2015 Chevy Colorado, GMC Canyon rated at 21 mpg, GM says

DETROIT -- General Motors' new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups will have a combined EPA fuel economy rating of 21 mpg, better than its midsize rivals but barely edging some bigger trucks.

GM said today that the Colorado and Canyon with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine -- expected to be the volume model -- will be rated at 18 mpg in city driving and 26 mpg on the highway, for a combined rating of 21 mpg. The rating applies to two-wheel-drive versions.

The four-wheel-drive versions are rated 17 mpg city/24 highway/20 combined, GM said.

The fuel economy beats that of the top-selling midsize pickup, the Toyota Tacoma. Its 2WD V-6 is rated 17 mpg city and 21 highway, for a combined rating of 19.

The Colorado and Canyon rating also is higher than the 2WD V-6 version of the No. 2 midsize pickup, Nissan's Frontier, which is rated at 16 city and 22 highway, for a combined 18.

Those trucks haven't been redesigned in many years. But advancements in full-size pickups have improved fuel efficiency on the bigger trucks.

A 2WD Ram 1500 with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine uses a stop-start system, eight-speed transmission and other technology to wring out an EPA rating of 17 mpg city and 25 highway, for a combined 20 -- just shy of the Colorado/Canyon rating.

Here is how the 18/26/21 rating for the V-6 Colorado and Canyon compares with some full-size pickups:

• Silverado 1500 (2WD, 4.3-liter V-6): 18 city/24 highway/21 combined

• Silverado 1500 (2WD, 5.3-liter V-8): 16 city/23 highway/19 combined

• Ford F-150 (2WD, 3.5-liter V-6 with Ecoboost): 16 city/22 highway/18 combined

• Ram 1500 (2WD, 3.0-liter V-6 diesel): 20 city/28 highway/23 combined

“Colorado proves you don’t have to buy a lot of expensive technology to save money at the pump,” Tony Johnson, Colorado marketing manager, said in a statement.

Dave Sullivan, a product analyst at AutoPacific Inc., said the Colorado's "small improvement over the V-6 Silverado is not a surprise," because the truck's footprint is about 90 percent as large as a full-sized truck.

GM plans to offer a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder Duramax diesel in the Colorado and Canyon next fall for the 2016 model year. Sullivan believes GM will shoot for a 30 mpg highway rating for the diesel version models to strengthen its marketing claim.

You can reach Mike Colias at mcolias@autonews.com