Update: Added towing and powertrain details.
Video by Jeff Voth, photos and introduction by Jonathan Yarkony
I’ll keep this one simple. The Chevrolet Colorado is a welcome addition to the truck market. For years, small trucks languished, the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon put out to pasture and the Ford Ranger no longer available in North America, while the remaining options like the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline suffered geologic development cycles.
The return of the GM small trucks has sparked some life in the segment, with a pair of subtly differentiated trucks from GMC and Chevrolet prompting Toyota to refresh its aging Tacoma with non-ancient powertrain and some modern amenities. Rumours and interest abound for the return of the Ranger, which is an icon in Asia looks ready to take on the GM twins if Ford can find a price point at which it will sell without interfering with the F-150’s chokehold on the top spot of the bestseller list. Still, GM has leapt to the forefront with the Canyon and Colorado, claiming the Motor Trend Truck of the Year and Canadian Truck King Challenge titles, the latte of which uses real-world towing, payload and off-road tests.
We wanted to see for ourselves what it could do, so we got some time in it for ourselves, and got Jeff Voth in it for a Quick Spin of his own.
While I had to skip the towing and payload tests, I made a point to get off pavement and get dirty. While not a fully blown off-road test, I had a chance to see how it responded to the flexing and crawling through ruts and ditches and sloppy puddles. The Colorado was unfazed, feeling stoically solid and easily meting out torque to both axles to ensure a smooth exit from the slippery mud. While its traction was superb, I reached a point in the trail where the depth of the ruts would have ripped off the front aero dam under the front bumper – while it improves highway efficiency, the approach angle and clearance suffers, so anyone regularly encountering sever terrain will need to look to the more dedicated Z71 off-road package.
In this Extended Cab configuration, the rear seats aren’t exactly suitable for anything but short hops for your work crew, but they’re perfect if your labourers are under the age of 10 or so.
In more ordinary driving, the Colorado manages to hide its true truck colours. Of course it rides high, giving great visibility over other cars, and with an excellent greenhouse to see around in all directions. While it’s not a small truck, it’s not unwieldy or lumbering, and it turns and stops and goes without much more drama than a mid-size SUV. I wouldn’t take it on any autocross courses, because it does have quite a bit of body roll, but its manageable size makes it maneuverable in tighter spaces like parking lots and city driving.
We tested the V6 option; a four-cylinder is on the menu, and a diesel is just hitting the market for even greater efficiency, although even this V6’s 13.5 L/100 km in the city and 9.8 L/100 km on the highway are reasonable for a vehicle that can tow up to 3,175 kg and carry 708 kg of payload (GVWR: 2,676 kg). GM’s familiar 3.6L V6 is the upgrade over the base 2.5L four-cylinder, an upgrade good for 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque, whereas the base engine manages a modest 200 hp and 191 lb-ft. In my week, I managed 13.1 L/100 km.
Beyond my little dirt road test, it was a fairly ordinary week of driving, and aside from the high step-in – it’s really high, and it seems higher than even some full-size trucks – it’s everything a well-optioned mid-size utility vehicle should be, although a bit noisier with the big 255/65R 17-inch tires and a bit more bouncy driving over rough pavement. Oh, but in this Extended Cab configuration, the rear seats aren’t exactly suitable for anything but short hops for your work crew, but they’re perfect if your labourers are under the age of 10 or so.
The Chevy Colorado and its mid-size cohorts aren’t a replacement for conventional full-size trucks that dominate the market, but they offer another specialized option for those that want the functionality of an open bed and seating for two to five and off-road chops as serious as you need them.
Pricing: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado LT 4WD Extended Cab
Base Price (LT 4WD Extended Cab): $31,150
Options: $6,795 (Equipment Group 4LT – $1,370; 3.6L V6 – $1,365; Chevy MyLink with 8-inch colour touchscreen; Bose Premium audio – $685; LT Convenience Package – 680; spray-on bedliner – $525; Safety Package – $415; Auto locking rear differential – $410; Heavy Duty Trailering Package – $275; Cargo tie-down rings – $115; engine block heater – $100; Wheel lock package – $60)
Freight & PDI: $1,695
A/C Tax: $100
Price as Tested: $39,740
3 years/60,000 km; 5 years/160,000 km powertrain; 6 years/160,000 km corrosion perforation; 5 years/160,000 km roadside assistance