Three engines, an array of cab and bed combinations, stout towing ability and a tight footprint make the Chevrolet Colorado a top pick among midsize trucks.
The Chevrolet Colorado is a tale of two trucks: one built in the mid-2000s and the current truck, now just a few years into its lifecycle. The Colorado available at Chevy dealers today is quite different from its first-generation predecessor. The engines have more guts and the interior is roomier, more refined, and loaded with technology. Older models offered good utility and off-road ability for the time, but tight cabin space and inconsistent build quality plagued the Colorado. In general, a midsize truck like the Colorado should appeal to you if you want something that's more affordable and easier to park than a full-size truck.
Current Chevrolet Colorado The Chevrolet Colorado is a midsize pickup truck offered in extended-cab and crew-cab body styles. There are two bed lengths available and five trim levels: Base, Work Truck, LT, Z71 and ZR2.
For a no-nonsense truck, Base and Work Truck models hit the spot, with the Base available only as an extended cab with the long bed. Features include a 200-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, air-conditioning, vinyl upholstery and flooring, front bucket seats and a rearview camera. Four-wheel drive is optional. The Work Truck is equipped similarly but offers extended-cab jump seats, cloth upholstery and carpeting. It's also available as a crew cab. The main difference is that the Work Truck can be had with more optional features including a 3.6-liter V6 (308 hp) or a 2.8-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder (181 hp).
Other notable Work Truck options include cruise control, the app-based MyLink system with Bluetooth connectivity, a 7-inch display screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Most of these items and more come standard on the LT, which also includes 17-inch alloy wheels, an 8-inch touchscreen, satellite radio and USB ports. The Z71 sits atop the heap and comes with all-terrain tires, an off-road-oriented suspension, added safety features, heated front seats and a Bose audio system, among other features.
In reviews, we've praised the Colorado's optional engines. The V6 provides quick acceleration, and the diesel four-cylinder returns the best fuel economy and has plenty of low-end torque for towing. Properly equipped, V6 models can pull up to 7,000 pounds. The turbocharged four-cylinder can tow up to 7,700 pounds.
We also like how the Colorado is stable and handles well around turns. It's comfortable and quiet, even on long drives and even with an empty cargo bed. Although the Colorado is built to handle off-highway stuff, the low nose and front airdam — which Chevy claims aids aerodynamic efficiency and fuel economy — significantly hampers the Colorado's ability to crawl steeper objects and angles. You can remove it, but not without some hassle and not without voiding a warranty.
There is a solution, however. Serious off-roaders can go with the new Colorado ZR2 model. A rival to Toyota's Tacoma TRD Pro, the ZR2 comes with a sophisticated suspension, big all-terrain tires, a choice of a V6 or diesel engine, front and rear electronic locking differentials, and wider dimensions. With a ZR2, you'll be prepared to venture deep into the backcountry.
Used Chevrolet Colorado Models The current Chevrolet Colorado debuted for the 2015 model year after a three-year hiatus. Significantly redesigned from the ground up, today's Colorado is larger, more fuel-efficient and more tech-laden than its predecessor.
In 2015, the Colorado offered just the four- and six-cylinder gas engines; the diesel four-cylinder didn't arrive until 2016. That year also brought Apple CarPlay smartphone integration and an enhanced driver information display for LT and Z71 models. For 2017, the V6 got a slight bump in horsepower, up from 305 to 308, and an eight-speed automatic transmission instead of the previous six-speed auto.
Before the current model's reintroduction, the first-generation Colorado debuted in 2004 as a replacement for the smaller, outdated S-10 pickup and continued until 2012. Like most of its contemporaries, the Colorado was more midsize than compact, and as such it offered a reasonable amount of hauling capability without requiring an upgrade to a more expensive, less maneuverable full-size truck.
From the start, it was available in standard-cab, extended-cab and crew-cab configurations. Standard cabs seat up to three on their bench seat. Extended-cab models technically seat five, though adults won't be happy in the tiny, forward-facing jump seats. Crew cabs seat up to six, though the relatively narrow cab makes three-across seating quite snug for adults.
Initially, there were three main trim levels: the base level Work, midlevel LS and luxury-equipped LT. The LS was replaced for 2009 with the similar VL, and the following year the midlevel trim was dropped, leaving just the Work and LT versions. Work models were pretty basic as expected, while springing for the LT meant perks such as upgraded materials, full power accessories, a better stereo, satellite radio and even leather upholstery.
Until 2007, the Colorado was powered by a 2.8-liter inline-four with 175 horsepower or a 3.5-liter inline-five that made 220 hp. For 2007, those engines grew to 2.9 liters with 185 hp and 3.7 liters with 242 hp, respectively. A 5.3-liter V8 rated at 300 hp became optional in 2009.
The V8 was clearly the most capable engine available, but it was also the most inefficient. Although the four-cylinder version could have a five-speed manual, chances are most Colorados you come across will have the four-speed automatic that was optional on the four-cylinder and standard on the other engines.
The Colorado could be equipped with either a two-wheel-drive or a four-wheel-drive system with a dual-range transfer case. There were also several suspension options, including the Z85 heavy-duty and Z71 off-road packages as well as the street-oriented ZQ8, which featured a lowered, performance-tuned suspension, 18-inch wheels and cosmetic modifications.
Our reviews of the Chevrolet Colorado were lukewarm at best. The truck was capable, but its cabin accommodations and overall build quality always fell short when compared to more refined trucks from Nissan and Toyota. An affordable price made it appealing to budget-minded truck buyers, but the Colorado (and its GMC Canyon twin) suffered from lackluster four- and five-cylinder engines, an abundance of cheap cabin plastics, and a general lack of refinement.