The 2015 Chevy Colorado is a tidy and refined truck in $30,000 trim, but the experience is a little different with the bargain-basement rental-fleet spec. For $21,000 this thing doesn't even have a "scan" button on the radio, but it does have a six-speed manual transmission. What do you want to know about it?
I love the Colorado and its sistership the GMC Canyon because they've got great proportions, modern interiors, and provide a very accessible driving experience for folks who are new to trucks, or just sick of how primitive body-on-frame 4x4s tend to feel.
I really love manual transmissions because it gives me something to do in the car besides texting and plucking my nosehairs. So I went ahead and assumed I'd be head-over-heels for a new Colorado with a six-speed stick, but after a few days of driving it I'm still on the fence regarding whether or not to recommend it.
Ask anything you want to know about the manual-transmission 2015 Chevy Colorado in the comments and I'll do my best to answer. Then we'll supplement this guide with a full review, coming soon.
Is this the "enthusiast" trim?
If you're enthusiastic about driving; not really. If you're a grumpy old curmudgeon (like myself) who blindly prefers three pedals, maybe.
So what's the deal with this gearbox.
The manual transmission, a Brazilian-made Eaton N8D six-speed, can only be ordered on the Colorado Base ($20,995) or WT ($22,650) trims in the extended-cab bodystyle. WT adds better suspension, better traction control, backup camera, and 4.2" display. (Worth it.)
On the GMC Canyon, it's the same deal except the base-base is called "Canyon SL" ($21,880) and the slightly nicer one is just "Canyon" ($23,575). Options cost a little more, interior's a little prettier.
The transmission itself is extremely TRUCK; shift throws are a country mile long and you'll get tired walking the length of the clutch-pedal travel. It is a truck, so that's okay. What's not okay is the position of the throttle relative to other pedals; it's about four inches closer to the floor, making rev-matching on down shifts a real chore. If I bought this Colorado, I'd be wrenching and readjusting this before I left the dealer lot.
How much power are we talking here?
You can only have the manual with the American-made 2.5 liter DOHC four-cylinder EcoTec engine (200 horse @ 6300 RPM, and 191 lb-ft of torque @ 4400 RPM). The rear axle ratio is 4.10.
There's no two ways about it; the engine is a dog. A dog that's parked on a Tennessee porch with one paw in his water bowl and legs that couldn't be bothered to chase a squirrel sitting two steps down. The power is way up in the top of the rev range, and you really have to put spurs in it to move the needle. Feels like the engine's internals weigh a million pounds.
But that's okay! This is a pickup truck built for efficiency; it's got enough power to get from A to B, and carry crap without getting gas mileage in the teens. Which is where you end up on any full-size pickup... I don't give a damn what the EPA or manufacturers say.
Would this make a good desert prerunner?
See above, the short answer is "no."
Make no mistake; you can absolutely off-road a rear-drive truck. In fact, I reckon it can be more fun (just ask Robby Gordon.)
But to off-road a 2WD you need a metric shitload of power or you're gonna have a bad time. At least, you're gonna have your work cut out for you. A locking rear differential is also borderline requisite for any semi-serious rear-drive wheeling.
If an aftermarket blows out for the 2.5 EcoTec (not really seeing it right now) that could boost the hell out of it (turbo kit?) and somebody made a locker, you might be on to something. But at that point you're defeating the purpose of the four-cylinder Colorado; which is cheap cargo-carrying.
Also, the e-brake is foot activated which means you have to power-over to slide. Which in this case means you need crappy rear tires.
What about fauxverlanding, AKA driving dirt roads and car camping?
Even without a locking differential or much power, the manual Colorado can be forced into fun if you kill traction control and strangle the shit out of the engine. All you really wanna do is step the back out on loose surfaces, right? No worries there.
But seriously; the suspension's comfortable on dirt roads, $275 MyLink infotainment kit gets you WiFi (plus monthly fee of course), and with fuel economy in a truck this good you'll look for any excuse to load the bed with beer and an air mattress and light out to the hinterlands.
Oh yeah... Why haven't you told us about fuel economy yet?!
The EPA and Chevy say the manual Colorado/Canyon is good for 19 MPG city, 26 highway, and 22 combined. The automatic allegedly gets 1 MPG better.
Real-world tested fuel economy: It's actually really easy to get 27 MPG in normal to-work-and-the-shop driving, but that drops to single-digits when you get on the juice. If you drive like a normal person, and do normal things, I bet you'll hang out around 25 MPG on overall average.
I was able to squeeze almost 29 out of it on a highway cruise. You'll be sippin' if you take it easy.
This is a truck, right? So how does it tow and haul?
The 2.5-powered Colorado/Canyon is rated to haul 1,410 pounds in the bed or tow 3,500 pounds off a hitch. That's very solid payload and usable towing; a little light to pull a car but you could get your track-day Miata back there.
The bed itself looks significantly skinnier than a full-size truck, even a little tighter than a Tacoma's, but you could still cram two motorcycles in there.
The truck itself weighs 3,960 pounds, ready to drive.
How Much "Luxury Truck" Can You Get Out Of This?
The WT comes with basic 16" wheels that rule and offer a little extra ride cushion. 18's are like a $2,000 option, don't waste your money.
You can option a WT truck up to $31,000 with convenience accessories, but if you want the full-size color display and navigation you're gonna have to pilfer it from a higher-trim truck and do a custom install. Possible, I'm sure, and probably not even that hard if you can get somebody to sell you the hardware.
So I can't have a four-door manual. How's the extended cab?
I am a perennial cheerleader of extended-cab trucks, and the back seat is totally fine for adults in any 2015 full-size truck. But full-size this ain't.
Rear seats in the extended cab are useless for human transport. Trying to fold a 5'8" person into one is like medieval torture, and the seatback has the build quality of a cereal box.
But the cab is the perfect size to turn that rear area into dry storage. I'd stick the seats in the bed for tailgating. Not every truck needs four-plus passenger capacity.
Should I buy one or what?!
I need more time in it to tell you. I will say the thing looks the business in extended-cab 2WD guise; the proportions are perfect and the slightly-lower front end fits perfectly with the sinister smile the grille makes.
It doesn't like being driven with anything resembling enthusiasm, but if you like truck manuals and you get the chance to pick one of these up cheap... you could certainly do worse.
You said this was a complete guide, ya jerk.
Just go test drive one if you're too impatient. Oh right, you'll never find one at your local dealer. Guess you better wait for the full review like everybody else!