\"Like a Rock\" used to be a \'90s Chevrolet slogan describing its trucks, but I think it suits the Chevrolet Colorado today just fine. As Chevrolet Philippines\' first truck offering, it has a lot going for it.
I had the opportunity to test-drive the Colorado over urban commuting and light off-roading. My routes consisted of highway cruising, several hours\' worth of stop-and-go, and muddy dirt and clay roads mostly used by mountain bikers. Although I wasn\'t really thrilled to drive such a large vehicle on a daily basis, I gradually warmed up to the brute and felt sorry to have to give it back to Chevrolet.
The Colorado is meant to lock horns with industry stalwarts, but it is several inches longer and wider than traditional bestsellers like the current Isuzu D-Max and the Nissan Navara. It puts all that real estate to good use with two details important to utility-minded buyers: bed size and cabin space.
The cargo bed is one of the biggest in the Colorado\'s class, with more than enough room to accommodate bulky or odd-sized items. There\'s also ample cabin space for five passengers, although the upright rear seatback breaks no new ground in pickup-truck seating comfort.
All of this is wrapped in a conservative but handsome design theme that\'s classic Chevrolet: The look is solid, clean and timeless. Notable external highlights are the slightly scalloped bed walls, gently flared wheel arches, split honeycomb grille, and a bit of \"Coke bottle\" curvature at the lower portion of the doors. Black plastic step boards and chrome roof rails add a bit of sportiness and functionality, although the former might scrape against large rocks if you drive on technical terrain.
The interior is similarly handsome but not really brilliant. The \"Camaro-inspired\" instrument-panel gauges seem a bit too small for a truck as the numbers on the tach and speedo are crammed tightly together. The center console with the big, soft-touch buttons for the stereo and climate control is elegant and idiot-proof, and can be easily worked while wearing gloves. There\'s a ton of hard plastic used on the dashboard and door panels meant to be durable and easy to clean, but this docks it some style points.
The leather upholstery is stiff and durable rather than luxuriously supple, but the driver\'s seat is power-adjustable. Cupholders, pockets and storage compartments are liberally scattered throughout the cabin.
The 178hp 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel has bags of torque at your disposal. With the smooth-shifting six-speed automatic, the Colorado doesn\'t really notice whether it\'s lightly loaded or crammed with cargo when getting up to speed on the highway. You can even brake-torque the truck for stoplight drags and create copious amounts of burnt rubber that will impress the neighbors and have them call security.
Still, the big in-line-four is happiest working at low engine speeds where the truck just loafs along at around 2,000rpm while sipping diesel fuel. Steep gradients are the only occasion where you might want to work the engine at the 3,000-4,000rpm range, and only if you want to go up quickly. Otherwise, the drivetrain has the resolute ability to go over just about any kind of course without breaking a sweat whether on- or off-road.
As for fuel efficiency, I measured an average of 10km/L over four days without really trying to save on fuel. One downside is that Chevrolet hasn\'t tamed the diesel engine\'s inherent noise. The clatter it makes from outside the vehicle is unmistakably the sound of a diesel, while the only solution to hide the noise inside is to turn up the stereo volume. Ultra-stiff engine mounts do keep the vibration to a bare minimum.
RIDE AND HANDLING
The Colorado\'s one-ton payload capacity is great news for buyers who intend to work their truck hard, but the compromise is a necessarily stiff ride. A bit of head toss and bobbing-induced nausea may happen on undulating pavement, but they\'re nothing new for truck owners. While the Colorado feels a bit cumbersome to steer in tight situations, the steering has good path accuracy and the right amount of effort to keep you from constantly making adjustments on the road.
On the trail, the suspension positively gobbles up smaller ruts and bumps as if they weren\'t there. When paired with the drivetrain in 4WD-Low, you basically let the truck figure out by itself how to crawl over obstacles with very minimal steering, brake and throttle input. While the ride may be stiff, it\'s also reassuringly solid. The body has zero discernible flex or shudder even on gnarly surfaces.
Extra utility features include three auxiliary 12V outlets (two in front and one at the back), tie-downs on the bed walls, projector headlamps, and LED taillamps. The stereo has integrated steering-wheel buttons and can pair with your phone via Bluetooth. The part-time 4WD system uses a rotary dial next to the handbrake. Strangely, no indicator light is on the instrument panel to tell you what driving mode you\'re in; you have to look down at the dial to figure out whether you\'re in 2WD, 4WD high range or 4WD low range. Standard safety kit includes driver and front-passenger airbags, traction control, antilock brakes, cornering brake control, and brake assist.
The Chevrolet Colorado necessarily has to make a statement. It does so with a gratifyingly confident, no-nonsense manner. Its solid engineering, powerful drivetrain and clear work ethic should endear it to buyers looking for a serious pickup truck.
Engine: 2.8-liter DOHC I4 Duramax turbodiesel
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Power: 178hp @ 3,800rpm
Torque: 470Nm @ 2,000rpm
Drive layout: Part-time 4WD
Photos by Andy Leuterio