The New Chevrolet Colorado Promises Tons Of Kit And Turbocharged Power Even On The Base Model

Front 3/4 View Of Colorado Trail Boss Rounding A Corner On A Dirt Road.

There’s something you probably don’t know about me. Despite my ironic hipster haircut and cliched depreciated BMW 3-Series, I love trucks. The second-best vehicle I’ve ever owned was a 1995 GMC C1500 Sierra. It was the sort of honest, hardworking truck that embodies a father figure stereotype. I’ve towed cars with F-150s, blasted through snow drifts in Tacomas, schlepped furniture in Rams, and hauled car parts in GM trucks. So when Chevrolet announced a new Colorado, you can bet your ass I got excited.

Front 3/4 Exterior Shot Of Colorado Lt In Front Of Modern Home.

Right off the bat, there’s a bit of a problem. Chevrolet’s styling department has made some odd decisions regarding front fascias lately. While the new Colorado features many different front end treatments to distinguish trim levels, none really seem to hit the mark. The Work Truck and Trail Boss feature a giant hunk of unpainted plastic, the LT and Z71 are fussy, and the ZR2 has a weird painted lower grille. Then again, the new world-market Ford Ranger isn’t a looker either, and it doesn’t have nearly as cool body surfacing as the new Colorado.

Front 3/4 View Of Colorado Z71 In Scenic Area With Beach And Mountains.

Look at those strong beveled fenders and quarter panels, those planted fender flares, and that neat double-kinked belt line. This is one of the strongest profiles of any midsize pickup trucks, right up there with my design favorite, the new Nissan Frontier. The strong beveling seen on the Colorado’s quarter panels also appears on the tailgate, as does the Chevrolet wordmark stamped in eighty billion-point font. Job well done.

Rear View

Honestly, front end aside, the new Colorado is a very strong bit of design work, and that’s before I even get into the interior. My god, Chevrolet knocked it out of the park here. Look, midsize trucks have always put utility first and while that’s endearing, creature comforts and modern design can feel quite nice. As such, the Colorado displays remarkably little carryover from GM models of yesteryear. Sure, the shifter has a touch of familiarity and the electronic handbrake switch looks extremely GM, but everything else on the console and dashboard looks wonderfully fresh. The circular vents and toggle switches do a lovely job of perking everything up, while the rotating four-wheel-drive selector looks remarkably classy for this segment. Best of all, Colorado buyers won’t have to take a massive walk up the trim range to get a nice interior. That image below this paragraph? It’s the base model Work Truck. Yeah, that’s a base model.

WT interior

Look at all the shit you get for the money. There’s an 11.3-inch touchscreen infotainment system and an eight-inch digital gauge cluster keeping you informed, entertained, and able to gauge important things. What’s more, the dashboard isn’t festooned with blanked-off switches to remind you of how many toys you’re not getting. Speaking of toys, each base-model Colorado comes with six speakers, automatic emergency braking, lane keep assist, and wireless phone mirroring. Autozone delivery drivers, eat your hearts out.

ZR2 interior

Truthfully, options pile on as you go further up the range. The LT trim gets alloy wheels, color-keyed trim, and a steering wheel wrapped in leatherette. The Z71 gets LED lamps, 18-inch alloy wheels with all-terrain tires, heated mirrors, leatherette and cloth upholstery, and a standard sliding rear window. Lastly, the ZR2 pulls out all the stops with heated seats front, dual-zone climate control, and a storage compartment integrated into the tailgate. That last feature is available as an option on some lesser trim levels, so customers should be able to play around with the options list until they have the truck they want.

Lineup

Right, we’ve gulped down the greens of trim and styling, now let’s talk about the Colorado’s meaty new mechanicals, starting with a big one. The new Colorado features a new frame. Not only does this allow for a 3.1-inch wheelbase stretch over the current crew cab/short bed Colorado, it let Chevrolet improve clearances thanks to new packaging and a shorter front overhang. Let’s compare the new Z71 with the old crew cab, short bed Z71. Minimum ground clearance is up from 8.3 inches to 8.9 inches, approach angle is up from 17.3 degrees to 29.1 degrees, departure angle stays steady at 22.3 degrees to the old model’s 22.1 degrees, while breakover angle is down slightly from 19.8 degrees to 19.5 degrees. Not the worst compromise to make considering the 3.1-inch wheelbase stretch.

