In the midsize truck segment, the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado works hard when it comes to truck form and function. With striking refreshed looks, the Colorado also provides truck shoppers with the most powertrain choices in the category. The diesel engine earns the Colorado best-in-class towing capacity. The Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator and Toyota Tacoma do not offer diesels and are less customizable when it comes to cab and bed combination options. The Colorado can be purchased with the long and short bed with either Crew or Extended cab. Both the Z71 and ZR2 trims provide robust capability, while the on-road ride quality feels surprisingly comfortable. With its well-rounded credentials, the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado makes for a competitive opponent in a contentious segment.
Changes to the 2021 are primarily cosmetic but will be as close as this truck gets to a mid-cycle refresh. The WT, LT, Z71 and ZR2 off-road Chevys each receive reworked front facias. The Colorado also gets revised badging, paint colors and wheel options and the Chrome Appearance package becomes available on the LT trim. Because of slow sales, the base trim disappears, making the Work Truck the entry-level model. See the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado models for sale near you
What We Like
- Most customizable of the midsize truck segment
- Excellent powertrain options, including a diesel
- Handsome exterior styling
- Comfortable ride and handling
- Best-in-class towing
What We Don’t
- Lacking in standard safety features
- Not the lowest-priced of the midsize truck segment
Chevy offers three different engines, which for the midsize truck category is rare. Depending on the model, the 2021 Chevy Colorado comes in either 2WD or 4WD, and the Z71 and ZR2 models beef up off-road capabilities. A low-range gearbox also shows up on the option list.
The base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine in the base Work Truck makes decent power. It gets 19 miles per gallon in the city/25 mpg on the highway and 22 mpg combined. With 4WD, that Colorado is rated by the EPA at 19 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined.
The Colorado can be equipped with a 3.6-liter V6, which impresses with 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft torque at 4,000 rpm. It gets 18 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined with 2WD, and 17 mpg city/24 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined with 4WD. The off-road Colorado ZR2 is rated at 16 mpg city/18 mpg hwy/17 mpg with the V6, or 18 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder.
If you’re looking for max gas mileage numbers, look no further than the 2.8-liter turbodiesel-4. This last option not only offers the truck’s best towing numbers but also delivers EPA fuel economy of 20 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined (2WD), or 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined (4WD).
Standard Features & Options
Offered in base Work Truck (WT), LT, Z71 or ZR2 trims, every truck need feels accounted for when it comes to the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado. The WT and its 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine have a 5,500-lb towing capacity on the RWD model. Even the base model offers some welcome features such as the CornerStep rear bumper, locking tailgate and cargo-box lighting.
The popular LT trim adds an 8-in touch screen with standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and satellite radio as well as rear park assist. Other options become available to add on the LT, including the Safety Package, Skidplate Package and Convenience Package, including remote start and heated side mirrors.
Adding more off-road amenities, the Z71 gets the upgraded V6, an automatic rear locking differential, hill descent control and off-road suspension and all-terrain tires.
The ZR2 off-roader adds tow hooks, a robust off-road suspension package and skidplates.
It also gets LED daytime running lights, a sliding center-console armrest and a leather-covered steering wheel.
Standard safety features and high-tech driver assists are lacking on the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado. To get any features, buyers must upgrade to the LT trim and then purchase the Safety Package. That will afford you forward-collision warnings and lane-departure warnings only. Keep in mind those are just alerts. The Colorado doesn’t offer any active safety tech that intervenes if you’re out of your lane or about to hit a car in front of you.
There is a Teen Driver feature that allows parents to monitor what their kids are doing when in the truck.
Chevy does offer rear-parking assist that works with the standard rear-view camera. This provides alerts to nearby objects at the rear of the truck to help you park. A very helpful tool, especially for those long truck beds.
Behind the Wheel
There are no changes to powertrain or suspension, so driving dynamics are similar to the 2020 Colorado, which feels decidedly unlike what you’d expect from a truck. At times during our test, we forgot we were driving a truck at all. Drivers don’t feel the road as much as they might in other trucks. The suspension feels compliant and comfortable on the highway, even on the more substantial Z71 and ZR2 models.
Steering stands out on the Colorado. It hits the sweet spot between too light or under-assisted and it doesn’t have that wandering feel with lots of play in the middle that other competitors have.
Driving the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel feels rock-solid. It’s a particularly good choice if you’re doing a lot of hauling or seeking a truck with excellent gas mileage. It’s got tons of low-end torque that gets lots of tough jobs done.
The ZR2, meanwhile, offers a significant option to Toyota’s TRD Tacoma if you’re into off-roading.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Toyota Tacoma — Without seeing a major redesign in a long time, given its reliability, toughness and resale marks, the Tacoma still proves to be a major player in the midsize segment.
2020 Jeep Gladiator — If you’re looking for a standout option that brings unique styling and Jeep‘s significant off-road credentials, then the Gladiator might be one to check out, though beware of the bottom line — the Gladiator doesn’t come cheap.
2020 Ford Ranger — Perhaps not quite the rival in this category as others, the Ranger only offers one engine option, a turbocharged 4-cylinder mill. While base models get the most powerful engine, the Ranger’s ride quality doesn’t live up to the Colorado’s.
Used Toyota Tacoma — Yes, we already mentioned a new Tacoma as a solid competitor, but with Toyota’s reliability and the aftermarket options for the truck, this also proves a solid option in the midsize truck arena.
Questions You May Ask
Is the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado a half-ton truck?
No. The half-ton designation originally came about based on how much a truck could haul. While truck capacities have grown, the naming convention hasn’t changed. Suffice to say the Colorado doesn’t sit under the half-ton umbrella. The Colorado lives in the midsize truck category. If you’re looking for a truck with more towing and payload capacity, then the Chevrolet Silverado might be a better place to look.
Does the Chevrolet Colorado come in all-wheel drive?
No. The Colorado comes in either 2- or 4WD, not AWD. If you’re looking for a basic work truck that doesn’t require off-road capability, then the 2WD option offers a less expensive option. 4WD vehicles prove more capable in off-road situations than ones with an AWD system and usually have a low speed with a transfer case.
How big is the bed of the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado?
Chevy offers two sizes, the smaller 5-foot-2-inch bed and the larger 6-foot-2-inch version. Both beds can be optioned with either the Crew or Extended Cab trucks.
For the majority of buyers, the LT trim offers the most flexibility. Fresher than the Nissan Frontier and more versatile than the Ford Ranger, the Chevrolet Colorado hits a sweet spot when it comes to on-road drivability and off-road capability. Chevy could take a nod from the refreshed 2020 Tacoma when it comes to standard safety and driver assistance features. The Colorado doesn’t not excel here. However, the Colorado remains an impressive and well-rounded truck option in a competitive segment. Find a Chevrolet Colorado for sale