2011 Chevrolet Colorado

Last week Chevrolet offered truck enthusiasts a sneak peak of its all-new Colorado, scheduled to make its world debut at the Bangkok International Motor Show beginning March 25th. And with the announcement came reports that the death of its U.S. variant, on the market since 2004, may have been premature. Scheduled to end its production at GM’s Shreveport, Louisiana facility at the end of this product cycle, a number of factors are said to have influenced GM’s decision to revive the product plan.

The Colorado is the most recent iteration of a small pickup family that began with a rebadged Isuzu, dubbed LUV (Light Utility Vehicle), introduced in 1972. At that time it was a response to strong sales of Toyota and Nissan pickups, and while neither it nor Ford’s Mazda-sourced entry reinvented the segment, they were at least one domestic product to turn back the import tide. The tide (of course) continued, becoming a tidal wave in the aftermath of the 1973 OPEC crisis.

Ten years later, GM went in-house with its launch of the Chevy S-10 and its GMC stablemate, the S-15. Same recipe as before, but the new small trucks offered more in the way of creature comforts and capability. Redesigned for 1994, the truck once again grew in size (some ten inches in overall length), and the new architecture spawned both off-road (ZR2) and street/sport editions. The ZR2 was hailed for its true dirt dynamic, while the sport edition provided one of the best handling rear-wheel drive platforms available from the General at that time.

At its 2004 launch, the all-new Colorado and GMC’s Canyon were off to a rollicking start, with peak sales of some 160,000 units (combined) in 2005. From there it was all downhill, with few substantive updates, no available V6 (although a 5.3 liter V8 was offered in 2009) and a transaction point that was all-too-close to those of full-size pickups. With sales down to just 30,000 annually the handwriting was on the wall.

If, as has been reported, the redesigned midsize platform is made available in the U.S., it would be a timely continuation. Escalating fuel prices impact everyone, while increased urban congestion makes the Colorado/Canyon footprint much more user-friendly than that of the full-size Silverado/Sierra. And with the imminent demise of Ford’s Ranger, Chevrolet/GMC would have the midsize pickup segment – at least in its domestic iteration – all to itself.

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David Boldt Began his automotive career in BMW and Saab showrooms in the 1980s, and he moved to automotive journalism in 1993. David has written for a variety of regional and national publications, and prior to joining AutoTrader, he managed media relations for a Japanese OEM.

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