GM hasn’t tried to reinvent the pickup truck with its new Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. And why should it? Along with its domestic competitors, the General helped invent the concept way back at the dawn of the automotive age and has been integral to its development over the century that followed.
After a brief two-year hiatus between 2012 and 2014, both models continued. The Colorado returned as the bowtie brand’s smaller truck, below the Silverado, although it’s now grown to midsize dimensions and is more appealing in every respect.
More rugged looks
While I liked the styling of the old Colorado, the new generation is sportier, more rugged, and definitely more capable. Its larger size has something to do with that; the old truck’s squared edges have been rounded out for more a muscular design that works well from nose to tail.
This 2016 Chevy Colorado Z71 Crew Cab Short Box 4WD model is nearly identical to one I tested last summer, even down to its Red Hot exterior paint. If it weren’t for its new black bowtie, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it wasn’t the same truck. The new Black Bowtie Emblem Package is nothing more than what it sounds, a $165 upgrade that simply gives you black emblems instead of gold.
As noted, the new Colorado is larger than the previous iteration. The old Extended Cab and Crew Cab models, which were the same length before, have grown by 143 mm to 5,403 when compared to the new Extended Cab and Crew Cab, or by 455 mm to 5,715 when side-by-side with the new Crew Cab Long Box. Likewise, the new Extended Cab and Crew Cab wheelbases are up by 58 mm to 3,259, and the Crew Cab Long Box increases by 369 mm to 3,569. Additionally, the Colorado’s width has also grown by 143 mm to 1,885, while the old model’s tallest height has increased by 68 mm to 1,793.
All that substance reflects curb weights: The lightest 2016 Colorado tips the scales at 1,778 kg, exactly 164 kg heavier than the lightest equivalent Colorado Extended Cab from before, while the heaviest Colorado Crew Cab Long Box with a V6, automatic transmission and 4WD weighs in at 2,019 kg, or 173 kg heavier than the previous inline 5-cylinder model and 106 kg more than the V8.
All of this added weight meant more powerful engines were in order. Chevy therefore said goodbye to the previous 2.9L I-4, 3.7L I-5, and 5.3L V8 lineup. In place, the new engine arsenal includes a much more modern 2.5L 4-cylinder with direct injection (DI) and continuous variable valve timing (CVVT) that makes 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque, my tester’s optional 3.6L V6 with DI and CVVT that’s capable of 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque, and lastly an all-new 2.8L 4-cylinder Duramax turbo-diesel that’s good for 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque.
As you might expect, the 2016 Chevy Colorado’s transmission choices have also changed. The old 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic are gone, replaced by a 6-speed manual (now standard with the base 4-cylinder) and 6-speed automatic (optional with the 2.5L and standard with the 3.6L and 2.8L). Either engine can be had with 2WD or 4WD.
In terms of fuel consumption, my tester was rated at 13.6L/100km city, 9.9L/100km highway, and 11.9L/100km combined, which is pretty decent for such a large, well-equipped, 4x4 capable truck. I should mention the diesel does even better at 12.0 city, 8.2 highway, and 10.3 combined with the same 4WD configuration, but you’ll need to decide if the difference justifies the $4,585 upcharge. Of course, real-world results may prove the diesel to be even more efficient, especially when fully laden with payload or trailer in tow at which point that extra 100 lb-ft of torque would no doubt come in handy ― the diesel’s trailering capability is an impressive 3,493 kg (7,700 lbs) compared to 3,175 kg (7,000 lbs) for the V6 and just 1,588 kg (3,500 lbs) for the base engine.
Features and packages
As mentioned, other than the diesel engine, my tester was almost fully loaded, only omitting some features that I certainly didn’t miss. It started with a Crew Cab 4x4 with the 5’2” short bed layout and Z71 package, a combination that retails for $38,850 plus freight and fees. That’s considerably more than the Colorado’s $21,420 starting price, albeit right in the ballpark of competitors with similar features.
