2015 Chevrolet Colorado Review: Chevy’s little Big Truck!!!
The all-new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado can carry a hefty payload and tow a 7,000-pound trailer, yet it's small enough to park in a standard garage. To My delight, the Colorado is available as an Extended Cab or Crew Cab, rear-wheel drive or 4-wheel drive, and with a 5 or 6-foot bed. Its strikingly attractive styling, interior refinement and efficient-yet-powerful engines set it apart from its Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier competitors by leaps and bounds. The new Colorado has the accolades of best-in-class towing, is expected to offer best-in-class fuel economy, and is first in its class to offer substantial safety features such as Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and a standard logic based back-up camera. All that, plus effective refinements and cool tech features should also attract owners of SUVs who may have left the midsize market when it became stale and stagnant.
The Colorado is Chevy’s first new mid-size pickup in ages, with its fresh looks, new tech, and convenience features galore. It’s quieter, more solid feeling, and pleasantly civilized. The Colorado’s impressive power comes from two engine choices; a 200-hp 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 191 lb-ft of torque or an optional 3.6-liter V-6 with 305 hp and 269 lb-ft. The V-6 offers an optional 7000-lb tow rating. Extended or crew cabs, five and six foot beds are both available, as is a six-speed manual transmission for base models; LT and Z71 models get a six-speed automatic.
Full-size pickups have become so large that a more rationally sized truck seems like a big deal. Indeed, General Motors has been basking in attention for more than two years since announcing that it was bringing all-new mid-size trucks-the Chevrolet Colorado and the GMCCanyon-to market. Now they’re here for 2015, collecting “of the year” nominations all over the media map just for entering a neglected segment that has largely been dominated by the dated 10-year-old designs from Toyota and Nissan.
For My first real-life full test of the Chevy version, the tale of the tape says I’m taking the measure of the biggest of the new “little” trucks, a Colorado Crew Cab with the long bed (six feet, two inches), the V-6 engine and four-wheel drive. In that four-door specification, it casts a shadow just shy of 19 feet long. Like the bestselling Toyota Tacoma, it eats slightly more driveway than does a full-size two-door standard-cab Silverado with the eight-foot bed. Stretching over a 140.5-inch wheelbase, this truck is definitely mid-size and not “compact” by any means. On the road, I sat eye-level with guys in both full-sized Ford and Chevy 4x4s in the opposite lanes during My week’s worth of travels up and down the streets and highways of New York; with a fair amount of kudos and thumbs up. The Colorado is, however, half a foot narrower than its full-size stable-mate and easier to wield in traffic and slip into parking spaces (which I managed with minimal effort). And for even greater ease of use, consumers can make it even smaller by opting for either the extended cab or the five-foot-two cargo bed versions.
Although based on a global design built in Brazil and Thailand since 2011, the newly “revised-for-our-market” versions of the Colorado and the Canyon are assembled in Wentzville, Missouri, to avoid the absurd 50-year-old “chicken tax” levied against imported trucks. Yet even based on a years-old design, these designs are much fresher than the 3-days-older than dirt Nissan Frontier and the tired Toyota Tacoma that trace their origins to 2005. (I must be fair and say that a new Tacoma is due for 2016)
Modern Minor Generals:For the time being, this Colorado has the advantage of being the newest player in a tired, geriatric field. This shows up in the Colorado’s modern-looking cabin filled with the latest technology, its polished road manners, and its array of electronic safety aids. Its 3.6-liter V-6, which features direct injection and variable valve timing making a respectable 305 horsepower; a respective 69 and 44 more than the 4.0-liter V-6s from Toyota and Nissan (Take That-Take That!!!). The V-6 engine is quiet and somewhat refined and mates well to a six-speed automatic where the Toyota and Nissan still rely on five-speed units.
These differences in powertrain amounted to a stopwatch, though. The Colorado got to 60 mph from a standstill in 7 seconds; the best time turned in was a 6.8 second run. The last Tacoma I tested was a TRD off-road model which did 7.3. The Frontier did 7.6 in its younger days. Both Japanese engines, however, are coarser in operation, relying on low-rpm grunt to get them off the line, after which they fade; rather rapidly. The Tacoma and the Frontier both are also thrashier at freeway speeds, where the Chevy, already smoother, has the taller gearing to quiet things down even more. And that’s also where the Colorado power advantage really shows; the Tacoma trails this Colorado by at least four-tenths of a second in a controlled quarter-mile drag races.
