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Old 08-26-2017, 09:22 AM   #1
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Towing with Chevy Colorado

Does anyone out there tow with a Chevy Colorado? I have a 3.6l V-6 with towing package rated at 7000#. I have talked with people who told me that towing a 19' should be no problem even without WD or sway control hitch. Thoughts anyone?
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Old 08-26-2017, 09:58 AM   #2
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No problem at all. I towed a Scamp 19' and got 15-16 mpg but will move up to the 4 cyl diesel in my next Colorado for that 4000+# load. The 3.6 gas and 6 speed is a little overmatched for that load.
Can't see a WDH for a 19, 21 maybe.
The tow package is excellent with a 3500# hitch, locking rear, 7 pin, auto downshift in steep declines, etc.
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Old 08-26-2017, 02:08 PM   #3
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The 3.6 gas and 6 speed is a little overmatched for that load.
That engine has over 300 horsepower available. What makes you feel that it is overmatched by this load? Different people have very different expectations of performance - what are yours and does it meet them?
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Old 08-26-2017, 03:06 PM   #4
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I have a 3.7 v6 ford similar numbers to GM 3.6
So far ive only towed my pop up at 2500# and my 5x10 enclosed trailer at 2000#. As long as you know you have to rev it you will probably be fine.
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Old 08-26-2017, 04:50 PM   #5
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Howdy from windy, rainy TX
When we got the 2015 Canyon SLT we had a Casita 17 and it towed like nothing was back there at all. I was always checking the mirrors to be sure. That short bed truck fits in our garage. We stepped up to a gooseneck Scamp 19 DL and that towed well but on grades and headwinds you knew it was gonna search down to 4th to keep up to the 63 mph I like. Rarely would it pull in 6th unless with a tailwind or downhill but still got a respectable 15-16 mpg.
Now, with a TA which is considerably taller, wider, and heavier than the Scamp 19, the Canyon is a mediocre tow vehicle. Poor fuel milage, zero safety margin for any necessary passing, "ahh crap" thoughts during trip planning when the road will go into grades (up or down), more ah crap thoughts when your trip day will include 8 hours of wind in the grill. You'll be in 4th or have to slow to 40 or less so it doesn't go to 3rd. That was the 3500 mile shake down camping trip home from Chilliwack.
(BTW the TA is wonderful)
Having 305 hp is great but...369 fp of torque @2000 rpm (diesel) vs 269 fp @4000 rpm (gas) is better for a tow vehicle. I got a very disapointing 13.8 mpg and the diesel can beat that by 8 mpg without white knuckle events.
If you're just going back and forth to the lake the Canyon/Colorado gas is fine for a TA (and you can put the Frontier and Tacoma in this same evaluation). But, from my point of view and experience on a long haul, this engine does not marry well with a TA.
Best regards, Bob and Judy
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Old 08-26-2017, 09:06 PM   #6
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Thanks for the detailed info
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Originally Posted by Bobnjudy View Post
You'll be in 4th or have to slow to 40 or less so it doesn't go to 3rd.
At 40 miles per hour in 4th gear (with P255/65R17 tires and the six-speed), a Colorado/Canyon engine is turning 1778 rpm... far short of the speed at which the engine reaches peak torque. At this speed, about 71 horsepower is available. Even at 60 miles per hour (still in 4th), the engine is turning 2667 rpm... still well short of the speed at which the engine reaches peak torque; 118 horsepower is available. Even less power is actually being delivered if you are not pushing the accelerator pedal all the way down, to avoid an automatic downshift to 3rd. That's lots for level ground cruising, but not much for grade climbing or accelerating to pass with a load.

If the 71 to 118 horsepower and 916 to 965 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels isn't enough over that 40 mph to 60 mph speed range, you can shift to third (or let the truck do it by itself) resulting in 2365 to 3550 rpm - still short of the speed at which the engine reaches peak torque - and get 102 to 163 horsepower and 1268 to 1359 lb-ft. Even second gear, which provides much more power, still leaves the engine below its best speed for maximum power.

