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2016 chevrolet colorado
EPA est City/Hwy
Starting at
2.5L I4
200 hp
Powered by Chevrolet
Starting at
2.5L I4

200 hp
EPA - est City/Hwy

2016 Chevrolet Colorado The Car Connection

MSRP Starting From


The Car Connection Expert Review
Marty Padgett

Marty Padgett

Editorial Director

  • 4-cylinder's a must with the manual
  • The Canyon's better-looking
  • Cramped, tight rear seats
  • Can overlap Silverado in price

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The Colorado has less of the traditional-truck look—the one that convinces us more of its ready-to-work roots.

The Colorado stretches and pulls the traditional truck shape in some interesting ways. Ultimately, we think its twin, the GMC Canyon, has a shape that resonates more with buyers and reads more "truck," but the Colorado's global styling cues don't get in the way of what's essentially a good-looking vehicle.

The Colorado is no Silverado twin. While that full-size truck (and its SUV cousins, the Tahoe and Suburban) have been transformed with some relentlessly rectilinear lines, the Colorado adopts a smaller, slimmer grille and rising shoulder line that softens the usual pickup silhouette. Yes, the fenders are a boxy counterpoint—and to some degree, there's no way to make a truck without making it look like a truck—but those few hints of difference reveal the Colorado's global origins, and how it could end up just as popular in San Diego as in San Salvador or Sumatra.

Inside the Colorado, there's a much closer kinship with the Silverado. It's rugged with an upscale finish, and better finishes than you'll find in any Tacoma or Frontier. There's a beefy steering wheel with lots of control buttons, a shield-shaped dash wearing the primary controls and an LCD display, and a shifter mounted on a rather wide console that splits the cabin down the middle (at least in front). It's truck-ish enough, but there's more than a passing resemblance to the latest General Motors sedans in the bolstering of the seats, the intersection of trim on the doors and dash, and even in the soft-touch, aluminum-look trim itself.

The Colorado has less of the traditional-truck look—the one that convinces us more of its ready-to-work roots.

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The Colorado is a vast improvement in ride and handling over the Tacoma and Frontier.

A 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-4 is the new star of the lineup for 2016. Yet, unless you're regularly exercising most of the Colorado's available payload capacity and towing capability, the 4-cylinder gasoline engine option is worth a look. Historically, GM's small trucks have doubled as economy conveyances, and there's every reason to believe this Colorado is being used that way, too.

The 4-cylinder gasoline engine runs out of energy getting up to more than legal highway speeds, but with 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque on tap, it's fine for the kind of medium-speed urban duty that's the province of contractors and commuters alike.

If you're equally into manual transmissions, you're forced into the 4-cylinder anyway—but GM's 6-speed automatic makes the most of the four's moderate output. It helps the inline-4 wring out acceptable acceleration and fine fuel economy, working unobtrusively with the smooth four to deliver up to 22 mpg on the EPA combined cycle. It's not the economy leader in the Chevy lineup—and rival fours from Toyota and Nissan match its combined ratings—but it's a far better match for the kind of driving and infrequent hauling that a lot of truck buyers do, whether they realize it or not.

If you are regularly carrying more than tools and bikes and gear, or downsizing from a mas-macho full-size pickup, the V-6 is the right pick. Rated at 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of output, this Colorado has power and pulling ratings more in line with the full-size trucks of a decade ago. And given that the same engine's also found in the Cadillac lineup, it's smooth enough, with fuel economy down only a mpg or two to the 4-cylinder. It's not quite as quiet as the inline-4, but its powerful punch, its transmission's tow/haul mode and automatic grade braking are prescription-strength for pulling ATVs and small trailers.

The new Duramax diesel makes its peak power of 181 hp at 3,400 rpm and peak torque of 369 pound-feet at 2,000—and trust us, there’s plenty of available torque for easy pulling well under that.

The diesel provides the more effortless, low-rpm performance of a V-8. If you’re not pulling a heavy load, acceleration feels quite close to effortless, while even up long grades it doesn’t require the dramatic downshifts you might see from a gasoline engine. And if you are pulling a heavy load, its torque helps erase the challenge of uphill grades, while the optional exhaust brake (so-called "jake brake") helps modulate downhill speeds with a full load.

Payload and towing ratings are the 0-60 mph measure of pickup trucks, and the Colorado doesn't flinch here either. Rated at between 1,410 pounds to 1,540 pounds for payload capacity, the Colorado checks in just shy of the GMC Canyon sibling, but its towing is rated identically at a minimum of 3,500 pounds. The Colorado picks right up where most sport-utility crossovers and minivans tail off, and at the top end, its 7,000-pound (or 7,700 pounds with the diesel) tow rating is higher than that in the Frontier and Tacoma, not to mention most lower-end versions of the Silverado, Sierra, Ram, and F-150. A base Ram 1500 V-6's max tow rating is pegged at 4,190 pounds, for example.