The 2023 Colorado Zr2’s 2.7l Turbo High Output Engine.

With a new frame comes significantly more influence from GM’s half-ton pickup trucks. The new 6×139.7 mm wheel bolt pattern is a huge boon to anyone interested in fitting aftermarket wheels, although the big news is an entirely new engine lineup. Well, engine lineup may be a bit disingenuous. See, the new Colorado features GM’s 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine in three states of tune. Base work trucks and LT models get 237 horsepower and 259 lb-ft of torque, although customers can option the same higher-output 310 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. variant found in the Trail Boss and Z71. This takes maximum towing capacity up from 3,500 pounds to 7,700 pounds, a strong figure for a midsize truck. Want more torque? No worries, the ZR2 has it in spades. We’re talking about the same 310 horsepower as the mid-grade 2.7T, but a whopping 430 lb.-ft. of torque. Regardless of engine choice, torque goes to the ground through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss 007

Or should I say, power goes to the axles through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. See, 390 lb.-ft. of torque is all well and good, but it won’t get you far through the loose stuff if only one tire is spinning. Welcome to the Colorado Trail Boss, my early favorite of the Colorado range. It takes the familiar formula of adding a limited-slip rear differential, raised ride height, wider track, and all-terrain tires, and applies it to the base trim of the Colorado mid-sized truck. In this case, minimum ground clearance is up to 9.5 inches, track width is up by three inches, and the standard tires are 32-inch all terrain meats wrapped around 18-inch alloy wheels. Challenging black plastic front fascia aside, this feels like it may be the Colorado to have.

Front 3/4 View Of Colorado Zr2 In Scenic Desert.

However, if you have money on your dresser, and maybe drive a Kompressor on the streets, the Colorado ZR2 seems like just the thing for getting out of town on the weekends. Way, way out of town. From a visual standpoint, the ZR2 features modified bumpers with tire cutouts up front, 33-inch mud terrain tires on 17-inch alloy wheels, rocker panel protection, and a beefy 10.7 inches of minimum ground clearance. However, all the big stuff is going on underneath this truck. Like the old ZR2, the new one gets spool valve dampers from Multimatic, locking front and rear differentials, and beefy skid plates. Throw in cast iron control arms and a Baja-optimized drive mode, and it all adds up to one nifty little desert runner. There’s also the ZR2 Desert Boss package which adds an underbody camera and some appearance stuff like sail panels and a special off-road bumper, but most of the goodness is baked into the standard ZR2.

Side View Of Colorado Zr2 Diriving With Dirt Bikes Through Desert.

It looks like Chevrolet has really knocked it out of the park with the new Colorado. From a base model with loads of kit to a decked-out right-sized desert attack truck, there really seems to be something for everyone here. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, although it’s anyone’s guess as to where it will land. Cutting out the base extended cab model and the old 2.5-liter naturally-aspirated four-cylinder engine could theoretically push pricing upward, but the effects of the new body, frame, engine, and equipment on the bottom line are yet to be seen. Expect the new Colorado to roll into showrooms in early 2023. Hopefully it’ll be really worth the wait.

All photos courtesy of Chevrolet

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49 Responses

  1. Do you have to step up to the crazy Trail Boss to get the Limited Slip Diff? I would think that many people would want an LSD in lower trims, especially with a RWD variant. Also, what are the differences in the engines besides tuning? Do the higher hp engines have stronger internals, better cooling, etc? Or is it just a tune away from unlocking more power?

    1. Look at that predicable and unoriginal comment.

      New cars have more tech and safety features, it’s just the way things are.

      Customers want many of them, and governments mandate a lot of them.

