2004 Chevrolet Colorado

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$15,695

starting MSRP

2004 Chevrolet Colorado

Key specs

Base trim shown

Overview

The good:

  • Manageable dimensions
  • Performance with five-cylinder
  • Front-seat passenger space
  • Maneuverability
  • Automatic-transmission operation

The bad:

  • Ride comfort in city
  • Engine noise
  • Rear-seat passenger space
  • Interior construction details

4 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2004 Chevrolet Colorado trim comparison will help you decide.

Notable features

  • 175- or 220-hp engine
  • Three cab configurations
  • Three suspension choices
  • Optional roof-rail side airbags
  • Available ZR2 and Z71 packages

2004 Chevrolet Colorado review: Our expert's take

By

The verdict:

Versus the competiton:


Automakers neglected their small pickups for much of the past decade, concentrating on more profitable fullsize trucks and SUVs. But during the 2004-05 model years, four of the five companies that build compact trucks released fully redesigned models. General Motors got the jump on the field last year with the introduction of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. But during the fall of 2004, Dodge introduced a new Dakota, Toyota came out with a new Tacoma and Nissan pulled the wraps off a new Frontier. Ford hasn’t shown any indication when the Ranger and Mazda B-Series will be redesigned, but some analysts put the time frame as late as 2009.

All four of the fresh trucks are emphasizing size and power so much that “compact” is demeaning; they’re all calling themselves midsize, now. Interior room has expanded and crew cab models are outselling all other versions. In fact, some manufacturers dropped their regular cab models, focusing efforts only on extended cab and crew cab configurations as customers want more storage and room.

The Chevy Colorado is GM’s third-generation small truck (not counting the Isuzu-built LUV of the ’70s and ’80s) and replaces the S-10, which debuted in 1982 and had a major makeover in 1994. GM is quick to emphasize the Colorado is a completely new vehicle and designed as a pickup; it’s not an evolution of the S-10 or a pickup version of the Trailblazer. There are many design elements taken from other Chevy vehicles, such as the familiar center bar grille and double-decker, cat’s-eye headlight first seen on the Avalanche and now pretty much a signature attribute of Chevy trucks and SUVs. This appearance works better on the Colorado, especially the crew cab, than the fullsize Silverado. The proportions appear in concert as the grille isn’t so overwhelming. The character lines on the fenders add a playful side to the profile while the off-road versions have the uninspired but traditional gray flares tacked on to the fenders.

Our test vehicle was a 2-wheel-drive crew cab with the Z71 suspension, LS trim and 1SF Preferred Equipment Group. Base MSRP price for this configuration was $26,410 (as of Sept. 2004 and includes $635 destination charge.), but you can get a 2WD crew cab for as low as $21,920. That one comes with the standard inline-4 engine rated at 175 horsepower and 185 lb-ft of torque, a 5-speed manual transmission, the base Z85 suspension and the LS trim (base trim is not available in crew cab). All 2WD crew cabs with the ZQ8 or Z71 suspension come with the I5 engine and 4-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment. Options on our test vehicle included $1495 heated, leather seats with power adjustment, $695 OnStar, $325 XM satellite radio and $270 trailering equipment. Total vehicle price: 29,195.

The Colorado may have had the statistical edge in a few categories when it hit the dealerships ahead of the Dodge Dakota, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, but let’s see how our Chevy midsize crew cab test truck now stacks up against the latest competition in a few key categories. The following chart reflects 2005 comparable models from the competition. All are 2-wheel-drive crew cabs and come with the biggest engine, automatic transmission, lowest rear axle ratio, top trim level and proper tow equipment. The Toyota reflects the short-bed, PreRunner configuration. As of this writing, Nissan had not released all data on the new Frontier, so some numbers are missing or preliminary estimates.

The Z71 suspension option gives a 2-wheel-drive Colorado the look and ride of the 4-wheel-drive without the extra weight and expense. It uses the same torsion-bar setup (all other 2WD models have coil springs) that the 4-wheel-drives have up front, including gas-charged monotube shock absorbers, a 28mm stabilizer bar and urethane jounce bumpers. In the rear is a live axle-leaf-spring arrangement, but the Z71 adds a locking differential and traction control. The Z71 package also includes front tow hooks and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Only one point about the Z71 package is annoying: the wheels. Many will find them bold and distinctive but I find them unimpressive, bordering on hokey. It’s just a first impression and nothing to get twisted about, but the ZQ8 wheels are more appealing to that street truck package than the Z71 wheels are to the off-road look.

