For the first time ever, Chevrolet has seen fit to put a V-8 engine in a compact truck. Although offered in only the Extended and Crew Cab models, the 2009 Colorado (along with its nearly identical sibling, the GMC Canyon) is now available with a 5.3-liter V-8 engine producing 300 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque--bringing a maximum towing capacity of 6,000 pounds and sub-seven-second 0-60 acceleration. The new engine is mated to Chevrolet's smooth, reliable four-speed automatic transmission.
The Colorado's other two engines, the 185-horsepower, 2.9-liter inline four-cylinder and 242-hp, 3.7-liter inline-five, are still part of the model lineup, and thanks to a revised fuel control module, they feature improved fuel economy of up to 25 mpg with the four-cylinder.
All 2009 Colorado models receive StabiliTrak electronic stability control, as well as a new braking system that features better braking feel and improved stopping power. A new ZQ8 sport suspension package for 2009 Extended and Crew Cab models features revised suspension tuning that's 30 percent stiffer and a ride height that's one inch lower. Eighteen-inch, split six-spoke aluminum wheels and low-profile performance tires are a new part of the package that pairs with the V-8.
Whether you ask reviewers of a range of publications or the editors of TheCarConnection.com, you're likely to hear that the base four-cylinder and optional five are quite unimpressive; as a step-up engine, the five-cylinder is especially rough and noisy, and doesn't deliver the smooth real-world torque of rival V-6 engines, despite having similar output numbers. The new V-8 engine gives the Colorado a completely different character, and TheCarConnection.com recommends it for those who need more towing ability. With the V-8, the Colorado is quite enjoyable to drive, though across the line, the steering is vague and requires frequent corrections.
Inside, ZQ8-equipped models feature unique seats unavailable in other Colorado models, but the interior for all Colorados remains unimpressive, with lots of cheap-feeling hard plastic. Standard equipment is quite good, though, including air conditioning, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, and folding exterior mirrors. Options include traction control, XM, fog lamps, leather seats, a sunroof, a six-CD changer, and a sliding rear window. OnStar is offered but without a navigation feature--which would enhance the desirability of work trucks.
The 2009 Colorado is available is a variety of layouts, including rear- or four-wheel drive, in short-wheelbase regular-cab and long-wheelbase extended- and four-door crew-cab versions that can seat up to six passengers. The 6-foot "long" bed won't carry a 4x8 sheet of plywood, and four-door Colorados have only a 5-foot, 1-inch bed anyway. On four-door versions, the backseat stands uncomfortably upright and is just roomy enough for two adults.
The four-door Chevrolet Colorado receives a mix of crash-test scores, with straight four-star ratings from the federal government (except for some higher five-star ratings on the Crew Cab), with lackluster side and rear test scores from the IIHS. The addition of StabiliTrack electronic stability control, as well as an improved braking system, should increase the Colorado's accident avoidance abilities.
The Bottom Line:
The new available V-8 engine is a long time coming and helps position the Colorado as a worthy rival to the most capable compacts and an alternative to full-size trucks.