When we bumped into the all-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado at Car Craft Summer Nationals, we were immediately curious about the new power steering setup. The new midsize, as well as its cousin, the GMC Canyon, will utilize electric power assist, thus being the first trucks in the market segment to do so.
General Motors and Chevy have big plans for the Colorado and Canyon, so they didn't just change for the sake of it. From all accounts, the all-new midsize has ditched the traditional power-robbing pump and crank-driven belt system to free up some power, which in turn helps to increase mileage. Combined with all-new direct-injected engines, a 6-speed automatic transmission (previously only 4-gears), and active grill shutters to control and divert airflow at certain speed, the discarded power steering pump could be a deciding factor in achieving those MPG goals.
Let’s face it: GM has been touting that these new trucks will bring with them superior mileage. Of course, the EPA fuel economy stats are still pending, so we have no window sticker to offer city/hwy MPG estimates yet.
Here’s a quick look at the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado’s new electric power steering system:
How it works
Chevrolet has utilized variations of electric power assist for years on several models including the Cobalt Equinox, HHR, and Malibu. GM’s extinct Pontiac division also employed the device on several of its vehicles. Instead of a belt-driven hydraulic pump that “assists” the turning of the wheels, an electric motor takes its place. This electric motor is “driven” or controlled by a module, which continuously reads an assortment of information such as steering position from several sensors to adjust and determine the amount of assist needed.
Not getting too technical, the electric steering (more specifically, the module) can also been “tuned” or adjusted to suit a variety of vehicles and their specific chassis needs.
The main advantage to this setup is the elimination of a power-robbing pump and hoses the inevitably leak with age. There are no fluids to change and/or maintain.
Where is it?
Like all new cars, there’s not much to see from the topside of the 2015 Colorado engine bay. Makes us pine for the good old days when after opening a hood you’d be met with an engine block, which looked like just that: a block, framed in sheetmetal. Nowadays, in an ironic sense, all the newer tech-cool gadgets are hidden or inaccessible. We searched but could hardly see any of the steering column, let alone the new electric power steering parts. To get even a sneak peak of the new electric power steering assembly, we’d have to go underneath the truck.
On our backs, we instantly noticed the rack and pinion, its “arms” connecting out to the wheels. With the traditional belt and pulley configuration scrapped, you’d think there would be extra room. Well, even without the old pump, there’s no void of space here. There were two good-sized gears mounted inline on the rack taking up a fair amount of room. The far right one looked like the electric power assist unit (notice the wires), whereas the left one appeared to be the main steering gear box.
The 2015 Colorado and Canyon are GM’s answer to revitalize the midsize market. There have been several recalls associated with electric power assist in recent years for GM. We can only hope the newest version in the 2015 Colorado and Canyon will not be as susceptible to past reliability issues.
Interesting to note, however, is the fact that most of these recalls deal with FWD (front wheel drive) vehicles.
Either way, a new truck with new electric steering is news to us. Be prepared to take the wheel in a different way, knowing there’s something new and interesting under the hood.
For more information on the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado, visit the official website: http://www.chevrolet.com/2015-colorado-small-truck.html
For more information on Car Craft magazine, check out their website: (http://www.carcraft.com/index.html).