If the expectation is tow a heavy load at highway speed at very low engine speeds, any 3.6 litre non-turbocharged engine will be inadequate. You need either much more displacement (the GM 6.2L V8 might be able to produce as much as 200 hp at these speeds), or a turbocharger. The only turbocharged gasoline pickup is currently the F-150 with EcoBoost (although one could wait to see what Ford puts in the 2019 Ranger); turbocharged diesels are the Colorado/Canyon or (with a bigger and heavier body) the Ram 1500 diesel (are they still calling it "EcoDiesel"?).

The Colorado/Canyon diesel engine can produce 120 to 172 horsepower and 1395 to 1375 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels in 4th gear at the same speeds (40 to 60 mph). That's running at the same engine speeds as the gas engine, but with an engine that has a much lower safe maximum operating speed (so it's much closer to the engine's limit).
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Old 08-26-2017, 10:47 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by David Reeves View Post
Does anyone out there tow with a Chevy Colorado? I have a 3.6l V-6 with towing package rated at 7000#. I have talked with people who told me that towing a 19' should be no problem even without WD or sway control hitch. Thoughts anyone?
I just picked up my 19 and towed it back to NM, the long way via the Dakotas in a GMC Canyon (basically the same vehicle that you have). We were traveling for about 3 1/2 weeks. I did get the WDH just because I'm a newbie towing anything and figured it couldn't hurt. I didn't have any serious problems. Going up some steep hills, like the Raton pass, caused me to slow down a bit, but not as much as most of the 18 wheelers. The gas mileage dropped to about 13 mpg on average which was a bigger drop than I expected, but....
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Old 08-26-2017, 11:54 PM   #8
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My Canyon is a diesel, so I can't speak directly to performance with the 3.6L, but if you look around at the various towing threads you will see many people happily pulling 19's and even 21's with tow vehicles no more capable, and often somewhat less capable, than your Colorado. If you want to climb the Siskiyou at 75 mph, you'll be disappointed; otherwise, you should be fine.
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Old 08-27-2017, 10:23 AM   #9
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I just returned from a 6000 mile tour of Banff/Jasper and Idaho with my 2009 Tacoma and promptly traded it in on a 2017 diesel Canyon. Nothing wrong with the Tacoma other than high miles, I didn't want to break in the Canyon with a 6000 mile towing trip.

I need to play a bit with the integrated brake controller; but otherwise, it tows like a dream at altitude.
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Old 08-27-2017, 01:06 PM   #10
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towing with Colorado

You folks are great! Thank you one and all for all the input. You have given me much food for thought. I feel much more comfortable with the idea of towing with my chevy. Maybe some day a diesel but for now It sounds like the 3.6 V6 will be fine. Thank you one and all!!
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Old 08-27-2017, 05:13 PM   #11
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Thanks to Bob and Judy. Hope you are loving that TA. If I ever graduate to a TA, I will absolutely be looking for more torque.
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Old 08-27-2017, 07:16 PM   #12
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Thank you Bobnjudy for posting your first hand experiences with
the Canyon SLT V6. I found your post to be highly informative and factual .
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Old 08-27-2017, 08:19 PM   #13
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Thanks for the detailed info

At 40 miles per hour in 4th gear (with P255/65R17 tires and the six-speed), a Colorado/Canyon engine is turning 1778 rpm... far short of the speed at which the engine reaches peak torque. At this speed, about 71 horsepower is available. Even at 60 miles per hour (still in 4th), the engine is turning 2667 rpm... still well short of the speed at which the engine reaches peak torque; 118 horsepower is available. Even less power is actually being delivered if you are not pushing the accelerator pedal all the way down, to avoid an automatic downshift to 3rd. That's lots for level ground cruising, but not much for grade climbing or accelerating to pass with a load.

If the 71 to 118 horsepower and 916 to 965 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels isn't enough over that 40 mph to 60 mph speed range, you can shift to third (or let the truck do it by itself) resulting in 2365 to 3550 rpm - still short of the speed at which the engine reaches peak torque - and get 102 to 163 horsepower and 1268 to 1359 lb-ft. Even second gear, which provides much more power, still leaves the engine below its best speed for maximum power.

If the expectation is tow a heavy load at highway speed at very low engine speeds, any 3.6 litre non-turbocharged engine will be inadequate. You need either much more displacement (the GM 6.2L V8 might be able to produce as much as 200 hp at these speeds), or a turbocharger. The only turbocharged gasoline pickup is currently the F-150 with EcoBoost (although one could wait to see what Ford puts in the 2019 Ranger); turbocharged diesels are the Colorado/Canyon or (with a bigger and heavier body) the Ram 1500 diesel (are they still calling it "EcoDiesel"?).

