The Colorado's design is a clean sheet of paper. It isn't spun off the TrailBlazer/Envoy platform, nor is it a decontented or downsized Silverado. Rather, it's a completely new truck, the first in the segment since the Durango was redone in 1997. Though the Colorado started out as a joint program with GM-owned Isuzu, as time went on, the General evolved the program (dubbed 355 internally) to deal with North American priorities, while Isuzu honed its version to Asian and third-world needs.
Chevy will offer the Colorado in a wide array of choices: regular cab, extended cab, crew cab (with four full-size front-hinged doors), 2WD, 4WD, shortbed, and longbed, with three suspension configurations. Some new combinations will be offered to more directly compete with Toyota. There's a new, tall two-wheel-drive Z71 model with off-road tires, 15x7.0-inch aluminum wheels, smoke-gray wheel flares, monotube shocks, urethane jounce bumpers, locking rear diff, and a three-inch raised suspension--a desert runner, if you will. These are popular in Southwestern states. The Colorado will be available as a two-wheel-drive crew cab, with all the room a five- or six-passenger SUV can offer, but without the higher cost of a 4WD drivetrain. A new four-cylinder four-wheel-drive model will also make its debut. Now that the base engine makes over 45 percent more power than last year's four-cylinder, this makes sense. And continuing the excitement from last year's S-10 Xtreme street truck, Chevy will offer a ZQ8 sport-truck package, with a two-inch-lower ride height, Bilstein high-pressure gas shocks, high-rate springs, quick-ratio steering, rear anti-roll bar, and 235/50R17 performance skins on 17x8.0-inch rims. Cosmetically, the ZQ8 adds body-color wheel flares, bumpers, and grille.
Underhood is a choice of two all-new inline engines: a 2.8-liter four and a 3.5-liter five. Yes, five cylinders! Spun off the Vortec 4200 inline-six, the engine that powered Motor Trend magazine's 2002 Sport/Utility of the Year, the GMC Envoy, the Colorado's two new engines feature a lightweight aluminum block and head, dual overhead cams, four valves per cylinder, variable-valve timing, electronic throttle control, and coil-on-plug ignition. Both have balance shafts to help tame vibration. And both new engines have a responsiveness that doesn't trail off just above fast idle. There's a pleasing amount of reserve power left at higher engine speeds for merging onto the Interstate or overtaking another vehicle on a winding two-lane.
At 175 horsepower, the new 2.8-liter has the most standard horsepower of any four-cylinder in the market. And the 220-horse 3.5-liter five-cylinder makes 16 percent more power than last year's V-6, with one less cylinder. Fuel economy is equally impressive: up from the S-10 4300 Vortec's dismal 15/18 mpg, to a respectable 18/22 for a 4WD crew cab with automatic transmission. The new inline-five engine is slated for roughly 55 percent of production.