Chevrolet got out of the mid-size pickup market a few years ago but they are back in the game with a new, all-purpose player. The 2015 Chevrolet Colorado goes up against the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier and they’ve come up with a good one to compete with their Japanese rivals. Not everyone needs a full-size truck and the Colorado is back with a redesigned look for truck enthusiasts.
This week we dove the top of the line, Z71 trim level right here in Colorado, where the new vehicle gets its name.
The Chevrolet Colorado is back with a full redesign for 2015, featuring new refinements and technology. The Z71 trim level isn’t new, however, and gets its name from Chevrolet’s off-road-oriented option package from the past.
Features & Options
We test drove the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD Z71 Crew Short Bed ($34,118) with four doors and a 5-foot, 2-inch box. The Z71 features distinctive LED daytime running lights, dark-tinted 17-inch alloy wheels and grille surround, an off-road-oriented suspension, hill descent control, unique cloth/leatherette upholstery, and other model-specific trim features.
A G80 automatic locking rear differential is part of the Z71 package too.
A seven-speaker Bose premium audio system ($500) came on this Colorado Z71, along with the Trail Boss Package ($3,820) that included spay-on bed liner, off-road assist steps, cargo divider, off-road tires, cargo tie downs, wheel flares, and all-weather floor mats.
Navigation ($495) and trailering package ($250) rounded out the options. Total MSRP including destination: $39,555.
Body styles and pickup beds can help sell a truck, but if the cabin is special, it’s going to set itself apart from the crowd. The best part of the Colorado is the cabin that gets new upgrades over the previous pickup, making it truly special. The interior reminds us of the Silverado LTZ, with its room and a finish befitting of a more expensive truck.
It’s where you spend most of the time, so it will make a difference for many mid-size truck buyers.
Another big benefit is how quiet the Colorado is when you’re on the road. It’s definitely the quietest ride in the mid-size segment, even with the larger, off-road tires. Chevy Colorado also gets the latest technology inside like a standard rear vision camera , 8-inch MyLink audio color touchscreen, smartphone-like apps, a 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, 4 USB ports, and turn-by-turn navigation.
In the back, the crew cab has enough legroom for taller passengers and features a fold down center cup holder and armrest. The full-size rear doors made it easy for our riders this week to get in and out.
The new Colorado is both sophisticated and comfortable.
Engine & Fuel Mileage
Chevy Colorado Z71 gets the upgraded, 3.6-liter V6 that produces 305 horsepower and 269 lb-ft of torque. It’s a proven power plant and is the same engine used in the Cadillac ATS, although tuned for truck applications. It bumps towing capacity to a class-leading 7,000 pounds while being mated to a six-speed automatic.
EPA estimates with four-wheel drive are 17/24 city/highway mpg and 20 combined mpg.
We tested the Chevy Colorado in the high altitude of Colorado, which is a good proving ground for any pickup. The 3.6-liter V6 delivers strong acceleration and we felt the refinement right away. The mid-size pickup is available with four-wheel drive and we were able to test it out with a recent snowfall that hit the area. The Colorado features an electrically switched, part-time system with low-range and it’s easy to use.
We just turned the knob to “4 high” and we powered trough the big drift of snow that piled up from the wind.
We felt the Colorado’s ride and handling are superior to the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. The Z71 gets the off-road suspension and it performed well in the mountain corners with little body roll. The cabin is especially quiet at highway speeds and the longer wheelbase gives the pickup a smooth ride over the bumps. We found the Z71’s off-road suspension offered a comfortable ride and the handling was a reasonable compromise for city commuting.
The Chevy Colorado 4WD Z71 Crew Short Bed offers a comfortable, quiet cabin with lots of high-tech features. It’s a vehicle you won’t mind spending time in. The Z71 does come with a price premium for the extra off-road package but will work well for those needing a rugged pickup.
GM’s V6 engine offers enough power for most jobs with the ability to tow up to 7000 lbs. The Chevrolet Colorado is an excellent choice for those wanting the refinement of a car with the utility of a pickup bed.
A Duramax diesel version of the Colorado is arriving in 2016.
*Denis Flierl has invested nearly 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy
Chevy Colorado Additional Images
*Extended and Crew Cab Models Shown
*Short and Long Box Models Shown
*Duramax Diesel Model Shown
*Trail Boss Edition Shown
*The rating scale of Automoblog is based 1-5 with 5 being the best