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The All-New 2023 Chevrolet Colorado: Small Pickups are Big Again

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Sue Mead

2023 Chevrolet Colorado

The Lodge at Torrey Pines was the headquarters for the recent first drive of the new 2023 Chevrolet Colorado. This five-diamond resort has a quiet, uplevel demeanor, and its location provided an excellent opportunity to try out the updated Colorado pickup in two very different environments: A busy, urban-ish enclave on the outskirts of San Diego along freeways and feeder streets with views of the Pacific, as well as to quickly shed the traffic and motor eastward along tight and twisty two-lanes into the Cuyamaca Mountains, where we drove along rutted and rugged dirt tracks high into the hills to assess the mid-sized truck’s technology for backcountry prowess. The Colorado comes in a single choice of body style, bed length, and powerplant. Still, it has three different outputs from the engine and four trim levels that we were able to sample during two days of driving evaluation. Of note, Chevy reports that fuel economy is improved for 2023.

The Torrey Pine is a rare, critically-endangered species; for a time, it seemed that mid-sized trucks were almost as endangered and slipping out of favor as full-sized trucks available in an ever-increasing number of high-end trims and models began to rule the land. However, even though big trucks still rule, many sales dropped in 2022, while mid-sized pickup sales moved upward. In fact, GM reports that sales of the Chevy Colorado and its stablemate, the GMC Canyon, due out later in the spring, moved up by double digits. 

2023 Chevrolet Colorado

What’s new for the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado?

The 2023 Colorado comes in four trims: WT, LT, Trail Boss, and Z71; a new ZR2 version will follow soon. The Colorado has been remade for increased comfort, convenience, and off-road capability. It’s been reworked from the frame rails up and comes in a four-door crew-cab configuration only, with a five-foot, two-inch bed. New looks on the outside bring a more aggressive presence overall, while sculpted sheet metal adds attractive lines. A prominent and slightly bulging carved hood dominates the front, with sculpting that improves visibility for the driver and riders. Chevy’s signature lights, LEDs, and trim elements differentiate the models, while wider and tall fender flares accent all and make an opening for different-sized tires, depending on the model. 

The interior has been redesigned with a wider cockpit that is more spacious feeling bringing many cupholders and storage cubbies. An 11.3-inch touchscreen is standard, with good placement and grip for toggle switches, while the mechanical trailer brake controls have been moved to the left side of the panel for easier access. In the back, the top of the bedside has been lowered a bit for easier access, and texture has been added to the step pad that provides more grip. There are 17 tie-down attachment points and two tailgate options. Both can lock in place halfway open for helping with carrying lumber and other goods, and one brings a StowFlex storage compartment. 

Under the hood, the Colorado offers one engine choice with differing outputs depending on the trim. The 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder is derived from the full-sized Chevy Silverado and is mated to an eight-speed transmission. The base engine produces 237 hp. and 259 lb.-ft. of torque, has a towing capacity of 3,500 pounds, and is available with the WT (Work Truck) and LT trims.

With enhancements, the Turbo Plus gets 310 hp., 390 lb.-ft., can tow 7,700 pounds, and is standard with the Z71 and Trail Boss Packages and optional on the WT and LT. An optional High Output version generates 310 hp. and 430 lb.-ft., tows up to 7,700 pounds, and is standard on the ZR2 trim. The truck is available in rear drive and AWD, which has low-range gearing. A one-speed AWD transfer case comes on the WT and LT trims, while a two-speed transfer case motivates the other trims through low-range gears.

2023 Chevrolet Colorado

How does the 2023 Colorado drive?

I drove the Work Truck on roadways in the La Jolla area. It’s been purposely designed to be a bare-bones truck and has a good basic set-up, but no extras keep it priced fairly as the base model. Soundproofing has been cut, which keeps engine noise from intruding into the cabin, so without audio during my drive, I found it a bit noisy “on the run,” with a slight turbo whine also. It handled well overall, although steering and braking are crisper on the Trail Boss and LT1 that I drove into the mountains and on backcountry trails. These versions also benefit from taller tires and wider rubber underneath. 

My favorite trim is the more aggressive-looking Trail Boss, which comes with 32-inch all-terrain tires that enhance the wide fender flares. It has an extra 1.5 inches of front suspension travel compared to the other trims, with an additional inch of travel in the rear. The Trail Boss has a 3.2-inch wider track in front and a two-inch higher ride height, topping out at nearly 10 inches. It shares a rear limited-slip diff with the Z71 that has been crafted to be a more premium setup. Each has its own slightly different personality. However, both handled well on our trail ride and have a best-in-class camera system with ten views that help navigate over rocks and uneven terrain.

2023 Chevrolet Colorado

Up to five drive modes help optimize the truck’s performance for different driving conditions, with touchscreen information for each mode that offers tips and hints to help maximize each setting. Modes include Normal, Touring, Off-Road, Baja, and Tow/Haul. A new off-road performance display helps monitor your driving performance in real time with an altimeter, 3-D pitch, roll, G-force meter, and more. 

Adding to the upgraded truck’s appeal are several connectivity features, including wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, available Google built-in services, and an extra-large wireless charging pad. A number of active safety features are bundled with the standard Chevy Safety Assist and bring a package of six advanced safety and driver assistance features, including forward collision alerts, automatic emergency braking, and front pedestrian braking. 

The Dirt on Pricing

On sale now, the 2023 Colorado starts at $30,695, including destination for a base Work Truck (WT). The price starts at $33,095 for the LT, $38,495 for the Trail Boss, and tops out at $48,295 for the ZR2.The Chevy competes with the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, Honda Ridgeline, and Jeep Gladiator.

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