2018 Chevrolet Colorado

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The Car Connection
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz Senior Editor
May 25, 2018

Buying tip

We love the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado’s optional turbodiesel, but you’ll want to do the math to see if its initial purchase price is offset by fuel savings and resale.

features & specs

2WD Crew Cab 128.3" LT
2WD Crew Cab 128.3" Work Truck
2WD Crew Cab 128.3" Z71
20 city / 26 hwy
20 city / 26 hwy
20 city / 26 hwy

The 2018 Chevrolet Colorado can be whatever you need it to be: in-town runabout, suburban slogger, or off-road racing champion.

Mid-size pickups are multi-purpose tools for their owners. Trucks like the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado are work haulers, family wagons, tall-riding weekend machines, even small baja bruisers.

This pickup’s lineup spans a wide range yet never feels like it’s stretching too far, which is why we’ve rated it a solid 6.0 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Late last year, the Colorado lineup added a dedicated off-road model with a lifted suspension and unique bodywork called ZR2 to the existing lineup of base, Work Truck, LT, and Z71 trim levels. This year, the Colorado lineup is newly available with a 100th Anniversary Edition package celebrating the bowtie brand’s truck-building centennial.

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GMC sells a nearly identical mid-size truck called the Canyon, but it aims more for luxury-minded buyers with its decadent Denali trim level rather than off-roaders like the Colorado Z71 and ZR2.

Base and Work Truck versions aren’t as spartan inside as you might expect with standard air conditioning, rearview camera, power driver’s seat, and windows. However, only the LT trim level is available with more advanced safety tech like forward-collision and lane-departure warnings.

Colorado ZR2s are serious off-road machines that ride on a raised suspension with a significantly wider track and hefty 31-inch Goodyear all-terrain rubber. If you’ve seen the Ford F-150 Raptor, think of the ZR2 as a scaled-down, more manageable, adventure machine.

Depending on trim level, the Colorado lineup is available in a choice of extended and four-door crew cab configurations with three bed lengths as well as either rear- or four-wheel drive. A 2.5-liter inline-4 engine is standard, but most Colorados leave the factory with a 3.6-liter V-6 rated at 308-horsepower paired to an 8-speed automatic. Colorado’s pricey optional 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-4 delivers excellent fuel economy—as high as 30 mpg on the highway with standard rear-wheel drive.

Properly equipped, the Colorado is rated to tow up to 7,700 pounds with the turbodiesel. More mainstream V-6 models come in at a still impressive 7,000 pounds and all variants have a bed payload rating of around 1,500 pounds.


2018 Chevrolet Colorado


The 2018 Chevrolet Colorado is a great-looking pickup in any guise.

With its muscular, curvy good looks, the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado is one of the nicest looking ways to haul stuff and get dirty.

We’ve given it extra points for both its interior and its exterior, with special emphasis on the outlandish ZR2. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Colorado’s name might conjure up the Rocky Mountains, but it’s actually a global design. The current Colorado is an evolution of a model once intended primarily for Southeast Asia, so its swoopy styling has less in common with the automaker’s larger, American-oriented Silverado than you might expect. Still, the basic bowtie-brand look works well here with wide headlights and a big, chrome grille.

Along the Colorado’s side, the belt line curves upward toward the rear of the cab. At the rear, you’ll find massive taillights and rear bumpers with steps conveniently integrated into their corners. Base and Work Truck trims are predictably utilitarian, but the LT’s monochrome look and alloy wheels suit its price tag. Z71s are a little beefier, although they hardly compare to the high-riding Colorado ZR2.

The ZR2’s front bumper has been trimmed back for better clearance and its wheels are pushed outward for a more planted look. Aside from the bulging hood, the look is clean and classy, without looking like a trip through the wrong aisle at an aftermarket showroom.

Inside, Colorados have a symmetrical dashboard with most controls up high and nifty toggle switches for some secondary functions. Trim finishers vary by model, with those on the LTs looking the dressiest.

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2018 Chevrolet Colorado


From urban hauler to trail boss, the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado has something for everyone.

From mild to wild, the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado lineup seems to offer something for just about every buyer. The ace up these trucks’ sleeve is their all-around competence, but each variant tackles the road (or lack thereof) in a different way.

