In a year where attention is focused on big, full-size pickup trucks, the revamped-for-2015 Chevrolet Colorado arrives as a fine, mid-size pickup that's arguably the first major redesign in the smaller truck segment in a decade.
Indeed, the 2015 Colorado differentiates itself from competitors by offering many of the same passenger amenities that are in today's sport utility vehicles. These include a rearview camera that's standard, up to four USB ports for plugging in phones and other accessories, and Siri Eyes Free that iPhone owners can access via steering wheel controls.
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The 2015 Colorado also is the first in the segment to offer lane departure warning and frontal collision alert — safety features that have been showing up on cars and SUVs.
It's also the first in the segment with active grille shutters — a feature that's installed in fuel-conscious cars to improve aerodynamics and fuel economy.
All this comes with the impressive capability of a Colorado truck that has up to 305 horsepower and a maximum towing capacity of 7,000 pounds. Both horsepower and towing capacity are better than the major competitors'.
Plus, unlike competitors, the Colorado offers an easy-lift-and-lower tailgate that uses an internal torsion bar so the tailgate feels light enough to lift with one hand. This special tailgate also has a damper to control the tailgate's downward movement so it doesn't bang abruptly.
Available in extended and crew cab with short and long pickup beds and with rear- and four-wheel drive, the Colorado is competitively priced, particularly when its higher horsepower is factored in.
Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, is $20,995 for the base, 2015 Colorado with extended cab, rear-wheel drive, 200-horsepower, four-cylinder engine and six-speed manual transmission. Other prices: with six-speed automatic, $23,300; with four-wheel drive, $27,760 (including four-cylinder engine, six-speed automatic and extended cab); with Chevrolet's uplevel, 305-horsepower V-6, $26,440 for a rear-wheel drive model and $30,580 with four-wheel drive.
The V-6 is available on Crew Cab models that include a full-size back seat and two rear doors, not on base, Extended Cabs that don't have rear doors and full-size back seat.
By comparison, the competing 2015 Nissan Frontier carries a starting MSRP, including destination charge, of $18,875 with 152-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission, rear-wheel drive and two-door King Cab. A base, 2015 Frontier King Cab with five-speed automatic has a starting retail price of $21,545. And a base, 2015 Frontier King Cab with four-wheel drive and automatic transmission starts at $27,195, or $565 less than the Colorado.
Another competitor, the 2015 Toyota Tacoma, has a starting retail price of $21,650 for a base, Access Cab model with two doors, 159-horsepower, four-cylinder engine, five-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive.
Both the Frontier and Tacoma are available with V-6 engines, too. But the Colorado's direct-injection V-6 produces 305 horses, more than the 261 horsepower and 236 horsepower, respectively, in the Frontier and Tacoma.
To be sure, the Colorado and its sibling, the GMC Canyon, are overshadowed — in size and U.S. sales — by the full-size Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.
In addition, in light of today's falling gasoline prices, fuel mileage may not be at the forefront of consumers' thinking.
The federal government's best fuel economy ratings for the 2015 Colorado are 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 27 mpg on the highway for a two-wheel drive, four-cylinder model with automatic transmission. The highest fuel economy rating for a 2015 Chevy Silverado is 18/24 mpg with V-6, automatic transmission and two-wheel drive.
Still, the 2015 Colorado Crew Cab Short Box 4WD tester in Z71 trim showed the benefits of using a more maneuverable, more city-sized truck for regular travel and intermittent home projects.
The tester, which stretched nearly 18 feet in length from bumper to bumper, fit easily into a 1970s-era, two-car home garage and into downtown parking garages; a Silverado required some moving of storage items in the home garage to fit its length, and the Silverado's wider proportions caused it to edge closely to other vehicles in parking spots.
The Colorado's upgraded interior for 2015 brings an SUV quality and appearance to the controls, seats and plentiful storage areas. Controls and gauges were well arranged.
The storage area at the bottom of the dashboard's center stack was especially appreciated for cell phone storage and charging.
Everyone rode high off the pavement in the 4WD Colorado — about on the same level as passengers in bigger trucks — and had good views out.
Just because the Colorado is mid-sized doesn't mean it scrimps on passenger room, particularly in the front seats. Legroom is a huge 45 inches there, and headroom is a generous 41.4 inches. Both measurements are more than the Tacoma's. The Colorado Crew Cab's back seat was surprisingly comfortable, too, with nearly 36 inches of legroom.
The new Colorado 3.6-liter V-6 in the test truck was responsive and ran smoothly and strongly. Torque peaks at 269 foot-pounds at 4,000 rpm.
Last October, the 2015 Colorado and its sibling GMC Canyon were the subject of a U.S. safety recall. Connections for the driver front air bag could have been wired incorrectly in 2,283 vehicles. This could disrupt the timing of the air bag deployment during a crash and reduce driver protection.