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A tan 2023 Chevy Colorado is shown off-roading on a dirt road.

One Displacement to Rule Them All: The 2023 Colorado’s 2.7L I-4

So you’ve learned about the 2023 Chevy Colorado, its brand-new features, and its focus on off-roading. You’re probably also thinking about the new powertrain setup, asking: how can the truck be geared for off-roading with a four-cylinder? Well, there’s more to it than just the 2023 Colorado ditching its old engine options and sticking with a single displacement. But why a four-cylinder? Well, believe it or not, the current powertrain selection for the Colorado has a lot to do with the 2022 Chevy Silverado. Now you’re probably wondering, what exactly does the Silverado have to do with the Colorado? It’s a reasonable question to ask, given that the off-road 2023 Colorado seems like a far cry from the full-size Silverado.

How the High-Output I-4 Paved the Way for the 2023 Colorado

Everything started with the re-engineered 2.7-liter four-cylinder powertrain introduced for the 2022 Silverado. The turbocharged 2.7-liter engine has been a widely available option in the Silverado lineup since 2019 and even found its way under the hood of the 2020 Cadillac CT4. What the engineers at General Motors decided to do for 2022 was not so much reinvent the wheel but buff it, fortify it, and polish it up some. As a result, we ended up with the 2.7-liter Turbo High-Output I-4. A mouthful, no doubt, but well worth the inconvenience.

You may have read about it before, but as a quick refresher, the 2.7-liter Turbo High-Output engine features an enhanced cylinder block casting with much higher rigidity and a much stiffer crankshaft, so it can put down more torque faster and more efficiently. In fact, the crankshaft was made 30% stiffer, so it’s designed to deal with the abuse that comes at higher revs. Chevy also utilized a fully forged bottom and overall structural improvements for noise reduction and the ability to handle higher output at lower RPMs, hence the name “High-Output” for this not-so-little 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder.

Overall, the four-cylinder in the 2022 Silverado was designed to function like a diesel engine, but at a fraction of the weight, without the vibration, and without actually requiring diesel fuel. It’s positioned as a cost-effective alternative to the Duramax, with impressive towing capacity and quick downshifts. The High-Output has already proven to be quite the game-changer for the Silverado, and it’s a heck of a lot quicker than some people may have given it credit for. But the Colorado isn’t the Silverado.

The black interior of a 2023 Chevy Colorado shows the steering wheel and infotainment screen.

More Power in a Smaller Truck

Right off the bat, if the 2.7-liter High-Output is performing well for the 2022 Silverado, it’s definitely going to be a different kind of beast in the 2023 Colorado. Why? Well, the Colorado is a midsize truck rather than a full-size truck. Its 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque will have several hundred pounds less to move around with the Colorado.

The 2022 Silverado, depending on the trim, clocks in with a gross vehicle weight rating of around 7,000 lbs. Alternatively, the 2023 Colorado has a gross weight of at most 6,250 lbs. You’re looking at nearly a 1,000 lb difference between the two trucks at their greatest weight difference, and that means less work for the 2.7-liter High-Output when it’s equipped in the Colorado. You’re ultimately looking at a midsize truck that will certainly have more pep in its step, rocking the exact same powertrain as the full-size Silverado.

The other interesting thing about it is that the 2.7-liter High Output effectively replaces the 2.8-liter Duramax turbocharged diesel four-cylinder that used to be available in previous model years of the Chevy Colorado. Is it a worthy successor? Well, the 2.8-liter Duramax topped out at 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. With the new 2.7-liter High Output four-cylinder, you’re getting access to 61 lb-ft of additional torque within a similar RPM range. Seems like a much better trade-off by comparison.

Two More Four-Cylinders, No More V6

It’s easy to make a strong case for the 2023 Chevy Colorado getting the 2.7-liter High-Output turbocharged four-cylinder handed down from the Silverado. It just makes sense. A more powerful engine in a smaller truck. You get better towing, you get more performance, and you get better maneuverability out of the Colorado. There’s no downside there, right? Well, what about the other powertrains that have been replaced with the two other four-cylinder options? There’s now only one displacement in three variations and no more V6.

Well, the other four-cylinder engines are not quite up to par with their High-Output sibling, but they’re not exactly lagging behind a great deal either. In fact, the other two four-cylinders are actually better than the engine options they’re replacing. This includes the old 2.5-liter four-cylinder and the 3.6-liter V6 that used to be optional powertrains for the Colorado. If you measure up what the specs used to be for the old powertrains compared to the new ones, you’ll see that you’re actually better off with the new four-cylinder options by a long shot.

Take into consideration the old four-cylinder was a 2.5-liter that only managed 200 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. The 3.6-liter V6 only managed 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. Neither engine would have been a proper fit for the 2023 Colorado’s off-road-themed model lineup. The paltry torque on the 2.5-liter pales in comparison to the base turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder tucked into the Colorado, which makes 237 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. The new 2.7-liter Turbo Plus that replaces the V6 makes 310 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque. These variants of the 2.7-liter four-cylinder make the 2023 Colorado look a lot beefier, more aggressive, and more performance-ready than ever before…at least as far as specs are concerned.

A red 2023 Chevy Colorado is shown from the side off-roading.

One Displacement to Rule Them All…But Is It a Hard Sell?

Having three variants of a 2.7-liter four-cylinder powertrain is quite a bold move from Chevrolet for the 2023 Chevy Colorado. In some ways, the fact that the Colorado is a midsize truck helps avoid some of the groans the power-hungry truck crowd might have when visiting a Chevy truck dealership and finding a four-cylinder lineup. But it’s not just about how many cylinders you have, but what you do with the cylinders that you have, and the engineers at General Motors certainly seem to be well aware of what they have and how to make the most out of it.

The improvements to the Silverado’s four-cylinder were a great step forward. It’s a cost-effective alternative to a turbo-diesel and pumps out plenty of torque in a low RPM range. What more could you ask for? More audible grumble and menace? Fair point. Even still, the fact that we’re getting a highly tuned, highly effective lineup of four-cylinder engines primed to make the most use of the Colorado’s off-roading capabilities is still promising. One of the big selling points is the fact that even the base four-cylinder for the Colorado offers 18% more horsepower and 36% more torque than the previous model year. Combined with the second-generation eight-speed automatic transmission and the improved suspension and chassis design, you’re getting a high-powered, lightweight version of the Silverado with a lot more performance room to spare.

It’s still an interesting conundrum, though. Will people ignore the stigma of the four-cylinder to give the new Colorado a chance? Perhaps once they see the gains in the real world, it will be easier to accept the four-cylinder variants and their turbocharged capabilities. Positive feedback from the Silverado’s 2.7-liter High-Output engine also may go a long way in selling the 2023 Chevy Colorado’s capabilities, both on and off the road.

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