2019 Chevrolet Colorado Review

Liz Kim | Jun 04, 2019

Introduction

People who buy pickup trucks do so for two reasons: for work or for fun. Whether they’re planning to load bulky cargo, haul a heavy trailer, or transport adventuring gear, pickups provide a convenient way to get your stuff to where you need to go.

One of your choices in the midsize segment is the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado, giving you a seemingly endless array of options with which to outfit your truck for your specific needs. From basic work truck to beastly off-roader, the Colorado delivers practicality as a daily driver and the means by which to fulfill all of your wild and wooly weekend plans. 

2019 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 photo

For this review, we evaluated a Colorado Z71 crew cab shortbed. It came equipped with 4-wheel drive, the Z71 Midnight Edition Package and assist steps, bringing the price to $41,765, including the $1,095 destination charge.

What Owners Say

Before we discuss the results of our evaluation of the Colorado, it is helpful to understand who buys this midsize pickup, and what they like most and least about their vehicles.

Compared to all midsize trucks, Colorado owners are more often female (13% vs. 11%) and enjoy a greater median annual household income ($105,388 vs. $101,820). Their median age, however, exactly matches the overall segment at 58 years.

Colorado owners demonstrate a clear preference for vehicles from a domestic company (85% vs. 59% for the segment). They are less concerned about reliability and quality of workmanship, with just 57% strongly agreeing that reliability is a first consideration when choosing a new vehicle (vs. 65%) and 51% strongly agreeing that quality of workmanship is (vs. 56%).

Safety is less important to Colorado owners, too. Only 17% are willing to pay extra for the latest safety features, compared to 23% of all midsize pickup owners.

Colorado owners are more likely to strongly agree that they like a vehicle with powerful acceleration and responsive handling (46% vs. 42%), and they’re more likely to strongly agree that they like a vehicle that stands out from the crowd (33% vs. 29%).

Buyers say their favorite things about the Colorado are (in descending order) the exterior styling, driving dynamics, interior design, and in a tie the engine/transmission and infotainment system. Buyers indicate their least favorite things about the Colorado are (in descending order) the visibility and safety, seats, climate system, storage and space, and fuel economy.

What Our Expert Says

In the sections that follow, our expert provides her own perceptions about how the Chevrolet Colorado measures up in each of the 10 categories that comprise the 2018 APEAL Study.

Exterior

People who buy the Colorado love the way it looks, and there’s little question as to why. It’s burly enough to convey strength, and sleek enough to give it a sophisticated look. Equipped with the Midnight Edition Package, my test vehicle sported black paint, blacked out grille and bowtie emblems, and black 17-inch wheels. It was a whole lotta black, making it impossible to keep clean.

Interior

The Colorado Midnight Edition’s blackness extended to the interior, with black upholstery and interior panels. The cleanly designed dashboard is without adornment, but the cabin is trimmed in brittle, hard plastic all around. Yes, the interiors of trucks need to be easier to clean and more durable than other vehicles, but the surfaces need not convey a lower standard of quality.

Seats

Thanks to the test vehicle’s optional assist steps, it was easy to hop in and out of the truck. Once there, power driver’s seat adjustments helped in finding an ideal driving position. I’m also happy to report that the Colorado’s front passenger’s seat also offered seat height adjustment. 

In the rear, the Colorado crew cab’s bench seat is flat and featureless, and they put a squeeze on legroom and shoulder space for adults. Passengers should be pleased with the rear power outlet and USB ports, although they may scowl about the lack of air conditioning vents.

Climate Control System

Equipped with a single zone automatic climate system, the Colorado’s heat and air conditioning controls were clearly marked and simple to use. 

Infotainment System

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone projection are welcome features, but even without them the new Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system is intuitive to learn and use. At extra cost, you can add a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, OnStar subscription services, a wireless phone charging pad, and a navigation system. 

Storage and Space

If you’re used to the vast caverns of storage offered by full-size trucks, it is easy to become dismayed by the Colorado’s comparatively stingy trays, bins, and cubbies. However, compared to many vehicles, the Colorado isn’t that bad. 

