When four of the five midsize truck manufacturers introduced new small pickups for 2004-05, GM introduced the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. And in doing so, GM gave up two decades of equity in the popular S-10 brand to rename its compact truck.
Chevy also stepped away from the norm to offer a dual-overhead-camshaft and inline-five-cylinder engine rather than a traditional V-6. Then came new trucks from Dodge, Toyota and Nissan: all with more horsepower and towing capacity.
In 2009, Chevy finally offered a 300-horsepower, 5.3-liter V-8 in the Colorado, just as a slowing economy started directing shoppers to smaller, lower-priced engines. The Colorado has always been a favorite among cross-shopping consumers because of its extensive lineup and numerous options. Chevy likes to promote the Colorado’s three suspension setups to help differentiate its models. The Z85 is for normal operation; the Z71 is tuned for off-road use; and the ZQ8 is designed for sports car-style handling.
For businesses and contractors looking for a customized, small work truck, the Colorado can be ordered in a chassis cab configuration that can be upfitted with panel van-style or “midbox” storage solutions.
There are only marginal changes for the 2011 Colorado, including the availability of the latest generation of OnStar — GM’s in-truck information and telecommunications service — Bluetooth phone integration and redesigned front-seat headrests.
When the Colorado debuted for 2004, it carried over the front-end styling from that generation’s Chevy Silverado, including the familiar power bar grille and angular “bat wing” headlamps. It looked great on the Colorado then, but now the Silverado has been restyled, and the Colorado is looking a little long in the tooth. The Colorado has a little more muscle in its silhouette than some other compact trucks, which is great in four-wheel-drive and/or Z71 trims. Lowered with the ZQ8 suspension, though, the Colorado may have a little more meat than some would like. Changes in recent years added body-colored moldings, bezels and surrounds to add a more sporty appearance to some trim levels.
Exterior features include:
- Bold wheel flares on Z71 models
- Z71 suspension offers higher stance than previous models
- Four new wheel designs help differentiate models
- Sport appearance now standard on all Z85 models
Though drenched in plastic, the Colorado’s interior features an effective gauge layout and easy-to-reach audio and climate controls. There are some nice chrome accents to spice up the atmosphere, but this is mostly a utility-friendly cab with adequate storage and reasonably spacious surroundings for a compact pickup. The seats are wide and comfortable, and the crew cab offers decent headroom and legroom for people of most heights. The second row of the extended cab is for children only.
Interior features include:
- Available leather seating in crew cab LT
- Available moonroof in crew cab, extended cab
- Available sliding rear window
- Available Bluetooth hands-free phone integration
Mechanical features include:
- 185-horsepower, 2.9-liter inline-four-cylinder with aluminum block and cylinder head, dual overhead camshafts and four valves per cylinder that makes 190 pounds-feet of torque
- 242-hp, 3.7-liter inline-five-cylinder with aluminum block and cylinder head and dual overhead camshafts that makes 242 pounds-feet of torque
- 300-hp, 5.3-liter V-8 with aluminum block and cylinder head and two valves per cylinder that makes 320 pounds-feet of torque; variable valve timing is new for 2010, primarily for improved emissions
- Five-speed manual (standard on four-cylinder models)
- Four-speed automatic (standard on inline-five-cylinder and V-8, optional on four-cylinder models)
GM has improved the Colorado’s safety credentials with standard side curtain airbags. Stability and traction control are also standard. GM’s electronic stability system uses electronic brake controls to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle in certain situations.
Safety features include:
- Crash sensor sends GPS signal
- Front seat belt pretensioner
Maximum gross vehicle weight rating: 5,300 pounds (extended cab and crew cab)
Maximum payload capacity: 1,422 pounds (4×2 regular cab)
Maximum towing capacity: 6,000 pounds (extended cab and crew cab V-8)
Axle ratio: 3.73:1 (all five-speed manual, four- and five-cylinder models), 3.42:1, 3.73:1, 4.10:1 (V-8)
Minimum ground clearance: 7.7 inches (Z85 4×2), 6.6 inches (ZQ8 4×2), 11.4 inches (Z71 4×2)
Minimum ground clearance: 10.2 inches (Z85 4×4), 11.4 inches (Z71 4×4)
Cargo floor length: 72.8 inches (regular and extended cab), 61.1 inches (crew cab)
Cargo floor width: 57.2 inches
Cargo floor width at wheel well: 42.6 inches
Cargo bed depth: 18.6 inches