The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado promises a useful solution for buyers who need fuel-efficient truck utility without the full-size commitment.
New engines promise better power and efficiency; manageable size, affordable alternative to full-size trucks; much-improved interior.
Gains in fuel economy compared to predecessor remain to be seen; "sport-lifestyle" focus could turn off more work- and utility-minded buyers; diesel engine options not available at launch.
The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado is an all-new model.
After a brief absence, General Motors is re-entering the midsize pickup segment with the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. GM recently ended its midsize pickup production with the last Colorado and GMC Canyon models, ceding the field to the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier (Ford ended U.S. production of its Ranger midsize pickup in 2011). Even before their end however, the Colorado and Canyon were saddled with inefficient powertrains and subpar interiors and never seriously contested the Tacoma's supremacy in the segment.
With the redesigned full-size Silverado's success, Chevy has timing on its side for the Colorado launch. The midsize pickup should benefit from the Silverado's spotlight without being perceived as a junior model. The Colorado shows a sportier, more swept-back look than the Silverado's purposeful square jaw and gaping grille, which should help Chevy attract more of the "lifestyle" buyers who want a truck without the full-size footprint or a V8.
The Colorado will be available as an extended cab with a 6-foot bed, or as a crew cab in 5- or 6-foot bed lengths. Base, LT and the off-road-focused Z71 trims will be offered, all with available four-wheel drive. The base engine will be a 2.5-liter four-cylinder making an estimated 193 horsepower and 184 pound-feet of torque. That should be enough for light duties around town and off-road, but for bigger payloads and bigger toys, an available 3.6-liter V6 is estimated to make 302 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque. Both engines will come with a six-speed automatic transmission. A 2.8-liter turbodiesel four-cylinder is expected for the 2016 model year.
A properly equipped Colorado is rated to tow up to 6,700 pounds, which is more than the current Tacoma. EPA fuel economy estimates haven't been announced, but a lightweight aluminum hood and active grille shutters that close at highway speeds should help the Colorado achieve better mileage than its predecessor's 26 mpg on the highway.
The pre-production Colorado's upgrades in interior quality, comfort and convenience mark a vast improvement over the last model. Cabin quality appears on par with the Cruze compact sedan, and with the Chevy MyLink infotainment interface and smartphone integration, the Colorado looks like a nicer place to sit than in the relatively plain Frontier.
The Chevrolet Colorado begins production in early 2014 and should arrive later in the fall. By then, a redesigned 2013 Toyota Tacoma should be imminent, and a new Frontier not far behind. The only other real alternative in this group is the 2013 Honda Ridgeline, although it faces an uncertain future and its carlike frame lacks the sturdiness that most truck buyers want. Check back for a full review of the new Colorado, including specs, driving impressions and buying advice as it becomes available.
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