The Z71 badge first gained popularity as a super-stiff option on fullsize 4×4 trucks and SUVs. Now the Z71 is no longer just an RPO number; it’s a complete model that has been expanded to 2-wheel-drives and compact trucks. While previous Z71 suspensions were notorious for a painfully rough ride, the Colorado Z71 is refined and tuned for a more compliant ride on the pavement without giving up too much control over rough terrain. GM has said it didn’t mind sacrificing towing capacity in favor of a smoother ride. The base Z85 suspension would probably be the proper platform to test this strategy against the competition, but the new Z71 offers a strong dose of civility lacking in previous off-road suspensions in other GM products.

Category: ’05 Chevy ’05 Dodge ’05 Nissan ’05 Toyota

Engine: 3.5L I5 4.7L V8* 4.0L V6 4.0L V6

220 hp 230 hp 265 hp 245 hp

225 lb-ft 295 lb-ft 284 lb-ft 283 lb-ft

torque torque torque torque

EPA, city/hwy: 2WD: 18/24 15/20 Not listed 18/22

Wheelbase: 125.9 in. 131.3 in. 125.9 in. 127.8 in.

Weight: 3747 lbs. 4512 lbs. Not listed 3865 lbs.

GVWR: 5000 lbs. 6010 lbs. Not listed 5350 lbs.

Base Payload: 1253 lbs. 1500 lbs. 1600+ lbs.** 1540 lbs.

Tow Capacity: 4000 lbs. 7050 lbs. 6000+ lbs.** 6500 lbs.

Bed Length: 61.1 in. 64.9 in. Not listed 60.3 in.

F/R Headroom: 38.6/38.3 in. 39.9/38.4 in. Not listed 40.1/38.5 in.

F/R Legroom: 44.0/34.8 in. 41.9/36.4 in. Not listed 41.7/32.6 in.

Shoulder room: 57.1/57.1 in. 57.7/57.5 in. Not listed 57.7/59.3 in.

* High Output version available next year with 250-plus horsepower and 300-plus lb-ft of torque

** Preliminary estimates

The Z71 suspension option gives a 2-wheel-drive Colorado the look and ride of the 4-wheel-drive without the extra weight and expense. It uses the same torsion-bar setup (all other 2WD models have coil springs) that the 4-wheel-drives have up front, including gas-charged monotube shock absorbers, a 28mm stabilizer bar and urethane jounce bumpers. In the rear is a live axle-leaf-spring arrangement, but the Z71 adds a locking differential and traction control. The Z71 package also includes front tow hooks and leather-wrapped steering wheel. Only one point about the Z71 package is annoying: the wheels. Many will find them bold and distinctive but I find them unimpressive, bordering on hokey. It’s just a first impression and nothing to get twisted about, but the ZQ8 wheels are more appealing to that street truck package than the Z71 wheels are to the off-road look.

The Z71 badge first gained popularity as a super-stiff option on fullsize 4×4 trucks and SUVs. Now the Z71 is no longer just an RPO number; it’s a complete model that has been expanded to 2-wheel-drives and compact trucks. While previous Z71 suspensions were notorious for a painfully rough ride, the Colorado Z71 is refined and tuned for a more compliant ride on the pavement without giving up too much control over rough terrain. GM has said it didn’t mind sacrificing towing capacity in favor of a smoother ride. The base Z85 suspension would probably be the proper platform to test this strategy against the competition, but the new Z71 offers a strong dose of civility lacking in previous off-road suspensions in other GM products.

The Z71 adds 3.5 inches of ground clearance over the Z85 and ZQ8 suspensions, and the step-in height is 5.5 inches higher than the ZQ8. The stance is aggressive without being cartoonish and follows the pre-runner look popular in desert states. The Z71 also adds bigger P265/75R16 tires that hold up well off-road. But 2WD owners need to be aware that even with the locking differential and traction control, Z71 is not a substitute for 4-wheel-drive. If you’ve got a slippery boat ramp, like to hit the mud or find yourself in deep snow or sand, then get the 4WD model.

