How the 2016 Colorado Duramax Engine Compares to the Competition

The 2016 Chevy Colorado will be the first midsize truck to feature a diesel engine, as the new pickup will offer the impressive Duramax system. The system isn’t only powerful and reliable, as it also delivers some best-in-class fuel economy specs. This truly puts the Colorado in a class of its own. After having won both the 2015 Motor Trend Truck of the Year award and the Best Pickup Truck of 2015, the engineers still decided to improve aspects of their vehicle, and the inclusion of a diesel engine was apparently on the top of their list.

“Simply put, there’s no other midsize truck that can do what Colorado can with its all-new Duramax diesel,” said Sandor Piszar, director of Chevrolet Truck Marketing (via a press release). “Along with greater capability and efficiency, it expands the Colorado lineup to give customers more choices and the capability of exploring more possibilities on and off the road.”

Initial reviews of the system have been positive. Lee Pray of commended the vehicle for how it “effectively stretches the abilities of the Colorado in ways that are a bit unexpected.” Jim Gorzelany of noted that the engine feels “like a much larger V6 engine, affording lively launches and plenty of passing power on demand,” while Mark Williams of says the 2016 Colorado may be “one of the world’s finest pickup trucks.”

Those are some mighty impressive accolades, and it would appear that the 2016 Chevy Colorado has no real competition. However, the truck is alone in the midsize pickup segment, and there are several vehicles that are looking to compete with Chevy’s vehicle. While you may have been targeting the Duramax engine, it might be in your best interest to explore the various options. Continue reading to see how the 2016 Chevy Colorado’s Duramax engine compares to the competition. We don’t want to give anything away, but we’re confident that you’ll be opting for the Chevy when you’re finished reading…

Duramax Background

2.8L Duramax Engine

From the very beginning, the brand had intended on attaching an exclusive diesel engine to their Colorado pickup. Of course, the production of that engine took some time, but the compatible Duramax system was finally ready to go in time for the 2016 model year.

“A diesel engine was part of the Colorado’s portfolio plan from the very beginning, meaning the chassis, suspension and other elements of its architecture were engineered to support its capability,” said Scott Yackley, assistant chief engineer. “That means there are no compromises with the Colorado diesel. It offers exceptional capability delivered with a confident feeling of control.”

The vehicle understandably gets a lot of credit for its incredible specs, all despite the fact that the unit is only 2.8-liters big. The system can pump out 369 pounds-feet of torque and 181 horsepower, resulting in an incredible 7,700-pound trailering capacity on the two-wheel-drive models. Furthermore, drivers can expect a 27 mile per gallon fuel efficiency, an incredible spec for a pickup truck.

However, customers should focus on all of the additional capabilities of the Duramax engine. Engineers included a new exhaust brake system, which helps improve the pickup’s control while helping reduce brake wear. To assist with the towing, a new brake controller was installed, allowing the driver to manipulate their hauled cargo. An EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate was also installed, as was a two-tier loading dock and more than a dozen tie-down spots. To further improve the driving experience, the Hydra-Matic 6L50 six-speed automatic transmission was paired with a torque converter featuring a Centrifugal Pendulum Vibration Absorber. This makes for an incredibly quiet ride, as vibration and engine noise are limited because of these two features.

“It is a no-compromise turbocharged engine that is also really fun to drive, with excellent responsiveness,” said Yackley. “It was also designed specifically for trucks and has undergone many of the same validation tests as the 6.6L Duramax, contributing to legendary Duramax durability and reliability.”

To put it over the top, the Duramax engine is (according to the press release) “the cleanest diesel truck engine ever produced by General Motors.” The cooled Exhaust Gas Recirculation system played a big role in the truck having met all of the United States’ emissions standards. The technology helps reduce a vehicle’s emissions by taking some of the exhaust gas and forcing it through a fresh intake air stream, thus lowering combustion temperatures.

“The Colorado Duramax diesel is in a league of its own,” said Piszar. “Colorado’s gas models already led the segment in fuel efficiency, and the new diesel – which no other non-GM competitor offers on a midsize truck – gives customers even greater freedom to go where they want with fewer fill-ups.”

The Competition

2016 Toyota Tacoma TRD 4x4 Off Road Sand

There’s no other midsize truck on the market (besides the “sister vehicle” GMC Canyon) that offers a diesel engine, making the Colorado Duramax one of a kind. Still, the Colorado is competing with these other pickups, and it’s important to understand how the diesel motor will compare to rival trucks’ engines.

The Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier are two of the Colorado’s bigger competitors, and both pickups are expected to impress in 2016. For the sake of this exercise, we used each of the pickup’s most powerful engines, helping emphasize the Duramax engine’s advantage over the most highly-regarded systems.

The Toyota Tacoma comes equipped with a 3.5-liter V6 engine with direct injection offering 278 horsepower and 265 pounds-feet of torque. These specs result in a 1,440-pound towing capacity, and the accompanying six-speed automatic transmission helps offer a smoother ride. The truck is also relatively fuel efficient, delivering a 19 city/24 highway mile per gallon efficiency. The most impressive aspect of the vehicle may be the price, as the vehicle starts at $23,300.

“The all-new homegrown Tacoma is a tough truck designed, developed and built for lifestyles of the young and young-at-heart,” Bill Fay, the president and general manager of Toyota Division, said in a press release.

2016 Nissan Frontier Black

Meanwhile, the 2016 Frontier King Cab version offers the brand’s 4.0-liter V6 engine. The lightweight unit can pump out 261 horsepower and 281 pounds-feet of torque. The system is accompanied by Frontier’s five-speed automatic transmission and 11.7-inch front vented/11.3-inch rear vented disc brakes, as well as a new independent double-wishbone front suspension. When all is said and done, this model will cost you an affordable $23,940.

As you can see, neither of these engines hold a candle to the Duramax. The diesel system may lack in the horsepower department, but it tops the trucks torque, towing, and fuel efficiency specs. The vehicle luckily makes up for the lack of horsepower by including a number of other impressive mechanical features, helping improve the overall driving experience. While the Colorado Duramax may cost you a bit more money (the system is priced $3,730), there’s no denying that the additional capabilities make the diesel engine the logical choice.


Of course, the Colorado is a great truck for reasons besides the Duramax engine. The pickup is stylish, it offers a luxurious interior, and the engineers included a number of safety features. The diesel engine proved to just be the icing on the cake.

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