In America, we do it big: big appetites, big houses and big vehicles. Heck, we pretty much invented the SUV because a pickup wasn’t enough metal and glass for our “party of one” to sit in on the freeway. In the past few years, our trucks have grown to an impractically massive size (looking at the guy trying to park his F-250 at Whole Foods). But somewhere beyond all of the big truck drama is a still-surviving, barely thriving mid-size pickup segment, of which the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado ($20,100 base) (which first appeared as a concept) is a prime example. And, since it was in our GP100 this year and was just named truck of the year, we were thrilled when Chevy handed over the keys.
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Once the truck arrived we were instantly happy with its size; not too big, not too small. We were also struck by how much the front fascia resembled the Camaro, which gave it more of a streamlined appearance. Our review model came in the the Z71 trim, which brought an off-road suspension package, locking rear diff, transfer case shield, hill descent control, fog lamps and a few other bells and whistles. The CornerStep — a cutout integrated into the body molding near the rear — was a genius design that allowed us to get into and out of the bed much more easily than the traditional move of simply standing on the tire. That, and the EZ lift and lower tailgate made loading and unloading much easier.
Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Horsepower: 305 horsepower
Torque: 269 lb-ft
Curb weight: 3,930 to 4,520 pounds
MPG: 18 (city) / 26 (highway)
Tow Capacity: 7,000 pounds
Inside there was plenty of room in both the front and rear seat, and the seats themselves were quite comfortable. The upgraded trim level gave us the 8-inch display screen for Chevy’s MyLink infotainment system, which we first saw in the Corvette, which offerd a touchscreen interface to maneuver through the grid of apps, all integrated with 4G LTE wi-fi and Siri. Despite the touchscreen capability, most of the controls are physical knobs; the climate system is controlled by a very nice balance of control knob and digital display, which is also something we loved in the ‘Vette. All the buttons felt solid, very non-truck and non-American in a good way. We also had seat warmers with the odd option of heating the whole seat or just the seat back. The Bose audio system upgrade was a $500 stand-alone option, delivering clear and ample sound, and the the standard backup camera was extremely helpful in parking lots where compacts roamed alongside crossovers.
One problem with most trucks when it comes to driving is… they drive like trucks. Certainly the feel of sitting high and having boxier corners to contend with in parking garages was present, but the 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 offered plenty of power and pull (rated to tow 7,000 pounds) to navigate the streets and highway. Turning radius was excellent and steering was confident without much body roll. The truck did feel a little cumbersome in small parking lots, but that’s because ours was outfitted with the crew cab and the long box.
Overall, we were impressed. It had enough power to satisfy our daily driver needs along with balanced city maneuverability and off-road capability. That, and there’s enough design and tech to meet the level of what we expect in our new cars. We can say with confidence that we were right to bestow a GP100 title to it and are certain this truck will have Japan taking notes and Americans buying local, especially in 2016 when the 3.6-liter Duramax turbo diesel is added to the mix. Fuel economy too? Yes, please.