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2016 Chevrolet Colorado: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader August 2015

Last year, General Motors made waves by returning to the midsize-pickup segment with the all-new Chevrolet Colorado after a 2-year hiatus. This year, the automaker has another trick up its sleeve: a newly available diesel engine, which gives the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado the distinction of being the only midsize truck available today with diesel power.

And the new diesel engine is only the latest of Colorado's impressive benefits. Although the midsize-truck segment has been largely sedentary for years, the all-new Colorado changes that with a fresh, modern look, a new interior, a surprisingly cushy driving experience and a lot of equipment -- more than chief rivals such as the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. In fact, now that the new Colorado and its GMC Canyon twin are on sale, it's hard to see why you'd buy another midsize truck. In some cases, we could even see the Colorado standing in for a full-size truck if you want strong capabilities without the size of a Chevrolet Silverado or a Ford F-150.

What's New for 2016?

Despite a full redesign last year, the Colorado earns some key updates for 2016. Although the biggest is the aforementioned diesel engine, other changes include a newly available color driver information display and expanded availability of the truck's sliding rear window.

What We Like

Excellent interior for a midsize truck; great engine performance; lots of features; better ride than other midsize trucks; available diesel engine

What We Don't

Ride still isn't perfect; front-seat comfort not great for long drives; priced too similarly to Silverado

How Much?

$21,000-$32,200

Fuel Economy

The Colorado offers three engines. In base models, there's a 200-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder that makes 191 lb-ft of torque. Two transmissions are offered: a 6-speed manual, available only with rear-wheel drive, that gets 20 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway or a 6-speed automatic that's offered in rear- or 4-wheel-drive guise. Automatic versions return 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy in rear-wheel drive or 19 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.

New for 2016 is a 2.8-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder that makes 181 hp and a bulky 369 lb-ft of torque. Because the diesel isn't slated to join the lineup until the middle of the model year, fuel economy figures haven't yet been posted -- but Chevrolet is targeting city mpg numbers in the low 20s and highway figures above 30 mpg.

If you're looking for more power, the Colorado also offers a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. That engine returns 18 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with rear-wheel drive or 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive.

Standard Features & Options

The Colorado is offered in four trim levels: a base model called simply Colorado, a slightly more upscale WT model (for Work Truck), a midlevel LT and an off-road-oriented Z71.

The base-level Colorado ($21,000), which is only offered in rear-wheel-drive guise with a 6-speed manual transmission and no rear seats, features anti-lock brakes, a backup camera, an AM/FM stereo with a USB port and auxiliary jack, air conditioning, a power driver's seat and power windows.

Step up to the Colorado WT ($23,000), and you'll add rear seats along with several new options: a 3.6-liter V6, an available 6-speed automatic transmission and available 4-wheel drive.

Next in line is the Colorado LT ($26,500), which features a standard automatic transmission, GM's 4G Wi-Fi hot spot, 17-inch alloy wheels, Bluetooth, Chevrolet's MyLink infotainment system with an 8-in color touchscreen, remote keyless entry, cruise control, satellite radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and steering-wheel audio controls.

Topping the range is the off-road-oriented Z71 ($29,100), which boasts off-road suspension, hill-descent control, a remote starter, a power passenger seat, front tow hooks, an automatic locking rear differential and automatic climate control.

Options include high-tech safety features such as a lane-departure warning system and forward-collision alert, along with convenience items including a navigation system, a Bose sound system and an innovative in-bed cargo divider. Engine choices include the 3.6-liter V6, offered on all but the base-level Colorado model, and the 2.8-liter turbodiesel, which is only available in LT and Z71 trims at a price premium of more than $3,000 over the V6.

Safety

All 2016 Chevrolet Colorado models come standard with dual front-side airbags, along with side-curtain airbags for front and rear occupants. The Colorado also includes a standard backup camera and traction control. Options include forward-collision alert and a lane-departure warning system.

In crash testing carried out by the federal government, the Colorado earned a so-so 4-star score, including a troubling 3-star rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's rollover assessment. The truck has not yet been submitted to enough Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tests for that firm to issue a rating.

Behind the Wheel

The Colorado is simply a major step up over all of its small-pickup competitors. One reason is the truck's ride, which is much smoother than what you'll find in other pickups. The interior is also nicer, and the Colorado and Canyon boast more gadgets and features than the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma. To us, the Colorado and the Canyon look more modern on the outside, too.

While the base-level Colorado's 4-cylinder isn't a major workhorse, it's certainly acceptable for many situations -- and it gets strong fuel economy for a pickup truck. But we're especially impressed with the pickup's V6, which is the powerplant we recommend. It boasts excellent acceleration and a surprisingly brawny 7,000-lb towing capacity, along with a smooth standard automatic transmission.

We have only two complaints with the Colorado. Its ride, while great for a small pickup, could still be a little better. And we're not sold on the front seats, which could use a little extra support.

Other Cars to Consider

2016 GMC Canyon -- The GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado are highly similar in a lot of ways, especially under the hood. You should check out both trucks to see which one you prefer -- and which is available with a better deal.

2015 Toyota Tacoma -- The Tacoma offers notorious Toyota reliability and a loyal following. Although we think the new Colorado is a better truck, a redesigned Tacoma is on its way later this year or in early 2016.

Used Chevrolet Silverado -- If you need more capability, more power or just a larger truck, consider Chevrolet's larger Silverado pickup. Pricing is higher, though, so you may want to look into a used model.

Autotrader's Advice

We'd go for a V6-powered Colorado LT with a few extra options, such as lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert. It's the best of all worlds: You get a brand-new truck with a muscular engine, a lot of equipment and excellent capabilities that outshine other small-pickup rivals -- all for well under $30,000 with shipping. The diesel is appealing but too expensive for our tastes.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado: New Car Review - Autotrader