Believe me, it hurt more to write that headline than it did to read it. But after spending some quality time in the stick-shift 2015 Chevy Colorado, I can’t imagine a universe where it makes sense to buy it.
(Full disclosure: I begged Chevy to let me try the Colorado manual. I dig that truck and yeah, I’m one of those insufferable pompoids who finds any excuse to tell people “I’ve never owned an automatic.”)
Colorado manual sounds great on paper: smallish truck, small engine, three-pedal gearbox.
It’s only available in rear-wheel drive, that’s okay... more simplicity and less weight, good tires solve your traction problems. It’s slow and can’t tow much, fine too... nothing wrong with an efficiency-focused truck, especially when it’s still payload-rated to over half a ton.
But I won’t lie to you, even if it means speaking heresy here in the Temple Of #SaveTheManuals- you don’t want to buy the manual-shift Chevy Colorado
We love manual transmissions because they give us more connection to whatever we’re driving, which immediately brought me to my first grievance: the transmission’s personality doesn’t match up with the rest of the vehicle.
The Eaton N8D six-speed is unapologetically a truck transmission. Shift slow, shift often. Ok, makes sense, we’re in a truck after all. But the Colorado is trying so hard to be modern in every other area that something just feels off. Even the low-end work truck trim has power everything, coilover suspension, a slick dash, and electric steering.
I’d never climb into a three-pedal pickup and expect it to work like a sport sedan, but the interface-experience with the manual Colorado is definitely... confusing.
If you’re into economics, you’ve probably ruled out buying a brand-new truck anyway. But you know you’re going to have to price pretty aggressively to unload a base-trim truck with a gearbox none of your fellow Americans can drive.
That said, you probably won’t be able to find one to buy to begin with... so maybe I’m wrong and you’ll have rarity working for you in the resale market.
You can absolutely off-road a 2WD truck. But then you need big power, or a winch, or a locking differential, or ideally all of those things... and by the time you’ve added all that to your Colorado you might as well have built a Jeep CJ for trail runnin’ and kept the pickup truck clean.
Many of you will just read the headline and cut straight to the comments to call me a charlatan; “You demand a small, economy-biased, manual-shift truck. You get one, and you hate it!”
Look, it’s not that simple. Modern safety requirements and standards of luxury society’s grown accustom to make the 2015 Colorado too inherently complex to ever be the lawnmower-powered tray-back deathtrap utility-truck we fantasize about here.
But more importantly (and realistically) the 2.5 liter four-cylinder, which you must get to unlock the manual, is only slightly more efficient than the V6 and so much weaker. Let’s break it down: extended cab long box Colorado with the 2.5 and RWD tops out at 26 MPG, that drops to 25 if you go for the 4WD automatic. Same truck with 50% more power and an auto box? 26 MPG as a rear-wheel drive and 24 MPG with four. Not to mention about a project car’s weight in added towing capacity.
When you look at those numbers the manual gearbox would really have to be amazing, or at least enjoyable, to make any kind of sense. And well, it ain’t.
Now... you bet your ass I still want three-pedal pickup trucks. I just want good ones. Like this exact truck with the bigger engine and 4WD, for example!
Images by the author