New & Used Chevrolet Colorado: In Depth
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The Chevrolet Colorado is closely related to the GMC Canyon and competes with the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. In the past it has also been a rival to the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota, among others.
Chevy's Colorado is a mid-size pickup truck, the smallest offered by the brand. It is powered by four-cylinder and V-6 engines, and positioned as an alternative to full-size pickups such as the Chevy Silverado, Ford F-150, or Ram 1500. The 2015 model year marked the return of the Colorado to the U.S. market after a brief hiatus.
MORE: See our 2016 Chevrolet Colorado review
The base engine on the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado lineup is a 200-horespower, 2.5-liter in-line four-cylinder engine, available with a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission; fuel economy is rated at up to 20 mpg city, 27 mpg highway, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Buyers can also opt for a 3.6-liter V-6 engine, which makes 305 hp and 289 lb-ft of torque and is paired solely to a six-speed automatic. Both engines feature aluminum blocks and heads and are fitted with direct-injection technology. The modern body-on-frame underpinnings of the latest Colorado provide impressive payload ratings; V-6 models can tow up to 7,000 pounds, while four-cylinder models can pull 3,500 pounds. Most models offer a choice between rear-wheel drive and 4WD.
Inside, Extended Cab and Crew Cab versions both accommodate back-seat passengers, although it's little more than a token effort in the latter. The Colorado is offered in Base, Work Truck, LT, and Z71 trims, with LT models comfort-oriented and well-trimmed inside while the V-6-only Z71 takes on more of an off-road flavor.
Cabin comforts are definitely improved versus the last versions of the Colorado, with good audio and smartphone connectivity, available navigation, and in top models, a seven-inch touch-screen infotainment system. There's also available OnStar 4G LTE data connectivity, which might help keep those who work out of their trucks.
While the new Colorado is impressive in its own right, perhaps the reason most people are aware of it is as a result of the 2014 World Series MVP Award ceremony. A very nervous Chevy representative stumbled through his note cards while describing the truck that was to be awarded to Madison Bumgarner, citing the truck's "technology and stuff." To its credit, Chevy owned the gaffe, using the #technologyandstuff hashtag and going so far as to use it in a full-page ad the following day.
Chevrolet has already begun adding special-edition Colorados to the lineup. One such model is the Colorado GearOn, which includes several items from the GearOn collection of add-ons that are also available as accessories. The GearOn Special Edition truck includes a sort of starter pack, consisting of the GearOn bars package, divider package, and cargo tie-down rings. Additional GearOn accessories—which can be used to mount equipment like bikes and kayaks in, over, or alongside the bed—can be purchased separately. The GearOn truck also includes additional popular equipment above and beyond a standard LT model.
There's also a Z71 Trail Boss edition, which is essentially an off-road-ready Z71 with a few extra add-ons, including some GearOn parts, round side steps, recovery hooks, and aggressive tires on dark-painted wheels. Chevrolet has also announced that it will sell a version of the Colorado without a bed, so that upfitters can create all sorts of vehicles with the chassis, including work trucks, delivery vans, and possibly recreational vehicles.
For the 2016 model year, a 181-horsepower, 2.8-liter Duramax turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine will be available in the Colorado; it should provide even better towing ability than the gas V-6, with fuel economy numbers that rival or top those of the base four. Chevy also showed a concept version of the Colorado diesel outfitted with suspension and other gear that make it ready for rock-crawling. The package may be offered on future Colorados or as a standalone model.
Previous versions of the Chevrolet Colorado
The Colorado was originally introduced by General Motors back in 2004 as a replacement for the Chevrolet S-10. This version was produced through the 2012 model year and was also sold by GMC as the Canyon mid-size pickup, which replaced the GMC Sonoma. To complicate matters further, the Chevy Colorado and Canyon were developed together with Isuzu, which also sold a version of the pickup truck called the i-series.
Underpinning all three vehicles was the GMT355 platform, a variation of which was used for the HUMMER H3 SUV. The platform offered standard, extended and four-door crew cab bodystyles for the Chevrolet Colorado as well as rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations. With a starting price in the teens, the Chevrolet mid-size pickup truck offered great value in this segment and was relatively unique in that a V-8 engine option is available. Its closest rivals, such as the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota, were cancelled a model year or two before the Colorado last went out of production.
The 2004 model came with a 2.8-liter four-cylinder engine rated at 175 horsepower and 185 pound-feet of torque. For 2005, a new 3.5-liter five-cylinder engine with 220 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque was added to the lineup. The 2007 model saw the base 2.8-liter four-cylinder engine upgraded to a 2.9-liter unit and the 3.5-liter five-cylinder growing to a 3.7 liters. Power and torque levels increased accordingly, rising to 185 hp and 195 lb-ft of torque for the four-cylinder and 242 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque for the five-cylinder.
The biggest change came in the 2009 model year with the introduction of a new V-8 option and a minor facelift. The Vortec V-8 engine displaced 5.3 liters and developed peak output of 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. This model understandably offered the best performance, achieving a maximum towing capacity of 6,000 pounds and a sub-seven-second 0-60 mph acceleration time. At the other end of the spectrum, the four-cylinder variant offered the best fuel economy, returning an EPA-rated 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
Those previous versions of the Chevrolet Colorado were built in Shreveport, Louisiana; the current version is assembled at a plant in Wentzville, Missouri.