    2. I’m kind of tired of this old refrain?

      Stuff breaks all the time. The toys people say are “nice stuff that will break” aren’t really going to hurt your truck if they break. And, in most cases, that stuff is actually going to work fine for years anyway. And if anything essential to the operation of the truck breaks, it would be the same if it’s a slick top of the line model or a bare bones basic one.

      There’s nothing wrong with feeling as though a truck with all the toys is pointless or overly expensive for your needs. Hell, if I wanted a truck, I’d get a basic model too, for those reasons. But the justification that the toys will break anyway always feels like a pretty weak one, a way to feel superior for being cheap.

    1. I’ll bet you a shiny nickel that the Tacoma refresh next year will include at bare minimum a hybrid option, with a PHEV option following in the second year as something like a Tacoma Prime. It will however take a bite out of payload.

      1. Knowing Toyota I sincerely doubt that. That being said if I was Toyota I’d basically take a RWD Tacoma and have an electric motor drive the front wheels and just leave the ICE drivetrain alone. Get a several MPG bump while allowing for a manual transmission Hybrid again.

        And with Toyota’s AWD-e system for their FWD Hybrid offerings they should honestly make them available with manual transmissions as well.

        I really don’t want to buy another ICE car unless it has a manual transmission. If I don’t want to shift I’ll buy a BEV.

        1. This is à propos of very little, but Hulu served me a Tacoma commercial today premised on a woman refusing some muddy dude entry to her truck until he showered. I didnt understand it, but it did make me less interested in driving a Toyota.

    2. It doesn’t matter if “none” of these go offroad as long as buyers want/buy the offroad look (and to be fair these seem fairly capable).
      Having said that, I agree it would be nice to see a street sport offering as long as they’re putting Hellcat and GT500 engines in trucks.

        1. I can understand. For me the Maverick is already bigger than my 94 Toyota Pickup that has seating for 5 and a 75 inch long bed, and honestly I have a hard enough time parking my Toyota.

          The only reasons I’m considering getting a Maverick are the >40 MPG in real world driving (for the hybrid), the inverter (for they hybrid) and the tons of manual features on the XL trim (though I’d prefer a cruise control option and hand crank windows, especially with all the window regulator failures Mavericks are having), and it’s so cheap I can basically treat it like a self propelled work trailer.

          16 MPG out of a Naturally aspirated 150hp 3.0L V6 gets old real quick.

          What I really want is a 2 door 3 seat 75″ long bed Maverick with a manual transmission, AWD or manually selectable 4WD, and above 30 MPG at the minimum. However due to the unibody design it’s highly unlikely they’ll go to the effort to build a 2 door Maverick.

          1. Cruise control in the base model is just a steering wheel swap away, or there are aftermarket add-ons if you prefer. The base model has all the software and such for it, it just lacks the actual controls at the driver’s end of things.

            1. Yep, that’s what I’d do if there was no Cruise Control option for the XL at the time I’d buy one. However I’d much rather pay Ford for the option and avoid the headache of acquiring the parts, installing the parts, and activating the code in order to have cruise control.

              The hand crank windows are something I do want. Also I’d probably replace the rear tinted windows with non tinted windows.

            1. Har Har. That being said brown is a better color than Black, white, silver, or grey.

              What would be nice is more greens and blues. I’ve never seen an all grey cactus but I’ve seen plenty of all green cacti yet Ford only offers a Cactus Grey.

              A cactus green, a Forest Service green, a tealish color, etc. would be what I’d prefer.

              Honestly if I got a Maverick I think I would have it repainted in Forest Service green.

          2. I’ll tell you, my Subaru Crosstrek 2.5L gets about 26mpg city and about 32 highway (I can get 36mpg if I peg the cruise control at 60mph) and that’s with a CVT and not an ungodly amount of frontal area or weight. I can’t see a pickup with a manual getting near 30 without the help of some sort of hybrid architecture. But perhaps that’s what you’re talking about?

