Chevrolet Colorado SS
By: Mike Magda Posted: 11-04-04 20:00
© 2004

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Chevrolet showed off another Colorado concept vehicle with V8 power, lending more credence that GM is considering a major power upgrade to its recently introduced midsize pickup.

The Colorado SS made its debut at the 2004 SEMA Show and quickly drew big crowds peeking under the hood where a 400-horsepower 6.0-liter V8 engine fit quite nicely.

“We wanted to bring the Colorado into the SS family and this is the first step,” said Bruce Mader, Colorado project manager.

The new Colorado, which replaced the S-10 in the 2004 model year, has not equaled sales of the previous S-10 yet. GM officials continue to point to a slow but dedicated ramp up and unexpected demand for crew cabs as the main reasons for the sales lag in year-over-year numbers. But many observers, including, have pointed to the 5-cylinder engine, low tow rating and name change as possible reasons that sales are sluggish.

Two high-level truck executives have told PUTC that GM will increase the tow rating soon on both the Colorado and GMC Canyon. Officials now quietly admit that many customers shop by the numbers whether they have any intention of towing the max load or not. The peak tow rating for GM midsized truck is 4000 pounds while the competition can boast 5000 pounds or more. GM originally said it lowered the tow rating because customers who tow 5000 pounds or more usually buy a fullsize truck, and the lower rating gave engineers a chance to refine the ride.

But the loudest concerns from GM faithful focus on the 3.5-liter engine that is a 5/6ths brother to the I6 in the successful Trailblazer. Even though reviewers, including PUTC, have said the 220-horsepower engine is competent, well-engineered and quite capable of handling most midsized chores, many truck shoppers are wary of a 5-cylinder engine when the competition has more powerful V6s and Dodge offers a V8.

Late last summer, GM engineers brought out the Colorado Cruz, a wild concept powered by a V8 engine.

“The Cruz showed how far we can go,” explained Mader. “This truck was developed with production parts to see how viable it could be on an assembly line.”

Mader said the only real fabrication problems came in the engine mounts and the upper A-arms. Otherwise the modified LS2 engine and heavy-duty 4L70-E 4-speed automatic transmission was easily shoehorned under the hood. Final modifications include a custom exhaust and 9.5-inch rear end with 3.73:1 gears. Chevy lowered ZQ8 suspension, then upgraded the stopping power with 12-inch front brakes from a Silverado and rear disc brakes from a TrailBlazer. Twenty-inch rims clear the big brakes.

GM designers Dave Ross and Kip Wasenko came up with the unique grille, front fascia treatment, tonneau cover and rocker extensions. A deep Candy Apple Red paint and SS badging finish off the truck.

“This truck absolutely makes a statement as to what SS is,” boasted Mader, who hinted that the power-to-weight ratio would make the Colorado SS a strong contender with other high-performance pickups on the market.

The truck, of course, would need other tricks before it could honestly line up against a Ford Lightning, but this concept is definitely a step in the right direction in building a pickup worthy of the SS badge.

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