We’ve awarded the lineup an extra point for their strong engine choices and another for the off-road ability of the Colorado ZR2, bringing them to a 7 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Colorado is a conventional body-on-frame pickup with an independent front suspension and a solid axle out back suspended by leaf springs. Big tires on most variants swallow up small bumps with aplomb, but there’s some side-to-side head toss over really rough terrain. While Z71 and ZR2 versions take ruts in stride, they can feel even bouncier.

Extended cab versions of all but the ZR2 come standard with a 2.5-liter inline-4 engine rated at 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque and a choice of 6-speed automatic and manual transmissions. It’s more than adequate for most in-town needs, especially with the manual, although the 4-cylinder can feel a little breathless when it comes to passing.

Better still is the 3.6-liter V-6 that’s mandatory with the crew cab configuration. This strong and smooth V-6 is rated at 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque and it shuttles power to the wheels via a slick-shifting 8-speed automatic.

Optional on all but the base trim is a turbodiesel 2.8-liter inline-4 that puts out 181 hp and a stump-tugging 369 lb-ft via a 6-speed automatic. Though there’s a little turbo lag and some additional cabin noise, the turbodiesel is refined and gutsy, making it a great choice.

On all but the ZR2, rear-wheel drive is standard and four-wheel drive is optional. The basic four-wheel-drive system is a part-time transfer case not intended for use on dry pavement, but Chevy’s AutoTrac system with an automatic mode allows for set-and-forget driving on any road surface.


Colorado Z71s should suit most off-road needs with their slightly raised suspensions, unique dampers, and standard limited-slip rear differentials. For those who must have more, however, the Colorado ZR2 is as capable as a mid-size truck gets. Standard front and rear locking differentials and Goodyear Duratrac tires pull the truck out of just about any sticky situation. A special high-riding suspension setup pushes all four wheels out to the corners thanks to a track that’s 2.5-inches wider than a Z71.

But what really makes the Colorado ZR2 special are its race-derived Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve dampers supplied by Mulitmatic. Gleaned from decades of endurance racing through the desert and demanding on-road Formula One racing, these dampers are shockingly (see what we did there?) quick to react to any sort of suspension movement.

The technology is also used on Chevrolet’s Camaro ZL1, which represents the polar opposite of the Colorado ZR2.

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2018 Chevrolet Colorado

Comfort & Quality

Front seat passengers are treated to comfortable seats in the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado, but the rear seat leaves room for improvement.

The 2018 Chevrolet Colorado has a nicely finished interior with good comfort for passengers up front, but the rear seat can feel upright on even crew cab variants.

We’ve rated it solidly average here, a 5 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Colorado comes only with individual bucket seats and a center console up front. The seats are firm and offer a wide range of adjustment. Vinyl upholstery is standard on base and Work Truck variants, with cloth an option. Leather is available on LT, Z71, and ZR2 trim levels, as are heated front seats.

Extended cab models have a very tight, upright second row, while crew cabs offer a little more stretch-out room and better ingress and egress. Crew cabs have about seven inches of additional rear-seat leg room, but it feels like there’s even more space than that back there. A fold-down armrest is a nice touch on crew cabs.

All versions feel solidly assembled with nicely grained materials. There’s not much in the way of soft-touch plastics or felt-lined bins, something we’d like to see on higher-spec Colorados.

Extended cab Colorados all have a 6-foot-2 bed, while Crew Cabs can be fitted with either a standard 5-foot-1 bed or a more useful (but harder to park) 6-foot-2 bed.

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2018 Chevrolet Colorado


Crash safety isn’t the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado’s biggest selling point.

The 2018 Chevrolet Colorado hasn’t performed as well in crash tests and it lacks some of the more advanced collision-avoidance tech available on most new cars.

So-so scores in federal and independent tests push the Colorado down to just a 4 out of 10 for its safety. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

All Colorados have six airbags and come standard with anti-lock brakes, stability control, and a rearview camera. Optional only on the LT trim level are more high-tech features such as forward-collision warnings and lane-departure warnings. The Colorado isn’t available with automatic emergency braking or rear cross-traffic alerts, two features we’d like to see here.

