What's New for 2010
For 2010, the Chevrolet Colorado sees a shuffling of trim levels and gains head curtain airbags as standard across the board. But it also loses a few features, such as the previously available sunroof and, on extended-cab models, leather bucket seats.
The volatile fuel prices of recent years have made a lot of pickup truck consumers re-evaluate what their real needs are. Smaller, less thirsty pickups are suddenly an acceptable alternative to massive full-sizers. This may seem to be obvious good news for the compact 2010 Chevrolet Colorado, but sadly, such is not the case.
A longstanding complaint about the Colorado's lack of power was addressed last year with the introduction of a burly 5.3-liter V8. Previously, this Chevy's top engine was an inline-5 that couldn't match its rivals' more capable V6s. With 300 horsepower, the available V8 makes the Colorado one of the quickest small pickups around. Meanwhile, the four- and five-cylinder engines continue to promise enhanced fuel economy.
But once you climb inside the Colorado, the excitement of strong acceleration or high fuel mileage fades. The cabin is virtually unchanged since the truck's debut back in 2004, where it was soundly criticized for its bland style and abundance of plastic trim that looks and feels cheap. The driving experience is also subpar, with a bouncy ride and plenty of road noise while traveling at highway speeds.
The 2010 Chevrolet Colorado compensates for its faults somewhat via relative affordability and a variety of powertrain choices. But overall, we still believe the Dodge Dakota, Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma are superior in almost every regard. If you're a budget-minded shopper who has completely ruled out used pickups, the Colorado may be worth checking out. But if you're looking for a refined and thoroughly capable small-to-midsize pickup, we suggest skipping the Chevy Colorado.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Chevrolet Colorado is a compact pickup available with two- or four-wheel drive in three body styles: regular cab, extended cab (with short reverse-opening doors) and crew cab (with four regular forward-swinging doors). Crew cabs come with a 5-foot cargo box, while other Colorados feature a 6-foot bed.
There are two primary trim levels to choose from: the base Work Truck and the mid- to high-level LT (as it consists of 1LT, 2LT and 3LT subsets). The regular cab can be had in Work Truck and LT1 trims. The extended cab comes in Work Truck, 1LT, 2LT and 3LT. The crew cab comes only in the LT trim.
The Work Truck is bare bones, aside from air-conditioning and an AM/FM stereo. As indicated above, the LT trim is offered in up to 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, satellite radio, full power accessories and remote keyless entry.
Three suspension packages are offered to tailor ride and handling to specific needs. They include the standard Z85, a Z71 off-road package (including larger wheels and tires, skid plates and a locking rear differential on 4WD models) and a ZQ8 sport suspension (including a lowered suspension, quicker steering and 18-inch wheels with performance tires). The crew cab also offers the option of heated leather seats with full power adjustments.
Powertrains and Performance
No fewer than three different engines are offered for the 2010 Colorado, including an inline-4, an inline-5 and a V8.
The standard 2.9-liter four-cylinder makes 185 hp and 190 pound-feet of torque, and an optional 3.7-liter inline-5 produces 242 hp and 242 lb-ft of torque. The 5.3-liter V8 (only offered on extended-cab and crew cab models) makes 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed manual transmission is standard on most four-cylinder Colorados, with a four-speed automatic optional. The five-cylinder and V8 come with the automatic. Four-wheel-drive models feature a two-speed InstaTrac transfer case with push-button controls and an optional locking rear differential.
EPA fuel estimates stand at 18 mpg city/24 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined for a four-cylinder regular cab and drop down to 14/19/16 for a 4WD crew cab with the V8. Properly equipped, a V8-powered Colorado can tow up to 6,000 pounds.
The 2010 Chevy Colorado comes standard with the OnStar emergency communications system, antilock brakes, stability control, traction control and side curtain airbags.
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. Government and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety side-impact testing with the newly standard side curtain airbags hadn't been performed as of this writing.
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 a 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 when partially open to better support building materials resting on top of the wheelwells.
The 2010 Chevrolet Colorado's inline four- and five-cylinder engines are reasonably smooth, though acceleration and hauling performance are lackluster compared to those offered by the larger V6s of competitors. The available V8 gives the Colorado plenty of grunt, but there's an obvious penalty in fuel economy. The four-speed automatic transmission doesn't offer as many gears as its rivals, but its shifts are smooth and well-timed.
Chevy's small truck is relatively quiet around town, though wind and road noise increase noticeably at highway speeds. Either the Z71 or the ZQ8 suspension upgrade packages are worthy additions, depending on your trucking priorities.