2023 Chevrolet Colorado
Lifted Colorado Lifts The Midsize Truck Segment
Getting a rocky mountain high in Colorado doesn’t exactly mean the same thing that it used to. And in similar fashion, this high ridin’ Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss has gone in a much different direction than when the Colorado first hit the streets 20 years ago. So, climb aboard for a better view of this all-new 3rd-generation of Chevy’s midsize pickup.
Midsize pickup trucks are once again a big thing, and part of the reason is the effort that Chevrolet has been pouring into the segment recently. 2023 marks not only the start of a new generation of the Chevrolet Colorado but takes it to new levels of capability with 3 distinct off-road versions, each with their own chassis setups.
Our focus here is on the Trail Boss, which is making its way down from the Silverado for the first time. It’s really the middle ground when it comes to off-road focused Colorados with Z71 just below and ZR2 more extreme.
But it’s not off-road focused enough to hinder the great ride the Colorado has become known for, or keep the interior from being a place you want to spend extended time IN.
There are some oddities though; no physical light switch, you must go into the standard Google-enabled 11.3-inch central touchscreen if you want anything other than auto; and despite an overall high-tech feel, there’s no auto setting on the climate controls, and no proximity sensors for automatic unlocking of the doors from outside.
On the plus side for Colorado, rather than just applying different logos, there are 4 distinct interior themes, ranging from rugged to refined. This Trail Boss takes the basic approach, with durable gray plastics and cloth seats.
An 8-inch fully digital gauge display is standard in all Colorados.
No more V6 or diesel optionS, as all now come with the Silverado’s 2.7-liter turbo 4-cylinder engine, but there are actually 3 versions of it. Standard in the Trail Boss is this 310-horsepower unit with 390 lb-ft. of torque. The ZR2 ups the torque output to 430 lb-ft., while WT and LT Colorado’s get a lower output 237-horsepower version.
Max tow rating is 7,700-lbs., and all work with a revised 8-speed automatic transmission, with upgrades to smooth out upshifts, make downshifts quicker, with better low-speed response to aid in off-roading.
Styling influence of Silverado is well present, though there’s just one 131.4-inch wheelbase available now, as all Colorados are Crew Cab only with a 5-foot bed.
Overhangs are shortened in front and the spare tire mounted higher in back to improve approach and departure angles. Trail Boss takes it a step farther getting chunky looking fender arches over 18-inch wheels with 32-inch all-terrain tires, a limited-slip rear differential, a 2-inch suspension lift, and a 3-inch wider stance. ZR2s add another inch of lift on top of that.
Up to 5 drive modes are available, the majority of which are off-road specific.
Chevrolet has also tried to make the short bed more functional with 8-tie downs, and bike tire grooves built into the front of the bed; plus, a measuring area, tailgate storage, and the ability to keep the gate in a mid-position to support longer items.
At our Mason Dixon test track, smooth and steady was the order of the day, with a gentle launch off the line and A steady ramble and 7.0-seconds to 60 miles per hour.
It never felt like it was struggling to build speed, but it didn’t really overwhelm going down the track either.
Gear changes were as advertised, smooth and quite quick with just a slight drop off in power. Our best ¼-mile time was a 15.5 at 90 miles-per-hour.
Lifted suspensions and off-road tires usually don’t play well in a handling course, lending a soft feel and slow response to inputs; and that was mostly the case here. Still, it was drama free.
In braking runs, that softness allowed a good amount of nosedive, and you could sense the ABS working hard; but stops were straight and true, averaging 120-feet from 60 miles-per-hour.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings are 17-City, 21-Highway, and 19-Combined; we averaged a fine 20.2 miles-per-gallon.
That’s just slightly below average for the Energy Impact Score; 15.7-barrels of oil consumed yearly, with 7.7-tons of CO2 emissions.
If you want to stick with rear-wheel-drive, you’ll have to get WT or LT trim, which starts with WT at $30,695 and 4-wheel-drive a $3,300 option. 4WD is standard on Trail Boss and above, with Trail Boss starting at $38,495.
Another reason for the growing popularity of midsize pickups is that full-size trucks have become so big and expensive. Chevrolet is clearly looking to capitalize on that with big truck style, and heaps of performance for the off-road crowd with the mid-size 2023 Chevrolet Colorado. And, it looks like it will indeed be riding high in its segment for some time to come.
- Engine: 2.7-liter turbo 4
- Horsepower: 310
- 0-60 mph: 7.0-seconds
- 60-0 Braking (avg): 120 feet
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Torque: 390 lb-ft
- 1/4 Mile: 15.5 seconds at 90 mph
- EPA: 17 City | 21 Highway | 19 Combined