Yes, the storage areas are on the small side, but there are enough of them that it’s not really an issue. Plus, if you lift the rear seat cushions, you’ll find little bins underneath, which are handy for keeping small items out of sight.

My Colorado also had the EZ Lift and Lower tailgate, softening the blow (so to speak) when dropping the tailgate, and making it easier to lift the tailgate back into position. The short cargo bed measured about 5 feet in length and width, with a spray-in liner to protect the sides and floor from damage. 

Visibility and Safety

The Colorado offers an imposing view of the road, thanks to its high front seating positions and slim windshield pillars. 

When it comes to safety, there are a few issues to be aware of. First, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2019 Colorado a “Marginal” rating for front passenger protection in a small overlap, frontal-impact collision. The federal government says that the Colorado’s overall crash-test rating is 4 stars rather than 5 stars, and that both the rear-drive and 4WD versions of the truck received a middling 3-star rating for rollover resistance.

Active safety features are limited, too, perhaps reflective of the fact that Colorado owners aren’t keen on paying extra for them. Thus, you can get a forward collision warning system and a lane departure warning system only with LT trim. If you want blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, or automatic emergency braking, you’ll need to shop for a different truck.

Engine/Transmission

The base engine for the Colorado is a 200-horsepower, 2.5-liter 4- cylinder engine that averages 22 mpg. That’s suitable for the lower-priced workhorses. There’s also an intriguing, if expensive, 2.8-liter turbodiesel option that generates 369 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm. It delivers the Colorado’s maximum towing capacity of 7,700 pounds. 

Most Colorados have the 308-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 found in my test vehicle. Power delivery is smooth and copious, with plenty of thrust across the rev range. This engine can tow up to 7,000 lbs. when properly equipped, while providing a maximum payload of 1,557 lbs. 

A quick-thinking 8-speed automatic sends power to the Autotrac 4-wheel-drive system. Autotrac allows you to easily switch from rear drive to 4WD Auto, 4-Hi and 4-Lo with a twist of a knob. 

Fuel Economy

The EPA says that my test vehicle, with its V6 and 4WD, should’ve gotten around 19 mpg (17 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway) in mixed driving conditions. I got 18.6 mpg during a week of driving. That’s great, but unlike many truck owners, I neither towed nor hauled anything, lightening the load compared to other dutiful pickups. Perhaps that’s why Colorado owners rank their trucks’ fuel economy so low. 

Driving Dynamics

Drive the Colorado Z71 over a good-sized bump and you’ll be bobbing your head, and not just because your favorite music is playing. The suspension bounces and jiggles over most road imperfections, while at the same time doesn’t crash over larger bumps and humps. Most likely, the ride will settle down a bit if you’ve got a bit of weight in the cargo box.

The Colorado Z71’s stiff suspension is an advantage when you’re tackling a rock-strewn path, but where you’ll spend most of your time (on pavement) it’s not nearly as composed as the latest full-size pickups.

The brakes are rather slow to respond, as is the steering. Again, the Colorado seems engineered for surfaces off the beaten path. However, some people, like my husband, find the Colorado Z71’s old-timey truck driving dynamics charming. 

Final Impressions

At some point, consumers got tired of midsize pickups, leaving a few paltry choices in the segment. 

Lately, though, this segment has expanded – and fast. As such, the Colorado faces plenty of competition. From the stalwart Nissan Frontier and popular Toyota Tacoma to the civilized Honda Ridgeline and the insta-cool Jeep Gladiator, midsize truck owners have more choice today than they’ve had in a long time. And let’s not forget the 2019 Ford Ranger, resurrected and all-new for 2019. 

As always, it’s best to do some research to see which pickup will best fit your needs. The 2019 Chevrolet Colorado impresses with its array of choices and its go-anywhere capabilities, but you may have to look elsewhere when it comes to safety features, infotainment options and greater civility.

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