The 2004 to 2012 Chevrolet Colorado, along with its sister, the GMC Canyon, represents one complete generation of this compact pickup truck. For buyers who need their pickup to perform only the occasional light task, the Colorado/Canyon might work well enough. That’s faint praise, but justifiably so, as the following will reveal.

Coming into the world by virtue of a joint effort between General Motors in North America and Brazil, plus input from Isuzu, the Coloranyon is available in regular, extended, and crew cab versions. The first two have beds that are 6 feet long; the crew has a 5-foot bed. Trim levels, in ascending order of plushness, started out as Work, LS, and LT. LT versions received a face-lift in 2007, while the LS retained the old look. LS morphed into VL for the 2009 model year and disappeared for 2010. Another minor tweak took place in 2009, bringing the option of a 5.3-liter V-8 endowed with 300 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque.

The Canyolorado originally came with a 2.8-liter four-cylinder making 175 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque or a 3.5-liter inline-five developing 220 hp and 225 lb-ft. Once the 2007 face-lift kicked in, these were superseded by a 2.9-liter four-cylinder with 185 hp and 190 lb-ft and a 3.7-liter inline-five with 242 hp and 242 lb-ft. The entry-level four-potter was linked to either a five-speed manual transmission or a four-speed automatic. The larger engines got the auto transmission, er, automatically. Most examples will probably have the manual.

Drive is sent to the rear wheels or all four. The latter’s setup includes a low/high transfer case that complements the Z71 off-road package. Other options include the Z85 heavy-duty package and the ZQ8 street pack with lowered, stiffened suspension, plus 18-inch wheels. The Colorado/Canyon twins are not considered the best in their class. That accolade goes to the Toyota Tacoma, with the Nissan Frontier getting an honorable mention.

Even if this first-gen ColoCan was a major contender initially, it was never improved significantly to better face the competition. Low-rent interiors, low levels of refinement, and so-so towing capability result in a merely average reputation. But that could be a good thing if you’re looking to buy, since competitors demand higher prices. Compare a 2008 Chevrolet Colorado LS with the 2.9-liter fourcylinder engine, rear drive, 6-foot bed, and auto transmission in good condition valued at $8711 with a 2008 Ford Ranger XLT regular cab (rear drive, 6-foot bed, 3.0-liter V-6, auto, good condition) fetching $10,707. A comparable 2008 Toyota Tacoma is Blue Booked at $10,633.

Recalls issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration focus on child restraints and exterior lighting for the early years -- then wheels (2007); fuel system (2009); locks, latches, and linkages (2010/2011); powertrains with the 2.9 and 3.7 engines, wipers, suspension (2011); and seatbelts (2012). Checking various owner forums brings a depressing amount of issues that touch on many different areas: chip-prone paintwork, a quarter-full gas gauge that suddenly reads empty when reverse gear is engaged, electrical glitches, braking system problems, engine and drivetrain hiccups, squeaky leaf springs, lopsided beds, wiper woes, plus various other rattles and whines.

Potential buyers must be extra-extra careful when checking out a possible purchase. Go over it from bumper to bumper, check for uneven tire wear, play in the steering, rough idling, evidence of head gaskets failing. Don’t take anything for granted.


2004-2012 Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon
Body type 2-door/4-door pickup
Drivetrain Front engine, RWD/4WD
Airbags Dual front
Engines 2.8L/175-hp DOHC I-4; 3.5L/220-hp DOHC I-5 (2004-2006); 2.9L/185-hp DOHC I-4; 3.7L/242-hp DOHC I-5 (2007-2012); 5.3L/300-hp OHV V-8 (2009 on)
Bra kes, f/r Disc/drum, ABS
Price range , whlsl/retail (KBB)$3400/$4800 (2004 RWD Work RC 2.5L I-4),$21,375/$23,265 (2012 4WD LT CC 5.3L V-8)
Recalls Too many to list; see motortrend.com
NHTSA frontal impact rating , driver/fr pass 4 stars/4 stars (reg/ext cabs); 5 stars/5 stars (crew cab); 2011/2012 not rated