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PERFORMANCE | 7 out of 10
the ZQ8 package is well suited to anyone whose preferences lean in the car direction
“the new V-8 is a good remedy for the thrashy 242-horse, 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder”
Car and Driver
fairly potent for such a small engine
Kelley Blue Book
With the addition of the new 5.3-liter V-8, the Chevrolet Colorado offers a selection of three engines for 2009. The new 300-horsepower V-8 boasts features such as polymer-coated pistons, roller-tipped rocker arms, full-floating wrist pins, and six-bolt main bearings. The sub-seven-second 0-60 mph engine is, in fact, the same Vortec V-8 found inside the Hummer H3 Alpha. The two continuing engines are the 2.9-liter inline four-cylinder and 3.7-liter inline-five.
According to most reviewers, the new engine is worth getting not just for its power but for its smoothness, although from a purely fiscal standpoint the V-8 doesn’t add much towing capability. “The new V-8 is a good remedy for the thrashy 242-horse, 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder engine currently found in lesser Colorados,” says Car and Driver, further noting that the engine “can tug a maximum of 6000 pounds, just 500 more than the 242-hp five-cylinder—and the I-5 gets a coupla more miles per gallon.” Automobile Magazine puts the V-8 to good use and finds reason to like the new engine: “Hitched to a 5150-pound boat and trailer, the mighty V-8 hustled this pickup to 60 mph in 15.9 seconds and averaged a decent 11 mpg during suburban cruising.”
In regard to the other engines ConsumerGuide remarks the Colorado has only "adequate power for around town driving," while still "lack[ing] reserve for passing or hauling heavy loads." Car and Driver criticizes the four-cylinder as a “thrashy engine.” Truck Trend counters that, with both engines, “there's a pleasing amount of reserve power left at higher engine speeds for merging onto the Interstate or overtaking another vehicle on a winding two-lane.” Edmunds points out, “You can get a five-speed manual or four-speed automatic transmission with either engine.” Kelley Blue Book predicts consumers will appreciate the Chevrolet Colorado's "good power and excellent fuel economy...EPA-rated at 24 miles per gallon on the highway."
Automobile Magazine gives the thumbs-up to the Colorado’s retuned ZQ8 suspension, saying, “Thanks to fine-tuning by GM's Performance Division personnel, the ZQ8 package is well suited to anyone whose preferences lean in the car direction. Quicker steering, a one-inch lower ride height, stiffer spring and antiroll-bar rates, and Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires—size 235/50WR-18—on eight-inch-wide aluminum wheels do an excellent job obliterating this truck's sordid past.” Car and Driver isn’t quite as endearing about the new suspension, griping, “The suspension is definitely stiff, with a sort of 'classic' (read, 'old-feeling') ride quality, bouncing you and your cargo around over every imperfection in the road. The quicker steering is nicely tightened up over that of the loosey-goosey normal Colorado, but it still lacks feel." Edmunds applauds the 2009 Chevrolet Colorado for "affordable, composed handling on- and off-road,” and says the "standard suspension is softly tuned for a comfortable ride."
The 2009 Chevrolet Colorado’s new V-8 engine and retuned suspension are welcome upgrades but may not be enough to move the Colorado in front of its competition.