The federal government rates the Colorado at four stars overall, albeit with a more impressive five-star showing for the side-impact test. Federal testers gave the Colorado a worrying and rare three-star score for rollover safety.

Meanwhile, the IIHS came up with different figures for both the extended and crew cab versions of the Colorado. Extended cab models rated just “Acceptable” in the small overlap front and side-impact tests. Crew cabs rated “Good” all around in the IIHS’ instrumented testing.

However, the IIHS says that the Colorado’s headlights are “Poor” and that its available forward collision warning system rates only “Basic.”


2018 Chevrolet Colorado


The 2018 Chevrolet Colorado can be a work truck or a to-the-hilt, off-road rig if you pick the right options.

With five trim levels, three body configurations, three engines, and a choice of rear- or four-wheel drive, there is probably a 2018 Chevrolet Colorado for every need short of towing a space shuttle.

We’ve awarded the Colorado with 8 out of 10 points, giving it nods above average for its wide degree of customizability, the “killer app” that is the off-roady ZR2, and its terrific available infotainment system. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Colorado lineup doesn’t start especially decadent with the base trim level, but there are some surprisingly nice features. You’ll find standard power windows and locks, a four-way power driver’s seat, air conditioning, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a USB input even at the entry level. The base Colorado can only be configured as an extended cab with the long bed and rear-wheel drive, though, so it’s really aimed at price-conscious fleet buyers. Only a handful of options are available and they’re mostly work-oriented items like a bed liner and and some cargo tie-downs.

Next up is the Work Truck, which Chevy dealers often call the WT trim level. It's basically identical to the base except that it comes with carpet rather than vinyl flooring and it can be had in both extended and crew cab bodies with either rear- or four-wheel drive. The WT comes with the base 4-cylinder engine, but both the gas V-6 and the turbodiesel inline-4 are on the options list, as are a few packages with goodies like painted bumpers, alloy wheels, and the automaker’s OnStar concierge and safety connectivity.

One quirky note is that the WT’s bed can be deleted in certain configurations for users who may want to add their own aftermarket bed specific to commercial use.

The Colorado LT adds an upsized 8.0-inch touchscreen that can be optionally fitted with navigation, an additional USB port, cruise control, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. A few additional option packages throw in features like heated leather seats, Bose audio, and a moonroof, meaning there’s plenty of customization to be done on the LT trim.

Off-roaders should start with the Z71, which builds on the LT with a few style upgrades and beefier tires but also includes a limited-slip rear differential and an off-road suspension setup. But if that’s not enough for your needs, the Colorado ZR2 is there with far more baked-in capability. A big suspension lift and a wider track give it serious off-road cred, but the styling package with a built-in light bar, chopped-away front bumpers, and unique alloy wheels make the ZR2 really stand out. There’s nothing else like it on the market today.

One important note: the Colorado is light on advanced safety tech. Forward-collision warnings are available, but only on the LT trim level. 

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2018 Chevrolet Colorado

Fuel Economy

Nearly every version of the 2018 Chevrolet Colorado is more fuel-efficient than you might expect.

The 2018 Chevrolet Colorado’s fuel economy story is a complex one with a rather happy ending.

We’ve rated the lineup at 5 out of 10 based on the four-wheel drive model with the V-6 gas engine, which checks in with 17 mpg city, 24 highway, 19 combined. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Stick with rear-wheel drive and the V-6 and things improve to 18/25/20 mpg.

That’s not bad, especially when you figure that the rest of the lineup generally improves upon those figures.

Let’s start with the bad news, though: the Colorado ZR2 with the standard V-6 is rather thirsty on account of its tall stance and big tires: 16/18/17 mpg. With the optional turbodiesel, it’s certainly greener: 19/22/20 mpg.

Base Colorados come standard with a 2.5-liter inline-4 that’s rated at 20/26/22 mpg regardless of 6-speed manual or automatic transmission.

The pricey diesel may take a while to pay out depending on how many miles you plan to put on your Colorado, but it’s a strong, smooth unit. With rear-wheel drive, the diesel is at its thriftiest: 22/30/25 mpg. Four-wheel drive drops those figures to 20/28/23 mpg.

All gas versions of the Colorado are rated to run on regular unleaded fuel.

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Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 4
Features 8
Fuel Economy 5
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