On top of that, GM added its $795 MyLink & Nav 8.0” colour touchscreen with navigation, Apple CarPlay, voice activation, Bluetooth streaming audio, HD and satellite radio, and more. This infotainment system wows with bright, colourful graphics and loads of useful features, although only having an Android-based phone left me feeling shortchanged. My worries quickly took a back seat when Uptown Funk blared through the $685 7-speaker Bose audio upgrade, a worthy prerequisite to getting the enhanced infotainment.
On a more practical note, Chevy also added $4,130 worth of extras including chromed recovery hooks, side steps, front and rear splashguards, polished exhaust tips, a spray-on bedliner, four tie-down rings, a Heavy-Duty Trailering package, all-weather floor mats, and more for a still reasonable $41,185.
My favourite details come standard, however: GM’s innovative corner steps derived from the full-size Silverado. I love inexpensive solutions to longstanding problems, and this feature is reason enough to choose a GM truck over any competitor. With the tailgate lowered, the bumper steps that most rivals offer disappear, leaving tiny corners atop the bumper that are barely large enough for a toehold. I’ve slipped and fallen off of these when wet, a process that sometimes results in injury. Most who’ve lived with pickups know the pain that follows such an accident, so I’m glad that GM has come up with a simple and effective way to ensure such slip-ups won’t occur as easily.
Chevy took that same practical approach to the Colorado’s interior, which is laid out smartly and effectively. Styling is traditional, which should work for most buyers, although I was surprised that the cabin was completely devoid of soft-touch surfaces except the door inserts and armrests, and even these are formed from hard rubber. On the positive, the primary gauge cluster is attractive and filled with a large colour multi-information display that’s jam-packed with useful features. Additionally, the nicely stitched, leather-clad steering wheel gets high-quality buttons front and back, while the rest of the Colorado’s switchgear is above par.
Furthermore, the previously noted infotainment touchscreen is one of the more advanced anywhere with big, coloured, iPhone app-style buttons for audio, phone, nav, text messaging, OnStar, and more. The graphics are great and usability is excellent.
The 2016 Chevy Colorado’s HVAC interface includes some of the segment’s nicest controls. It’s only single-zone automatic in top-line trim, which misses the mark, but the large round dials get metallic edging and rubber grips, plus attractively colourful digital readouts within. Meanwhile, GM’s 3-level seat heaters are class-leading.
Some other notable features include a handy sunglasses holder within the overhead console, a power moonroof, a sliding rear window, a bed light that’s bright enough for working at night, and the aforementioned spray-in bedliner that not only protects the bed from scratches, but also adds a grippy, textured finish for wet weather safety.
Practicality in mind, the rear seating area is roomy and the seats are comfortable for the category, plus their 60/40-split design can be flipped upwards to expose a hidden cargo hold beneath or folded flat for loading. What’s more, on the backside of the centre console are 12V and 110V power outlets, although the household-style charger is limited to dual-prong plugs.
Features not yet mentioned include remote start, power side mirrors, power windows, tilt and telescopic steering, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a backup camera with dynamic guidelines, OnStar telematics, illuminated vanity mirrors, heated power front seats with driver’s power lumbar, an EZ Lift and Lower locking tailgate that drops down softly, an off-road suspension package, an automatic locking rear differential, all the normal active and passive safety equipment, plus more.
Out on the road, the 3.6L V6 provides plenty of power from standstill and was especially speedy during passing maneuvers, while the smooth-shifting 6-speed autobox can be made more engaging via thumb toggle-actuated manual mode atop the shift knob. The Colorado’s suspension is also impressive, delivering a comfortable ride despite my tester’s off-road upgrades, and handling is good for the class.
After two separate weeks of Colorado testing, I can attest to the truck’s overall goodness, even measuring up to a similarly equipped Toyota Tacoma. I know if my money were on the line it would be a difficult decision, but those rear corner steps would probably win me over, not to mention available diesel power. GM has come far in recent years, and this new 2016 Chevy Colorado is proof of its new winning ways.