Visit southeast Asia and you'll see a lot of Chevrolet Colorados driving around. Surprised? You shouldn't be. Just because pickups were created for the heartland of America doesn't mean that they're not popular overseas. In fact, GM is a dominant player with the Colorado in markets like the Philippines.
If it works over there, it also works here. The Colorado scores a 7 out of 10 for its nice mix of interior and exterior styling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Ultimately, we think its twin, the GMC Canyon, resonates more with buyers and reads more "truck," but the Colorado's global styling cues don't get in the way of what's essentially a good-looking vehicle. What's interesting is that it doesn't look much like the Silverado with which it shares showroom space, while the Canyon is a near dead-ringer for the GMC Sierra.
While the full-size Silverado (and its SUV cousins, the Tahoe and Suburban) have been transformed with relentlessly rectilinear lines, the Colorado adopts a smaller, slimmer grille and rising shoulder line that softens the usual pickup silhouette. Its boxy fenders make an unusual counterpoint because, to some degree, there's no way to make a truck a truck without making it look like one. Those hints reveal the Colorado's global aspirations, a look more common to trucks in Asia and South America.
Inside the Colorado, there's a much closer kinship with the Silverado. It's rugged with an upscale finish, and better finishes than you'll find in any Tacoma or Frontier. There's a beefy steering wheel with lots of control buttons, a shield-shaped dash wearing the primary controls and an LCD display, and a shifter mounted on a rather wide console that splits the cabin down the middle (at least in front). It's truck-ish enough, but there's more than a passing resemblance to the latest General Motors sedans in the bolstering of the seats, the intersection of trim on the doors and dash, and even in the soft-touch, aluminum-look trim itself.
The GMC Canyon, again, acquits itself a little better inside with some material and color selections, but you really need to park the two together to discern any major differences.
Looking decidedly global, the Colorado is a nice looking truck that we think is slightly overshadowed by its GMC Canyon sibling.
With a trio of engine choices, the Chevrolet Colorado offers something for just about every buyer.
We give it a 7 out of 10 for performance with a point for its engine and its 8-speed automatic. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The new V-6 is shared with a host of other GM products, and in this application it is rated at 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. Not only is the engine, with its direct injection and cylinder displacement tech new, but so is the 8-speed automatic transmission that accompanies it. The new V-6 is marginally smoother than before and its power is spread across a slightly wider band, but the big boon here is actually the 8-speed automatic. It's a quick, crisp-shifting unit. Our only kvetch is that it lacks a separate gate or steering wheel-mounted paddles for manual shifting, something particularly useful in hilly areas with a trailer hitched up out back.
A 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-4 was last year's star addition, making 181 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque at just 2,000 rpm. Trust us, you'll find no shortage of available torque for easy pulling across the rev range. Properly equipped, a Colorado with the turbodiesel is rated at up to 7,700 pounds. But the more important fact isn't a number—it's how effortlessly this engine catapults the Colorado and its cargo up to speed, even at high elevations and up steep grades.
The diesel provides the low-rpm performance of a V-8. If you’re not pulling a heavy load, acceleration is close to effortless, while even up long grades it doesn’t require the dramatic downshifts you might see from a gasoline engine. And if you are pulling a heavy load, its torque helps erase the challenge of uphill grades, while the optional exhaust brake (so-called "jake brake") helps modulate downhill speeds with a full load.
If you're equally into manual transmissions, you're forced into the 4-cylinder anyway—but GM's 6-speed automatic also makes the most of the four's moderate output. It's not the economy leader in the Chevy lineup—and rival fours from Toyota and Nissan match its combined fuel economy ratings—but it's a far better match for the kind of driving and infrequent hauling that a lot of truck buyers do, whether they realize it or not.
The gasoline V-6 checks in at the same 7,000 pound maximum towing capacity as last year's same-size unit, which should be fine for a small boat or even a trailer with a lighter weight car on it.
For 2017, Chevy has added its Autotrac transfer case, with an automatic mode suitable for any kind of pavement or dirt, to all LT and Z71 models. The work-oriented WT, on the other end, has a simpler setup that isn't meant for use on dry pavement or even merely damp roads.
The top-trim ZR2 package adds off-road hardware such as dual-stage dampers, knobby tires, off-road programming, locking differentials, and plenty of macho looks. It's available for V-6 and turbodiesel models, and could be the most comfortable off-road truck we've been in.
Regardless of setup, all Colorados smooth over bumps deftly with steering that tracks mostly true. Like any body-on-frame design, there are a fair amount of secondary ride motions that make their way into the cabin, but big tire sidewalls help quell some of the roughness.
A new V-6 should make the Colorado as competitive as ever.
There's no regular cab Colorado, but that should be fine with most buyers. Instead, the crew cab offers a decent facsimile of a family car, while the extended cab offers decent in-cabin storage.
On all, the interior is a cut above the mid-size truck norm, almost impersonating the big boys like the Silverado when configured properly. For that, we rate it a 6 out of 10, dinging it mainly for a so-so second row of seats on all. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Front seat passengers are treated to a big view outside and a car-like dashboard on both the crew cab and extended cab models. The Colorado has somewhat skinny front seats, but it's surrounded by good head and leg room, a well-finished dash, and lots of small storage slots, bins, and trays. The driving position alone would convince us to upgrade: it has a higher hip point and a more natural relationship to the steering wheel—completely without the splayed-out, legs-out stance you have to adopt in the Tacoma, in particular. This may not stand out on a quick test drive, but after an hour behind the wheel, the Colorado proves far more relaxing to drive.
