2021 Chevrolet Colorado

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2021
The Car Connection
2021
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Robert Duffer Robert Duffer Senior Editor
March 3, 2021

Buying tip

The LT V-6 is the best value, but the turbodiesel makes sense for Colorado owners who log mostly highway miles.

features & specs

2WD Crew Cab 128" LT
2WD Crew Cab 128" Work Truck
2WD Crew Cab 128" Z71
MPG
19 city / 25 hwy
MPG
19 city / 25 hwy
MPG
18 city / 25 hwy
MSRP
$29,700
MSRP
$27,100
MSRP
$33,800

The 2021 Chevy Colorado’s many configurations give shoppers the kind of choice typically reserved for full-size trucks, but Chevy skimps on safety features.

What kind of vehicle is the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado? What does it compare to?

The 2021 Chevrolet Colorado is a mid-size pickup truck competing in an increasingly crowded segment, with new or redesigned entrants ranging from the Jeep Gladiator and Honda Ridgeline to the forthcoming Hyundai Santa Cruz and electric trucks such as the Rivian R1T and Tesla Cybertruck. 

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado a good truck?

Review continues below

It gets a rock-solid average TCC Rating of 5.0 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

What's new for the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado?

The refreshed 2021 Chevrolet Colorado comes with a new Custom Special Edition, a beefed-up ZR2 and the Bison off-road package. All Colorados get cosmetic upgrades to the front and rear, and an 8.0-inch touchscreen headlines the cabin on all but the base WT.

Bulging square wheel arches carry over in classical Chevy truck form, and the mesh grille broadens to fill out square ends and revised lower bumpers with new skid plates. ZR2 off-road models flex the bulges even more with a wider stance, hood scoop, raised suspension, and a big bold grille that menaces in rearview mirrors. 

There’s not much menace under the hood, though, with the Colorado favoring the same practical engine choices as last year, including a 200-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder and a 181-hp 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-4 paired to a 6-speed automatic transmission; the 308-hp 3.6-liter V-6 with an 8-speed automatic balances performance with value and a 7,000-pound tow rating. With standard rear-wheel drive or available four-wheel drive, the 2021 Colorado comes with a cramped extended cab or uninspired crew cab and two bed choices.

Four trims offer mild variation between the basic Work Truck and high-end Z71, while the ZR2 stands out for standing out on any terrain. Vinyl seats can be swapped for cloth, then leather, but the plastic-filled dash and unforgiving rear seats leave much to be desired. The Colorado puts capability ahead of interior charms with a max diesel towing capacity of 7,700 pounds and about a 1,500-pound payload capacity. 

Highlighting the limited feature set is a simple 8.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (WT trims get a 7.0-inch screen) flanked by large controls and buttons. Options range from heated seats to a sunroof, but Chevy skimps on standard and optional safety features. The lack of available automatic emergency braking and poor crash-test ratings are turn offs.  

How much does the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado cost?

The WT starts the bidding at $26,395 but going full buffalo with the ZR2 Bison package will nearly double that starting price. 

Where is the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado made?

In Wentzville, Missouri. 

6

2021 Chevrolet Colorado

Styling

Updated bumpers freshen the aging 2021 Chevrolet Colorado.

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado a good-looking truck?

It’s not as attractive as the boxier GMC Canyon, and the Jeep Gladiator and updated Honda Ridgeline frame the Colorado as classical in all but the heavy metal ZR2 trim. It earns a point for a 6, despite the dull interior. 

The classical Chevy shapes include bulging square wheel arches, clean lines, and rear corner steps. The boulder-busting ZR2 looks the truckiest with a tall mesh grille that channels the Silverado 2500HD without the polarizing headlight design. On the WT, LT, and Z71 trims, new center bars span broader grilles and lower bumpers bulge with a new front skid plate. On all four trims, the tailgates feature “Chevrolet” lettering instead of the bowtie, and up front the bowties expand to match the bigger grilles.

The interior puts function over form, with a cockpit clad in durable plastic and headlined by an easy-to-use 8.0-inch touchscreen on all but the base Work Truck. 

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6

2021 Chevrolet Colorado

Performance

Powertrain options and stout off-road capability advance the 2021 Colorado’s pickup truck mission.

With five available powertrains and a wide range of capability between the base truck and ZR2 Bison off-road basher, the Colorado casts a wide net for shoppers who want all the truckiness of a truck without the size of a full-size pickup. It’s a 6. 

Is the Chevrolet Colorado 4WD?

The Colorado comes with rear-wheel drive but four-wheel drive can be added for $3,495, except on ZR2 models, where it’s standard. 

How fast is the Chevrolet Colorado?

It’s not very quick but it’s plenty capable, except with the 2.5-liter inline-4 that makes 200 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque on base models. A 6-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive help it tow 3,500 pounds. It’s fine for basic uses, but when pushed hard the underpowered engine pushes back with an exasperated sigh. 

The popular choice is the 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 308 hp and 275 lb-ft that doubles towing capacity to 7,000 pounds. Along with an 8-speed automatic, the Colorado doesn’t strain as much and balances capability with responsiveness and efficiency. 

