- The Colorado midsize truck is redesigned for 2023.
- Highlights include a significantly improved cabin design and tough new exterior
- There's a turbocharged four-cylinder in three states of tune.
Driven: 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Has Better Tech and Stout Four-Cylinder Power
The Colorado injects needed life into a segment in need of innovation
Midsize-truck shoppers haven't had much new stuff to pick from recently. Our current top-rated midsize truck, the Honda Ridgeline, was last redesigned for 2017. The Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet's current Colorado generation are even older than that. But new hardware is finally arriving with the fully redesigned 2023 Chevrolet Colorado.
Chevrolet is looking to reset expectations and directly address some of the old Colorado's faults. The body looks tougher and more trucky, and the interior is dramatically improved in terms of styling and technology. The new Colorado also keeps things simple. All models now come in a crew-cab/short-bed configuration with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood. Is that enough to push the Colorado to the top? Let's find out.
What's powering the 2023 Colorado?
All Colorados now come with a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder that offers three levels of output. The new engine, in its more powerful forms, is meant to replace both the high horsepower of the old Colorado's optional V6 as well as the torquey grunt of the optional diesel-powered four-cylinder.
Chevy says to expect similar efficiency figures to the four-cylinder when those become available, which would be a coup given the added performance. All versions of the Colorado feature an eight-speed automatic transmission and cylinder deactivation under light loads, allowing the motor to run as a two-cylinder for decreased fuel consumption.
The base output version (called 2.7 Turbo) comes standard on Work Truck (or WT) and LT trims and produces 237 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. That's a big boost over the old four-cylinder's 200 hp and 191 lb-ft. With this engine, the Colorado can tow up to 3,500 pounds.
A more potent version called the 2.7 Turbo Plus is optional for those two trims and comes standard on the Z71 and Trail Boss. In this application, the turbo 2.7-liter produces a healthy 310 hp and 391 lb-ft. That represents a minor bump of 2 hp compared to the V6 but a whopping 116 lb-ft increase in torque. Maximum towing capacity rises to 7,700 pounds with this powertrain, or 700 pounds more than the V6 managed. The Z71 and Trail Boss come with standard four-wheel drive, while the WT and LT have two-wheel drive standard with 4WD optional.
Topping the range is the 2.7 Turbo High-Output, which comes standard in the off-road-focused ZR2. It produces the same horsepower as the Turbo Plus but more torque, for a max of 430 lb-ft. Though this engine isn't currently offered in any of the other trim levels, Chevy says you can still get it if you have the Turbo Plus. All you have to do is take it to the dealership for a software flash that costs $395. So if you buy a Trail Boss and you decide you need that extra torque for off-roading or easier towing, it doesn't cost much to add it on and keeps your warranty intact as well.
What off-roading upgrades do the 2023 Colorado Trail Boss and ZR2 get?
The Trail Boss keeps the Z71's automatic-locking rear differential and standard all-terrain tires, then tacks on a 2-inch lift and 3-inch-wider front track. That gives it some extra ground clearance, up to 9.5 inches (versus 8.9 inches in the Z71) and more aggressive approach (30.5 degrees), breakover (21 degrees) and departure angles (22.4 degrees).
For those looking to do more serious off-roading, the ZR2 is back in the Colorado lineup. Its upgrades are similar to those on the previous-generation ZR2. It has a 3-inch lift (10.7 inches of ground clearance), skid plates, specialized Multimatic dampers, power-locking front and rear diffs and 33-inch mud-terrain tires, among other upgrades. Approach, breakover and departure angles are better, too (38.3/24.6/25.1 degrees). The new ZR2 Desert Boss package goes even further, with beadlock-capable wheels, a front fascia with even more clearance, underbody camera and a roof-mounted light bar. Your move, rumored Ford Ranger Raptor.
How does the 2023 Colorado drive?
