Finding it tough to curb your craving for V-8 power and prestige? General Motors knows your pain. To man up the lame Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon for 2009, the General blessed the engine roster with a new 300-hp V-8. The result is a mini muscle truck available in two body styles, each with a sticker price of well below $30,000. Take your pick between an extended cab with rear jump seats accessed via rear-hinged half doors and a six-foot bed, or a real four-door crew cab with a rear bench seat and a five-foot bed.
GM's 5.3-liter V-8 is outfitted with an aluminum block and heads, a composite intake manifold, roller lifters, and a regular-unleaded appetite. It delivers its wallop through two- or four-wheel drive. The two-wheel-drive version achieves 15 mpg in the city and 21 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.
GM's Performance Division engineers massaged chassis components to make sure this truck's ZQ8 sport suspension appeals to those of the car persuasion. The ride height was lowered an inch, and 50-series Goodyear RS-A tires are mounted to eighteen-by-eight-inch aluminum wheels. Suspension rates are 30 percent stiffer, and the power rack-and-pinion steering gear has a quicker ratio than the standard Colorado and Canyon pickups.
We clocked a two-wheel-drive crew-cab Chevrolet at just under seven seconds for the 0-to-60-mph run on its way to a governed top speed of 125 mph. The ride is satisfyingly firm but still supple over pockmarked pavement. The steering is quick and accurate, although it's not very communicative. Thanks to a standard stability control system and improved brakes, this Colorado doesn't cause its driver to fret by writhing on slippery pavement when the traffic pattern flashes a red alert.
The interior decor is most succinctly described as utilitarian chic, with a few resilient islands in the sea of hard black plastic. The front bucket seats feel convex where they should be concave. On the plus side, leather upholstery and seat heaters are available, the controls are logically arrayed, and there are ample storage locations.
As an antidote to overgrown cowboy trucks or as a garage mate to your pampered sports car, this V-8 fills the bill. Or maybe you simply still enjoy saying good-bye with twin black scorch marks.