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2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss Review: The Art of Compromise

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Photo: D.Rufiange
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Daniel Rufiange
The 2024 version of the model is the same, just about

•    Auto123 reviews the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss.

Tracing the history of Chevrolet's compact and mid-size trucks takes us back to the 1950s. Indeed, the American automaker first offered a compact-sized pickup back in 1959. Actually that model was a car with the part behind the B-pillar cut off and replaced by a bed. 

Older folks will remember the El Camino. Chevy produced it in 1959 and 1960, before bringing it back in 1964 to keep it in the catalog until the end of 1987. Its departure was preceded by the arrival in 1981 of a more traditional compact pickup, the S10. In 2004, that model was redesigned and renamed the Colorado. 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss, front
2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss, front
Photo: D.Rufiange

It’s a rich history for this type of model, a history containing ups and downs over the decades. One of those downs brought the whole thing to an end at Chevrolet in 2012. But the company was back at it for 2015 with a completely revamped and superior version, which has done well since.

2023 marked the debut of the second generation of the current model. Has it been given all the tools it needs to keep up the momentum? Maybe, but my impression is of a step taken backwards, rather than forward. 

Note that while our tester was a 2023 model, the 2024 Colorado is virtually unchanged.

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss, badging
2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss, badging
Photo: D.Rufiange

Powertrains of the 2023/2024 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss

The charm of the previous Colorado was the diversity of its powertrains. The offering included a V6, a 4-cylinder and a 4-cylinder turbodiesel configuration. Chevrolet’s now gone to a single offering with the brand's 2.7L turbocharged 4-cylinder. It’s a powerful and more fuel-efficient engine to be sure, but one whose long-term performance results remain unproven. It's accompanied by an 8-speed automatic transmission. 

What's special is that power output varies according to the version chosen. With the base WT and LT models, that output peaks at 237 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. As an option, performance climbs to 310 hp, while torque jumps to 390 lb-ft. Those figures are standard with the ZL1 and Trail Boss variants.

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss, red
2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss, red
Photo: D.Rufiange

Towing capacity varies along with the output. It's limited to 3500 lb with the less powerful version of the powertrain, and climbs to 7700 lb with the other. 

Note that a higher-efficiency version is available exclusively with the ZR2 model (and ZR2 Bison for 2024). Torque is increased to 430 lb-ft (this will be the standard for 2024). Towing capacity drops to 6,000 lb, simply because of the ZR2's off-road configuration. 

The range offers something for everyone, from a less powerful version for those who don't intend to tow, to the full package for those who do, to more adept off-road propositions, starting with the Trail Boss model we tested. 

Variety thus remains one of the strengths of the Colorado range. This was the case with the previous generation, and it is so once again. Our only regret is the disappearance of cab and body options. The configuration is now unique (double cab and five-foot box). 

Exterior design of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Exterior design of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Photo: D.Rufiange

Driving the 2023/2024 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss

It happens that just before test-driving this Colorado, I had driven the new Toyota Tacoma, also powered solely by a turbocharged 4-cylinder (2.4L). Perfect for a direct comparison. 

Toyota Tacoma / Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Toyota Tacoma / Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Photo: D.Rufiange

So, 2023/2024 Colorado or 2024 Tacoma?
What did we learn, you ask? Well, the Colorado's block is more powerful, the Tacoma's base engine offering 278 hp and 317 lb-ft of torque. In use, however, Toyota's powertrain is smoother and more supple, not to mention more pleasant-sounding, which translates into a more pleasurable experience behind the wheel. Pleasant, but also reassuring. GM's (General Motors) 4-cylinder engine delivers a slightly rougher experience, let’s say. 

It's just an impression, mind you. We'll see in the long term. 

What’s certain is that the possible arrival of a more powerful hybrid version from Toyota will cast a shadow over Chevrolet's efforts. The i-Force Max block will offer 326 hp and 465 lb-ft of torque. 

Numbers aren't everything when it comes to a pickup truck, but it still counts, quite a lot in fact. It will be interesting to see if Colorado sales suffer as a result. 

Then there's another element to consider: Toyota's switch to coil-spring rear suspension. This transforms the model's behavior, which becomes all the more civilized with an increased level of comfort. Chevrolet's leaf-spring approach to rear suspension is still a good thing, but you're getting shaken around more. 

Data cluster of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Data cluster of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Photo: D.Rufiange

Inside
Once again, comparison is inevitable here, since we're dealing with two freshly renewed rival models. Frankly, GM has done a very good job with its product updates (the Colorado, but also the GMC Canyon). The new interior is modern and technologically state-of-the-art. Seating comfort is also adequate, even if more side support would have been desirable, given the vehicle's vocation. 

The problem is that Toyota has done an even better job with the interior presentation of its new Tacoma. It's a matter of taste, but the consensus is that Toyota takes this round. And for those who like a massive screen, the one offered with the higher trims of the Tacoma is 14.0 inches, besting the 11.3 inch screen at Chevy. The essentials are there, however, with Google's integrated systems, while the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto applications are still part of the package. 

Multimedia screen of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Multimedia screen of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Photo: D.Rufiange

A few irritants, however, some verging on aberrations. Don't look for buttons for the headlights. Everything is controlled from a page on the multimedia system screen (see photo). Ditto for the trip meter and fuel consumption ratings. Awful.

It's up to you to decide which environment appeals to you most. You won't be disappointed with Chevrolet, but you're more likely to like Toyota. 

Glimpse of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Glimpse of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Photo: D.Rufiange

The Trail Boss variant
Based on the basic WT edition, this version gets features that make it more at home off the beaten track. At $46,529, it’s the most affordable of the Colorado range’s three off-road models, with the Z71 and ZR2 sitting above it. 

The Trail Boss comes standard with 18-inch wheels belted with 32-inch off-road tires (Goodyear Territory M/T), an automatic locking rear differential, rescue hooks and front skid plates. The suspension is also raised by two inches, while the track is widened by three. 

Above all, there are additional drive modes for excursions, including one that lets you control the vehicle using a single pedal (you release the gas pedal to slow down, as with an electric vehicle). Ideal for low-speed off-road escapades. 

On asphalt, it's clear that the tires are not optimized for contact with the road. Handling suffers, and you always sense a latent floating effect. The feeling of ruggedness is there, though. 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss, profile
2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss, profile
Photo: D.Rufiange

The final word
The TrailBoss version of the Chevrolet Colorado is an interesting compromise for those looking for a pickup capable of leaving paved roads behind. Like all new models, it will have to prove itself. As a buyer, I'd take the time to compare Toyota's offer before making up my mind. 

The Nissan Frontier and Ford Ranger also offer similar solutions, if you can't find what you're looking for with the aforementioned models. 

Strong points

  • Build quality
  • Interesting and useful additions to this Trail Boss version
  • Powerful powertrain

Weak points

  • Headlight control on the central screen (I'm still amazed)
  • Only one cab choice
  • More basic material quality than Trail Boss version
Rear of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Rear of 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss
Photo: D.Rufiange

Competitors of the 2023/2024 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss

  • - Ford Ranger Raptor
  • - Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro
  • - Nissan Frontier Pro 4X
  • - Jeep Gladiator Rubicon
  • - GMC Canyon AT4
 
Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists