2023 Chevrolet Colorado: One Body, One Engine, Many Goals

Strong points
  • Build quality
  • Off-road capability
  • Interior comfort
  • Torque
Weak points
  • One body style only
  • Fuel consumption
  • Engine sound
Full report

Midsize pickups are no longer just work trucks. A lot of people shopping for these vehicles nowadays own trailers, boats, snowmobiles or personal watercraft, and they also like to spend time off the road. Manufacturers including General Motors have responded by introducing more versatile and more capable machines.

The 2023 Chevrolet Colorado is completely redesigned, but the biggest news here is the elimination of the long bed and extended cab. Only the crew cab and 5.5-foot bed remain. Why? The company says it’s because over 80 percent of Colorado customers chose this particular configuration.

A total of five trim levels are offered: WT, LT, Z71, Trail Boss and ZR2. The middle ones are the volume leaders, while the ZR2 (which we’ll put to the test in a few months) is the hardcore alternative.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

New Engine

Chevrolet claims the 2023 Colorado rides on a new chassis, but in reality it’s more of a revised and upgraded version of the same chassis that’s been used in previous years. Engineers have worked on the suspension, as well, resulting in 3.1 inches of extra wheelbase.

More importantly, after discontinuing its four-cylinder gasoline engine and Duramax diesel engine, Chevrolet has also discarded the 3.6-litre V6 and replaced it with three variations of a turbocharged 2.7-litre four-cylinder—the same one that’s available in the full-size Silverado where it has a hard time convincing potential buyers (no other competitor in that segment offers a four-cylinder option, incidentally).

It makes perfect sense to fit this engine into the Colorado, mind you, both in terms of power and torque. WT and LT models generate 237 horsepower and 259 lb-ft. of torque, with a towing capacity set at 3,500 lbs. A “Turbo Plus” variant is optional (standard on Z71 and Trail Boss), producing 310 horsepower and 390 lb-ft. of torque while bringing the towing capacity to 7,700 lbs. We suspect most customers will choose this one. Finally, the engine in the Colorado ZR2 gets a torque increase at 430 lb-ft. thanks to internal enhancements, but output remains at 310 hp. 

Photo: Antoine Joubert

The main attributes of this turbocharged four-cylinder include generous torque, great throttle response and a lighter weight (80 lbs fewer than the old V6). It would be a stretch to say the 310 ponies are impressive, because the difference in acceleration with the base engine variant is not that big. Of course, losing a pair of cylinders also has a negative effect on flexibility and sound. On that note, engineers at the media event said they were thrilled by the captivating sound of the new engine, but don’t believe a single word of that. Other than the distinct turbo whistle, there’s nothing to get excited about.

Fuel consumption ratings have yet to be announced. In the case of the Silverado, the turbo-four is less efficient than Ford’s 2.7-litre EcoBoost V6. On our watch, helped by ideal weather and road conditions, the Colorado Z71 couldn’t do any better than 17.7 mpg, or just over 13 L/100 km. That’s not very good considering the previous-generation, V6-powered Colorado posted a combined rating of 12.1 L/100 km. In fact, at no point during the presentation did the Chevy reps talk about fuel economy or improvements at the pump.

The Most Refined

One thing’s for sure: the company worked hard to make the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado more comfortable, more refined and more driver-friendly. The cabin is quieter, in part thanks to extra noise-cancelling material in the wheel wells, while the ride is smoother and less bouncy. Strong braking and precise steering are other highlights. We must warn you that the Z71 model with available 20-inch wheels is a bit stiffer on the road. It’s best to stick with the standard 18-inch wheels, especially if you happen to spend a lot of time on rough pavement.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

When compared with the current-generation Ranger, Gladiator, Frontier and Tacoma, the new Colorado is arguably a more refined driver. The good news is that off-road capability is not compromised. On the contrary, we’d call it exceptional. The suspension boasts impressive travel, and the shortened front overhang increases the approach angle. Naturally, Trail Boss and Z71 models offer a selection of drive modes to tackle various terrains, including a 4WD Auto mode that you’ll also find on the LT. Just so you know, the base WT is the only one that can be specified with 2WD, and the equally new GMC Canyon offers 4WD exclusively.