For highway efficiency, or a bit more towing capacity to 7,700 pounds, the 181-hp 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-4 churns out 369 lb-ft with a 6-speed automatic. The only diesel in the mid-size segment beside the related GMC Canyon, the Colorado turbodiesel gets 30 mpg highway, but runs louder and rougher around town. 

The Colorado rides and handles like a truck, bouncing about unladen and lacking the refinement found on the premium trims of larger pickups. Off-road, the ZR2 trim finds the Colorado in its most fitting element. The raised suspension adds 1.6 inches of ground clearance, and with limited-slip differentials grabbing wheels wrapped in 21-inch Duratrac tires, the ZR2 bashes the nether territories alongside the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. The Bison package adds a winch and hooks, skid plates protect everything from the front and rear differentials to the transfer case, and blacked out aluminum wheels with an available snorkel square off against the elements.

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5

2021 Chevrolet Colorado

Comfort & Quality

The basic interior of the 2021 Chevy Colorado leaves much to be desired.

Seven years into the return of the Colorado, its uninspired interior and limited comforts show its age and a need for smarter packaging and better rear seats. It gets a flat 5. 

Offered in extended- or crew-cab models with either a 5-foot-1 or 6-foot-2 bed, the Colorado provides no-frills utility and a corner bed step that reflects a design ethos of basic simplicity. The highest trims trade cloth for leather seats that can be heated and come with power adjustments, but the Work and LT trucks tend to the basic and utilitarian. 

The extended cab has storage underneath the rear seats that are too cramped for comfort. Even crew cabs—and their seat backs stiff as church pews—provide limited leg room of 35.8 inches, which is smaller than many crossovers.

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2

2021 Chevrolet Colorado

Safety

The 2021 Chevy Colorado neither withstands nor prevents crashes very well.

How safe is the Chevy Colorado?

The 2021 Colorado needs improvement on its safety report card. The NHTSA gave it a four-star rating, the IIHS dinged it for “Marginal” results in protecting the passenger in front-end collisions, and Chevy has yet to catch up to the rest of the automotive world by equipping it with automatic emergency braking that prevents or mitigates crashes. Each of those safety weaknesses cost it a point. It’s a 2, which is one of our lowest ratings for any passenger vehicle. 

The lack of standard or available driver assistance systems limit the Colorado’s capability as a family vehicle. A safety package with forward-collision and lane-departure warnings can’t be optioned on the base Work Truck, and costs $395 more on any other trim.

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7

2021 Chevrolet Colorado

Features

The 2021 Chevy Colorado offers more choices than a down ballot vote.

With four trims, eight special additions or appearance packages, three body configurations, and five powertrain choices, the 2021 Colorado can be had in as many ways as Westerns, from the Spaghetti to the "Yellowstone." It comes well equipped, if not a little plain inside. It earns a point for value and a point for infotainment to get a 7.

For $26,395, Work Trucks come with an extended cab with a long 6-foot-2 box, vinyl seats with a four-way power driver’s seat, air conditioning, 17-inch steel wheels, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. 

Which Chevy Colorado should I buy?

Every other trim comes with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and we like the value of the $30,090 LT trim for most everyday purposes. It has keyless entry, aluminum wheels, leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a 6-way power driver’s seat. 

How much is a fully loaded 2021 Chevrolet Colorado?

The off-road ready ZR2 costs $43,990 with the 3.6-liter V-6 and 8-speed automatic. Opting for the diesel adds $3,500. If an off-road suspension with unique dampers, 1.6 inches of additional ground clearance, power front seats wrapped in leather, trailer hitch, and transfer shield case don’t cut it, then Colorado shoppers can stampede to the $5,750 Bison package.

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4

2021 Chevrolet Colorado

Fuel Economy

The 2021 Chevy Colorado gets decent gas mileage.

Is the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado good on gas?

The mid-size pickup truck presents enough powertrain options to help customers optimize fuel use based on their lifestyle. A turbodiesel racks up great highway mileage, while a strong V-6 gets decent returns. The base inline-4 gets an EPA-rated 19 city, 25 highway, 22 combined. Four-wheel drive drops it 1 mpg to 19/24/21 mpg, same as the Honda Ridgeline’s V-6. That’s good for a 4. 

The turbodiesel reigns as the highway champ with a 20/30/23-mpg rating; four-wheel drive dings it to 28 mpg highway. 

The 3.6-liter V-6 follows a similar pattern with 18/25/21 mpg that drops to 17/24/19 mpg with four-wheel drive. The ZR2 and its off-road gear loses 2 mpg combined to the four-wheel-drive variants of the turbodiesel and V-6.

Review continues below

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$25,200
MSRP based on 2WD Ext Cab 128" Work Truck
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5.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 6
Performance 6
Comfort & Quality 5
Safety 2
Features 7
Fuel Economy 4
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2021 Chevrolet Colorado Pricing Insights

  • 2021 Colorado supplies building
  • Lease: From $259 for 36 months
  • Rebates: Up to $3,250 off
  • Finance: From 0% APR for 72 months + $900 bonus
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