Chevrolet launched the compact Colorado pickup truck in 2004. Offered with a four- or five-cylinder engine, the Colorado is closely related to the GMC Canyon.
Colorados come with two- or four-wheel drive and in regular-cab, extended-cab and Crew-Cab configurations. Both a Z71 offroad performance suspension and a ZQ8 low-riding sport suspension are available. Two trim levels are offered: LS and step-up LT. The Xtreme edition includes the ZQ8 suspension, a unique body-colored front fascia with fog lamps, rocker extension moldings and monochromatic paint in a choice of four colors.
For the 2006 model year, a Sun & Sound Package with a sunroof and in-dash six-CD changer is available for the LT edition. Upgraded cloth upholstery goes into the LT and onto seatbacks of Crew Cab models. A Street Pack option adds a color-keyed appearance to base, regular-length extended-cab models.
The Colorado’s styling has been called aerodynamic, angular and athletic. The Colorado has an independent front suspension and a solid rear axle.
Regular-cab trucks are 192.8 inches long overall on a 111.2-inch wheelbase, while extended- and Crew-Cab models measure about 207 inches long on a 125.9-inch span. Standard steel wheels measure 15 inches in diameter, but aluminum wheels are available. The ZQ8 package includes 17-inch tires, and 18-inch tires are mounted on models with the Xtreme option. Hydraulically assisted rack-and-pinion steering is installed.
Chevrolet says the Colorado’s interior looks and feels more like a well-appointed full-size pickup than the down-market compact that it is. Extended-cab models have four doors and forward-facing rear seats. Crew-Cab models have a 60/40-split, folding rear seat that holds three adults. Regular-cab trucks feature a 60/40-split bench seat upholstered in cloth or leather, and bucket seats are available.
Options include remote keyless entry, heated leather seating, General Motors’ OnStar communication system and XM Satellite Radio.
The dual-overhead-cam Vortec 2.8-liter inline-four-cylinder yields 175 horsepower and 185 pounds-feet of torque, while the 3.5-liter inline-five generates 220 hp and 225 pounds-feet of torque. Both engines use electronic throttle control.
Either engine can drive a five-speed-manual gearbox or a four-speed-automatic transmission. Chevrolet’s shift-on-the-fly four-wheel-drive system operates with a dashboard-mounted switch. A locking differential is optional, and rear-drive models can be equipped with traction control.
Antilock brakes with tandem power boosters, dual-piston front discs and rear drums are standard. Dual-stage front-impact airbags are standard, and roof-rail side curtain-type airbags are optional.
More refined than Chevrolet’s old, moderately smaller S-10, the Colorado combines satisfying performance and appropriate handling skills with a pleasantly roomy cockpit. Performance with the five-cylinder engine is sufficiently energetic, and it’s helped by exceptionally good automatic-transmission behavior. You can expect quite a bit of bouncing on rougher surfaces, but the suspension is otherwise well controlled.
Drawbacks include a somewhat stiff ride and a slightly noisy engine, but the Colorado provides an appealing compromise between full-size and compact trucks. Some interior details are a bit rough, but the Colorado is solid overall. The seats are barely bolstered and have modest back support, but headroom is abundant and elbow space is ample. Legroom is minimal in the back of the Crew-Cab version, and headroom is tight. The backseat headrests significantly impair rear visibility.