Hope this thing is good, and a hit. As in, a big step above the market leader, the Tacoma. One of the reasons domestic full sizers are so appealing, is they are refined to then n’th degree by now, making even the Tacoma seem awfully crude. While an extended Cab F150 rides, and sounds, like a tall Town Car.

  • avatar

    End of the line for the Atlas 4 and 5 cylinder engines, I guess.

  • avatar

    “based on the 6.6-litre V8 Duramax” is a stretch. These are VM Motori based engines that share the Duramax moniker and little else with the Isuzu designed 6.6L D-Max engines we have in the US.

  • avatar

    For once, it looks like GM/Chevy will have the newest model in a segment…by a large margin.

    Here are the years its competition last received a major redesign in the US:

    Equator: 2009
    Tacoma: 2004
    Frontier: 2005
    Ridgeline: 2005
    Dakota: 2005 (dead)
    Ranger: 1998 (dead)

  • avatar

    Do not make it overtly obvious… just point-and-grunt in selected countries, area, geo-political areas, etc.

    Have a reinforced area under the bed designed to ease the mounting of crew-served weaponry, larger high-velocity weaponry in the millimeter-sized ammo arena, etc.

    And, of course, the mounting platform directly below the bed would allow easier self-made additions such as various racks etc to allow the hauling of cargo of high-volume lower-weight agricultural products, etc.

    Or barriers to keep the goats or camels from jumping out.

  • avatar

    Bring the diesel version and I may have a reason to buy American.

  • avatar

    We’ll see. The last gen seemingly existed solely to drive buyers into a full size. Designed to be worst in class in every conceivable way. Does the same philosophy still reign at ‘new’ GM?

  • avatar

    That front end is even uglier than the last one. I sure hope it gets better from there.

    This makes the passing of the US Ranger even more heartbreaking.

  • avatar

    As long as there is not stupid 5-Cyl engine, it is an improvement. 5 cyl is pointless, GM has many very good V6s that are more powerful and efficient.

  • avatar

    It has 6 thumbs up, apparently. I guess I don’t mind it, but then again I don’t need a truck of any sort. I’ll agree that the current Chevy grille-treatment can go anytime. I know that Ford isn’t much better (at least as it relates to big honking trucks), but something about Chevy’s grilles of late have struck me wrong. It’s almost like they’re trying too hard to live up to their old slogan “Like A Rock”, as in bang your head up against this thing to figure out why it needs to look this way, you’ll feel better when you quit.

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