  2. If they’re only gonna do this as a big-cab-small-bed truck, they really should also offer it in SUV format.

    Keep the styling, keep the tailgate, but put a top on it (too much to ask that it be removable?) and get rid of the partition behind the rear seats. Leave the rear area rugged and cleanable, like a truck with a good bed liner. With a standard roof rack on top, it would actually be more flexible cargo-wise than the Colorado, because if you had longer cargo you could just fold the rear seats flat—while still being able to hang it over the tailgate if necessary. Also, if it rained your stuff would stay dry, and it wouldn’t be as vulnerable to theft.

    You’d get all the ruggedness and off-road-capability of a truck, but without as many of the compromises when it comes to using it as a family vehicle—which, let’s face it, will be the primary use for most of these trucks. It would give Chevy something to compete with the likes of the 4Runner, Wrangler, and Bronco (especially if they do that removable
    top thing…) and they’ve already done most of the development work. It would even share most of the same components, exterior and interior paneling included.

    Yes, I know I’ve just reinvented the Blazer. Not the current one obviously, the old one. Even so, it’s an idea that I think would resonate with the current SUV-and-truck-crazed American market, and it wouldn’t require anything like the investment of designing and building a completely independent model from scratch. You’re welcome, GM.

    1. Totally this. Why can’t they make an SUV version of this, possibly a smidge smaller? Instead, we get crossovers that are pulling styling from their cars.

      I really like the new info-tainment-dash setup. I HATE the ones that look like someone stuck an iPad in the top of the dash, which is why I’ve ignored Chevy’s offerings, and have been looking to the new Sportage/Telluride. Now maybe I have another choice.

  3. I saw a little video clip on the tailgate storage bin, and they use mini 8 OZ soda cans instead of 12 OZERs. The thing is 4″ deep. I am just imagining a 70 year-old David Tracy finding a “Holy Grail” Colorado in the future complete with some obscure option as well as the tailgate storage bin. He struggles to fit the latest standard soda can in any quantity in the thing and devotes a couple articles to it.

  4. I really don’t like that it’s so ‘well appointed’, since that means it will be unrealistic for many people to buy one. We are seeing the American Dream of a steady working class job, a Chevy truck, and a starter home with your high school sweetheart, being priced out of the reach of the average person. This is a really nice ride. But in many ways, it’s too nice. That’s the point.

    1. Starter home? What’s a starter home? There’s nothing within 50 miles of me for less than half a million that doesn’t need a full gut and remodel, at minimum. I’m glad I managed to get into homeownership a couple years before the pandemic, because no way in hell could I pull it off now. The American Dream relies on the existence of a robust middle class, and multiple realistic paths for people to join it. (Historical note: even during what we think of as the American Dream’s Golden Age, those paths were intentionally reserved almost exclusively for straight white males.) The middle class has been getting hollowed out for decades, now. All the money is upstairs, so that’s where industry is targeting—they can make fewer units and reap fatter margins, so why wouldn’t you?

      The American Dream is all but dead. There are fewer and fewer opportunities for people to make good-but-not-insane amounts of money, and those that do exist increasingly rely on your family having the financial and social capital to set you on the path. We could turn that around, but I see few indicators that we will.

  5. I agree, the front ends are all kind of meh. they are better than the outgoing model, but that’s not saying much. I personally don’t care for the headlights mimicking the Jeep “angry eyes”.

    Seems like the standard GM approach though: reads great on paper, kinda ugly and underwhelming in person.

  6. Well, it certainly looks better than the Silverado, but that’s damning with faint praise. I’ll reserve my judgement until I see one in person. I am disappointed there is yet again no bench seat/column shift version.

  7. I love the optimism that you powered by optima people portray. If I want to learn why the new vehicle is useless and garbage then I know of another site where they will be glad to tell me! Thanks Thomas

  8. Don’t the Chevy designers ever get tired of drawing more horizontal lines? This looks like a great truck but please, just stop with the transformer looking front ends.

    Maybe they just do that to impress their bosses and then manufacturing doesn’t get the joke and it actually gets made!

  9. Reads article title, “The New Chevrolet Colorado Promises Tons Of Kit And Turbocharged Power Even On The Base Model”

    Interprets it to say, “W/T and loss leaders are dead, even the entry level Colorado will cost big bucks because we can and options aren’t cheap.”

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