I was looking forward to driving this truck. I’m an outed truck lover and was very curious to see where GM had taken their latest-born pickup.
Over the years, I’ve evaluated the Honda Ridgeline, Dodge Dakota, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier, Ford Ranger, and the Chevrolet S10 (some a few times over) and have found something to enjoy with each of them. I recently pitted the Toyota Tacoma against the Chevrolet Colorado to see how they stacked up against each other. The Tacoma -- the current undisputed king in the midsize pickup segment -- still has much to offer despite its age.
The new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado (and its twin, the GMC Canyon) faired well in the comparo test particularly for its smooth and refined nature. Its modern appearance and equally contemporary powertrain gave it many points, as well. Its biggest shortcoming lies in the time required for the engine and transmission to activate when prodded. Its capabilities and prowess are on par or superior to the competition, but at the moment I would hold that thought.
Reliability is a very important for the average buyer of these “tools” as they are essentially lifelines for their businesses. The Tacoma has that going for it, while the GMs still have ways to go.
Where it counts
The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado is plenty capable. My near $40k Z71 tester was loaded with all the important bits including the 305-horsepower 3.6L V6. The engine also produces a healthy 269 lb-ft of torque as of 4,000 rpm. Mated to the 6-speed automatic transmission, and equipped with the heavy-duty trailering package, the Chevy can and will tow up to 7,000lbs (3,175kg). Its payload is rated at 1,560lbs (708kg), which is equally good.
If these ratings are so-so for your needs, GM long ago announced the coming of an all-new Duramax 2.8L turbo-diesel 4-cylinder engine for the 2016 model-year available by the fall of 2015. Power numbers should look like 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. What’s more, the motor will be mounted on hydraulic motor-mounts that will greatly reduce the vibration typically associated with fuel-burning engines.
For those unwilling to sacrifice smoothness
The Chevy’s greatest asset is its uncannily refined ride. Like its big brothers, the Silverado and Sierra, the Colorado seemingly floats over the tarmac, nearly isolating the passengers from the road and its inherent harshness.
The secret lies in part with its two-stage rear multi-leaf springs that provide a layer of comfort. The drive is akin to that of a large, heavy sedan. The rear axle will bounce somewhat over harsher bumps when unladen, however, it’s not terribly unnerving.
The well laid-out and ergonomic cabin is the quietest by far in the midsize truck category. The seats are themselves fairly comfortable, further enhancing the pickup’s overall sense of finesse.
Where the power at?
The Colorado’s V6 matches the truck’s manners. It is docile and never harsh. In fact, the only roughness comes from the driver when he or she wants to move forward.
The Chevy suffers from an impossibly dull and nearly dead throttle pedal. It is so numb and heavy that a long period spent driving the truck could result in some leg/calf discomfort. Mashing the go-pedal changes little as the delay only becomes even more evident and thus, frustrating.
This is, in large part, the reason why the Colorado does not feel as quick as its stats would suggest and hence why the Tacoma’s on-paper power deficit is not noticeable. This does not mean that the Chevrolet doesn’t move. When the throttle finally obeys the truck’s computer and the transmission finds its gear, the pickup moves with ample gusto.
The float-y ride and anesthetised gas-pedal generate the impression that the Colorado is much larger than it actually is. The electric power steering’s variable assist is proper for the truck and its 4-wheel disc brakes are up to the task.
My weeklong drive of the tested Crew Cab long-box Z71 Colorado was quickly followed by a week with both a 2015 Chevy Silverado and Ford F-150. The “midsize” Colorado was roughly 5” shorter than the two full-size trucks, so this wasn’t as much an impression as it was actual fact. My Colorado was nothing short of huge, and it felt that way.
The biggest downside to the Colorado (and especially the Tacoma) compared to the large trucks is the depth of their beds. It limits the height of the items that can be carried back there. One could add/build a bed cage, but I don’t think it would fit with the Colorado’s styling. Although, for a cool retro-modern look…
Compete with this
The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are currently hogging the spotlight in this segment, but that will change soon enough as the new 2016 Honda Ridgeline and 2016 Toyota Tacoma are coming at them fast. Likely close behind, midsize pickups from Hyundai, Mercedes, and Volkswagen might be next in line for attention.
Although the present generation Tacoma holds all the cards, the Colorado has plenty of assets to take the shine off the Toyota’s muddy body panels. The Ridgeline won’t pose as much of a threat, however, the next Tacoma will probably cast another shadow on the GMs.