2023 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD Trail Boss Crew Cab - Review by Bruce Hotchkiss
It's Pretty Darn Good But Is It Really Mid-Size?
Special Correspondent, West Coast Bureau
THE AUTO CHANNEL
There is a meme going around comparing today's full-size pickup to one from 20 years ago. Boy have they grown. So when my wife first saw the '23 Colorado she said "That's a big truck." "Heck no honey, that's a mid-size truck."
Someone else commented that so many 4-door trucks have beds that are too small to be useful as a work truck. I guess that depends.
The Colorado Trail Boss, the version tested, is 213.2" long and 76.3" wide; this is about the same size as a mid-'90s Chevrolet pickup. If you travel off-road the Trail Boss offers 9.5" of ground clearance.
Under the hood, under all that plastic, is a 2.7-liter, turbocharged 4-cylinder. There are three states of tune, base (237 h.p. & 259 lb-ft), mid (310 & 390), and high (310 & 430). The test Trail Boss had the middle 'Turbo Plus' engine.
The engine is coupled with an 8-speed automatic transmission and 4WD with an automatic setting, and a push-button operated 2-speed transfer case.
There are still some out there who think "A measly four banger?" Think again because the Colorado Trail Boss, all 4,971 lbs. of it, can do the 1/4 mile in 14 seconds flat. More importantly in car carry up to 1,587 lbs., and tow up to 7,700 lbs. The fuel economy is only so-so at an EPA-rated 21-mpg highway and 17 city.
The ground clearance was a problem for me and mine. The Colorado Trail Boss really needed running boards. Yes I'm old but I often see younger people who have to hop up into a truck or SUV. I'm reminded of an old TV ad for an AWD car that compared a dainty woman in a short skirt trying to gracefully exit a lifted 4WD pickup.
Once seated in the front seats almost everything was good - the seats were comfortable, and so were the sight lines. The rear seats were almost as nice. I can understand (in a way) why some people buy a crew cab truck as a family vehicle.
There is plenty of legroom in the rear seat but why can't someone make a true, 3-person bench seat anymore?
The cargo bed is the heart of a pickup, it is its reason for existing. The problem with most crew cabs is either the bed is short or the vehicle has to be extra long. The bed on the Colorado Trail Boss is just a tad over 5'; the width between the wheelhouses is 45.5" meaning a standard sheet of plywood has to sit on top of the wheelhouses.
I would consider the ride to be outstanding. Yes it is a truck and it exhibits some of the normal pickup truck shakes but it was remarkably compliant. Some of the ride can be attributed to the P265/65R18 All-Terrain tires. The tires look rugged but were reasonably quiet on the highway.
The controls were a mix of good and not-so-good. I would have liked knobs for the radio controls, but on the other hand, I liked the knobs for the fan speed and temperature control. And I also felt the air flow controls (little click on, click off buttons) did an excellent job of keeping my feet warm. But...
I was completely flummoxed trying to find the headlight switch. The headlights were on "automatic" and sitting in a parking lot I wanted to turn them off. But where is the switch? General Motors used to make just about the best combination switch - lights, turn signals, wipers, cruise control. Nope, no light switch on the turn signal stalk. Where the heck is the switch?
Oh there it is hidden away in the 11.3" screen. Why? I do not want or need to go scrolling through screen after screen to turn this or that on or off.
There was a time when "TV" screens weren't allowed within a driver's line of sight. I understand why. I don't need a bigger screen when I'm driving, I need controls that are intuitive and easy to use.
Every time I drive one of the new mid-size pickups, especially something with an engine like the Colorado's, I find myself wishing for a compact truck with the same drivetrain. Just imagine a S-10 with a 300-horse 4-cylinder! But the Colorado is here now and it is a darn good truck.
I doubt that many Colorado buyers will ever really go off road. I also have no doubt that it is reasonably capable even in its basic 4WD configuration. Opt for one of the versions (Trail Boss, Z71, or ZR2) with off-roading in mind and you're all set for the back country.
Nothing is inexpensive anymore but a base Colorado with the lower horsepower engine is just around $30,000. According to the Chevrolet public site (chevrolet.com) the 2023 Trail Boss starts at $38,495; with options you could push that up to $45,000.
I'll leave you with this question: How can the Colorado be mid-size if there is nothing smaller in the lineup?