Chevrolet has just revealed a ground-up redesign of its midsize pickup, the Colorado. With this third-generation model, Chevrolet has had the chance to assess what works for the Colorado, which struggled to stand out in the midsize pickup segment — until the Colorado ZR2 came out. The success of the ZR2 is clearly the force behind the new pickup, because the 2023 Colorado is all about off-road.
For the 2023 model year, Chevy trimmed the Colorado line down to five models, one body configuration, and a lone engine available in three outputs. The 2.8-liter turbodiesel is gone, as is the 3.6-liter gasser V6. All 2023 Chevy Colorado models will have the same engine, a 2.7-liter turbo inline-four borrowed from the Chevy Silverado, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine has a 30 percent stiffer crankshaft, more rigid cylinder block and fully-forged bottom end.
While every 2023 Colorado will use the same engine, output differs pretty majorly based on trim level — WT (short for Work Truck), LT, Z71, Trail Boss, and ZR2, in increasing price and fanciness order. Certain trims offer an upgrade engine option, but in standard spec, outputs will break down as follows:
- Colorado WT and LT: 2.7-liter Turbo - 237 HP, 259 lb-ft.
- Colorado Z71 and Trail Boss: 2.7-liter Turbo Plus - 310 HP, 390 lb-ft.
- Colorado ZR2: 2.7-liter Turbo High-Output - 310 HP, 430 lb-ft.
Note the huge range in outputs, a difference of 73 hp and 171 lb-ft between the base and top-spec version of the 2.7-liter engine. The Turbo High Output makes more torque than even the old 369 lb-ft Duramax diesel, while the middle and top-spec engines match the horsepower of the old V6. Towing capacity is 7,700 pounds with either of the upgrade engines, dropping to 3,500 lbs with the base 237-hp engine.
The new Colorado will be available exclusively in four-door, short-bed configuration, with the same 5-foot-2-inch bed length as before. The wheelbase is three inches longer, at 134.1 inches.
The different trim levels offer varying amounts of ground clearance and track width. The Colorado WT and LT have 7.9 inches of ground clearance and track width of 62.8. The Colorado Z71 gives you an additional inch of ground clearance. The Trail Boss adds a 2-inch suspension lift for ground clearance of 9.5 inches, and adds roughly 3.4 inches of track width, to 66.2. The top trim Colorado ZR2's track width is a tiny bit wider than Trail Boss, at 66.3 inches, but the ZR2 gets an even bigger 3-inch suspension lift (compared to the WT), giving it a claimed 10.7 inches of ground clearance.
Basically, what Chevy has done with the Colorado is create a hierarchy of off-road capability. The lowly Colorado WT 2WD is at the bottom, while the Colorado ZR2 4WD is at the top.
The ZR2 still has spool valve dampers, plus cast-iron control arms, front and rear electric locking differentials and a two-speed transfer case. The ZR2’s 17-inch wheels and 33-inch mud terrain tires seal the deal. But if that’s not enough, there’s a new special-edition Desert Boss package, which gets beadlock-capable wheels and other trail gear — even an underbody camera to see how big the rocks are down there! The camera is available on Z71 and ZR2 trucks without the add-on package.
The camera feed is transmitted through an 11.3-inch center screen, but you don’t have to splurge on a Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss to get the good infotainment; the 11.3-inch screen comes standard, regardless of trim. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, but the infotainment has Google Built-In, which gives the system native Google services.
The new Colorado’s heavy trail tilt is not really a surprise. Off-roading went and got itself some mass appeal after being a niche among truck and SUV fans. And that goes double for midsize trucks like the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier and Jeep Gladiator. People pay plenty for off-road versions of these models.
Chevrolet hasn’t revealed pricing info for the new Colorado just yet. Production will begin in the first half of 2023 at GM’s Wentzville plant in Missouri, where, historically, the Chevy Colorado has been made alongside the GMC Canyon. Pricing will be revealed as we get closer to production. We’ll have to wait until then to see if the Colorado ZR2 will match the long-awaited Ford Ranger Raptor in capability and in cost.