Those consumers intent on doing “real work” with their truck might worry that the Chevy’s more car-like, higher-revving engine is less suitable; please don’t worry yourself. But with the tow package fitted to our test truck, it’s rated to pull 7000 pounds. You’d find more torque but less power-as well as similar overall performance-in the Silverado V-6 we tested, which is certified to tow 7600 pounds, but that full-size crew cab cost $8200 more than this Colorado. As for fuel economy; I saw 20.3 mpg in this mid-size compared with 16 mpg from the full-size V-6 Chevy and 16 mpg in the Tacoma TRD Pro Series. On the safety side, the Colorado lands mid-pack, braking from 70 mph in 174 feet landing on the “good” end of the truck spectrum albeit not too special. There was no fade from the four-wheel disc brakes, and understeer was only moderate at worst. Steering feel and weight are good on the open road and light in parking situations.
What Size is the Right Size?With gas prices suppressed as of this writing, GM isn’t getting any help with the argument that people should “right size” their truck purchases to suit their own needs rather than overbuying capability “just in case.” A margin of 1 or 2 mpg is unlikely to convince many truck buyers (Myself included)-who seem to have notoriously short memories about the volatility of fuel prices-to choose smaller. Aside from dimensions, though, the Colorado buyer doesn’t give up much and gets a smaller monthly payment when you start matching up features against similarly equipped full-size trucks.
As noted, My vehicle was $8200 cheaper than a full-sized V-6 Silverado, even though it was loaded up beyond $38,000 with options. The starting price on the big-cab, long-bed 4x4 is nearly $31,000. (An extended-cab V-6 4x4 starts just shy of $29K.) This example showed up with a $1080 Luxury package that includes heated seats with power adjustments (even lumbar) for both driver and passenger, heated outside power mirrors, auto climate control, and projector-beam headlamps. Another $950 brought black leather and ash-colored trim, and $1000 added dark-gray 18-inch wheels. Remote start, rear defrost, front fog lamps, and an easy-lift tailgate added $615, then came the Bose audio ($500), the navigation system with eight-inch color touch screen and Chevy MyLink ($495), a $395 Safety package with lane-departure and forward-collision alerts, plus a locking rear differential ($325), and the trailering equipment ($250).
Clearly, truck marketers still know how to pile up the pricey bits. Penny pinchers or those with lesser tow/haul needs may look to the smaller Colorado with a starting price in the low twenties, four-cylinder power, and perhaps the six-speed manual gearbox. GM is making us wait until the 2016 model year for the promised turbo-diesel version, although that won’t be the cheapest way to go with the current diesel fuel prices.
While there’s some wait-and-see attitude out there about the mid-size-truck market-notably from GM’s two Detroit-based rivals; both Nissan and Toyota are already making noises about their upcoming responses. For now, the Colorado is the latest big small thing, but that’s not a status you can boast for very long.
GODZILLA’s Bottom Line: The new 2015 Chevrolet Colorado will appeal to people who want to tow a trailer or carry gear, but want an easier time parking and better fuel economy than a full-size truck can offer. My test vehicle was a Z71 crew cab which was equipped with the 3.6-liter V6 that boasts 305 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm, 269 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm. The EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17-18/24-26 mpg (automatic); My actual EPA numbers for both city and highway driving were slightly lower at 16 mpg in the city and 21.5 on the highway. All in all, My initial real-world testing shows the Colorado as being definitely more defined, more efficient and more capable than any other truck in its segment (Yeah, I’m talking to you Nissan and Toyota). I want to take this opportunity to send a Big Thank You to Chevy Colorado’s Brand Manager Tony Johnson and Steve Martin at General Motors, the dynamic duo-Pierre Kanter and Eric Dolis at FMI Media Fleet, Georgina Turpin over at the MLS Group and Gene Sheridan at Events Solutions International! Quote GODZILLA! Nevermore…