2015 Chevrolet Colorado: Towing Impressions, Round Two
March 10, 2015
Last weekend I towed about 330 miles with our 2015 Chevrolet Colorado. It wasn't easy going, either. There were long, steep grades to scale, dense fog, persistent construction and miserable downpours. All in, it was a solid test of the truck's towing capability.
Our truck's 7,000-pound tow rating is well north of the weight of my car, trailer and cargo, which I estimate at 6,300 pounds. Possibly you remember Mike Schmidt's experience towing a similar weight trailer several weeks ago. Or my experience towing essentially this exact load with our Ram 1500 Ecodiesel back in January. If not, rereading those posts will help with perspective here.
My baseline towing experience comes from what I've learned in the Ram. It's a fantastic tow vehicle — stable, capable and powerful enough to be largely unfazed by my car and trailer. Our particular Ram's tow rating is only 550 pounds higher than the Colorado's. But intuition told me that the real difference was substantially bigger.
Intuition was right. Partially.
No, the Colorado doesn't have the Ram's poise when towing. The Ram will chug up a long grade without ever breaking a sweat. Its eight-speed transmission offers gear spacing close enough that it never has to make big jumps in engine speed to keep the mill on boil and maintain pace. And let's not forget that its 3.0-liter turbodiesel is simply better suited to towing with 420 pound-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. By comparison, the Colorado's 269 pound-feet at 4,300 rpm and six-speed auto seemed inadequate. Not an apples-to-apples comparison, I realize.
So based on the ease of towing I had become accustomed to in the Ram and Schmidt's less-than-glowing review, I had low expectations. Turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. The Colorado can tow. And it does so surprisingly well.
I had to tow up the intimidating Cajon Pass culminating at the 4,190-foot Cajon Summit, a rise of about 3,000 feet in 12 or so miles. Schmidt's recommendation to manually shift the Colorado is a good one and doing so allowed me to minimize high-rpm operation by carefully choosing my speed and gear based on grade. California allows only a 55-mph maximum towing speed and the Colorado will hold that speed up the Pass, but it has to work hard to do it. Plan on spending several minutes at 5,500 rpm. I made the run in the morning when temps were in the 50s and the truck managed that demand without any perceived problems.
On the rolling terrain that made up the rest of the route I was able to use cruise control and was largely satisfied with letting the truck decide when to shift on lesser grades. Flats are easy, though you'll never forget that what you're towing easily outweighs the tow vehicle.
But it wasn't over yet. The return trip was downhill in the rain and fog. Pouring rain. Dense fog. It was uncomfortable and it would have been uncomfortable regardless of the tow vehicle. Fortunately, Dan Edmunds and I installed a trailer brake controller in the Colorado just before the trip, which provided an added margin of safety should I need to stop quickly.
Fortunately, I didn't. And the Colorado towed straight and stable through some of the most intense rain I've seen in California. It took almost four hours to cover 150 miles, but I made it home safely and with a renewed confidence in the Colorado.
Josh Jacquot, Senior Editor