Chevy Colorado offers a comfortable way to get into pickup segment

By Paul Borden

(February 19, 2019) Crossovers and SUVs may be pushing aside sedans in the automotive world, but one traditional segment remains strong, and that is the pickup truck. In fact, the top three selling vehicles in 2018 are pickups — in order, the Ford F-Series, the Chevrolet Silverado, and the Ram pickup.

Sales numbers for these three were a combined, 2,033,492 last year, which is well over 800,000 more than the next three vehicles on the list, Toyota’s RAV4, Nissan’s Rogue, and Honda’s CR-V. Little wonder that some manufacturers are cutting back on their sedan production to concentrate on their SUVs and pickups.

But as popular as they are, the traditional half-ton pickups (misnamed by today's capabilities) may be too much for someone who still might like a truck in their future. If you aren't going to carry a lot of cargo, you may find the disadvantages of the full-sized pickup offsetting.

A full-size pickup can be a real bear to maneuver in tight mall parking lots, usually is thirstier than a smaller model, and often comes with a higher sticker price. They’re not as fun to drive either.

But consider the midsize pickup. It can handle more modest hauling needs like runs to the local home improvement/garden center, generally is more fuel efficient, and is easier to get in and out of than its bigger brethren. And it still exudes more of “macho” image than your typical sedan.

There are several good choices to be found in the midsize segment, one of them being Chevy’s Colorado.

Introduced in 2004 along with its GMC counterpart, the Canyon, the Colorado is offered in a number of different cab/bed configurations in five trim levels starting with a bare-bones Base model and a slightly upgraded Work truck.

LT trim covers as standard what are options on the Work model, and the Z71 takes that another step by making standard features that are optional on the LT trim, like automatic A/C, rear-window defogger, remote vehicle start, driver’s seat lumbar control, 4-way power passenger seat, heated front seats, and the EZ lift tailgate.

The Z71 also is more off-road capable than the lower trims, but if that’s what you’re looking for, you need to splurge for the top-of-the-food chain ZR2 trim.

My test model was the Z71 trim with crew cab and a 3.6-liter V6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. A 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is standard, and a 2.8L Duramax Turbo-Diesel is also available.

The V6 is rated at 308 horsepower at 6800 rpm and 275 pound-feet of torque at 4000, which is a good deal healthier than the 200 hp/191 lb.-ft. of the 4-banger, but the diesel (186 hp) boosts that torque up to a robust 369 lb.-ft.

I found the performance of the V6 to be up to snuff. It certainly is no laggard. With its stiff suspension, the Colorado handles corners with little or no sway, and the ride on expressways is quiet  enough.

With the crew cab and the short box (5 feet, 2 inches), it is 212.7 inches long and a full 19 inches shorter than a Silverado Crew Cab, which makes driving it comparable to a midsize SUV.

In addition to what was mentioned earlier, standard equipment includes the Z71 off-road suspension, fully automatic locking rear differential, hill descent control, an HD rear-vision camera, rear park assist, 17-inch dark argent wheels, front fog lamps, front recovery hooks, rugged all-terrain tires, folding rear bench seat, cruise control, tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sport cloth/leatherette seats, and connectivity features like a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, all in the $36,900 base MSRP.

Additional equipment included the Z71 Midnight Edition package (spray-on bedliner, body color grille, black bow-tie logos, dealer-installed all-weather floor liner, the Z71 emblem) and assist steps that ran the total to $41,565 including the $995 destination and delivery charge.

What I liked about the 2019 Chevy Colorado: It’s not too big to be a challenge to handle in mall parking lots, but big enough to handle most of the ordinary tasks non-construction workers might encounter. In other words, it’s just right. It’s a pretty good cruiser on the highway, and the infotainment system is intuitive to operate. The EZ Lift and Lower tailgate (standard on upper trims) is a nice feature.

What I didn’t like about the 2019 Chevy Colorado: The running board makes it easier to get into, but seems at kind of an odd level. Legroom in the back of Crew Cab models is a modest 35.6 inches (but that is more than the 28.6 on Extended Cabs).

Would I buy the 2019 Chevy Colorado? There are other trucks I would look at if I were in the market, but the Colorado is definitely a contender.