The Chevy Colorado has been around for 20 years, but it has only just entered its third generation. It was a much-needed replacement for the S-10 in 2003. The Colorado continues to be the smallest Chevy pickup available, but today it faces stiff competition from midsize rivals like the Honda Ridgeline and Jeep Gladiator.
The Colorado is offered as a four-door cab with a five-foot-two-inch box, no matter how far over its $30,695 starting price you dare to climb. The new Chevy replaced the outgoing 308-hp V-6 and Duramax Diesel powertrain options with a 2.7-liter turbocharged inline-four bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The five trims on offer range from work truck to rock crawler toy. We’ve driven four of them (in a few months, Chevy will give us the keys to the ZR2 released later this year). So of course we spent our lunch looking over the online configurator for the new Colorado, and did a little window shopping before we had to clock back. Here’s how some of our staff would spec the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado.
Ezra Dyer’s $32,600 rear-wheel drive Colorado WT
For my 2023 Colorado, I’m envisioning a basic starting point for a truck that will be built in a sample—namely, a forerunner. With the new Colorado’s sharper approach and departure angles and punchy turbo power, it would make an excellent off-road candidate of the Mint 400 variety, even in two-wheel-drive form. So I start with a two-wheel drive WT and add the upgraded engine with 310 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque ($1050). Hell, give me the front center console ($135) so I have somewhere to rest my right elbow during blasts across the Warp Zone lake bed. And I’ll grab the automatic locking differential ($325)—or, as I call it, “poor man’s four-wheel drive.” My only frivolous splurge, if you can call it that, is for Glacier Blue Metallic paint ($395), because the other WT colors are boring. That brings me to $32,600 all in, which leaves me with a very imaginary budget for long travel suspension, fiberglass body and bed parts. —Ezra Dyer
Drew Dorian’s $33,110 rear-wheel drive Colorado WT
Ezra is right. There’s something charming about the base Work Truck trim. Sure, the Colorado is offered in higher-end trims that are also more focused on off-roading, but the WT has a lovely blue-collar, straight-from-the-navy look. I especially like it in Sand Dune Metallic which, combined with the 17-inch steel wheels, gives it an attractive look.
I’ll stick with rear-wheel drive because, frankly, I’m putting this thing to work, not taking it to the trails, so why bother? The 237-hp version of the turbo four is also good. However, where I would spend some money is on various option packages because believe it or not Chevy will allow you to add some very non-WT options to the WT.
First, I’ll start with the WT Convenience and WT Convenience II packages ($415 and $545, respectively), the former of which adds a remote-locking tailgate, a manual sliding rear window, and a rear window defogger. The second one adds an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar support and a tailgate with an integrated storage box. I’ll then add the Safety Package ($505), which includes heated and power-adjustable exterior mirrors with black-painted caps, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert with automatic emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring. Finally, the Technology package ($950) adds adaptive cruise control, rear pedestrian alert and a 360-degree exterior camera system.
Considering the Colorado comes standard with that big 11.3-inch touchscreen and a digital gauge display, you’re getting a very non-basic base truck here, and the total is just $33,110. Jumping to one of the Colorado’s more expensive trims puts it in Silverado 1500 price territory, so if you’re smart, you’ll stick with the WT, too. —Drew Dorian
Austin Irwin’s $41,200 Colorado Trail Boss
I don’t like to be bossed around. I want to be the one calling the shots. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be brainstorming on Zoom all afternoon, I’d be in the kitchen building a triptych of grilled cheese. True genius takes time and, in some cases, many slices of cheese.
This is why I would choose the Colorado Trail Boss. It’s Chevy’s own perfect sandwich. It has the off-road attitude of the more expensive ZR2, but costs less than the Z71. You can’t get the LED headlights, which is a huge bummer, but you do get 1.5 inches of extra travel up front with an extra 1.0 inches in the rear. Plus, it has four-wheel drive and the limited-slip differential of the Z71. I will have mine painted in Nitro Yellow Metallic ($395), which is close enough to the color of Kraft Singles. The standard gloss black 18-inch wheels are fine, but wrap them in 32-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires ($495).
The Trail Boss also gets the 310-hp engine and 7,700 pounds of towing, making the addition of the Advanced Trailering package ($620) integrated trailer brake controller a must-have. It’s a little silly that cruise control and a manual rear window are an option on a $41,200 midsize pickup, but sometimes you have to pay the price to be the boss. Another extra is Chevy’s chemically bonded spray-on bedliner ($475). The only redundant (a new word I learned from a recent Zoom meeting) option I would find is the blacked-out nameplates and badges ($195). I can hear the salesperson now, “Sir, at $8 a letter you should get it for your truck.” Hey mate, don’t tell me what to do! —Austin Irwin
Andrew Krok’s $42,545 all-wheel drive Colorado LT
In the interest of keeping things somewhat affordable, I chose an LT, which is the next step up from the base trim work truck. I did opt for the beefier engine tuner ($1050), which makes 310 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, for a little more in-town moxie. I would have loved to add all the bells and whistles in the LT Convenience Package III, but instead I settled for LT Convenience II, which ditches things like a heated steering wheel in favor of thicker-walled 17-in. wheels, since Michigan’s roads are trash. I topped it off with the Tech package for the 360-degree cameras, the Safety package for a little extra peace of mind, a spray-on bed liner, and the Bose seven-speaker audio upgrade. The Harvest Bronze Metallic paint is a freebie and is a class above an otherwise boring selection of free paint choices. —Andrew Crook
Katherine Keeler’s Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss
Normally, I would spec a truck practically and prudently. But much like the mid-sized Colorado living in a full-sized world, I also suffer from a Napoleon complex. With a little help from a chair and some grab handles, I would jump into the boss of all bosses, the Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss. It’s not available today, but Chevy isn’t going to ignore you if you flash a backpack full of Benjamin Franklins at them.
To make the ZR2 (and myself) feel even more special, I’ll spend extra for Radiant Red Tintcoat paint ($495). The Desert Boss package is the fastest way to cover the ZR2 with accessories short of landing one at an O’Reilly Auto Parts store. Unfortunately, Chevy’s configurator doesn’t reveal how much they charge to add the heavy-duty front bumper, winch, LED roof lights, and underbody camera. It’s also the only way to get the best wheels on offer, these 17-inch beadlock units with the Tech Bronze surface.
That equipment, plus the 430 pound-feet of torque from the ZR2’s high-output engine, is enough to pull Mom’s car out of the ditch, should she end up there again. I love your mom! Like others, I added the Safety Package ($445) to keep myself safe from larger trucks. The yellow seat belts ($50) were too good to pass up, and saving the most important for last, I opted for the off-road steps ($495) to enter the Colorado with a running start. Crap, did I mention I’m a little afraid of heights? Mom? —Katherine Keeler