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New Chevrolet Colorado Tested in Chiangrai



The launch of the next generation Thai-built Chevrolet Colorado seems right around the corner, and engineers are finishing up their final rounds of testing on the truck.


In the middle of almost an hour of pushing the Chevrolet Colorado pickup to its limit, the mountain road suddenly twists to the left then abruptly leads to the right. There was a series of non-stop turns while climbing up a mountain to reach a resort up in Chiang Rai, the Baguio-like escape 839 kms. north of Bangkok, Thailand.

The turns were turning more challenging than the zigzag roads of Tanay, Atimonan or even Marcos Highway that the panorama changes every five seconds.  No pity was given to the Colorado as its steering wheel fumed like a mad spinning wheel.

That portion didn’t only test the driver’s skill and the passenger’s patience, it also proved the Chevrolet Colorado’s claim of tough power, perfect handling and sedan-like comfort amidst challenging terrain.

Perhaps, the test drive perfectly illustrates what Martin Apfel, president of GM South East Asia Operations and GM Thailand, said in a press conference about the Colorado’s “power and comfort at its finest”. “The all-new Chevrolet Colorado is the perfect embodiment of superior on- and off-road performance, comfort, refinement, fuel economy, and safety.

We have no doubt that the Colorado is a tough and powerful contender in the pickup market,” he said.

Mr. Apfel was also present when the show truck of the Colorado was launched in the Bangkok Motorshow early this year. A lot of buzz was created during the launch which vaulted the Colorado to be among the top contenders in the competitive pickup segment.

A lot of people were not expecting the Colorado to arrive soon but it will be available in the Philippine market as early as the first quarter of 2012, according to Atty. Albert Arcilla, managing director and COO of The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI), the official distributor of Chevrolet cars in the Philippines.  The final prices of the Colorado will also be announced early next year.

The 2.8L Colorado A/T with a four-cylinder Duramax turbo-diesel engine (it is also available in 2.5L) which we rode on the first day didn’t clam up in face of mixed road conditions – from open roads and winding roads, from narrow village strips to an off-road section – allowing various motoring journalists from Southeast Asia to test the pickup’s flexibility and handling.  There were also a number of steep inclines which tested the Colorado’s torque and power.

At the end of the 250-km test drive on Day 1, no complaints – from the drivers, passengers, and the vehicle too – were heard as most drivers rated the pickup between eight to nine out of 10 points. Power is present when needed and the vehicle engine didn’t falter.

In the highways, the Colorado kept up with the fast pace and showed no signs of slowing down.  On the other hand, the passengers were cocooned in the interior designed to offer a higher comfort level among pickups.

In fact, in the drive that lasted almost seven hours, I did not arrive at the Phu Jai Sai Resort exhausted and rattled from the harsh vibration of old-model pickups.

As a perennial passenger, I can attest that it was comfortable inside the Colorado that I was able to appreciate some views of Thailand’s countryside and sneak a nap. Suspension is way better than the previous Colorado iteration according to some motoring journalists.  Power may be the primary reason why one will purchase this pickup but putting the comfort of passengers as a consideration may also be one of the top plus things going for the Colorado.

The Colorado’s powerful 2.5 and 2.8 engines feature a 16-valve configuration, CRDI system, and an intercooled turbo-charger. The 2.8L Duramax churns out 180 hp at 3,800 rpm, and 470 Nm at 2,000 rpm when mated to a six-speed AT.

Mated with a five-speed MT, the engine produces 440 Nm of torque at 2,000 rpm. Meanwhile, the 2.5L Duramax produces 150 hp at 3,800 rpm and 250 Nm at 2,000 rpm. Both engines are produced in the newly-opened GM Thailand’s Powertrain facility which is located in Rayong. It is the first GM facility in the world to produce the new Duramax engines.

In addition to its high-performance engine, it comes with electronic airconditioning controls, a multi-function steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity and other features that enhance driving. A host of passive and active safety features are present including TCS (traction control system), ABS, ESP, PBA (panic brake assist), and CBC (cornering brake control).

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