What's New for 2006
Other than package and trim level revisions, there are no significant changes to the Chevy Colorado for 2006.
Slightly larger than the S-10 truck that it replaced, the Chevrolet Colorado is bigger, bolder and more refined than any compact Chevy truck in years. Built on a tough ladder frame chassis, the Colorado offers three body styles, two- and four-wheel drive and a choice of two Vortec inline engines.
Derived directly from the 4.2-liter straight six found in the TrailBlazer SUV, the Colorado's all-aluminum four- and five-cylinder power plants are the most technologically advanced engines ever offered in a compact Chevy truck. Both engines use dual-overhead camshafts, four valves per cylinder and electronic throttle control to deliver a broad range of peak torque that extends from 1,200 to 5,600 rpm on the standard 2.8-liter four-cylinder, and from 1,400 to 5,200 rpm on the optional 3.5-liter five-cylinder. Both engines offer a choice of a four-speed automatic or a five-speed manual. The suspension consists of a solid rear axle with leaf springs and an independent coil spring front suspension. An off-road package swaps out the coil springs for torsion bars, while a sport package adds an anti-sway bar in back.
Off-road enthusiasts will also appreciate the Colorado's dual-speed push-button transfer case as well as the optional locking rear differential. Since the majority of compact truck buyers purchase their vehicles for personal use, the Chevrolet Colorado was given a more refined and feature-laden cabin than the S-10. The overall design is simple, with rotary dials for the climate control system and a large radio faceplate for easy control of the XM Satellite Radio-compatible audio system. Extended cab Colorado models feature reverse-opening rear doors on both sides for easier access to the backseats, while the larger crew cab models offer a 60/40-split-folding rear seat that can accommodate three adults. Side curtain airbags are available that provide head protection in the event of a side impact or rollover accident. Standard antilock brakes and optional traction control on 2WD models further contribute to the Colorado's complement of safety features.
On paper, the 2006 Chevrolet Colorado offers all the necessary ingredients to satisfy the majority of compact pickup buyers. The engines provides both efficiency and power, and with three body styles to choose from in both two- and four-wheel drive, finding a configuration that meets your needs isn't too difficult. The problem is, the Colorado feels cheap, even in a class of vehicles where functionality and value come before upscale accommodations. The doors are lightweight and tinny, and the first thing you'll notice when you slide behind the wheel is how low-grade the dash looks and rough the upholstery feels. Out on the road, neither the four- or five-cylinder engine provides acceleration on par with V6 and V8 engines offered by the Dakota, Frontier and Tacoma. If you're shopping for a small pickup, make sure you explore all the options before settling on the Chevy Colorado.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The Chevrolet Colorado comes in regular, extended- and crew-cab body styles, and all are offered in both two- and four-wheel drive. Regular and extended-cab models have a 6-foot bed, while the crew cab gets a 5-foot bed. There are two basic trim levels: base and LT. Base models come with air conditioning and an AM/FM stereo. An LS package upgrades trim and seating. The LT adds titanium-colored trim, leather-wrapped steering wheel and alloy wheels. Both the Z85 heavy-duty and Z71 off-road packages add a torsion-bar front suspension with heavier-duty shocks. The Z71 offers the tallest ride height, along with a locking rear differential, oversize tires and skid plates on 4WD models. There's also an Xtreme package with a lowered suspension, quicker-ratio steering, 18-inch alloy wheels with 235/50 performance tires, and color-keyed wheel flares, grille and bumpers.
Powertrains and Performance
A 2.8-liter, four-cylinder engine is standard on all models and is rated at 175 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque. The optional 3.5-liter inline-five engine offers 220 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard, but a four-speed automatic is also available on all models. Four-wheel-drive models feature a dual-range transfer case with pushbutton controls. Maximum towing capacity, at 4,000 pounds, is relatively meager for this class of truck.
The Chevrolet Colorado was the first compact pickup to offer roof-mounted side curtain airbags; they're optional on all body styles. Four-wheel antilock brakes are standard, and. traction control is optional on 2WD trucks. In government crash tests, the Colorado earned four stars (out of five) for both the driver and front passenger in frontal-impact testing, and four out of five stars in side-impact testing for front passengers, and five stars for rear passengers.
Interior Design and Special Features
Trucks may have gotten more hospitable in recent years, but don't expect anything fancy in the Colorado's cabin. Materials range from average to substandard in quality, and build quality is inconsistent. On the plus side, simple rotary climate controls and a large stereo faceplate make the interior seem instantly familiar as soon as you get in. The gauges are similarly basic, but functional in their design.
Our performance review of the 2006 Chevrolet Colorado finds that the inline engines are reasonably refined, but their lack of off-the-line punch and odd exhaust notes are disappointing compared to the larger V6s offered in competitors. Shifts from the four-speed automatic are firm and well timed, and the five-speed manual gearbox is about as good as you're going to find in a compact pickup. The stock suspension tuning is on the soft side, but the Chevy truck handles well for its class. If you're intent on going fast or bashing boulders, the sport and off-road packages provide noticeable performance benefits in these areas.