2009 Colorado New Car Test Drive
Chevy Colorado was designed for the way most people use a mid-size pickup. So it emphasizes interior room and comfort. Most are willing to sacrifice bed length for interior space, and towing capacity for a smoother ride. So the Colorado is engineered for room and comfort, for a smooth ride and for fuel efficiency.
Yet the Colorado is far from a car with a bed. In fact, the Colorado provides all the trucking capacity most owners will ever use. It has a six-foot bed with Regular and Extended Cabs, and a five-foot bed on Crew Cabs. A properly equipped Colorado is rated to tow 4,000 pounds, enough for transporting ATVs, dirt bikes, personal watercraft, bass boats, and small camping trailers. For most people, the Colorado is more than enough truck to get the job done. With high fuel prices and crowded parking lots, it makes more sense than having a full-size pickup.
We found the Chevrolet Colorado rides smoothly and feels refined. Order the five-cylinder engine and it accelerates smartly. The Crew Cab features a roomy back seat that's surprisingly comfortable and not bolt-upright.
A work truck model is available, an inexpensive Regular Cab called the WT designed as a worksite tool. It comes with hose-it-out vinyl floor mats and durable vinyl bench seating, ideal for muddy boots. It also comes with air conditioning.
Considered a mid-size pickup, the Colorado is substantially smaller and more maneuverable than full-size pickups such as the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, or Chevy Silverado. These are important benefits because even those who frequently use pickups to perform genuine truck duties spend most of their time driving with an empty bed. Unlike a full-size pickup, the Colorado fits into tight parking spaces.
For 2007, Chevrolet increased the size of both the base and the optional engines. The base-level four-cylinder engine was bored out to 2.9 liters for 185 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. The optional five-cylinder engine was enlarged from to 3.7 liters, for 242 horsepower and 242 pound-feet. Other improvements included a smoother-shifting automatic transmission, a more powerful 125-amp alternator, a standard tire-pressure monitor, and brighter interior trim.
Changes for 2008 are modest, but still significant. Chevy has cleaned up the Colorado's appearance, with less charcoal-colored trim for a more monochromatic look, especially at the LS trim level, which now wears body-color bumpers. In general, fewer trim levels and option packages are offered, although most of the same features are still available as stand-alone options. The net effect should be to simplify ordering.
The 2008 Chevy Colorado is available in Regular Cab, Extended Cab, and Crew Cab configurations. Regular and Extended Cabs come with a six-foot bed. Crew Cabs come with a five-foot bed.
A 2.9-liter four-cylinder engine, rated 185 horsepower, comes standard Regular and Extended Cabs, and on rear-wheel-drive (2WD) Crew Cabs. A 3.7-liter, 242-horsepower five-cylinder engine is optional ($1,000) on those models and standard on Crew Cabs with four-wheel drive (4WD). It is also included with some up-level combinations of body and trim.
In Regular and Extended Cabs, a five-speed manual transmission is standard with either engine, and a four-speed automatic ($1,095) optional. The automatic is standard in all Crew Cabs and, again, with some up-level trim-and-body combinations.
Two suspension packages are offered: The rugged Z85 is the standard setup; the Z71 is beefed up further for off-roading. Either is available with 2WD or 4WD. The low-riding ZQ8 sport suspension has been discontinued for 2008, but is expected to return for 2009.
The WT work truck is offered as a Regular Cab 2WD ($14,885), Extended Cab 2WD ($16,995), Regular Cab 4WD ($18,340) and Extended Cab 4WD ($20,245). Only the standard suspension is available. All come with vinyl floor mats and vinyl bench seating (split 60/40). Air conditioning is standard along with tilt steering, a tachometer, driver information center, two-speaker AM/FM stereo, cruise control and two 12-volt power outlets. For 2008, OnStar is standard as well, in all Colorados. Options are limited.
The LS trim level upgrades to cloth upholstery and carpeting, and features fog lights and body-color bumpers. Tires are upgraded to 225/75R15 rather than the standard 205/75R15s.
LT trim adds reclining split bench seats with upgraded upholstery, bright interior trim, four-speaker AM/FM/CD/MP3 stereo with RDS, leather-wrapped steering, chrome bumpers, and aluminum wheels.
The Z71 off-road suspension requires LT trim, and adds an automatic-locking rear differential, P265/75R15 on/off-road tires and body-color wheel flares. Minimum ground clearance increases from 7.3 to 7.9 inches for Z85 models to 8.7 to 9.0 inches (depending, in both cases, on cab style and whether the truck has 2WD or 4WD). Order 4WD and you get skid plates, too.
Options include a Convenience Package ($500) that adds power windows, mirrors, and locks with reomote keyless entry; bucket seats with cloth upholstery ($340) or leather ($1,295); 6CD changer ($395); XM Satellite Radio ($200); sunroof for Crew Cabs ($695); auto-dimming rearview mirror ($175); bedliner ($200), sliding rear window ($175); automatic locking differential ($295); traction control for 2WD models ($395); and chromed wheels ($495). A Sun & Sound package ($795) combines the sunroof with XM Satellite Radio. A trailer package ($270) includes a hitch, a weight-distributing platform, and wiring harness.
Safety features include dual-stage front airbags and front seatbelt pre-tensioners. Curtain-style side-impact airbags designed for head protection are optional ($395) on all models. Four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS) come standard on all models. So does a tire pressure monitor.