By on August 8, 2018

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax

Until an automaker comes along with something better, your cheapest bet for highway fuel economy in a pickup is the Duramax diesel-powered Chevrolet Colorado and its GMC Canyon twin. The full-size Ford F-150 with 3.0-liter diesel V6 matches it in economy, but not price.

Boasting a 30 mpg EPA rating for highway consumption, the oil-burning midsizers command a premium over their lesser siblings, but make up for it with thriftiness and heaps of torque. The 2.8-liter inline-four generates 369 lb-ft of twist — far more grunt than the 275 lb-ft on offer from GM’s 3.6-liter V6.

However, there’s a mystery afoot. The EPA ratings for the newest Colorado and Canyon diesels show a drop in city and combined efficiency for the 2019 model year, despite the powertrains being a carry-over.

As not all 2019 Colorado and Canyon models have received a rating from the EPA, we only have the four-cylinder gas models and the rear-drive diesel to go on. (H/T to Bozi Tatarevic, by the way.)

The 2.5-liter models see the same rating as last year, but the 4×2 diesel, equipped with the same 2.8-liter and six-speed automatic the 2018 models (to the best of our knowledge), sees its fuel consumption drop by 2 mpg in the city and combined cycle.

Whereas the 2018 4×2 diesel carried a rating of 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined, the EPA rates the 2019 model at 20 mpg/30 mpg/23 mpg. The 2019 Canyon diesel, of which only the 4×2 version carries a rating, sees the same change. What’s the deal? And why the 2 mpg drop in combined economy while the highway figure stays the same?

We’re not aware of any changes to gearing, axle ratio, or engine tune between the two model years, making the EPA’s rating a head-scratcher. After reaching out to General Motors on Monday, we were told the automaker was looking into the issue, and would get back to us when it had more information. So far, no word, but we hold out hope for an explanation. We’ll deliver that when it arrives.

In the meantime, there’s still no official word on the fuel economy of two thrifty new GM engines: the 3.0-liter diesel inline-six bound for the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, and the turbocharged 2.7-liter “Tripower” inline-four bound for the same models. It’s GM’s hope that Ford’s light-duty diesel takes a backseat to the General’s effort.

[Image: General Motors]

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9 Comments on “2019 Chevrolet Colorado Diesel Takes a Mysterious Fuel Economy Hit...”

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “…269 lb-ft of twist — far more grunt than the 275 lb-ft on offer”

    On its face, this is mathematically untrue. Typo?

  • avatar

    Axle Ratio. The diesel comes with the 3.42, but next year will come with the 4.10.

  • avatar

    They get a bonus for cylinder deactivation and stop start in the ratings (I dunno if the latter is on the Colorado yet). Those are less practical for many reasons on a Diesel, which would then be artificially penalized on the Monroney sticker.

  • avatar

    Uh oh, is GM doing a little fibbing again? Well, at least they arnt killing anybody again….yet.

  • avatar

    Actually, since the hit in the fuel economy estimate took place with respect to the best-fuel-saving version of the Colorado/Canyon Duramax, which puts it now down to 20/30/23 for city, highway and mixed driving; now we should say that the F150 Power Stroke Diesel V6 is now the fuel economy champ of all pickup trucks at 22/30/25. It’s worth noting, however, that Ford’s PSD takes a much harder hit for the 4WD version versus the 2WD with this much higher rating.

    As for price, the F150 PSD is a full $10K more in it’s starting price versus the 4 cylinder diesel in the smaller truck; and the smaller Duramax is not quite a great value in its own realm, as it’s $36K starting price is a full $14K above the cheapest gas-powered version of the same truck. And the F150 PSD’s starting price at around $46.4K, which is $17K more than the cheapest gas-powered version of an F150. So if you want or need a well-featured pickup with a diesel, you have to pay a bunch; but if you didn’t need a well-featured pickup and only a basic one, but wanted a diesel, well then you can’t even have one.

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