It’s a weird thing.
As trucks have gotten bigger, their engines have gotten smaller. Also fewer – as in the case of the 2024 Chevrolet Colorado, which no longer offers either the 3.6 liter V6 or the turbo-diesel engine it used to be available with.
Or the 2.5 liter four it used to come standard with.
It comes standard – and only – with a 2.7 liter turbocharged four in two different states of tune.
It’s also a lot more expensive now than it was – in part because it does come standard with the 2.7 liter turbocharged four. The previously standard 2.5 liter four you can’t get anymore cost less because it wasn’t turbocharged.
Extra parts – and power – don’t come free.
There’s one other thing you can’t get anymore that also accounts for the increased expense. The ’24 Colorado is only available in crew cab configuration. The latter used to be extra cost – and that was optional.
It no longer is.
What It is
The Colorado (and its GMC-badged twin, the Canyon) are nominally “mid-sized” pickups sold by Chevrolet and GMC, respectively. Dimensionally, both of these trucks are full-size, by the standard of the recent past. But they’re still not as big as the super-sized trucks that are considered “full-size” by today’s standards.
You main choice – other than trims – is whether to buy 2WD or 4WD.
Prices start at $29,500 for what Chevy styles the Work Truck trim – with 2WD. Opting for 4WD bumps the MSRP up to $32,800. You used to be able to buy a full-size truck with a V8 and 4WD for about that much. And you used to be able to buy a Colorado – with an extended cab (and without the turbocharged 2.7 four that’s now the standard and only engine) for $25,200.
That was all the way back in 2022.
Other available trims include the $31,900-to-start LT, the $37,300-to-start Trail Boss, the $40,200-to-start Z71 and the $46,800-to-start ZR2, which is the priciest version of this pick-up. Trail Boss and Z22 comes with off-road upgrades, including a lifted suspension (two-and-three-inches, respectively) locking front and rear differentials and different front and rear end bodywork to allow for increased approach/departure angles when negotiating terrain.
A Bison Edition is now available as an option for ZR2 Colorados. It ups the off-road ante with a set of 35-inch mud-terrain tires, a winch mount and integrated recovery points (so you can use the winch to pull the vehicle out of the muck if you do manage to get it stuck). The Bison also adds fender flares and “jounce control” suspension dampers as well as a bed-mounted full-size spare tire.
It’s everything a full-sized truck used to be.
Standard 2.7 liter engine is much stronger than previously standard 2.5 liter engine.
Z2R and Bison trims offer extreme off-road capability.
What’s Not So Good
It costs more than a full-size truck used to cost.
It’s as large as a full-size truck used to be.
Only one engine (and cab) “option.”
Chevy used to offer the Colorado with three different engines. It’s now available with a new 2.7 liter turbocharged four cylinder engine that makes 237 horsepower and 260 ft.-lbs. of torque in the Work Truck and LT trims and 310 horsepower (and 430 ft.-lbs. of torque) in the higher trims. This latter is more horsepower and torque than was produced by the 3.6 liter V6 (308 horsepower/275 ft.-lbs. of torque) that used to be the Colorado’s optional engine.
Well, one of them.
There was also the available 2.8 liter turbodiesel engine – which made 181 horsepower and 369 ft.-lbs. of torque – as well as the previously standard 2.5 liter (200 horsepower) engine, which wasn’t turbocharged.
The current Colorado is priced $4,300 higher.
That will likely price some potential buyers out of the market for this truck.
Especially since you don’t get that much more capability for the money. A Colorado equipped with the previously standard 2.5 liter engine had a 7,000 lb. max tow rating. Granted, it probably wouldn’t tow a load like that with ease – as a new Colorado with the new 2.7 engine can.
But the point is, it could. And for a lot less.
There are probably still people who need a work truck rather than an expensive truck. But Chevy doesn’t offer the former anymore – except in name. The just-shy-of-$30k-to-start ’24 Colorado “Work Truck” comes standard with push-button ignition and two huge (11 and 11.3 inch) LCD displays along with 17 inch wheels, a six speaker stereo and power windows, locks and tilt wheel – plus the 2.7 liter turbocharged engine paired with an automatic (eight speed) transmission.
Once upon a time, a Work Truck would come standard with the essentials rather than the extras – and be priced accordingly.
It’s not just Chevy that’s pricing its customers out of the market, either. The just-redesigned Toyota Tacoma also comes standard with a turbocharged four now – and no longer offers the V6 you used to be able to get with it, if you could afford it. The ’24 Taco also comes standard with an even higher base price: $31,500 to start.
Last year (2023) you could buy a Taco for $28,600.
One upside – if you can afford it – is that the Colorado’s powerful engine doesn’t use appreciably more gas than the previously standard and much-less-powerful engine. The 2WD version of the new Colorado with the 2.7 engine (and the full 310 horsepower) rates 18 city, 23 highway. The old Colorado with the 2.5 liter engine (and just 200 horsepower) rated 19 city, 25 highway.