In the open desert, the 2WD Z71 soaks up moguls with surprising authority and maintains a confident ride through turns in the dirt. Steering response and feel are much improved over the old S-10, thanks to a new rack-and-pinion system. The 2WD version is slightly quicker than the 4WD, but both have a fairly wide 44.6-foot turning circle.

Although we didn’t have an opportunity to tow, we did haul a full load of passengers and found no problem with engine power. Freeway access, climbing steep grades and passing on 2-lane highways were accomplished without drama. The I5 engine has been criticized by media and in Internet forums and chat rooms. But this engine is identical in architecture as the I6 in the Trailblazer. The torque won’t snap your neck like a V8, and the exhaust note lacks authority, but the engine power is sufficient for work and play. It’s a shame the 4.2-liter I6 won’t fit in this platform so that Chevy could please the skeptics who look at size and horsepower figures alone. There are other factors to consider, such as reliability and fuel economy. While I feel the I5 can hold its own, the 4L60-E 4-speed automatic transmission is getting old and outdated. Everyone else has a new 5-speed automatic for their pickups that enjoys the latest electronic programming and a nice, steep First Gear. Here’s one category where Hydra-Matic needs to step up to the plate to give the Colorado a fighting chance against the bigger engines.

The Z71/LS combination offers a strong list of standard equipment, including side-curtain air bags, power windows, traction control, anti-lock brakes (disc front, drum rear), anti-theft with engine immobilizer, power windows/locks/mirrors, CD player with 6 speakers, tachometer, 8 tie downs in the bed, chrome tubular running boards and carpeted floor mats. Major options not already discussed on our test vehicle include 6-CD changer and various bed buddies such as tonneau cover and bed extender that are dealer installed.

There’s no confusing the interior for a truck: simple design with large gauges, easy-to-use climate controls and plenty of ventilation. GM has stepped up the quality of interior materials in recent years but plastic is still the preferred choice. The rear seat in the Crew Cab folds down for flat storage and features a center 3-point belt. Rear-seat comfort is adequate for most adults, although three-across-seating might get crowded after a long ride. I found the ride quiet enough from the rear to conduct conversations with the front-seat occupants without shouting.

Our test vehicle was a 2004 model, but little changed for 2005. There is an equipment change in one ordering package and a new color is available.

From a product standpoint, the new Colorado is quite an improvement over the S-10, especially in size, fit ‘n’ finish and engine power. But the business side has changed dramatically in small trucks in just the past few years. With heavy price incentives on fullsize trucks, many midsize shoppers find it easy to step up to the big units right away. In a way, that cross-shopping is a strong endorsement for the ability of today’s midsize trucks. They’ve evolved from basic delivery trucks that were relatively inexpensive to very comfortable people/cargo haulers that can pinch the pocketbook. They’re no longer an alternative to small cars; now they’re an alternative to large trucks and midsize SUVs. That begs the question: If no one wants to build cheap, entry-level pickups right now, does that open the door for a Chinese or Korean manufacturer to start importing small trucks? That’s how Nissan (I mean Datsun) got started.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 3.7
  • Interior design 3.6
  • Performance 4.0
  • Value for the money 4.0
  • Exterior styling 4.2
  • Reliability 4.1

Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Very reliable.smooth flow.

This is a great medium size truck.It has great pickup,handling great and good style.Iam somewhat dismayed as to why this vehicle has not been Remade as I would have a new one today.Mine is the 5 cy. Amazing.

5.0

Great gas mileage 5cylinder engine has get up and

Best vehicle I’ve ever owned very dependable never let me down Chevrolet really has a winner with the Colorado a real joy to drive i love this truck.

4.1

Overall really good investment.

It'll have those periodic problems that any vehicle will have with time, mostly stupid little things that are annoying to deal with and a pain to fix, but all things considered, I think it holds up pretty well, and it delivers reliable performance. I get a lot done with this vehicle.

See all 46 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by Chevrolet
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)
Powertrain
6 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
172-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

Compare the competitors

2008

GMC Canyon

$15,085

starting MSRP

2004

Chevrolet S-10

$24,660

starting MSRP

2006

Chevrolet Colorado

$14,730

starting MSRP

See all 2004 Chevrolet Colorado articles