The 2020 Chevrolet Colorado is a mid-size pickup with the rugged build of a full-size truck.
The Colorado debuted in 2004 as a compact. By 2012, though, its sales had fallen to a point that Chevy pulled the plug.
It reappeared in 2015, this time planted on a downsized version of the boxed ladder-frame chassis that underpins the full-size Silverado. It grew five inches in the process, slipping up into the mid-size segment.
Today, the remade Colorado offers buyers nearly all the utility of a big truck sans the inconvenient bulk.
It’s easier on the pocketbook, easier to maneuver in traffic and tight spots and easier at the pump.
Suspension engineers leveraged the sturdy platform to improve ride and handling by refining damper and spring rates.
While there’s no denying its truck roots, the second-gen Colorado is more settled underway and less likely than before to get bouncy over rough surfaces.
The Colorado cabin grew larger, quieter and more comfortable in the makeover. It’s available in extended cab and crew cab body styles and features the latest generation of Chevy’s Infotainment 3 infotainment system, with its 7-inch touchscreen, user-friendly menus and large icons.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, as are two USB ports and a six-speaker sound system.
One sits low inside the Colorado. The seats are firmly padded and may not suit some larger drivers.
The quality of interior materials has improved over time, but hard plastics dominate and the layout, design and trim choices are unremarkable.
Casual storage opportunities are abundant. They include bins fore and aft of the shifter, multi-level door pockets and a large lidded bin between the seats.
Colorado is available with one of three engines. A turbocharged 2.5-liter four that makes 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque; a mid-level V-6 good for 308 hp and 191 lb-ft. of torque; and a 2.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel that puts out 181 hp and 369 lb-ft.
The gas-powered four has a 3,500-lb. tow capacity, the six is rated to tow 7,000 lb. and the diesel will tow up to a segment-leading 7,700 lb.
All Colorados are equipped with trailer-sway control.
The six is the quickest of the lot, running the 0-60 sprint in 6.1 seconds, but due to a deficit of low-end torque, it can struggle towing a heavy load. The diesel rattles its way to 60 in 9.1 seconds but abundant torque makes easy work of towing.
The 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel, which we tested, delivers outstanding fuel economy (22 mpg combined).
An exhaust brake and integrated trailer-brake controller deepen its towing capabilities.
It makes all the usual diesel-type noises. At speed, it settles into a steady drone, which some may find comforting, others not.
Five wide-ranging trims
Colorado is offered with rear- and four-wheel-drive and with two bed lengths. This year, Chevy discontinues the formerly available six-speed manual transmission.
Five trim levels range from the fleet-bound Base ($21,300) to the ZR2 ($41,400), the family’s halo car and off-road campaigner.
In the middle of the pack, the LT trim ($41,400) is the volume leader, with a comprehensive range of standard features and desirable options, including the diesel.
For 2020, GM’s new Infotainment 3 Premium system is available on the LT trim and above. It adds navigation and an 8-inch touchscreen.
Other updates include a tire-fill alert that lets you know when that tire you’re filling is topped up. The EZ Lift tailgate — it’s damped for smoother and gentler operation — is now standard on the LT and higher. A remote-locking liftgate is available.
We tested a ZR2, which has a raised suspension with off-road dampers. Standard gear includes all-terrain tires, fender flares, a spray-in bed-liner and an electronic locking rear differential.
Our tester was equipped with the $5,750 “Bison” package from American Expedition Vehicles. It includes unique wheel flares and assorted cosmetic add-ons. The bumpers and skid plates are forged from super-strong, super-light boron steel.
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2020 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD ZR2 Crew Short Box
Vehicle base price: $21,300
Trim level base price: $41,400
As tested: $53,435
Options included turbodiesel engine with exhaust brake; Bison off-road package with boron steel bumpers and skid plates
Tow rating; 3,500-7,700 lbs
EPA rating: 22 combined/19 city/28 highway