Four-wheel drive is an option on the Colorado, but it's a mechanically simpler setup than the AutoTrac system offered on the Canyon and its automatic mode.

The Colorado rides on a fully boxed frame with a coil front suspension. Electric power steering is standard across the lineup. Four-wheel drive is an option, naturally, and four-wheel disc brakes with long-life rotors are standard. The Colorado smooths over bumps deftly, and the steering tracks mostly true, though like any body-on-ladder-frame design, the mid-sizer transmits a fair share of secondary ride motions through to the cabin. If you're returning to mid-size trucks from compact crossovers, you'll notice the difference—but it's not as much of a downgrade as, say, stepping back into a Wrangler.

The Colorado is a vast improvement in ride and handling over the Tacoma and Frontier.

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There's more space for people in here, and it's more comfortably arranged than in rival mid-size trucks; driving position is particularly good.

Though it's a mid-size truck, the Chevrolet Colorado does a fair impression of a big boy, when it's configured properly. It's also capable of acting like a commuter car, when it's specified more frugally. Either way, there's more passenger space than its primary rivals, and that space is put to better use, too.

Like its twin, the GMC Canyon, the Chevy Colorado is offered as a four-door crew cab or a less-useful extended cab. The latter comes with a 6-foot-long pickup bed, while the full-fledged four-doors have either a 6-foot or a 5-foot bed.

Either way, the Colorado's interior and space efficiency are light-years ahead of the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. Slide into the Chevy truck, and the driving positions and general fit and finish of the competition feel almost antique. The Colorado has somewhat skinny front seats, but it's surrounded by good space (especially head room), a well-finished dash, and lots of small storage slots, bins, and trays. The driving position alone would convince us to upgrade: it has a higher hip point and a more natural relationship to the steering wheel—completely without the splayed-out, legs-out stance you have to adopt in the Tacoma, in particular.

On the fit-and-finish front, the Tacoma and Frontier have a lot of catching up to do, too. The Colorado's tall console stores an iPad out of sight, while also housing the shift lever, a USB port (or as many as four), and a pair of big cupholders. The shifter location's a minor concern, as it sits close to the driver's knee, but it's a minor gripe in a cabin so well turned-out, especially for the class.

The back seat on extended cabs—and on crew cabs, to a lesser degree—is still no competition for a well-designed mid-size four-door sedan, but it's at least as able as some Chevy compact cars. The extended cab just doesn't have enough room in most dimensions to be comfortable for an adult, though a child safety seat will fit; you'll have to sneak it in past a rear-hinged door to get it installed, though.

The crew cab has better leg room and knee room, but the cushions sit low, and the seat backs are bolt upright against the bed wall. Most owners will use the under-seat storage more than the seats themselves, we think.

The bed's much better configured for day-in, day-out use. It's shy on length to full-sizers, but with available bed extenders, an 8-foot object can be brought home without much fuss. Thoughtful touches abound in the bed: there's a corner bumper step and easy-lowering tailgate on all versions, as well as some 17 tie-down spots inside the bed. It can be fitted with either a spray-in bedliner or a drop-in one; cargo dividers; a system of racks and carriers dubbed GearOn; cargo nets and tonneau covers; a drop-in toolbox; and of course, trailer hitches and harnesses.

By the numbers, the Colorado can tote between 1,410 pounds and 1,590 pounds of payload, and can tow a minimum of 3,500 pounds—7,700 pounds at the max rating. It's a perfect bridge between the family crossover and the mega trucks we call full-sizers today, but mostly if you're unconcerned with carrying full-sized people in the back seats.

There's more space for people in here, and it's more comfortably arranged than in rival mid-size trucks; driving position is particularly good.

A rearview camera is standard, but crash tests aren't complete or as of yet, very impressive.

It's possible that the Chevy Colorado and the related GMC Canyon are the safest trucks in their class, but complete data is lacking—and the data we have so far is good, but not great.

The Colorado has been crash-tested by the NHTSA. It awarded the pickup an overall score of four stars. On individual crash tests, the Colorado ranges from five stars in side impacts, to four stars for frontal-impact protection.

Standard equipment with the Colorado includes six standard airbags that have larger side bags meant to prevent passengers from being ejected in a rollover. Over-sized side mirrors give better visibility, and a rearview camera is standard. In addition to the standard stability-control system, the Colorado also gets standard trailer sway control and hill-descent control systems.

