The fuel-efficient and affordable 2016 Chevrolet Colorado offers excellent performance and a surprisingly comfortable interior without skimping on real-world utility.

Pricing and Equipment

Currently offered with two gasoline engine choices and a third diesel option that will be available in the imminent future, Chevrolet’s award-winning mid-size pickup truck is available in four trim levels.

All of the trim levels, besides the Base version, are available in two- or four-wheel drive configurations.

The Colorado can also be configured as a two-door extended cab long box or a four-door crew cab short or long box. The extended cab seats four and is for all intents and purposes a 2+2 model, meaning that the rear seats are small and more useful for owners who rarely have more than two people in the truck. The crew cab features a traditional back seat that seats three passengers.

A six-speed manual transmission is standard in Base and WT trims. A six-speed automatic is optional on WT models and standard in the LT and Z71 levels.

There's quite a spread between entry-level and top-spec pricing. In Base trim with the 2.5-liter inline-four, a six-speed manual transmission and rear-wheel drive, MSRPs starts at $20,120. A four-wheel drive crew cab long box Z71, meanwhile, sports a 3.6-liter V6, a six-speed automatic transmission and a $34,940 price tag.

Performance Pros

Chevrolet Colorado Side

The Chevy Colorado’s triumphal return after a three-year hiatus was felt throughout the industry. During short drives in each of the trim levels at a press event, I gained an appreciation for Chevy’s approach in creating a budget-friendly but extremely capable pickup.

More recently, I was able to spend a week with a well-equipped top-trim crew cab short box Z71 model. Being behind the wheel of Chevrolet’s Colorado confirmed my initial conclusions; the Colorado is a wonderful pickup that expands the concept of a "small" pickup's capabilities.

My review vehicle came equipped with the gasoline-powered 3.6-liter V6 that produces 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque. Coupled with a smooth shifting six-speed automatic, the Colorado never lacked for power. Zero to 60 mph zips by in an inspiring 7.4 seconds, which feels really quick in a pickup. The V6 can carry up to 1,590 pounds of payload and boasts a best-in-class 7,000-pound towing capacity.

  • The Z71 off-road suspension package is impressive. Even under the sloppiest, most challenging off-road conditions, the Z71-equipped Colorado shines.
  • Braking, thanks to the four-wheel anti-lock discs that come from the factory with long-lasting Duralife rotors, is excellent.
  • Handling in the Colorado is confidence building, making time behind the wheel quite fun. I would imagine that this dynamic driving characteristic would be what draws many to purchase the Colorado over the competition.

Gas mileage ranges from 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with rear-wheel-drive and the 2.5-liter inline-four to 17 mpg city and 24 mpg highway with the V6 and four-wheel drive.

Performance Cons

  • The six-speed manual transmission is only available in the Base trim level.
  • The Colorado is certainly a well-behaved for a pickup truck, but a truck nonetheless. Crossover and small SUV owners looking for more utility will find the Colorado an enticing vehicle, but beware that the utility comes at the cost of losing a little road-going comfort you'd find in a jack-of-all-trades crossover vehicle.

Interior Pros

Chevrolet Colorado Seats

The interior of the 2016 Colorado Crew Short Box is well designed and comfortable. Seating material is a great compromise between sturdy and plush. I wouldn’t go so far as to call the interior luxurious, even in the top-trim Z71, but it is certainly attractive and ergonomic.

  • Heating and air conditioning are automatic and easily configurable. The remote vehicle start, standard in the Z71, means that having a toasty truck, its windshield clear of ice and ready for your drive to work, takes little more than a click of the key fob button.
  • Rear-seat passengers in the crew cab have plenty of legroom, but I suspect three adults would feel cramped, even on short treks across town. That said, the back seat is bigger than you would expect when you view the crew cab from the curb. The interior of Chevy’s four-door pickup is more along the lines of a midsize sedan than the traditional compact pickup truck.

Interior Cons

The rear seating in the extended cab is a compromise at best. I would recommend bringing your regular backseat passengers along for the test drive to avoid surprises down the road.

Most Pleasant Surprise

Chevrolet Colorado Entertainment Center

The 4G hotspot may not help drive the car, boost horsepower or give you better gas mileage, but I can’t think of a more popular feature with my kids. I’ve reviewed much fancier and more expensive cars, vans, and SUVs, but none of them received the kudos that the Colorado’s WIFI and USB ports did. If you have teenagers and want to be a hero, opt for the 4G package.

Least Pleasant Surprise

While the six-speed automatic is going to be the best choice for the majority of owners, I was a little disappointed that the manual transmission is only available in the Base and WT trim levels.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for a small-to-midsized pick-up truck that feels huge, has excellent towing and hauling capabilities, can be driven off-road and still fit in most garages, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado is an excellent choice.