2018 Chevrolet Silverado is available with one V6 and two potent V8 engines.
2018 Chevrolet Colorado offers a diesel variant and an off-road-oriented ZR2 model.
2018 Silverado can tow up to 12,500 pounds.
The Colorado and the Silverado are two modern, reliable pickups offered by Chevrolet. While the Silverado competes in the full-size segment with the Ford F-150 and the Ram 1500, the Colorado is a midsize truck and goes up against the Toyota Tacoma and the upcoming Ford Ranger. Both trucks are tough and robust but are designed for different customers. Below we’ll compare the two in a number of different categories to help you decide which one is better for you.
While Chevrolet has been selling full-size pickups seemingly since the beginning of time, the Silverado nameplate was officially introduced in 1999, and the Silverado on dealer lots has now been on sale in its current form since the 2014 model year. While the upcoming 2019 Silverado will be all-new, we’ll focus on the 2018 model in this comparison.
The first-generation Colorado was introduced as a replacement for the S-10 in 2004. Gone for a few years after the first-gen model was discontinued following the 2012 model year, the Colorado returned in 2015 with a second generation.
The 2018 Chevrolet Silverado is offered with three different engines: An entry-level V6 making 285 horsepower and earning up to 20 miles per gallon combined when equipped with rear-wheel drive and 19 mpg combined when equipped with 4-wheel drive. Next up are two V8s. The volume-selling V8 is a 355 hp mill earning up to 18 mpg combined when equipped with RWD or 17 mpg combined when equipped with 4WD. On the high-end is an optional 6.2-liter V8 making 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and earning 17 mpg combined when equipped with either rear- or 4WD. With the more potent V8, the Silverado can tow up to 12,500 pounds.
The Silverado starts at $30,000 and can reach nearly $70,000 in fully loaded High Country trim.
The Colorado offers two different gasoline engines, along with a unique, segment-exclusive diesel option with added towing capacity. Standard in entry-level models is a 2.5-liter 4-cylinder making 200 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. With this basic engine, the Colorado earns 22 mpg combined when equipped with 2-wheel drive or 21 mpg in combined driving when equipped with 4WD. The most common engine in the Colorado is a 3.6-liter V6, which is good for 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, and earns 19 mpg combined when equipped with 4WD. The optional diesel is a 2.8-liter 4-cylinder Duramax and makes 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. With 4WD, the diesel Colorado earns 23 mpg combined. The diesel offers a best-in-class 7,700-lb towing capacity, but is somewhat burdened by slow acceleration, taking over nine seconds to reach 60 miles per hour. The diesel also costs $3,000 more than the V6, which can still tow up to 7,000 pounds and reaches 60 mph in 7.1 seconds.
If you’re looking for off-road performance, a Colorado ZR2 might be up your alley. With unique spool-valve off-road shock absorbers, an increased ride height, standard off-road wheels and tires, locking rear and front differentials, rock rails and unique exterior styling, the ZR2 is an exciting package and is available with either the V6 or diesel engine.
While the Silverado will introduce more off-road capability in model years to come, it doesn’t offer any trim levels that currently match the off-road capability of the Colorado ZR2.
The Colorado starts at around $22,000 and reaches $50,000 in the fully loaded, diesel-equipped ZR2 configuration.
The Silverado has a much more imposing demeanor than the Colorado, as it should, given its workhorse status. The Silverado has an upright front end and an overall squared-off design full of right angles. The Colorado looks softer, with a rounded front end and angled headlights. The ZR2 adds texture, with a unique front bumper that improves approach angle, a hood scoop and model-specific wheels and tires that complement the vehicle’s increased ride height. The Silverado is longer, wider and taller than the Colorado in all comparable configurations.
Just as it is on the outside, the Silverado is bigger inside than the Colorado. The Silverado provides 42.8 inches of headroom and 45.3 inches of legroom in the front seats. In the rear seat, Silverado crew cab passengers get 40.5 inches of headroom and 40.9 inches of legroom. The Colorado is a little tighter in all dimensions, with 41.4 inches of headroom and 45.0 inches of legroom up front and a measly 38.3 inches of headroom and 35.8 inches of legroom in the rear. If you’re seeking a truck that will accommodate passengers, they’ll be much happier in a Silverado than in the Colorado’s cramped back seat.
Silverado buyers have a variety of options for cab size and bed length. There are three cab sizes: A regular or "single" cab, a double or "extended" cab and a 4-door crew cab. There are also three bed lengths: A "short bed" measuring around 5.5 feet, a standard-length bed measuring around 6.5 feet and a long bed measuring around 8 feet. The regular cab is not available with the short bed, while the crew cab is not available with the long bed.
For cab size, Colorado buyers can choose between an extended cab with two doors and room for four (barely), or a crew cab with four doors and room for five. The Colorado does not offer a single-cab model. The extended cab comes with a long bed, while crew-cab models are available with either a short or a long bed. The Colorado’s short bed measures 5.2 inches, while its long bed measures 6.2 inches.
Since the Colorado is a far simpler truck than the higher-volume-selling Silverado, the Colorado offers fewer available features overall.
The Silverado offers an optional tilt-telescopic steering column, heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel, power driver’s and passenger’s seats, a memory driver’s seat, an optional heads-up display, power retractable running boards, an optional rear-seat infotainment system, a sunroof and a sliding rear window.
The Colorado offers optional heated and cooled front seats, a heated steering wheel (with standard tilt and optional telescoping functionality), a standard power driver’s seat and an optional power passenger seat. Oddly, the Colorado doesn’t offer a sunroof or a sliding rear window.
Excepting Base and WT trims, the Colorado offers an 8-in infotainment screen running Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It also offers 4G LTE with Wi-Fi connectivity.
For the Silverado, even work truck-spec models come standard with a 7-in infotainment screen, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The Silverado also offers 4G LTE with WiFi.
Both vehicles have plenty of ports and plugs. The Silverado has three 12-volt outlets and four USB ports, while the Colorado has two 12-volt outlets and four USB ports.
In third-party crash-testing conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Colorado received crashworthiness scores of Good in all major categories, while the Silverado earned an unimpressive Marginal score in small-overlap front crash testing.
The driver-assistance safety features of the Silverado include forward-collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and lane-keep assist. The Colorado only offers a forward-collision alert and lane-departure warning, but oddly these features are absent on Z71 models.
Neither the Colorado nor the Silverado is the safest vehicle in its class. While the Colorado outperforms the Silverado in crash testing, the Silverado has more driver-assistance safety features. Ultimately, if safety is your top priority, find a different manufacturer.
Quality & Reliability
Both the Silverado and the Colorado come with Chevrolet’s 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, which is on par with the competition. Reliability of either vehicle should be about average.
The Silverado and the Colorado compete in different classes; the Silverado is a full-size truck while the Colorado is a midsize. If you need a truck for work purposes, for hauling the family around or for consistently towing heavy trailers, opt for the Silverado. If you just want a truck for driving around town and for the occasional weekend adventure, consider a Colorado. If you know you’ll be towing a trailer a few times a year, consider the unique diesel model, and if you plan to go off-road — or at least want to look like you’re going off-road — opt for the exciting Colorado ZR2.