Tested: 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

Pickups dominate the sales charts in North America, accounting for more than half of all sales.

The vast majority are full-size units, but for many this is too big, resulting in a growing mid-size market that now includes entries from Ford, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Jeep, Nissan and Toyota.

The Chevrolet Colorado, and its sibling GMC Canyon, are mainstays of the mid-size pickup segment.

 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71
Photo: Garry Sowerby

 

The Colorado was first on sale as a 2004 model year. The third generation Colorado came in for a major makeover for the 2023. The fully redesigned truck rests on a new frame. The range has been narrowed to include only Crew Cab bodies married to a short bed.

The outgoing Colorado offered a choice if three engines, including a diesel.

 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71
Photo: Garry Sowerby

 

Engines, engines, engines

The 2023 is also available with three engines. But it is three versions of the same engine: a turbocharged 2.7-litre four cylinder mated with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Shared with the full-size Silverado, the four produces 239-horsepower and 259 lb. ft. of torque as it appears in the WT (Work Truck) and LT trim levels.

 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71
Photo: Lisa Calvi

 

The Turbo Plus version, producing 310-horsepower and 390 lb. ft. of torque is offered in the Trail Boss, Z71 and Z72 trims. It is an option on WT and LT models.

The third engine, the Turbo High Output is essentially a tweaked version of the Turbo Plus. Available as an option in the ZR2, it produces the same amount of horsepower, but a software upgrade boosts torque to 430 lb. ft.

 

The base WT is the only Colorado available with rear wheel drive. All others have a sophisticated four-wheel-drive system.

Base prices range from a reasonable $41,000 for the two wheel-drive WT to more than $60,000 for a well-equipped ZR2.

 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71
Photo: Garry Sowerby

 

I sampled the Z71 with the 310-horsepower engine. It had a maximum towing capacity 7,700 lbs – giving it a leg up on the competition. The low-end grunt from this turbocharged engine makes getting off the line as easy as toeing into the throttle. It provides similarly impressive performance when passing or climbing steep grades with a heavy load aboard.

 

There is a reason virtually all the big rigs towing those monstrous trailers use a turbocharged diesel engine!

Before you scoff at the notion of a four-cylinder engine in a decent size pickup, remember turbochargers change everything.

By forcing more fuel and air into the combustion chambers, it considerably lowers the RPM where peak power occurs. This is especially useful when towing or lugging heavy loads. Instead of waiting until the engine reaches 4,000 – 6,000 rpm and its maximum power, a turbocharged engine’s maximum torque occurs as low as 1,200 rpm.

 

This latest version of the Colorado looks a lot like its big sister Silverado.

Gone is the soft-sided vanilla look, swapped for a more rugged appearance.

 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71
Photo: Lisa Calvi

 

The interior is also completely redone with a customizable 21-cm digital instrument cluster and a 29-cm infotainment touchscreen. The latter has Google and its many features integrated. The front seat offers lots of head and leg room. The rear seat is not as commodious as some of the competition and there is not as much provision for stowing small items as I’d like.

 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado
Photo: Chevrolet Canada

 

On the road, the Colorado offers a much more pleasant ride than expected from a pickup.

Advances in shock absorber technology and suspension tuning have removed much of the rock and roll of body-on-frame trucks with the solid rear axle necessary for severe towing or hauling duty. Even unladen the ride is pleasant over all but abrupt surface changes. Extensive insolation and attention to panel gaps and fit and finish result in minimal road or wind noise.

 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
Photo: Chevrolet Canada

 

The Chevrolet Colorado is a good alternative for those who don’t want or need a larger and more expensive to operate full-size pickup.

 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71
Photo: Garry Sowerby

 

FACTS & FIGURES – 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 crew cab 4WD

 

PRICE

Base: $47,103

As tested: $59,598 including freight

 

INFOTAINMENT

29-cm colour LCD infotainment display with Google built-in, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, six-speaker audio system, satellite radio, 120-volt power outlet in cab and another in the bed

 

SAFETY

LED headlights, automatic emergency braking, forward collision alert, front pedestrian braking with bicyclist detection, lane keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, automatic high beams

 

STANDARD EQUIPMENT

Sliding rear window, keyless open, push button start, power heated mirrors, remote locking tailgate, 18-in alloy wheels, cruise control, tilt steering column, power windows and locks, automatic climate control

 

OPTIONS

Z71 Convenience package II (dual zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, eight-way power driver seat with lumbar control, wireless charging, tilt & telescope steering wheel, Stowflex tailgate, EZ lift and lower tailgate), $1,980; Z71 Convenience Package III (ventilated leather seats, memory settings for driver, heated steering wheel), $1,795; Power sunroof, $1,150; Technology package (HD surround vision, adaptive cruise control, rear pedestrian alert), $1,050; 20-in dark aluminum wheels, $960; advanced trailer package, (trailer hitch and seven pin connection, trailer brake controller, trailering app), $750; Bose premium speaker system, $685; spray-on bedliner, $600; underbody cameras forward and rear views), $575; all-weather floor liners, $240; engine block heater, $195; 220-amp alternator, $175; wheel locks, $100

 

MECHANICAL

Turbocharged 2.7-litre four-cylinder, 310-horsepower, 391 lb.ft. of torque. Eight-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel-drive with two-speed transfer case, NRCan rating (litres/100km city/highway):13.5/11.0

 

DIMENSIONS

Length, 5,410-mm; wheelbase, 3,338-mm; width, 1,902-mm; weight, 2,055-kg

 

COMPETITION

Ford Ranger, GMC Canyon, Honda Ridgeline, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Jeep Gladiator, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Tacoma

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