2015 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD Z71 review: Pure Truck and it’s garage-able

The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado styling is all truck, bold and brawny.

The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado styling is all truck, bold and brawny.

The absence of a mid-sized pickup truck under the Chevy Bowtie had Chevrolet hard core tuck enthusiasts floundering in a void. The last of the previous Colorado and its sibling GMC Canyon rolled off the assembly line a few years back and there was not much out there to fill that vacancy. The mid-sized pickup market was left to Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, and those trucks have not seen a major makeover in many years. To make matters even more confusing, Ford also dropped its smaller Ranger pickup much to the concern of used car dealers around the country.

We heard rumblings from the bowels of the Ren-Cen (GM Detroit Headquarters) that there was a project in the works that would change the way we think about mid-sized trucks. The time is here and we are happy to see and drive the results. Chevy did their homework and gave truck buyers what they wanted. The Chevrolet Colorado is larger than all previous mid-sized entries, but smaller and more maneuverable than a full-sized pickup.

The Z71 off-road package adds more than suspension upgrades, such as fog lights and black grille crossbar.

The Z71 off-road package adds more than suspension upgrades, such as fog lights and black grille crossbar.

The Colorado exterior design is aggressive and bold with a prominent “Bowtie” center stage on the trademark, yet slimed down grille crossbar. The Colorado displays a presence that grabs your attention with its beefy look with a trimmed down body. Even though the 2015 Colorado is slim it isn’t a lightweight.

The entry level engine for the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado is a 2.5-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine that offers up 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft. of torque. A six-speed manual transmission is available, but only on certain base level trucks. We suspect, as does Chevrolet, most buyers will opt for the six-speed automatic.

The more powerful 3.6-liter V6 gasoline engine offers up substantially more power and abilities with 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft. of torque. Though not quite as important to truck owners, the fuel economy numbers on both engines are better than the competition, as are the towing and payload capabilities. The four-cylinder achieves fuel economy EPA ratings of 20 city, 27 highway and 22 combined with a two-wheel drive truck and 19 city, 21 highway and 25 combined with four-wheel drive.

The Chevy Colorado pitched in to assist emergency crews during a recent flooding incident.

The Chevy Colorado pitched in to assist emergency crews during a recent flooding incident.

Pick the V6 engine and these numbers go down slightly. However, both engines beat their respective competitor trucks. The V6 EPA ratings are 18 city, 26 highway and 21 combined with two-wheel drive and 17/24/20 for a four-wheel drive Colorado.

Truck owners, even those of mid-sized trucks, want the most capability they can get from their pickups. The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado gives them what they desire. The Colorado beats the competition with a maximum tow rating of 7,000 pounds and a payload carrying rating of 1500 lbs. While assisting our local police and fire departments we loaded our tester Colorado down with a heavy load of sand bags during a recent flooding emergency. There isn’t much more demanding load than wet, heavy sandbags and the Colorado handled the job without a whimper. It came back for more and it was darn comfortable in the cab to boot.

Speaking of comfortable cab, the Colorado is as comfortable as it can get. The front bucket seats are nicely padded with just the right cushion extension to support short and long legs and good back support. The dash and instrument panel is well designed with all gauges and switches easily viewed or operated. As all truck owners look for storage beyond the rear bed, the Chevy folks added plenty of compartments to stash plenty of stuff in the door panels and the center console.

The passenger compartment proved to comfortable and a welcome respite from the day;s work.

The passenger compartment proved to comfortable and a welcome respite from the day;s work.

An issue that concerns vehicle buyers today is how quiet is the passenger compartment? The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado is one of the quietest interiors we have driven. Sure there is some noise from the road and a tiny bit of wind noise at highway speeds as wind rushes around those big outside mirrors. It is, however, kept at a very low level. Proof came from the question we asked of our rear seat passenger. Purposely held to a normal conversation level, the question asked was answered in an equally normal level. This is the result of an ever increasing use of high-strength steel, extensive sound insulation and triple-sealed doors.

Certainly as more and more electronic innovations become available they tend to show up on our cars and trucks. Chevrolet is keeping ahead of the trends by making available 4G LTE connectivity in the Colorado. The innovations do not stop there however, beyond the large easy to read 8-inch touch screen display there are 4 USB ports as well as OnStar to offer more connectivity than one might want in their truck.

A multi-configurable rack is available enabling owners to carry everything from Kayaks to ladders.

A multi-configurable rack is available enabling owners to carry everything from Kayaks to ladders.

Our Chevrolet Colorado was also equipped with the Z71 off-road package, which of course made us want to take this baby into the woods and across the river. Treading lightly, of course, on established trails. The automatic four-wheel drive system on the Colorado makes it easy to switch into 4X4 mode with a slight turn of the rotary knob on the dash. When hitting rougher terrain we had to stop, place the shifter into neutral and shift into low range, as is typical of all vehicles with low, rock crawling gearing.

One newer feature we were anxious to test was the hill descent mode which is easily activated via the cruise control. While there are more and more vehicles incorporating hill decent into their equipment list few have the ability to function in reverse like the 2015 Colorado. The Chevy system makes short order of backing down a slippery, muddy hill when the trail is blocked by a huge Redwood.