Capability First. Among a growing horde of mid-size pickups, the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado puts utility first. It isn’t built to be a technology leader or a luxury cruiser — it’s focused on getting the job done.
That starts with the powertrain lineup, which is mostly quite strong. The exception is the base 2.5-liter unit, which strains under heavy loads. We’d start with the 3.6-liter V6, which balances power and efficiency and benefits from a responsive eight-speed transmission.
The V6 tows a respectable 7,000 pounds, but the final option — a 2.8-liter turbodiesel — is the king of the heap with a max capacity of 7,700 pounds. That’s excellent for the class, and the diesel’s 30 mpg highway rating is an added bonus.
The downside of the utilitarian focus is that the Colorado drives and rides like a truck. The turbodiesel in particular is loud around town, and the body-on-frame construction bounces around on rough pavement. It isn’t a refined ride, although that’s probably not what most buyers come looking for.
Stylish, Not Safe. The Colorado gets a refresh for 2021, which is primarily cosmetic. We dig the new looks: the mesh grille is broader, complementing revised bumpers. The squared-off wheel arches are muscular and imposing. It isn’t as sleek as a Honda Ridgeline or as distinctive as a Jeep Gladiator, but the design is clean and modern enough for us.
The Colorado also gets a mild tech update for 2021. An eight-inch infotainment touchscreen is now standard on all except the WT trim, and it comes with full smartphone compatibility. Most buyers will steer clear of the WT anyway, and the updated system is a welcome addition.
We wish that Chevy would do the same with safety tech, a department where the Colorado is still woefully behind the times. Automatic emergency braking is not available, and neither are blind-spot monitors. The Colorado can’t even fall back on its crash test record, as both the IIHS and the NHTSA gave it poor marks. If safety is a priority, drivers would be better served elsewhere.
Not Very Comfortable. The new exterior is sharp, but the interior fails to live up to the billing. The layout is sensible enough, but hard plastic is too common. The Colorado hasn’t had a full redesign in over seven years, and the truck shows its age most in the cabin.
The front seats are pleasant enough to make some amends, but the second row is another letdown. Extended-cab models are cramped and won’t easily hold four adults. The crew cab isn’t much better, with only 35.8 inches of rear leg room — less than many compact sedans. To make matters worse, the rear bench is stiff and unsupportive.
There are some thoughtful design touches, like corner bed steps, but even these are geared toward utility. The Colorado prioritizes function over features, and it wouldn’t be our first choice for road trips.
Endless Customization. The Colorado makes up in choice some of what it lacks in charm. The lineup includes four trims, three bodies, five powertrain configurations, and a handful of packages, adding up to a plethora of possible combinations.
Most are decent value, safety concerns aside. The top-spec ZR2 goes toe-to-toe with the Tacoma TRD and Gladiator Rubicon, adding beefed up dampers and an extra 1.6 inches of clearance. It’s an expensive pick, but it might be the best-looking version of the Colorado.
Our favorite Colorado is the LT trim, which provides all the basics without pushing prices too high. Even with the V6 engine, it costs less than a base Ridgeline or Gladiator.
Final Thoughts. The Colorado remains a practical choice for a mid-size pickup, but it’s no longer a standout. The interior is uninspiring, and the lack of safety tech is a glaring omission these days. It’s worth a look as a value pick, but we’d recommend checking out the competition, too.
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