As technical editor Don Sherman implied when he reviewed these updated trucks, the Colorado/Canyon twins should have been launched like this–with a small-block V-8 under the hood instead of the weakling four-cylinder or the not-much-better in-line five. The V-8-powered Colorado now has increased towing and hauling capabilities, and it’s significantly quicker than its fewer-cylindered stablemates (less than seven seconds to 60 mph, according to both Sherman and General Motors). But what really struck me is the fantastic sound of the 5.3-liter V-8. Floor it between about 2500 and 4500 rpm, and the mill just roars. I actually opened the sliding rear window just so I could hear a less insulated rendition of the motor music. I even think this Colorado deserves more prominent tailpipes (big-tipped, straight dual exhausts, anyone?) to announce its power; I blew away a GMC Canyon at a light, but I don’t think the other driver had a clue about what had happened.
Unfortunately, the new powerplant can only do so much toward refreshing this truck. Entering the old-think-GM interior is like stepping back in time. The plastics are hard and unpleasant to touch. The driver’s seat is more of the “sit on” than “sit in” variety. The big-buttoned radio works well, but only in a 1990s flashback sort of way. The small back seats and small (five-foot, one-inch) pickup bed hinder the Colorado’s usefulness, too. But usefulness is sometimes overrated in the mini-muscle-truck category …
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
Yep, it’s a great powertrain, but it’s stuck in a severely outdated truck that is, as Rusty Blackwell notes, a flashback to the 1990s. The driver’s seat is as low to the floor as one you would find in a sports car, yet the step-in height is that of a truck. This makes for an odd driving position, although I suppose one would get used to it.
Chevy’s cross-town competition, the Ford Ranger, is even more outdated than the Colorado. Your Chevy dealer is probably happy to give you a sweetheart deal on the V-8 Colorado, but at this price point, you can probably get into a full-size truck with far more refinement, room, and comfort. Start with Chevy’s own Silverado, I’d say.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
Until this year, Dodge was able to make the claim that its Dakota was the only mid-size pickup to offer a V-8 engine. Enter the Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon twins and the Vortec V-8, which tops the Dakota in displacement (5.3 vs. 4.7 liters), if not quite in horsepower (300 vs. 302) or maximim towing capacity(6000 lbs vs. 7100 lbs). And indeed, this powerplant certainly adds some needed muscle to the aging Colorado, along with a modicum of entertainment. The interior is OK, but just, with controls and materials that could use some updating. Still, if you’re looking for something less than a full-size pickup with a decent amount of power, enough towing capacity to pull a trailer or a boat, and reasonable fuel economy for a pickup (15/21 mpg), the Colorado might fit the bill. And you could probably negotiate a decent deal on one.
Amy Skogstrom, Managing Editor
2009 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD Crew Cab 1LT
- Base price (with destination): $27,665
- Price as tested: $33,765
- 2LT trim w/ Z71 Off-Road suspension $1,695
- Leather seating surfaces $1,495
- Power sunroof $695
- Chrome tubular assist steps $575
- Deluxe front bucket seats $340
- Fuel economy: 14 / 19 / 16 mpg (city/hwy/combined)
- Size: Vortec 5.3L V-8
- Horsepower: 300 hp @ 5200 rpm
- Torque: 320 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
- Transmission: 4-speed automatic
- Wheels/Tires: 17″ chrome clad wheels
- P265/70R17 113S