2017 Chevrolet Colorado vs. 2017 Nissan Frontier: Compare Trucks

December 9, 2016
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel

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Sometimes a head-to-head battle between rival vehicles isn't even a contest. Such is the case with the matchup between the Chevrolet Colorado and Nissan Frontier.

We'd expect that. After all, the Frontier is an aging vehicle that saw its last redesign in 2005. The Colorado, on the other hand, is a decade newer than its rival, as it was revived in 2015 and then given a new turbodiesel in 2016 and a new gas V-6 in 2017.

With its new engineering and technology, the Colorado outclasses the Frontier on a variety of fronts, including packaging and interior space, clever new connectivity and bed features, V-6 gas mileage, and simple things like driving position.

We rate the Colorado a 7, with the dated Frontier coming in at a 4.8. (Note that we've changed the way we rate cars this year.)

That's a big gap, but one thing to keep in mind is that you'll pay a lot more for the Colorado; a nicely-outfitted Frontier stickers for around $32,000, while a similarly Colorado comes in more like $37,000. 

MORE: Read our latest reviews of the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado and 2017 Nissan Frontier

Styling, however, isn't an issue for the Frontier and we rate both trucks equally. The Colorado stretches and pulls the traditional truck shape in some interesting ways. It's not as rectilinear as its full-size counterpart, the Silverado. Instead, the Colorado adopts a smaller, slimmer grille and rising shoulder line that softens the usual pickup silhouette, though with boxy fenders. The Frontier comes from a previous era. The exterior sheet metal is still interesting, modern, even fresh after all these years. The Colorado, however, offers three cab styles—regular, extended and Crew—while the Frontier is only available as the extended King Cab and longer Crew Cab.

While we rate the performance of both trucks equally, in the context of all vehicles, the advantage within the truck segment clearly goes to the Colorado. The Colorado's ride and handling are superior to the Frontier. The electric power steering is weighted well, and the suspension setup makes the most out of coil-over front shocks and a live rear axle and leaf springs.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel

Enlarge Photo
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax diesel

Enlarge Photo
2016 Chevrolet Colorado

2016 Chevrolet Colorado

Enlarge Photo
2016 Chevrolet Colorado

2016 Chevrolet Colorado

Enlarge Photo

The Colorado offers three powertrains. The standard 200-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine is much stronger than the Frontier's inline-4, and its 308-hp 3.6-liter V-6 is more refined than the 281-hp 4.0-liter V-6 in the Nissan. Chevy's V-6 delivers 7,000 pounds of towing capacity and strong mid-range acceleration. Improvements to the Nissan V-6 have boosted gas mileage slightly over the years, helping to keep the V-6 competitive. It has good power and can tow up to 6,500 pounds, but if you want a 4x4 Frontier, the V-6 is your only option.

Chevrolet also offers a 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-4, making 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. It can tow up to 7,700 pounds, and deliver up to 30 mpg on the highway.

The diesel is the most efficient choice, but Chevy's 4-cylinder rates 22 mpg combined. The base Frontier earns 21 mpg combined, and the V-6 rates 19 mpg combined. 

Interior comfort and quality are also in the Colorado's favor. No matter which cab is chosen, the Colorado has a great space for the front two passengers, with better materials and a better, more natural driving position than the Frontier. It's all 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. Rear-seat space is also in favor of the Colorado in both the extended cab and Crew Cab body styles.

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