2015 Chevrolet ColoradoPosted on February 6th, 2015
Midsized truck yields maximum fun
By Nina Russin
The new midsized Chevrolet Colorado light-duty pickup truck might be the perfect fit for buyers with active lifestyles. While it doesn’t have the payload and towing capacity of the full-sized Silverado, it is capable of serious work. Towing capacity for the 4×4 model tested with the trailering package is 7,000 pounds. Without the option, the Colorado tows up to 3,500: plenty for a smaller trailer.
Comparing wheelbases, the Colorado crew cab with the larger of two available cargo boxes is about three inches shorter than the Silverado with the smaller of two available boxes. Equipped with the smaller cargo box, the crew cab on the Silverado holds 53.4 cubic feet of cargo as opposed to 49.9 cubic feet for the Colorado with the bigger box.
Buyers on a budget can opt for the base rear-wheel drive Colorado with a 200-horsepower four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual gearbox priced from just under $21,000. At a time when pickup truck prices climb well into the $40,000 range, that’s a bargain.
The test truck is the four-wheel drive Z71 model with the short cargo box, priced from $34,115 excluding the $875 destination charge. Power comes from a 3.6-liter V-6 engine rated at 305-horsepower and six-speed automatic transmission.
Standard comfort and convenience features include four-way power driver and front passenger seats, a folding bench rear seat, heated front seats, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, OnStar, XM satellite radio.
The Colorado also comes with a standard rearview camera to eliminate blind spots in the back corners and make it easier to monitor cross traffic in crowded parking lots.
Options include a Bose audio upgrade with 8-inch color touchscreen and navigation, spray-on bedliner and trailering package, bringing the final MSRP to $36,710.
Test drive in southern Arizona
Super Bowl sized traffic as well as on-and-off rainstorms gave me the opportunity to test drive the Colorado in challenging environments, from gridlock downtown and the rain-soaked Gila River reservation to the south as well as two-lane thoroughfares in the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix. Throughout the test, the Colorado proved to be a willing and fun partner, with plenty of power to manage the elevation gain on the drive through the Superstitions, as well as the safety and connectivity features drivers in urban centers have come to expect.
The V-6 engine is a smooth, powerful performer. General Motors makes some of the best automatic transmissions in the business and the six-speed HydraMatic on the test truck is no exception, enhancing the engine’s 269 foot-pounds of torque in acceleration off the line and extending fuel economy to 24 miles-per-gallon on the highway. On highway entrance ramps, I had plenty of power in the 20-50 mile-per-hour range to move to the front of the pack.
The rearview camera makes a tremendous difference in visibility and is an important safety add-on for parents whose small children might inadvertently run in back of the truck when it is parked in the driveway. As with many of these devices, it’s not particularly well protected from rain, which tended to blur the camera image.
Both rear and four-wheel drive models come with an independent front suspension and solid rear axle. A locking rear axle is standard on the Z71 test truck. The solid rear end enhances the truck’s towing and hauling capability and since most of the weight is up front, ride isn’t impacted too severely.
On the Bush Highway east of town, the truck responded well to the two-lane road’s pitchy hills and off-camber turns. I felt well in control, with the suspension recovering quickly after each drainage dip and the chassis stayed quite flat in the corners.
The Z71 off-road package includes a two-speed transfer case for the low gears drivers need when one or more wheels are off the ground. The package also includes a locking rear differential for maintaining directional control and downhill descent control.
The speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering system offers decent assist at lower speeds for maneuverability with good on-center response on the highway. Turning circle for the test truck is 41.3-feet, making it possible to perform the occasional U-turn on a wider surface road.
Four-wheel disc brakes stop the truck in firm, linear fashion.
The crew cab offers some important interior storage space for buyers with active lifestyles. Even those who don’t plan to travel with more than two people can benefit from being able to stash a bicycle in back should it start to rain during the journey.
Despite its high ground clearance and big wheels, access and egress is pretty good. The driver’s seat comes with an adjustable lumbar control that makes a significant difference during long road trips. I would like to have had a dead pedal as well to reduce leg fatigue.
The center stack screen is easy to read in bright sunlight and after dark; ditto for the gauge cluster. I found infotainment controls intuitive and easy to reach. Standard OnStar directions and connections is a really useful feature for people who travel alone. Rather than having to pull to the side and program the navigation system, the driver simply uses the OnStar button to contact an assistant who downloads directions into the vehicle. Speaking from personal experience, it has saved me on more than one occasion.
The cargo bed has plenty of room to accommodate some gear racks for securing bicycles and other large items. Steps in the corners of the rear bumper make it easier to climb in back and load up.
The Chevrolet Colorado comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, stability control, tire pressure monitoring, hill descent control, a rearview camera and OnStar. The factory warranty includes roadside assistance and courtesy transportation.
Chevrolet builds the Colorado at its Wentzville, Missouri assembly plant.
Like: A right-sized truck with a high level of standard safety and convenience features, 7,000-pound towing capability and off-road capability.
Dislike: Rain severely blurs the rearview camera image.
Model: Colorado 4WD Z71 Crew Cab Short Box
Base price: $34,115
As tested: $36,710
Horsepower: 305 Hp @ 6800 rpm
Torque: 269 lbs.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: Yes
Fuel economy: 17/24 mpg city/highway
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