Twins: Chevy Colorado & GMC Canyon

Chevy Colorado Crew Cab (left) and GMC Canyon Extended Cab (right). Separated at birth.

The frame provides 250% more stiffness than the one it replaces. And no hydroforming.

A lost-foam block for casting the Vortec 3500.

Although the Chevy S-10 pickup has had a good run (22 years), today's truck buyers want something a bit more substantial, so the S-10 is going away to be replaced by the Chevy Colorado. While it is a midsize truck (with a wheelbase of either 111.2 in. or 125.9 in., depending on whether it is speced as a regular cab (the former) or an extended or crew cab (the latter), and while it has a cargo box that’s as long as 72.9 in. for the extended cab version, naming it after a slightly larger than mid-sized state may be a bit of an exaggeration (even though it is three inches wider and four inches longer than the truck it replaces).

Interesting fact number 1: Although the Colorado is “all new,” that’s really not the case. One percent of the ‘04 model is a carryover from the S-10. The seat frame.

Interesting fact number 2: The Colorado can be fitted with an inline five-cylinder engine, the Vortec 3500, or a four-cylinder, the Vortec 2800. Both of these engines are derived from the Vortec 4200, an in-line six cylinder engine (that’s used in the Chevy TrailBlazer). All of these engines are all aluminum, produced with the lost-foam casting process that helps minimize the necessary machining due to the casting accuracy (to learn more, see: They have dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. More, the 3500 and the 2800 share 75% of their components with the Vortec 4200. And if looked at in the context of each other, the 3500 and 2800 share 89% of their components. (The 2.8-liter 2800 provides 175 hp @ 5,600 rpm and 185 lb-ft torque @ 2,800 rpm; the 3.5-liter engine provides 220 hp @ 5,600 rpm and 225 lb-ft torque @ 2,800 rpm).

Interesting fact number 3: The Colorado is being produced in the GM Shreveport, Louisiana, assembly plant. That’s where the S-10 had been built. But the Colorado is being produced in what is essentially a new facility, because when GM was planning on the new truck back in 1999, it announced that it would be making a more than $700-million investment in Shreveport. The truck goes into full production in the fourth quarter of 2003.

Interesting fact number 4: The S-10 isn’t the only truck that was built in recent time at Shreveport. It had been building the Isuzu Hombre in the facility. (GM owns about 48% of Isuzu). Those of you with long memories may recall that in 1971 there was a one-ton Isuzu pickup on the American market: the Isuzu KB, a.k.a., the Chevy Luv. At the 2001 Tokyo Motor Show, GM and Isuzu showed a concept for a midsize truck. It was to be a collaboration between the two companies. Although there was some shared engineering, the Colorado essentially isn’t that truck.


Interesting fact number 5: The truck is described by GM as a “midsize” pickup truck. It is in the EPA “compact truck category.

Interesting fact number 6: The truck doesn’t use hydroformed rails. There is a ladder-frame, H-configuration. Yet the truck is 250% stiffer than the S-10.

Although all of that has been said about the Chevy Colorado, the same can be pretty much said about another truck. The GMC Canyon. This is a new vehicle within the “professional grade” division’s lineup. Yes, the Colorado and the Canyon are the same vehicle. Trimmed differently. But the same truck.