The Colorado can be upgraded with safety technology like forward-collision alerts and a lane-departure warning system, both a first for the mid-size truck segment (along with the Canyon). That could help the Colorado earn a Top Safety Pick+ award from the IIHS, provided each of its test scores are "Good," by IIHS standards. The independent agency has not yet fully rated the 2016 Colorado.

A rearview camera is standard, but crash tests aren't complete or as of yet, very impressive.

NHTSA 5-Star Safety Rating

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Models

Overall Rating


Overall Frontal Barrier Crash Rating: (4/5)
Overall Side Crash Rating: (5/5)
Overall Side Barrier Rating: Not Rated
NHTSA Roll-over Resistance Rating: (3/5)

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Ratings

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Models

Side Impact Test Not Tested
Roof Strength Test Not Tested
Rear Crash Protection/Head Restraint Not Tested
IIHS Small Overlap Front Test Results Not Tested
IIHS Moderate Overlap Front Test Results Good

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The Colorado leapfrogs other mid-size trucks with features like in-car wi-fi, touchscreen audio, and a rearview camera.

Chevrolet sells the Colorado in three flavors: WT, LT and Z71.

The WT is the basic "work truck," but even its features aren't necessarily bare-boned. All Colorados come with vinyl seats, but they also get a rearview camera; a locking tailgate; tilt steering; power windows; air conditioning; and an AM/FM radio with a USB port and a 4.2-inch touchscreen interface; vinyl seats. These fleet-duty trucks can also be configured with cruise control and keyless remote.

Moving up to the Colorado LT and Z71 adds features like remote start; a sliding rear window; heated front seats; an easy-lowering tailgate; and steering-wheel audio controls.

On the connectivity front, Bluetooth is available, as is the Chevy MyLink touchscreen interface with an 8.0-inch screen (on LT and Z71 Colorados) and multiple USB ports for charging and music storage. MyLink now includes Apple CarPlay functionality, which lets the touchscreen do double duty as a mirrored display for some iPhone apps, from phone and messaging utilities to music and mapping software.

Navigation is also an option on the Colorado, as is GM's OnStar service and 4G LTE connectivity, with some service provided for free during a trial period.

On the accessory front, the Colorado's bed comes with the locking tailgate and bed lighting, and stamped-in detents for two-tier loading. The Colorado has 13 configurable and four stationary load tie-downs in the bed; a factory sprayed-in bed liner is available, as are dozens of accessory systems for loading everything from sport bikes to construction materials, depending on the truck's daily duty.

The Colorado leapfrogs other mid-size trucks with features like in-car wi-fi, touchscreen audio, and a rearview camera.

Vehicle Incentives and Rebates

8 Incentives Available for 2016 Chevrolet Colorado




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A turbodiesel arrives late this year; in the meantime, the Colorado's fuel economy isn't that much more impressive than rivals.

It's easy to assume that a mid-size pickup truck like the Chevy Colorado will get better fuel economy than a bigger or older truck. That assumption's mostly correct, but in some ways it's much closer than you'd think—or that we expected.

By the official ratings from the EPA, the Colorado's best fuel economy checks in at 22 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. That's for a Colorado equipped with rear-wheel drive, an automatic transmission and a diesel engine. If you're not in the mood for an oil burner, the figures don't fare as well. A rear-drive, automatic Colorado manages 20/27/22 mpg. Opt for a rare manual and those numbers dip to 19/26/22 mpg. Adding four-wheel drive pushes those down to 19/25/21 mpg.

Compare to a V-6 Chevy Silverado at 19 mpg combined—or to a Ram 1500 V-6 automatic at 21 mpg—and the numbers are fairly close.

Even against the 4-cylinder Nissan Frontier and Tacoma, the numbers are closer than we'd imagined. With a manual, the base Frontier earns 21 mpg combined; the Tacoma 4-cylinder manual matches the Colorado at 22 mpg combined.

However, against its V-6 rivals, it's a better story. Among V-6 mid-sizers, the Colorado tops out at 21 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive and 20 mpg with four-wheel drive. The Tacoma and Frontier top out at 19 mpg combined.

Our own experience with a similar GMC Canyon and about 1,000 pounds of payload suggests 22 mpg is easy to achieve on long interstate slogs.

One side note is that the diesel requires diesel exhaust fluid, a urea solution that you can now get either from dealerships or at many truck stops and some gas stations. That’s injected into the exhaust stream ahead of a catalyst to clean up some of these engines’ smog-forming emissions, but its reservoir needs to be filled around every 10,000 miles—or a bit sooner if you’re doing some heavy towing.

A turbodiesel arrives late this year; in the meantime, the Colorado's fuel economy isn't that much more impressive than rivals.

Fuel Economy Information

Ratings Based on 4 cyl, 2.5 L, 6-Speed Manual



4.5 gals/100 miles





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