2019 Chevrolet Colorado
While the full-sized half-ton pickup truck is king among all vehicles sold in the U.S.A., we often forget there are other trucks out there. For example, the smaller mid-sized pickup.
As the segment is getting a rebirth thanks to new models, there is one that is continuing to distinguish itself above the pack. One that you may have forgotten already…the Chevrolet Colorado.
However, you might want to consider it. Not because it is a solid pickup truck with a great choice of engines and drivelines. It is because of one model – the ZR2.
Everyone is trying to make an off-road pickup that is designed to tackle the tough stuff. Chevrolet may have cracked the code for mid-sized off-road ready trucks. But, is this the kind of truck you want to play with on and off the road?
The current generation of the Colorado has been with us since 2015 in the U.S.A. The basic design is still there – shared mostly with the global Chevrolet pickup truck. The Crew Cab starts with a angled nose with a cascade-like grille. The short bed ties into the cab nicely. In all, the Colorado is a strong looking truck for its class.
Our ZR2 tester adds more toughness to the Colorado, with off-road tires and wheels and a sharper angle of approach and departure. The step-up into the cab is not bad for everyone.
However, our tester came with another upgrade from Chevrolet’s partnership with American Expedition Vehicles creating the ZR2 Bison. With the Bison, you get upgrades in the bumpers, fender flares, and skid plate protection underneath the truck using Boron steel.
Some Bison touches can be seen in the cabin, which offers leather seating for 4-5 people. Front seat room is good, though finding a comfortable and workable driving position does take some time. The driver gets a power adjustment for rake, height, and lumbar, but a manual recliner. Rear seat room in the Crew cab is adequate for average-sized adults and/or children.
Instrumentation had been revised with a new information screen in the middle. It offers everything a driver needs to know in a series of clear readouts. The dials are equally clear and in good eyesight for quick reads. The infotainment screen sits slightly above eye level with logical switches positioned below it and well into the center stack. The toggle-like switches are also easy to understand and use. The transmission shifter is straightforward, as is most of the controls. Only the lights and 4WD knobs are hidden from view.
Colorado customers have three engines to choose from. Our ZR2 Bison has the most desirable powerplant of the three – a 2.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engine. This small Duramax has a class-leading 369 pound-feet of torque down low built for hauling and, in this case, excellent off-road use. A six-speed automatic transmission is bolted to the Duramax diesel, sending power to a two-speed transfer case with an automatic setting for four-wheel-drive.
Another advantage to having this more desirable diesel engine is fuel economy. In our care, we averaged 23.7 MPG.
There is one advantage to having an off-road-ready pickup truck: A soft ride. The suspension system offered a ride that helped smooth out the worst pieces of tarmac on the road, as well as the roughest spots off of it. We also found that handling and cornering was actually quite good in the Colorado ZR2 Bison. The ride and handling mix were achieved through the excellent Multimatic DSSV Damping System.
We found that the Colorado has a tight steering radius and a solid steering feel. On-center feel was fine, but the combination of the off-road tires and some highway surfaces provided a slight challenge to keep the Colorado ZR2 in line. The brakes felt the best with solid stops and a great pedal feel. Panic braking stops were the best among pickup trucks overall.
The Chevrolet Colorado lineup starts with a base model Extended Cab pickup with two-wheel-drive and a four-cylinder gasoline engine at $21,300. A step up to the off-road ready ZR2 model with the V6 engine starts at $41,300. Our ZR2 Bison tester came with the sticker price of $53,245. The Bison package is specially ordered through your local dealer.
The Chevrolet Colorado is in a segment that is growing, thanks to new competitors. Aside from the Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, and Honda Ridgeline, the Colorado now faces the Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator for midsized pickup supremacy. The Gladiator is the closest vehicle to compete directly with the Colorado ZR2, Tacoma TRD Pro, and Frontier Pro-4X in terms of off-road prowess.
No matter which Colorado you choose – including the ZR2 – you have a great midsized pickup truck that needs another look. It is a solid truck that can do more than you expect it to. Choosing the diesel will yield great fuel economy and brute strength at the low end for both work and play. Going with the ZR2 – plus, adding the Bison package – will make you an off-road hero.
Story Credits: CarSoup Editors