The Colorado/Canyon diesel engine can produce 120 to 172 horsepower and 1395 to 1375 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheels in 4th gear at the same speeds (40 to 60 mph). That's running at the same engine speeds as the gas engine, but with an engine that has a much lower safe maximum operating speed (so it's much closer to the engine's limit).
Uh where did you get those numbers? I am assuming typing on a phone or somethign and hitting some extra keys?
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Old 08-28-2017, 02:13 AM   #14
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Uh where did you get those numbers? I am assuming typing on a phone or somethign and hitting some extra keys?
No, you probably just missed that those values are torque at the rear wheels, not at the engine. Many people obsess about the torque at the engine output, and forget that the transmission and final drive (rear end gears) multiply that torque. Diesels are great, but all that torque is only available at low engine speed, so they must be operated in a higher gear, and the end result at the wheels may not be any better than the gas engine in the same vehicle. In the case of the Colorado, the gas engine is substantially stronger, but must be run faster to reach peak power.

Bob prefers to run his engine at very low speed, so he would be better with the diesel. He could shift down a gear or two, for much more multiplication of torque by the lower gearing, so there's more driving torque at the wheels... that's how the faster-revving non-turbocharged engine is able to accelerate and pull harder than the diesel, if you let it. If you are not willing to let the engine turn that fast, this is not an option.

My favourite illustration of this is the engine of the M-1 Abrams main battle tank. The tank weighs 60 to 72 tons (depending on version), and is impressively fast (for a tank), but the engine only puts out 395 lb-ft of torque at peak and 275 lb-ft of torque at the maximum power speed... about the same a pickup truck. How does that work? The turboshaft (turbine) engine delivers that peak torque at 10,000 rpm and the peak power (262 lb-ft of torque) occurs at 30,000 rpm. It's simply one-tenth of the torque at ten times the speed of diesel engines used in similar vehicles... and the result at the wheels (okay, tracks in this case) is the same.
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Old 08-28-2017, 02:22 AM   #15
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climb the Siskiyou at 75 mph,

Thank you for reminding me of a bucket list item to cross off.
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Old 08-28-2017, 02:59 AM   #16
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Some people really like the "Ike Gauntlet" towing tests. I find them annoying because they are all videos (take forever to watch, rather than just reading the results), and because they keep changing the trailer so there is no reasonable way to compare trucks in most cases.

In the case of the Colorado, they tested the Colorado gas (current model with 8-speed), Canyon diesel, and Nissan Frontier with matched trailers. The trailers are narrower, lower, and with a more rounded front than an Escape, but have lousy aerodynamics along the sides (protruding fenders); they were loaded at 6100 pounds gross (more than an Escape).

(It doesn't seem to be listed on the corresponding website)

Unfortunately, they tested a gas engined Colorado without the towing package... that may not have affected climbing performance. They also tested trucks with different equipment (aside from the engine). The test driver of the gas truck also couldn't even tell what gear he was in (apparently didn't learn the displays or read the manual), and certainly didn't shift for best performance.

The hill used is at high elevation, where turbocharged engines have an advantage.

Results (time to climb the grade):
  • gas: 8 min 18 sec (about 55 mph at the point where they commented on speed)
  • diesel: 9 min 11 sec (about 49 mph at presumably the same point, and they were using 3000 rpm, so don't expect this performance at under 2000 rpm)
The Canyon did better in engine braking (perhaps because they didn't know how to drive the 8-speed in the Colorado), and much more expensive Canyon Denali was also quieter. The diesel used less fuel (a real advantage of the diesel in this situation), and so these guys scored the win to the Canyon diesel.

The test may be of interest to anyone considering towing with the Colorado.
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Old 09-09-2017, 09:05 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Brian B-P View Post
Some people really like the "Ike Gauntlet" towing tests. I find them annoying because they are all videos (take forever to watch, rather than just reading the results), and because they keep changing the trailer so there is no reasonable way to compare trucks in most cases.

