It's not easy to make a compact/midsize pickup capable of handling the highway and trail with equal enthusiasm. However, Chevrolet accomplished this with the introduction of three different suspension choices for the Colorado: the Z71 off-road package, the standard Z85, and the street-biased ZQ8. Because "ZQ8" is a mouthful, trucks with this suspension will likely be sold as Colorado Sports.

The Colorado Sport rides two inches lower than the standard Colorado and five inches lower than the Z71, thanks to its high-pressure gas-charged shocks and lowering, sport-ratio coil springs. However, appearance is not the primary function of this suspension--the goal was to make it handle like a car. The Sport was given a quicker-ratio steering system than the Z71 and Z85 and a 21mm rear stabilizer bar.

On a full day on winding roads and at GM's Desert Proving Grounds, we tested four- and five-cylinders, with both transmissions, in tight turns and twisties, and discovered the Sport is comfortable there. The truck is stable at speed and stays firmly planted to the asphalt. It's worth noting there is a slight, floating feeling while the little pickup transfers its weight (in S-turns); however, this sensation is much less than what we've experienced in other empty-bed trucks in the same environment. We recommend the manual transmission to people interested in this size and price category, as the choice will only increase your fun factor.

For those who may have been disappointed with the four's power in a straight line, try it on a canyon road--a regular-cab four-cylinder model with the five-speed can provide nearly as much fun there as the five. However, if they ever put a turbo on the Vortec 3500, we'll be the first in line.