BY STUART FOWLE, PHOTOGRAPHY BY KGP PHOTOGRAPHY AND THE MANUFACTURER
The Chevrolet Colorado has stirred up more buzz than any mid-size pickup has in a very long time—a little surprising, since it hasn’t officially been confirmed for sale in the United States. Is it just another case of us wanting what we can’t have? Perhaps, and Chevrolet seems to want it that way. While some quotes from the division the past few months indicate the global Colorado will indeed be built and sold in America within the next two years, the company’s communications staff continues to give us the cold shoulder when asked for outright confirmation.
Interest has again spiked, because, as you can see in these spy photos, there’s going to be an SUV version. As you’ll remember, Chevrolet stopped producing truck-based mid-size SUVs here with the death of the TrailBlazer; the unibody Equinox and Traverse now represent the bowtie in their respective classes. There is recent precedent for a small-pickup-based GM SUV, however, in the form of the Hummer H3, which used the current Colorado as its base. If the new pickup is in fact headed here (and we think it should be), Chevrolet just might see a market for truck-based sport-utes as well. Nissan serves as an example of car- and truck-based utes living in harmony, with the Murano, the Pathfinder, and the Xterra being sold side-by-side for some time now.
Both the Colorado pickup and SUV are still heavily camouflaged in these spy photos, but imagining how they’ll look isn’t hard. The open-bed version should look nearly identical to the concept shown back in March. Now, remember back to when the Chevy S-10 and the Blazer were both on sale and it’s easy to picture the SUV, even if that tall, boxy camo is throwing off the proportions. If or when Chevrolet launches it here, we expect it’ll be spun as an active-lifestyle alternative to the city dweller’s Equinox.
As far as engine choices go, it’s easiest to imagine a U.S.-spec Colorado getting the corporate 3.6-liter V-6 because, well, every mid-size anything under the GM umbrella makes use of that engine. The Equinox’s naturally aspirated 2.4-liter inline-four is another option, although we’d love to see both a turbo four and a small turbo-diesel (as was installed in a second Colorado truck concept) used to make smaller pickup trucks and any resulting SUVs relevant again. Hopefully, more details will come soon, but we have plenty of time to continue speculating—don’t expect either of these vehicles to show up before 2013.
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DETROIT – For Toyota, U.S. February sales were conveniently reported last Tuesday, while much of the automotive press were in Geneva. It was convenient timing for General Motors, too. The erstwhile automotive giant reorganized its divisional executives on the same day we learned that Ford Motor Company sales in the U.S. exceeded GM sales in February, for the first time since 1998 – if you count Volvo sales as part of Ford (which I haven’t, until now). As I noted from Geneva earlier this week, Ford may be reconsidering its pending deal to sell Volvo to China’s Geely.
The Explorer was largely responsible for FoMoCo beating GM in ’98, and it’s hard to imagine a large sport/utility vehicle – body-on-frame or crossover – leading such a win today. In recent years, GM has had trouble offering up a single-model bestseller, because most popular models also were Pontiacs, Saturns and Buicks as well as Chevrolets.
No more, and this is why heads rolled just as last month’s sales were reported. GM’s new, constantly shifting management, has said it expects to catch Pontiac and Saturn buyers with its latest Chevy and Buick offerings, which means it expects to hold on to about 21-percent market share. It should have benefitted from Toyota’s problems, which includes the fact that some buyers were scared off last month, while others couldn’t buy certain models for more than a week as Toyota froze sales while it fixed throttle problems.