2024 Chevy Colorado Trail Boss

PHOENIX — The vast majority of pickup truck buyers today are what's called "never-never" truck owners — never tow, never haul, but seek the tireless experience and unique takeaways from driving one on a daily basis. Likewise, not everybody needs an oversized half-ton pickup thus there are the masses who opt to buy an easier-to-drive and park midsize with nearly all the convenience of a larger truck.

Last year Chevrolet redesigned the Colorado pickup with an extreme makeover, launching its third-generation midsize originally introduced for the 2015 model year. For 2024, Chevrolet gave me a Colorado Trail Boss to test, a new trim level launched just this spring. Trail Boss isn't a new trim level for Chevy that first appeared on the larger 2019 Silverado 1500 and has now been handed down to the midsize Colorado with many of the same features including a 2-inch suspension lift, 3-inch-wider track, 32-inch Goodyear Territory A/T off-road tires (you can upgrade to Territory M/T rubber for $495), a G80 automatic locking rear differential, skid-late package all focused on off-road capability.

All Colorado pickups use a single body four-door crew cab with a short bed and a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine available with either 237 horsepower or in upper trim levels, 310 horsepower "Turbo Plus" and paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The 310 horsepower moves the Trail Boss smoothly with little effort but it does sound a bit coarse under full acceleration. The downside is mostly dismal fuel economy where we realized just 16.9 mpg during our week of testing.

The Trail Boss is simply a base-level Colorado WT (work truck) with the Trail Boss equipment including four-wheel-drive and low-range gearing via an electronically-shifting two-speed transfer case all standard. Inside, Trail Boss gets the the same standard interior as the WT, cloth upholstery, acres of hard plastic trim but actually quite tastefully executed and didn't look cheap. Plus there's the added benefit of easy-to-wipe-down nature given its dusty off-road focus. We thought the front seats were comfortable, good support, liked the audio system, not great but good, appreciated the physical buttons and knobs for audio and A/C control, but no knob or stalk for headlight operation.

That comes integrated into the touchscreen infotainment system. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now standard, though there's no option for a power adjustable passenger seat at any level. Overall, the interior fits the Trail Boss nearly perfect even if a bit confusing.

Off road the Trail Boss performed admirably with excellent throttle and transmission response. The tuned suspension, aggressive and grippy tires and Chevy's Terrain drive mode that allows for one-pedal driving and Off-Road mode easily handled everything off-road we challenged it with. This thing is a beast absorbing rough, boulder strewn terrain effortlessly absent rattles, creaks, or undamped shake into the cabin. Brakes were excellent.

On pavement, the Trail Boss is as good as it gets with adeptly smooth transport soaking up most road imperfections with minimum residual shake. It felt really well screwed together even with the occasional jarring pothole incidents.

Overall, the Trail Boss is an impressive vehicle and one we could live with on a full time basis. This is the best Colorado truck ever and in our opinion the class leader among midsize competitors.

Vital Stats

Base Price: $37,000
Price as Tested: $41,195
Engine/Transmission: 310-horsepower 2.7-Liter turbocharged four-cylinder paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and standard four-wheel-drive.
EPA Fuel Economy: 17/21/19 mpg - City/Highway/Combined
Seats: 5-passengers

Where Built: Wentzville, Missouri

Competes With:
Ford Ranger FX4 Offroad
GMC Canyon AT4
Nissan Frontier PRO-4X
Toyota Tacoma TRD Off-Road

Crash Test Safety Ratings: 4 our of 5 star frontal crash test and 5 out of 5 star side crash test ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Best midsize truck period
Superb off-road capability, composed on-road
Excellent driving manners
Significant step up from previous Colorado

Dismal fuel economy
Only one cab and bed size offering
Most desired features are optional

— Jim Prueter