The Car Connection Chevrolet Colorado Overview
The Chevrolet Colorado is one of GM's mid-size pickup trucks, twinned with the GMC Canyon.
In its distant past, the Colorado was a rival for trucks like the Dodge Dakota and Ford Ranger. Today, it competes with the Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, and is a slightly smaller alternative to trucks like Chevy's own Silverado.
MORE: See our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado review
The Colorado nameplate dates back more than a decade, but it sat out a couple of years while General Motors looked to its global operations for a redesign that debuted for the 2015 model year.
For 2017, the Colorado lineup sees a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine with some fuel-saving features mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, in addition to myriad detail changes.
The new Chevrolet Colorado
The Colorado is offered with a choice of 4- and 6-cylinder engines, with rear- or 4-wheel drive, and with manual and automatic transmissions.
The base engine is a 200 horsepower, 2.5-liter inline-4, available with a 6-speed manual or 6-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can also opt for a 3.6-liter V-6 engine, which makes 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque and is paired solely to an 8-speed automatic. Both engines feature aluminum blocks and heads and are fitted with direct-injection technology, with the V-6 also featuring cylinder displacement that shuts down two cylinders to save fuel under light load situations.
Initially, the current Colorado debuted with a similarly-sized V-6, but it lacked the cylinder displacement technology and it was only available with a 6-speed automatic.
For the 2016 model year, a 181-hp, 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel 4-cylinder was added to the Colorado lineup. It's the most capable version of the pickup truck, and the most fuel-efficient. The EPA rates it up to 25 mpg combined.
The modern body-on-frame underpinnings of the latest Colorado provide impressive payload ratings; diesels can tow up to 7,700 pounds, while 4-cylinder models can pull 3,500 pounds. Most models offer a choice between rear- and four-wheel drive.
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 7.0-inch touchscreen 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 visibly 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.
Chevy Colorado history
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 4-cylinder engine rated at 175 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. For 2005, a new 3.5-liter inline-5 with 220 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque was added to the lineup. The 2007 model saw the base 2.8-liter inline-4 upgraded to a 2.9-liter unit and the 3.5-liter inline-5 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 5-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 4-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.