On the other hand, the 2.7 liter engine is pressurized and that imparts stress on its internals. There is also the heat generated by the turbo that pressurizes the engine. These are factors that can lead to expenses down the line. The old 2.5 liter engine may not have been as powerful, but it was simpler – and under less pressure. These are factors that tend to decrease expenses down the line.
Driving the Colorado is a lot like driving a full-sized truck – because it almost is a full-size truck. At 212.7 inches long, the “mid-sized” Colorado is several inches longer than a ’24 Ford F-150 regular cab pick-up, which is 209.1 inches long. The main thing that differentiates the “mid-sized” Colorado from the “full-sized” F-150 is width.
The Colorado is 84.4 inches wide vs. 95.7 for the F-150.
It’s an important difference in terms of more than just inches. Though it’s a big truck, the Colorado doesn’t take up as much room on the road. In a current-year full-size truck, there is often very little room left on either side of the truck, leaving not much margin if you’re not paying attention and the truck wanders to the left – and across the double yellow into the opposing lane of traffic – or off to the right and off the edge of the road. Two full-size trucks passing closing on each from opposite directions can smack outside mirrors (or worse) if one of their drivers isn’t keeping his rig within its lane.
That’s less an issue with the Colorado because you have almost a foot more side-to-side margin vs. a full-sized truck.
On the other hand, the length can be its own problem. There’s only so much space in most parking lot to back into – and out of. This truck has a wide turning circle (41.3 feet) too, which makes U turns more challenging.
Because it’s heavy.
The curb weight for the 2WD version is 4,280 lbs. The curb weight of a full-sized F-150 regular cab is 4,021 lbs. The “mid-sized” Colorado is several hundred pounds heavier than a full-sized F-150.
You can also do just about everything you used need a full-sized truck to be able to do. Such as pull a 7,700 lb. trailer. To get a sense of that, did you know that an an early 2000s-era full-sized (and V8 powered) truck like a circa 2004 Toyota Tundra was only rated to pull a 7,100 lb. trailer?
So why not just buy a full-sized new truck? That’s a question that maybe deserves an answer.
Chevy used to offer the Colorado in either extended cab or crew cab configurations. The ’24 comes in just one – crew cab – configuration. With just one short (five foot) bed. This can be extended by lowering the tailgate but it’s still less bed than the six-foot beds that used to come standard with compact-sized trucks (such as my ’02 Nissan Frontier).
Part of the reason you can’t get a longer bed with this truck has to do with Chevy only offering this truck with a crew cab. Hanging a six foot bed off the back of that would make this rig even longer than a current full-sized/regular cab truck like the F-150 (which comes with an eight foot bed, by the way).
The Colorado and the other almost-full-sized-trucks in this segment are chiefly used for carrying people and adventuring rather than sheetrock-hauling. The crew cab-only configuration is an implicit acknowledgement of the fact. The bed is there for occasionally carrying stuff that you still need a truck to carry around – such as new ‘fridge that’s too tall and too bulky to fit in a crossover or even an SUV. And for dogs – which are sometimes too wet and mud-caked to ride in the cab with the people.
The crew cab configured Colorado is as easy to get into and out for the backseat occupants as it is for the driver and front seat passenger. And there’s several inches more backseat legroom (34.7 inches) back there vs. 28.6 inches in the previously available extended cab version of this truck. It truly seats five comfortably – as opposed to two comfortably and maybe two more, just barely.
The all-LCD dash (main gauge cluster and secondary infotainment display) are a barometer of how much trucks have changed over the past decade or so. A decade ago, only a few luxury cars came with these and often they were optional. This truck comes standard with them.
It’s also available with a Trail Boss package that includes a 2 inch suspension lift, locking rear differential and an 18 inch all-terrain tire package. Chevy also offers something “bossier” – the ZR2 Package – that increases the lift to 3 inches, replaces the 18-inch all-terrain tires with 17 inch mud-terrain tires, plus locking center and rear differentials. The package also includes a configurable EZ Lift and StowFlex tailgate (available optionally with other trims as well.)
If you want bossiest, there’s the Bison Edition, which includes the three-inch lift, a unique set of American Expedition Vehicles steel wheels with 35-inch beadlock-capable tires, five skid plates, fender flares and off-road recovery kit. The Bison Edition package adds $11,700 to the $46,800 base price of a ZR2 Colorado, so you’d be looking at paying just shy of $60k for one of these rigs.
It wasn’t that long ago that it was hard to spend $60k on a loaded full-size truck. Of course, it’s now easy to spend that much on a full-sized truck. Loaded, some of them cost six figures. That makes a $60k loaded mid-sized truck seem comparatively affordable.
Interestingly, Ford will soon be selling a regular cab version of the Ranger . . . in Europe. This model will come with an almost-eight-foot bed, too. If you check its specs, it checks out very close to the dimensions of a full-sized regular cab pickup with an eight foot bed from the late 1990s/early 2000s. And back then, you could also go one size smaller to a compact pick-up such as the Ranger (and Nissan Frontier) of that era.
But then, they were just trucks.
The Bottom Line
Mid-sized is almost what full-size used to be. And it’s all very nice – assuming you can afford it.
. . .
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