What's New for 2008
Following a modest power boost last year, the 2008 Chevrolet Colorado compact pickup truck enters its fifth season unchanged.
The carryover 2008 Chevrolet Colorado is one of GM's entries in the compact truck segment. While certainly an improvement over the aging S-10 pickup it replaced in 2004, the latest Colorado unfortunately remains handicapped by a lack of power and mediocre fit and finish when compared with stronger, more refined foreign and domestic rivals. As it is, it's not really competitive, though it does at least compensate for its faults somewhat via relative affordability and slightly above-average fuel economy.
At first glance, Chevy's Colorado would seem to offer much of what a compact truck shopper is looking for: distinctively rugged styling, efficient and capable power, available extended-cab and crew cab body configurations, and a choice of two- or four-wheel-drive configurations plus a popular off-road package. Unfortunately, the attraction ends when you open the door and start the engine. Despite improvements over the years, seating comfort and cabin materials still leave much to be desired. Same with the driving experience -- even with the optional five-cylinder engine, the Colorado's performance simply can't match that of the bigger V6s or V8s available in most of its rivals. If you're more concerned about ride and handling dynamics than brute power, the good news is that the 2008 Chevrolet Colorado offers a choice of well-calibrated suspension setups that provide composed moves whether on pavement or off.
The Colorado's biggest drawback, however, is that it gives the impression of being cheap -- which is all the more apparent in a segment filled with more polished rivals that have moved beyond mere value and simple functionality. The Dodge Dakota, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma are simply better trucks in almost every regard. If you're a budget-minded shopper with light-duty usage in mind, you might investigate further. But if you've set your sights on a refined and thoroughly capable small pickup, we suggest looking elsewhere or waiting for a much-needed makeover.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 Chevrolet Colorado is a compact truck available with two- or four-wheel drive in three body-style configurations: regular cab, extended cab (with short reverse-opening doors) or crew cab with four regular forward-swinging doors. Crew cabs come with a 5-foot cargo box, while other Colorados feature a 6-footer.
There are three primary trim levels to choose from on regular- and extended-cab models -- the base "Work Truck," midlevel LS and top-of-the-line LT. The crew cab is offered in LT trim only. Inside, base vehicles are pretty spartan aside from air-conditioning and an AM/FM stereo; the LS is a better choice for most folks with upgraded seating and trim, and the opportunity to add more optional features. The LT trim is offered in three increasingly well-equipped flavors: 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. Depending on your selection, you'll end up with features like an in-dash CD changer, a larger five-cylinder engine, full power accessories and remote keyless entry.
Two suspension packages are offered to tailor ride and handling to specific assignments: the standard Z85 setup or an available Z71 off-road package. Depending on trim level and body style, other major Colorado options include heated leather seats, a six-disc CD changer, satellite radio and a sunroof. A wide range of Chevrolet accessories such as grille guards, a bed extender and 18-inch wheels are also available.
Powertrains and Performance
After a power boost last year, both Colorado engines carry over in 2008. The standard 2.9-liter four-cylinder makes 185 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque, and an optional 3.7-liter inline five-cylinder produces 242 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on most four-cylinder Colorados, while a four-speed automatic is standard on five-cylinder trucks and optional with the smaller engine.
Although their outputs are more than adequate, the Colorado's engines can't match the power and performance of the V6s and V8s offered by the competition. The news is better on the fuel economy front, ranging from 18 mpg/city and 24 mpg/highway on four-cylinder regular cabs down to 15 mpg/city and 20 mpg/highway on 4WD crew cabs. Four-wheel-drive models feature a two-speed InstaTrac transfer case with push-button controls and an optional locking rear differential. Maximum towing capacity is limited to 4,000 pounds, which is below average for this type of truck.
The 2008 Chevrolet Colorado features standard antilock brakes and OnStar emergency communications, with optional head curtain side-impact airbags and traction control (on 2WD vehicles with automatic transmissions). In government frontal impact crash tests, the Chevrolet Colorado crew cab earned a perfect five stars for the protection of the driver and front passenger. Other Colorados earned four stars in those tests. Side-impact testing resulted in four stars out of five for front occupant protection, and five stars for rear passengers in crew cab models. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash testing, the Colorado garnered a highest-possible "Good" rating.
Interior Design and Special Features
While its competitors have gotten more luxurious and refined in recent years, the Chevy Colorado remains saddled with subpar materials, an abundance of hard plastic and mediocre seat comfort. The layout of controls and gauges gets high marks, however, for their simple and straightforward design. There's lots of room up front, though rear legroom is tight in both extended-cab and crew cab models; rear entry/exit can also be awkward due to small rear door openings. A nice feature is a dual-position tailgate that can be secured partially open to better support building materials resting on top of the wheelwells.
The 2008 Chevrolet Colorado's inline four- and five-cylinder engines are reasonably smooth, though acceleration and hauling performance is lackluster compared to the larger V6s of its competitors. The four-speed automatic transmission doesn't offer as many gears as its rivals, but its shifts are smooth and well-timed. The Colorado's standard suspension is softly tuned for a comfortable ride, and when fitted with the available Z71 off-road suspension package, the Colorado performs well off the highway. Chevy's small truck is relatively quiet around town, though wind noise around the doors picks up at highway speeds.