2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Review

The best midsize truck that money can buy.

By: Andrew Krok

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: March 10th, 2015

When we drove the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado late last year as part of a media drive event in Del Mar, California, we loved it. It was a fresh breath of life in a segment that has otherwise been left to languish in some dark, musty metaphorical basement (Toyota's got a new Tacoma coming, but not until later in 2015). Chevrolet angles the Colorado as an urban alternative to one of the big-boy pickup trucks, which are often far too unwieldy to navigate urban environments with ease. There was only one problem with that media drive - Del Mar, California isn't really urban.

Thankfully, the City of Chicago is about as urban as it gets - 90-degree turns, traffic that stretches beyond the horizon, pedestrians, bicyclists, and parallel parkers that have no respect for anybody but themselves. Chevrolet was nice enough to loan us a Colorado so we could bring it deep into the heart of the Second City to find out if the Colorado really does deliver on its promises.

Spoiler alert: The marketing department wasn't lying to us. This truck is a perfect city pickup, and it's easily the best midsize truck on sale right now.

  • Interior

    The other two players in the midsize truck (MST) segment are the Nissan Frontier and the Toyota Tacoma. Both are nearly ten years old, which means their development processes started somewhere around the turn of the century. As such, the interiors of those trucks reflect that. On the other hand, we have the Colorado, which has an interior that's on par with the brand's crossovers and passenger cars. The dashboard has some nice visual layering effects from the different colors of plastic being used (of course it's still plastic; it's a truck, and it needs to be somewhat durable).

    The Colorado keeps durability in mind in other ways, as well. For instance, all the controls for the truck are up on the dashboard; that way, if you spill your coffee on the center console or something like that, you're not going to ruin sensitive switches and connectors. It's almost as if GM knows you're bound to make a mess of the interior, so it may as well be easy to maintain.

    The seats are, well, seats. They're comfortable enough, and they're heated. They don't really stand out, but again, they're far better than what the competition offers. We felt great after our longest drive, which was about two hours.

    The only complaint we could come up with is the use of outdated fonts, mainly in the gauge cluster. Yes, those numbers do have some loyalty-equity to them, and a longtime Chevrolet buyer might enjoy that, but to a new buyer, they look old and tired.

  • Exterior

    This is one attractive truck. And it's not just good looking in the, "Hey, I look like the biggest piece of machinery to ever scour the planet" way that full-size pickups are. Everything on the Colorado's exterior is nicely proportioned. Our tester was the Z71 trim, so it came equipped with a few extra decals and badges, along with some nice 17-inch aluminum wheels, none of which was really that shouty. It's refined enough to look good in the city, rather than looking like an outsider.

  • On the Road

    The Colorado is built using a body-on-frame architecture, but the truck does an excellent job of pretending it's a unibody crossover. Yes, the traditional floatiness is still present - especially with the Z71's "off-road" suspension - but it doesn't feel as unsettled over iffy pavement as other trucks we've tested (we're looking at you, Tacoma).

    As far as driving dynamics are concerned, the Colorado is the least truck-like of the MST segment. The closest it gets to its competition is in the steering department, where it feels as featherlight as any truck before it. The brakes are solid, with a good pedal feel and decent progression. The same goes for the gas pedal; that said, the acceleration wasn't always matching with our pedal position. Yes, the 305-horsepower V-6 is enough to get you up to speed, but it still takes a little while to get there. Once you're up around 75, though, the truck tracks straight as an arrow, not listing at every errant gust of wind, even when the bed is completely empty.

    If you want a very fleshed-out explanation of the Colorado's urban prowess, check out this feature we wrote that doesn't skimp on the nitty-gritty. Here's a TL;DR for you: It fits, parks, and performs like it belongs in a city.

    In terms of fuel economy, it was a mixed bag. We had a hard time matching the EPA estimates for city driving (17 mpg), but we regularly topped the highway values (24 mpg), even recording as high as 30 mpg across one fifty-mile stretch of I-94. Both the I-4 and the V-6 take regular unleaded gas, in case you were wondering.

  • Final Thoughts

    Yes, we've heaped plenty of praise on the Colorado, but it's not without fault. Some inherent old-school truckness remains in the interior's fit and finish; whether in the city or on the highway, we were plagued by the dashboard's plastic creaking, near where two different types of plastic converge. Also, Chevrolet's MyLink navigation system had a hard time finding an address with a wacky number (W1692); it would find those addresses on every road except the one we were trying to get to.

    Niggles aside, the Colorado is very obviously the best truck in its segment. An interior the likes of which MSTs have never before seen, coupled with excellent urban demeanor results in a home run for Chevrolet. Of course, the hard part is actually convincing buyers of this; as we move into March, the Tacoma and Frontier still command very large chunks of the MST market share. But, to quote Principal Skinner, "The times, they are a - becoming quite different."

    We've got high hopes for the Colorado; even without dismally old competition, the truck can stand alone on its own merits.

  • Specs & Price

    Engine: 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated V-6

    Transmission: Six-speed automatic

    Drivetrain Layout: Front-engine, part-time four-wheel drive

    Power Output: 305 horsepower / 269 lb-ft

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 17 city / 24 highway

    Base Price: $34,115

    As Tested: $36,710 (incl. $875 destination)

    Available Features: Navigation, seven-speaker Bose audio system

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