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First Drive: 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 4WD Crew

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

After General Motors phased out their mid-sized truck segment in 2010, they left the market wide open to Toyota and Nissan to conquer for nearly half a decade with old, out dated body styles, technologies and high prices. No longer will GM stand by and allow such anarchy to occur. With this new Chevrolet Colorado, it’s time to show them that there just might be a new Sheriff in town.

Rebuilt from the ground up, the Colorado is bigger, leaner, and more powerful than before. Offered up with two engine options, a 2.5-liter four-cylinder at 200HP or a beefier 3.6-liter V6 at 305HP. Our sampled Red Hot Z71 Colorado naturally arrived with the bigger engine and was already putting us in a good mood with its off-road rugged appearance. The Z71 puts up a handsome front of 17” dark argent metallic aluminum wheels wrapped with all-terrain tires, a black grille, and no sissy step.

Springing for the 3.6-liter V6 is a wise choice – if you go for the fully loaded Z71, it comes standard. Working with 269lb-ft of torque and 305 horsepower matted to a six speed automatic transmission, the Colorado will dash from zero to 60 mph in about 7 seconds. Now, we’ve seen better transmissions from Chevrolet, and while this six speed auto will do the job just fine, it suffers from the cases of I-Don’t-Knows. It has a hard time finding the right gears and while the engine may make a good grunt, it seem to never really go any faster when trying to pass slower drivers who couldn’t be bother doing the speed limit. On a better note, with a firm brake pedal however, stopping is never an issue even at weighting over 4,500lbs. With our tester settling in with 1,900 miles on the odometer, there was some major brake squeal – which was very unpleasant.

Springing for the Z71 brings out all the goodies of what a truck should be like – an off-road suspension package, a locking rear differential and a 2-speed electric transfer case. As long as Chevrolet didn’t mind, we went and enjoyed ourselves on the back trails of northern Arizona. Even with the off-road suspension package and large all-terrain tires, the Colorado’s chassis copes quite well to all the bumps and rough roads – from inside the cabin, things are quite comfortable – you don’t get that truck feeling of a bumpy suspension. There is of course the handling, with the large tires, there is some vagueness from behind the wheel and when it comes to parking – let’s just say it’s not designed for tight spaces.

We don’t suspect the Colorado will do so well in the fuel efficiency department. Chevrolet rates the Colorado at 17/24/20 (City/Highway/Combined) – during our week’s adventure we recorded right on the dot of 20 mpg combined while carrying nearly 400 miles on a single tank. Of course though, if you’re someone who will be towing, the Colorado will tow up to 7,000lbs (a good sized off-road buggy), but that will damper fuel consumption quite dramatically with all that extra weight.

While the Colorado shares very little with its bigger brother the Silverado, the interior cabin is very Silverado-like in its design. Designed around an 8” touch screen display, the dash configuration is simple and well thought of with easy-to-access buttons and a simply to use Chevy MyLink Interface. While the interior is filled with more hard plastic than we prefer, we find it will cope well to the aggressive adventurer’s abuse.

Larger than before, the Colorado has a very accommodating cabin. The two tone sport cloth/leatherette seats are very comfortable and supportive – rear passengers will suffer from legroom deficiencies but its not unbearable – add in the decent thigh support and loads of head room, it’s a nice place to sit. Included in the Z71 trim offered excellent driver and passenger amenities like single-zone climate control, power adjustable heated front seats, and Wi-Fi Connectivity (which came in nice when we had no cell service).

With the Z71 starting at 34-grand, the Colorado comes off a tad expensive – of course when you start playing with the options list: the Premium Bose Audio System ($500), 8” touch screen display with Navigation ($495), Spray-on Bed Liner ($475) and Trailering Equipment ($250); the price can quickly crawl to almost $37,000. But when you think about it, a decently equipped Silverado can start to cost nearly 8 to 10-grand more, it’s then the Colorado starts to look pretty good.

For being in hiatuses nearly half a decade, the Colorado has come back strong and has already become quite a competitive success. We can see now why it won Motor Trend Truck of Year. So much so, they even sent Toyota back to the drawing board. So if you’re someone who thinks the big daddy trucks are just a little too much truck for your needs, the Colorado is a good route look at – at least for the time being.

Price (As Tested):
2015 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD Z71 Crew – Short Box $34,115
Destination: $875
Featured Options:
Trailering Equipment Package: $250
Spray On Bed Liner: $475
8″ Touch Screen/Navigation/Chevy MyLINK: $495
Premium Bose Audio System: $500
Grand Total: $36,710


  1. Makes me think of that Brad Paisley country song, “Mud on the Tires.” Looks like you had some fun with this one, and sounds like a pretty solid truck. Now, if they could just get the transmission to cure its case of the “I-Don’t-Knows”!

    • Ha! Now that I think about it, that song fits the truck. It was pretty fun – glad a found a few puddles of mud. Hopefully we find some during our off-road adventure next month.

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