The second row is definitely second class, regardless of cab. Pick the extended cab and a pair of jump seats occupy the space behind the front row. They're suitable for children to ride short distances, but that's about it. The crew cab has enough room for adults, but it's limited in leg room and the seatbacks are very upright.
The extended cab comes with a 6-foot bed, while the crew cab offers either a 6- or 5-foot option.
The bed's much better configured for day-in, day-out use. It's shy on length to full-sizers, but with available bed extenders, an 8-foot object can be brought home without much fuss. Thoughtful touches abound in the bed: there's a corner bumper step and easy-lowering tailgate on all versions, as well as some 17 tie-down spots inside the bed. It can be fitted with either a spray-in bedliner or a drop-in one; cargo dividers; a system of racks and carriers dubbed GearOn; cargo nets and tonneau covers; a drop-in toolbox; and of course, trailer hitches and harnesses.
On the fit-and-finish front, the Tacoma and Frontier have a lot of catching up to do, too. The Colorado's tall console stores an iPad out of sight, while also housing the shift lever, a USB port (or as many as four), and a pair of big cupholders. The shifter location's a minor concern, as it sits close to the driver's knee, but it's a minor gripe in a cabin so well turned-out, especially for the class.
By the numbers, the Colorado can tote between 1,410 pounds and 1,590 pounds of payload, and can tow a minimum of 3,500 pounds—7,700 pounds at the max rating. It's a perfect bridge between the family crossover and the mega trucks we call full-sizers today, but mostly if you're unconcerned with carrying full-sized people in the back seats.
With its roomy interior and nice finishings, the Colorado is an excellent mid-size truck.
The Chevrolet Colorado hasn't been fully tested by the IIHS, but federal testers haven't been all that kind.
The NHTSA assigned the Colorado a four-star (out of five) overall rating to the Colorado with a worrisome three-star rating in the calculated rollover score.
Those scores mean that we can't assign it a safety score higher than 4 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The IIHS gives the Colorado its top "Good" rating for the demanding small overlap front test, but it hasn't been evaluated in any of the agency's other tests.
Standard equipment with the includes six standard airbags that have larger side bags meant to prevent passengers from being ejected in a rollover. Over-sized side mirrors give better visibility, and a rearview camera is standard. In addition to the standard stability-control system, the Colorado also includes standard trailer sway control and hill-descent control systems.
A forward collision alert system and a lane departure system are optional on LT models, but there's no automatic emergency braking feature yet.
Safety scores for the Colorado aren't fully complete, but federal ratings aren't too impressive.
|Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating:||(4/5)|
|Overall Side Crash Rating:||(5/5)|
|Overall Side Barrier Rating:||Not Rated|
|NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating:||(3/5)|
|Side Impact Test||Not Tested|
|Roof Strength Test||Not Tested|
|Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint||Not Tested|
|IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
|IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results||Not Tested|
Though there are just three trim levels, a small number for a pickup, the Colorado offers a fairly high degree of flexibility and customization.
You can't pick and choose options like you could decades ago, but the wide range of engine and sub-packages mean that you're not likely to find two matching Colorados on a dealer lot. For that, we rate this truck an 8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
There are three flavors: WT, LT and Z71.
The WT stands for "work truck," but even its features aren't necessarily basic. All Colorados come with vinyl seats, but they also get a standard rearview camera; a locking tailgate; tilt steering; power windows; air conditioning; and an AM/FM radio with a USB port and a 4.2-inch touchscreen interface; vinyl seats. These fleet-duty trucks can also be configured with cruise control and keyless remote.
You can even order a WT with a bed delete in case you want to put a flatbed back there, for instance.
From there, the LT serves as the volume model, and it includes cruise control, cloth upholstery, an 8.0-inch infotainment system, parent company GM's OnStar safety and concierge services (which are included for 5 years as a basic plan but require a monthly charge afterward), a 4G LTE hotspot (that again requires a subscription), and alloy wheels.
The LT offers a wide range of options, including navigation, heated seats (in cloth or leather), auto-dimming mirrors, and a Bose audio system.
The Z71 serves as the flagship, but it's also the most off-road-oriented model. It includes hill descent control, an automatic locking rear differential, tow hooks, and all-terrain tires as standard.
Only the LT can be ordered with lane departure warning and forward collision alert, however.
The 4-cylinder gas engine is standard on extended cab WT and LT models, while the 3.6-liter V-6 is standard otherwise. LT and Z71s are available with the turbodiesel, but only with the crew cab body style.
From work truck to bucks-up off roader, there are Colorados for everyone.
The V-6 is the most popular pick for many Colorado buyers, and in rear-drive spec it's rated at 18 mpg city, 25 highway, 20 combined. With four-wheel drive that rating slips to 17/24/19 mpg.
Since the V-6 is the most popular engine, by far, it earns a 6 on our scale—just. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The most fuel-efficient Colorado is the rear-wheel drive, automatic transmission 4-cylinder, which checks in at 20/27/22 mpg. Opt for the automatic and those figures drop to 20/26/22 mpg.
A four-wheel drive model with the 4-cylinder is rated at 19/25/21 mpg.
The rear-drive turbodiesel is much thriftier at 22/30/25 mpg, an impressive set of numbers for a small pickup. The four-wheel drive version, meanwhile, is a still decent 20/28/23 mpg.
The Colorado is reasonably frugal for a mid-size pickup—and its new V-6 may do even better.