The 2.7 Turbo Plus powertrain is the one to get and is worth the upgrade in both the WT and LT for about $1,200. It delivers its power easily throughout its rev range, giving the Colorado more than enough grunt for moving around the city. Its throttle response was snappier too. Some of these turbo-fours can be peaky in the way they deliver power, but it was easy to apply just enough throttle when in 4Hi or 4Lo to get over rocks and through heavily rutted fire roads with ease. The only drawback to this engine (and the base engine as well) is that it doesn't sound very good, and an unpleasant drone fills the cabin under hard acceleration. But at highway speeds, eighth gear is tall enough so that the engine sits at about 1,800 rpm while cruising and that keeps the cabin fairly tranquil.
And the off-road-focused ZR2? Unfortunately, that's the only Colorado version that we haven't had the opportunity to drive yet. But we're hoping to get in one soon.
How comfortable is the 2023 Colorado?
The Colorado's suspension is firmly tuned but the overall ride quality is pretty good for a midsize truck. The new generation's longer wheelbase seems to help improve stability, too. There isn't much nosedive under hard braking and the Colorado feels confident as it stops, even in the Trail Boss with its 2-inch lift. My initial street driving impressions had me worried that the truck would be too stiff on a dirt road but undulations and dips are well damped. It's impressive that the Colorado's ride comfort and stability are good in varied environments.
Inside, the seats in the LT and the Z71 do offer more comfort than those in the WT and Trail Boss, with better lower bolstering for your hips. Though the old Colorado wasn't the most spacious midsize truck on the market, the rear seats were usable in a pinch. The same appears to be true of the new Colorado. I could fit in the back seat (I'm 5-foot-11), even with the driver's seat set for me to drive. There was about an inch of space between my knees and the seatback and plenty of headroom above thanks to some indentations in the headliner. The back seat isn't the most comfortable, however, so it's probably fine for shorter trips for adults but not for a long road trip if it can be avoided. I expect that people looking for a more spacious truck will check out the Jeep Gladiator and Honda Ridgeline, which offer more spacious and comfortable back seats.
How's the 2023 Colorado's interior?
Chevy put a lot of effort into upgrading the Colorado's interior feel and look. There are some similarities to the much-improved full-size Silverado 1500, though Chevy designers tell us that the Colorado's new interior was actually in development first even though it debuted later. The conjoined digital instrument panel and central touchscreen are the highlight, and we were thankful to see simple climate and vehicle controls on the center stack all within easy reach of the driver. There are still a lot of hard plastic panels inside, but the higher trims do have upgraded patterns and textures to give off a classier vibe.
How's the 2023 Colorado's tech?
This is an area where the Colorado takes a big step ahead of the competition. An 11.3-inch touchscreen is standard across the board, as is wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. It makes even the WT feel much classier. The materials are rather spartan, but it doesn't seem cheap thanks to those screens. The other base trims in this segment offer comparably tiny screens and fewer features.
The Colorado's system offers useful Google integration, allowing you to log in and access all of your saved places and Google Maps personalization. You also get the voice-activated Google Assistant in the truck, which you can use to do things like set the climate control, turn on the heated or ventilated seats, and of course set directions. On the options list, you can also spec dual-zone automatic climate control, a wireless charging pad, a sunroof and hitch cameras. The Z71 offers an optional underbody camera that offers front and rear views from below the truck with washers that can clean both sides as well.
There have been improvements to the Colorado's safety and driver assist features as well. Every Colorado comes with the Chevy Safety Assist suite, which comes with forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane keeping assistance, lane departure warning and automatic high-beam control. Adaptive cruise control, a blind-spot warning system and a 360-degree parking camera are all available all the way down to the base WT.
The redesigned 2023 Chevrolet Colorado's numerous upgrades have transformed the pickup into a class-leading contender. Can it knock off the Ridgeline as our top-rated midsize truck? Check back in the next few months for a full test and report. We're also looking forward to finding out how it'll compare to the redesigned 2024 Ford Ranger and 2024 Toyota Toyota Tacoma. If nothing else, the midsize truck market is going to get a lot more interesting.