That Screen…

The technophiles at Chevrolet rave about the new 8-inch digital instrument cluster and 11.3-inch centre touchscreen with Google built-in. It’s a highly attractive and sharp-looking interface, no doubt about it, but one that requires some getting used to. For example, you won’t find physical controls for the headlights anywhere. They’ve been replaced, curiously, by buttons on the screen.

Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is included along with many configurable functions. Getting familiar with all the different sub-menus will take weeks. In fact, simply resetting the trip meter and fuel consumption indicator took us more than 15 minutes.  

Photo: Antoine Joubert

On a positive note, the cabin is extremely well designed. There’s ample room for four adults, comfort is unmatched in the segment, and the centre console offers a ton of storage. Obviously, the higher you move up, the more features and amenities you get. WT and Trail Boss models are pretty rudimentary in terms of material selection and finish. Heck, they don’t even offer heated seats, at least at the moment. Chevrolet claims the enduring chip shortage is to blame. Hopefully they’ll fix this soon enough, because many Canadian drivers don’t want to freeze their butt off and would rather have heated seats than fancy displays.

More Muscle

Many people thought the previous Colorado looked too bland. With competitors beefing up their offerings, Chevrolet wisely added muscle to the new generation. This includes a more aggressive front grille and hood, wider fenders and plastic cladding around the wheel arches. Once again, WT and Trail Boss models are more basic than the rest of the lineup.

One last thing: the tailgate can be positioned midway between fully closed and open, enabling storage of longer items and supporting up to 500 lbs. It also has a built-in storage solution in the form of a 45-inch-wide and 4-inch-deep compartment with a drain. Also pretty useful is the available underbody camera.

Photo: Antoine Joubert

Assembled at the Wentzville, Missouri plant, the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado will retail from $36,498 (freight and PDI included) when it goes on sale in late March. It’s bound to enjoy plenty of success as arguably the smartest pick in the midsize truck segment right now.

Watch: 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Makes Official Debut

Share on Facebook

More on the subject

Pre-owned vehiclesPre-Owned Chevrolet Colorado: What's the Best Engine?
An all-new Chevrolet Colorado was recently introduced for model year 2023 (along with a new GMC Canyon , naturally). Unlike its predecessor, however, it now offers only one body configuration, namely the crew cab with short bed. In addition, only one engine can be found under the hood: a new …
New ModelsChevrolet Unveils New 2023 Colorado Pickup
After eight years without significant changes, the Colorado finally gets revamped for 2023. The previous generation, which literally brought the segment back to life, had received several improvements over the years, the model had never benefited from a complete overhaul. The Ford Ranger pickup is also getting a makeover, with …
Test Drives2023 Chevrolet Silverado Duramax: Not Going Electric Yet
The full-size pickup segment is the most profitable one in North America, and it’s currently in the midst of a major transformation. While manufacturers continue to sell large numbers of conventional, V8-powered models, all-electric alternatives like the Ford F-150 Lightning generate plenty of attention and demand. How long will big, …
NewsGMC Unveils 2023 Canyon With New AT4X Model
Things are getting hot right now in the mid-size pickup segment. Last week, we covered the unveiling of the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado , which came with new styling, a new engine with several power levels and a revamped cabin. Its GMC counterpart, the Canyon, followed this week with a similar …
News2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison Brings Back the Beast
The third-generation Chevrolet Colorado is reaching new heights—literally—with the return of the ZR2 Bison for 2024. With demand for off-road pickups at an all-time high, GM expects to double the sales of the original and plans to ramp up production accordingly. Developed in a partnership with American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), …
Test Drives2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss: $50,000 and No Heated Seats?
Unlike their full-size counterparts, midsize pickups are selling for huge bucks and it’s hard to predict when manufacturers will start offering substantial discounts. For that to happen, demand will need to weaken, but there’s a whole lot of people going crazy for these versatile machines right about now. Heated or …