The 2016 Chevy Colorado is the answer for drivers who don't quite need a full-size truck.
With last year's Colorado, Chevy joined the Toyota and Nissan trucks in the mid-size class. Now it towers over them, not in terms of size, but in terms of modern design. Brand-new along with its GMC Canyon twin, the Colorado simply outclasses the Tacoma and Frontier on a variety of fronts, whether it's packaging and interior space, clever new connectivity and bed features, V-6 gas mileage, or simple things like driving position.
Mid-size trucks effectively replaced compact trucks about 15 years ago, when the Dakota, the Tacoma, and the Frontier all were nudged up in size and mission. Compact trucks like the Chevy Colorado were left behind—until now.
At the same time, it's a real rival for full-size truck buyers in its top versions, punching far above its class with full-size towing and hauling capacity, not to mention horsepower.
The Chevrolet Colorado takes its pared-down truck shape and somewhat more manageable size and offers three powertrains choices.
The standard inline-4 puts it in a huge group of vehicles we'd consider for commuter duty, a hatchback alternative with a lot more usefulness strapped to its back. The base 200-horsepower 2.5-liter inline-4 is a member of the engine family that also powers GM's big sedans and luxury cars, everything from the Impala to the Cadillac CTS. The quietly unobtrusive mill delivers moderate acceleration by way of six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmissions. If you need the light-duty utility of a truck without the big towing and payload ratings, the 2.5-liter engine is a solid choice.
Those looking to tow up to 7,000 pounds can opt for the available 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 305 horsepower and improved, mid-range acceleration. The V-6, which also does duty in the Cadillac ATS and CTS, is a bit grumpy under full trot but not nearly as rough as some other V-6 options in the mid-size segment.
But if it's torque you're after, look no further than the Colorado's new 2.8-liter turbodiesel. The 181-horsepower inline-4 delivers 369 lb-ft of torque, good for 30 mpg highway and a tow rating of up to 7,700 pounds.
The Colorado's ride and handling characteristics are defined by its fully boxed frame, front coil suspension and coil-over front shocks, and a live rear axle with leaf springs. Make no mistake, while the Colorado way still utilize leaf springs in the rear, its provides a more pleasant, refined drive versus the Frontier and Tacoma, additionally aided by a well-weighted electric power steering system. You can get your Colorado with four-wheel drive while four-wheel disc brakes and long-life rotors come as standard equipment.
Between its three body styles and trio of trims, the Chevy Colorado caters to some distinctive bands of truck drivers. Those who haul passengers often will want the four-door crew cab, with a either a 5- or a 6-foot pickup bed. Solo drivers with more functional needs can make do with the extended-cab Colorado and its standard 6-foot bed. Regardless of cab, front passengers in the Colorado will find copious amounts of space, surrounded by high-quality materials. Drivers are treated to a driving position that's more natural than that found in the Tacoma and Frontier. Rear seats are big enough for two child safety seats or act as tight accommodations if you plan on piling full-sized adults in the back thanks to a lack of legroom. The bolt-upright seatbacks don't help, either.
The Colorado's 6-foot bed may be a tad shy on length compared to its full-size brethren, but an available bed extender means you can secure loads up to 8-feet long if needed with the help of 17 available tie-down locations. That cargo won't make a dent in your bed, either, as the Colorado is offered with drop-in or spray-in bedliners and cargo dividers to ensure everything stays in place. And like nearly all trucks, the Colorado is also available with cargo nets, tonneau covers, and the necessary trailer hitches and harnesses to haul around whatever you so choose. But the Colorado's most unique cargo feature is its GearOn system, which consists of optional racks and carriers for hauling specialized cargo, such as mountain bikes and other recreational equipment.
Chevrolet offers its Colorado in a spectrum of three trims: WT, or work truck, provides the basis of all Colorados; there's the mid-trim LT; and the top-range Z71 off-road trim, which gets unique headlamps, a dark-metal-look grille, and 17-inch alloy wheels. Regardless of trim, six airbags, rearview camera, hill start assist, stability control, and trailer-sway control are standard equipment, while lane-departure and forward-collision alert systems are optional extras.
Keeping you connected are a touchscreen audio system and USB input as standard for cranking your tunes from your phone or music device. Optionally, Colorado buyers can opt for a larger 8-inch touchscreen, additional USB ports, and Bluetooth. Navigation is also an option, while data hounds can add GM OnStar's 4G LTE data connectivity package. New for 2016, the Colorado's MyLink interface now incorporates Apple CarPlay, which uses the truck's touchscreen as a mirror display for some iPhone functions like messaging, mapping, and streaming audio.
Fuel economy ratings for the Colorado range from 20 mpg city, 27 highway, 22 combined rating achieved by the rear-drive turbodiesel Colorado. Many buyers may not opt for the oil burner, and the Colorado's mileage returns with an inline-4 aren't as lucrative as one might expect; an automatic, rear-drive Colorado only manages 20/27/22 mpg. The V-6 fares better against the competition and full-size trucks. The bigger engine can return up to 18/26/21 mpg.