Chevrolet’s Colorado midsize diesel pickup was the most talked about and publicized even before the first model came off the production line. As of this writing, it’s the only midsize pickup truck to have a diesel engine.
Colorado’s have been so popular that some Chevrolet dealers can’t keep them on their lots. Adding the diesel option may only exacerbate the supply.
Aside from being a handsome midsize pickup, its size caters to those who don’t want or need a full-size pickup. And with diesel power, Colorado becomes even more attractive, particularly for buyers who need high tow capacity.
Diesel powered trucks are also economical, although this factor is often negated by their higher cost. But is recoverable within a few years based on expected fuel economy and a diesels’ traditional longevity over a gasoline engine.
As such, Colorado’s 2.8-liter I-4 Duramax turbo diesel comes with some impressive numbers. This new Thailand-made engine (actually, it has been in service in other markets for several years) generates 181-hp at 3400 rpm and a stomp pulling 369 lb/ft of torque at a low 2000 rpm. When coupled to a standard 6-speed automatic transmission, the 2.8L B20 bio-diesel-capable engine garners EPA mileage estimates of 20 city, 29-highway mpg. So configured, Colorado is tow rated for a hefty 7,600 pounds and carries a payload of 1,477 pounds for the 4WD version with a 5 foot, 2-inch cargo box and 3.42 rear axle. And if a 5’2” cargo box is not large enough for your hauling needs, Colorado can also be had with a 6’2” box.
While the diesel engine is the big news that boasts a Diesel Exhaust Brake along with Trailer Brake Controller, Colorado has a few other noteworthy traits. It’s a 4G Wi-Fi Hotspot and comes standard with an 8-inch color touch display with weather map including hourly plus five-day forecasts, texting, GPS nav, rearview camera, Apple CarPlay capability, satellite radio, locking rear differential, Z71 off-road suspension package, EZ Lift and Lower locking tailgate, Stabilitrak stability control with traction and hill descent control, 4-wheel disc brakes, remote start, fog lights and more.
With an easy 23-inch step-in into the cabin, the optional assist steps lower the step to 14 inches, but they’re really not needed. Actually, they get in the way and can soil the backs of pant legs if stepping over them.
Once inside, you’re treated to an appealing interior with two-tone leatherette and cloth seats that have just the right amount of lateral support that won’t encumber the driver or passengers wearing bulky clothes. The seat bottoms though, could use a bit more padding to soften off-road bumps and highway tar strips. As is, they’re a tad firm.
The back seat splits 60/40 and folds up against the bulkhead that exposes a shallow bin for small item storage like hand tools or other gear. Flip the backs down and it forms a flat, albeit high, load floor.
Like its big brother the full-size Silverado pickup, Colorado’s 4WD system offers 2WD, Auto, 4High and 4Low gearing that in combination with the fully automatic locking rear, offers sure-footed traction qualities.
The ride on 17-inch Wrangler Kevlar 17-inch tires was fairly smooth with only a trace of diesel rattle (diesel combustion noise) at highway speeds. At idle, the rattle is noticeable but not annoying and obviously quieter than a six-cylinder diesel. Handling is taut but maneuverable with an electric power steering system that makes parking this 212-inch long truck easier.
With its added weight of the diesel engine, stiffer front coil springs and rear leaf springs were added to ensure controlled handling. And for off-roading or deep snow, the trucks’ 8.3 inches of undercarriage clearance can handle some fairly tough conditions.
Acceleration from a standing stop is relatively quick, although at highway speeds, the turbo takes a moment to spool up to add extra spunk. However, low and top end power is never a problem from this oil burner.
Offered in LT and Z71 trim (tested) levels, and in RWD and 4WD (tested), the turbo diesel version is only available in crew not extended cab layouts. Sales figures for most pickups show that four door crew cabs are the most popular among truck buyers, so it’s doubtful Chevy will offer the latter.
Price wise, the Colorado Z71 had a base of $34,640 nicely equipped. Add the 2.8L Duramax turbo diesel ($3,905), the assist steps ($745), Bose audio ($500), Chevy’s MyLink infotainment/nav system with touchscreen ($495), sprayed-in bed liner ($475), trailering package ($250), and the truck bottom lined at $41,905 with delivery.