If you’re in the market for a smaller truck like the Chevrolet Colorado or the GMC Canyon, you may find yourself torn between the V-6 gasoline engine and the new-for-2016 Duramax 2.8-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder. Although there is also a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine option available, many shoppers will likely overlook it due to its lack of low-rev torque necessary for heavy loads. However, if you plan on using the Colorado mainly without cargo, as a commuter vehicle or everyday driver, the 2.5-liter engine is still worth considering.
It’s also worth noting that the 2.5-liter engine is only available in 4WD Extended Cab models, meaning other Colorado models in Crew Cab form cannot be paired with this engine. On the other hand, the V-6 engine and the Duramax diesel engine are both widely available in various cab and cargo box configurations, as well as with rear-wheel or four-wheel drive. However, the Duramax diesel engine is not available in Extended Cab models and is required to be paired with certain options, making it slightly more expensive than the V-6 engine.
Now, let’s dive into the differences between the V-6 and Duramax diesel engines. The 3.6-liter V-6 engine produces 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque, while the 2.8-liter turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine generates 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The V-6 engine delivers power and torque in a more traditional manner, with peak power reached at 6,800 rpm and peak torque at 4,000 rpm. On the other hand, the Duramax diesel engine provides more effortless, low-rpm performance with peak power achieved at 3,400 rpm and peak torque at 2,000 rpm. The V-6 engine accelerates smoothly and allows for higher revs during acceleration, making passing easy. In contrast, the diesel engine operates at low revs and features smoother, more slurred shifts, rarely requiring a downshift due to its ample torque.
In terms of fuel efficiency, the V-6 engine is known to be quite thirsty, especially when pressed. Four-wheel-drive versions of the V-6 engine achieve around 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, with lower numbers expected during everyday driving and even lower numbers when towing or carrying heavy loads. Fuel economy ratings for the Duramax diesel engine haven’t been released yet, but General Motors has hinted that it will return more than 30 mpg on the highway. Early tests have shown mileage numbers in the 20s even when loaded up with a trailer.
In terms of towing capacity, both engines offer similar brawn. The maximum towing capacity with the diesel engine is slightly higher at 7,700 pounds compared to the V-6 engine’s 7,000 pounds. However, the diesel engine is likely the better choice for those who frequently push the limits of their truck’s capabilities or plan to tow long distances. It’s important to keep in mind that diesel fuel may not be as readily available in certain areas, and diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) is required for the diesel engines, which needs to be regularly filled.
Ultimately, choosing between the V-6 and diesel engines depends on how you plan to use your truck. If you prioritize high-speed passing and do mostly lighter-duty commuting and urban/suburban tasks, the V-6 engine may be the better pick. On the other hand, if you plan to push the limits of your truck’s capabilities or prioritize fuel efficiency, the Duramax diesel engine is a solid choice. Take your usage patterns and requirements into consideration before making your decision.