In the case of the Colorado, they tested the Colorado gas (current model with 8-speed), Canyon diesel, and Nissan Frontier with matched trailers. The trailers are narrower, lower, and with a more rounded front than an Escape, but have lousy aerodynamics along the sides (protruding fenders); they were loaded at 6100 pounds gross (more than an Escape).

(It doesn't seem to be listed on the corresponding website)

Unfortunately, they tested a gas engined Colorado without the towing package... that may not have affected climbing performance. They also tested trucks with different equipment (aside from the engine). The test driver of the gas truck also couldn't even tell what gear he was in (apparently didn't learn the displays or read the manual), and certainly didn't shift for best performance.

The hill used is at high elevation, where turbocharged engines have an advantage.

Results (time to climb the grade):
  • gas: 8 min 18 sec (about 55 mph at the point where they commented on speed)
  • diesel: 9 min 11 sec (about 49 mph at presumably the same point, and they were using 3000 rpm, so don't expect this performance at under 2000 rpm)
The Canyon did better in engine braking (perhaps because they didn't know how to drive the 8-speed in the Colorado), and much more expensive Canyon Denali was also quieter. The diesel used less fuel (a real advantage of the diesel in this situation), and so these guys scored the win to the Canyon diesel.

The test may be of interest to anyone considering towing with the Colorado.
Yeah, this was a doped test. And I'm speaking as a proud new owner of a 2018 Colorado Duramax. I'm resigned to pulling our "in the queue" 5.0 TA at 60-63 m/h on the highways, and slowing for hills, when we go out for our 2-3 month trans Canada trip next summer.

We tend to forget that even high time Escape owners end up actually towing for 10-15% of their driving time. The rest of it is driving into town and around the country near where we're camping for a few days. Or for 2 months at a time for us, for the last 3 years. Not to mention the home time in the middle of a city, which, for us, is still going to be 70-75% of it. We want economy, wife parkability, quiet, a good ride, and convenience, WITH safe towability. That's just us, but I'll bet that some others would end up realizing that they have many of the same use patterns, if they thought it thru.

Separately, great reminder on rear wheel torque. I'm under no illusion that I won't be shifting down more than the 300 HP'ers, even though I have good diesel torque. I'm relying on the Chevy brags about overall Colorado diesel trailer towing burliness, and the fact that I will actually still be comfortably under all of their ratings, albeit with a lower power/weight ratio.
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Old 09-10-2017, 02:07 AM   #18
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Yeah, this was a doped test. And I'm speaking as a proud new owner of a 2018 Colorado Duramax. I'm resigned to pulling our "in the queue" 5.0 TA at 60-63 m/h on the highways, and slowing for hills, when we go out for our 2-3 month trans Canada trip next summer.
You might be surprised. We tow our 21 at 60-65 mph as a matter of policy - I think in general that towing that much load any faster is imprudent - but I've yet to encounter a "hill" that slowed us from that speed due to power/torque limitations, including a few 10,000' plus mountain passes.
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Old 09-10-2017, 02:41 PM   #19
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... I've yet to encounter a "hill" that slowed us from that speed due to power/torque limitations, including a few 10,000' plus mountain passes.
How steep a grade have you encountered, Stan?

The "Ike Gauntlet" road is the one side of the Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado, through Loveland Pass, running about 6% and at over 10,000 feet elevation. The Trans-Canada Highway doesn't go that high, but has some similar and even steeper grades, such as in Rogers Pass and Kicking Horse Pass.
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Old 09-10-2017, 03:10 PM   #20
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How steep a grade have you encountered, Stan?

The "Ike Gauntlet" road is the one side of the Eisenhower Tunnel in Colorado, through Loveland Pass, running about 6% and at over 10,000 feet elevation. The Trans-Canada Highway doesn't go that high, but has some similar and even steeper grades, such as in Rogers Pass and Kicking Horse Pass.
A true test of pulling power. That was one of the few "hills" that overworked the RAV4 (269 hp & 246 ft lbs torque) pulling my 17B. 40MPH in second gear. The only thing worse was towing up to the Cedar Breaks National Monument. For that I was sometimes in 1st! Not sure what the grade was, but steeper than I70 heading for the Eisenhower tunnel, and many switchbacks. A great view, but next time I'll leave the trailer in a campground!
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