The growing popularity of smaller pickups like the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado should come as a surprise to no one. After all, full-size pickups make up some of the best-selling vehicles in the world, and America’s obsession with the pickup truck is as entrenched in our culture as football and apple pie. With the Colorado, Chevrolet offers a capable, durable and reasonably priced alternative to its full-size Silverado. The Colorado offers more engine and trim options than the all-new Ford Ranger, and a newer, more advanced platform than the aging Nissan Frontier and the 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 7,700-lb max tow rating when equipped with the optional diesel engine, and stylistically the Colorado is pretty much on the cutting- edge of pickup truck design.
What’s New for 2019?
For 2019, the Colorado gets a new 7-in infotainment display and more USB ports front and rear. A power driver’s seat is now standard, as is an HD rear backup camera. New options include a heated steering wheel, rear park assist and new wheel designs and paint colors. See the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado models for sale near you
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; no advanced automatic emergency braking or lane-keeping assist features; one-piece front bumper and air dam prone to scraping when off-roading
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 RWD or 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with 4WD (19 mpg city/22 mpg hwy for the ZR2).
The 2.8-liter turbodiesel 4-cylinder makes 186 hp and a bulky 369 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy for the RWD model is a very respectable 20 mpg city/30 mpg hwy, while the 4WD version earns a slightly lower 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy (18 mpg city/22 mpg hwy for the ZR2).
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 RWD or 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy with 4WD (16 mpg city/18 mpg hwy 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 ($22,395), which is only offered in RWD with a 6-speed manual transmission and no rear seats, features antilock brakes, a backup camera, a 7-in Infotainment 3 radio, 4 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 ($25,895, Extended Cab; $27,795, 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 4WD remain optional.
Next in line is the Colorado LT ($28,695, Extended Cab; $30,695, Crew Cab), which features a standard automatic transmission, General Motors 4G Wi-Fi hot spot, 17-in alloy wheels, the Infotainment 3 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 ($31,795, Extended Cab; $33,695, 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 ($42,790, Extended Cab; $44,390 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 warning, along with convenience items, including a navigation system, a Bose sound system, a heated steering wheel 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.
All 2019 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 warning 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 the Canyon boast more gadgets and features than the Nissan Frontier and the 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 (7,700 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
2019 Ford Ranger — The Ford Ranger is all new this year, offering a more powerful standard 4-cylinder engine, more safety and high tech equipment and better towing than the Colorado when equipped with a gasoline engine.
2019 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.
2019 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.
2019 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.
We’d go for a V6-powered Colorado LT with a few extra options, such as lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning. 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