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New Car Review

2018 Chevrolet Colorado: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2017

The 2018 Chevrolet Colorado has proven to be a sales success for GM, filling a major demand for a midsize truck with good fuel economy and a reasonable price that's still capable of accomplishing big chores. In fact, with the Ford Ranger still a no-show and Dodge offering nothing at all, the Colorado's only real competition comes from the aging Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma, the latter still a formidable rival. There's also the Honda Ridgeline to consider. It offers many desirable features but not the power, towing ability or off-road expertise of the Colorado.

In fact, none of the Colorado's rivals can match its 7,600-lb max tow rating or optional diesel engine, and stylistically the Colorado is pretty much on the cutting edge of pickup truck design. In fact, now that the Colorado and its GMC Canyon twin are plentiful on dealer lots, it's hard to see why you'd buy another midsize truck.

What's New for 2018?

Changes for 2018 are minimal and include a new 7-inch MyLink radio in the base trucks that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, USB ports and Bluetooth connectivity. Other new features include Trailer Assist rear-monitor guidelines, standard heated outside mirrors for the Z71 and ZR2 and available leather seating on the Z71.

What We Like

Excellent interior for a midsize truck; great engine performance; lots of features; better ride than other midsize trucks; available diesel engine; off-road-ready ZR2

What We Don't

No HID headlight option; front-seat comfort not great for long drives; priced too similarly to the Silverado; one-piece front bumper and air dam prone to scraping when off-roading

How Much?

$21,390-$50,000

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 26 mpg on the highway, or a 6-speed automatic that's offered in rear- or 4-wheel-drive versions. Automatic versions return 20 mpg city/26 mpg hwy with rear-wheel drive or 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive (19/22 for the ZR2).

The 2.8-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder makes 181 hp and a bulky 369 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the rear-wheel-drive model is a very respectable 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy, while the 4-wheel-drive version earns a slightly lower 20 mpg city/28 mpg hwy.

If you're looking for more power, the Colorado also offers a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. That engine returns 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with rear-wheel drive or 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with 4-wheel drive (16/18 for the ZR2).

Standard Features & Options

The Colorado is offered in five trim levels: a base model called simply the Colorado, a slightly more upscale WT model (for Work Truck), a midlevel LT and the off-road-oriented Z71 and ZR2.

The base-level Colorado ($21,390), which is only offered in rear-wheel drive with a 6-speed manual transmission and no rear seats, features anti-lock brakes, a backup camera, 7-in MyLink radio, USB ports, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, air conditioning, a power driver's seat and power windows.

Step up to the Colorado WT ($24,870, Extended Cab; $27,425, Crew Cab), and you'll add rear seats, along with some new options. Crew Cab models get a 6-speed automatic, while the 3.6-liter V6, an available 8-speed automatic transmission and 4-wheel drive remain optional.

Next in line is the Colorado LT ($28,625, Extended Cab; $30,205, Crew Cab), which features a standard automatic transmission, GM's 4G Wi-Fi hotspot, 17-in alloy wheels, 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 ($30,860, Extended Cab; $32,780 Crew Cab), which boasts an 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.

The ZR2 ($41,550, Extended Cab; $43,175 Crew Cab) offers unique interior and exterior styling cues, an off-road suspension with Multimatic shocks, front and rear electronic locking differentials, more aggressive approach and departure angles, 17-in off-road wheels and tires, an additional 2-in front and rear lift, a 3.5-in wider stance and skid-plate protection.

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, Z71 and ZR2 trims at a price premium of more than $3,000 over the V6.

Safety

All 2018 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 3-star rating in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's rollover assessment and five stars in the side-impact test. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the Extended Cab model a Good rating in its moderate-overlap front and roof strength crash test and Acceptable in the small-overlap front and side impact crash test. The Colorado Crew Cab does much better with a Good rating in all crash test categories.

Behind the Wheel

The Colorado is simply a major step up over all 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 power plant we recommend. It boasts excellent acceleration and a surprisingly brawny 7,000-lb towing capacity (7,600 with the diesel), 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

2018 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.

2018 Toyota Tacoma -- The Tacoma offers notorious Toyota reliability and a loyal following. However, the Colorado's engines are more powerful across the board, and Toyota doesn't offer a diesel engine option. The Tacoma TRD Pro V6 doesn't offer the same advanced suspension or locking front/rear differentials found on the new ZR2.

2018 Nissan Frontier -- The Frontier is an aging pickup that can't really compete with the Colorado's engines, equipment or design. This might be acceptable if the Frontier cost thousands less, but it can't even offer that.

2018 Honda Ridgeline -- The Ridgeline isn't as heavy duty as the Colorado, but it does offer a car-like ride, legendary Honda build quality, a robust V6 engine and unique features like an underbed storage compartment.

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 those of other small-pickup rivals -- all for well under $30,000 with shipping. The diesel is appealing but too expensive for our tastes.

Find a Chevrolet Colorado for sale

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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.
2018 Chevrolet Colorado: New Car Review - Autotrader