Don't quite need a full-size truck? The Chevrolet Colorado makes a compelling case for the way most of us truly use our pickups.
Entering its third model year, the Chevrolet Colorado has proven to be a formidable effort in the mid-size pickup segment. For the new year, the truck, which is a near-twin of the GMC Canyon, gains a new 3.6-liter V-6 engine that's the same size as last year's model but promises to be more fuel efficient and refined.
The Colorado is available in WT, LT, and Z71 configurations, and we think it has the right combination of comfort, style, and capability to score a respectable 6.3 out of 10 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
The Colorado went from an also-ran to a serious rival to the Toyota Tacoma that has long dominated this segment when it was redesigned for 2015, outclassing its nearest rival in several categories: interior space, packaging, connectivity, bed amenities, V-6 fuel economy, and even its more neutral driving position.
It's available in a wide range of options, including three engines and several body and bed sizes.
Chevrolet Colorado styling and performance
New for 2017 is a 308-horsepower V-6 that's sized like last year's, but features some fuel-saving tricks like cylinder displacement that lets it run as a V-4 under low-load situations. The V-6 comes mated exclusively to an also-new 8-speed automatic transmission.
But don't count out the Colorado's base 2.5-liter inline-4, which is rated at 200 hp and offers a choice of 6-speed manual and automatic gearboxes. For many light duty users, this 4-cylinder will prove to be more than sufficient.
For even more grunt that'll satisfy those who plan to tow heavy loads long distances, there's a 2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-4 that arrived last year, making 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Its fuel economy ratings top 30 mpg on the highway, while its tow ratings extend upward to 7,700 pounds in some configurations. The diesel is a pricey add-on, but it suits this truck very well.
The Colorado's fully boxed frame rides atop a coil front suspension with coil-over shocks and rear leaf springs with a live rear axle. Aiding the Colorado's superior driving dynamics in the mid-size truck segment is a well-weighted electric power steering system. As with all trucks in this segment, the Colorado is available in rear- or four-wheel drive, but four-wheel disc brakes give it the upper hand over the Tacoma, as does the Colorado's long-life brake rotors.
For 2017, higher trim level Colorados with the V-6 also gain a transfer case with an automatic four-wheel drive mode suitable for use even on dry pavement.
Chevrolet Colorado comfort, safety, and features
The Colorado's triumvirate of trims spread across three body styles cater to just about any would-be truck owner. Both 5- and 6-foot beds can be paired with the Colorado's four-door. Those who simply desire a functional truck can make due with the extended cab Colorado and its 6-foot bed. There's even a bed delete for commercial users.
No matter which cab you pick, the Colorado offers a superb interior and room for front passengers, with better materials and a more natural driving position than its rivals. In back, it's either a pair of child-safety-sized seats or cramped accommodations for adults, with bolt-upright seat backs and a marked lack of knee room, however.
But it's the bed that's a bigger pickup selling point, and while it's shy on length against full-sizers, its available bed extenders allow an 8-foot object to be hauled home with minimal fuss. The Colorado's corner bumper step offer improved, easier access to its bed, while its easy-lowering tailgate ensures you won't wake up the neighbors when you drop the tailgate at 4 a.m. as you load up for a weekend fishing trip. 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.
The Colorado's lineup looks simple at first glance, but there are many options for the WT work trucks, the nicely-outfitted LT, and the off-road-oriented Z71 with its own styling and all-terrain tires.
Six airbags and a triumvirate of electronic aids in the form of stability control, trailer-sway control, and hill-start assist are standard kit on the Colorado. Z71 models, with their off-road aims, additionally add hill-descent control as standard. Bringing safety up a notch if you so choose are forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems available as options, while a rearview camera system is standard on all Colorados.
On the infotainment front, all Colorados come with a USB port and touchscreen-controlled audio, while Bluetooth and a larger, 8-inch touchscreen with extra USB ports are available on LT and Z71 Colorados. If you need data on the go, GM OnStar's 4G LTE data connectivity option is there for you, as is optional navigation. As of last year, Apple CarPlay joins Chevrolet MyLink to enhance the infotainment experience for iPhone users.