KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/4/2011
Mid-size pickup trucks make a lot of sense, especially if you use your vehicle for work and play rather than shuttling to the office and running weekend errands. But, with budgets tight and fuel expensive a full-size pickup is probably overkill for most needs, which is why the 2012 Chevrolet Colorado is the right-size pickup for today's light-duty chores. Although its aging platform isn't as fresh as the Toyota Tacoma or Nissan Frontier, the Colorado still has a rugged charm about it. And its price point certainly can't be argued with, offering one of the most affordable entry-level trucks on the market. With the temporary demise of the Ford Ranger for 2012 (an all-new model is set to debut in 2013) and Ram not offering a Regular Cab Dakota, the Colorado has the domestic market all to itself. With a broad range of models, cab and bed configurations and engine choices, not to mention rear-wheel or 4-wheel drive, the Colorado is an attractive prospect for budget-conscious working folk and truck junkies in general.
You'll Like This Car If...
If your pickup's capabilities are more important to you than its fancy styling or cushy interior, the 2012 Chevrolet Colorado is a truck that should be in your driveway. Those worried about the cost associated with driving a pickup will appreciate the base model's impressive fuel economy and surprisingly strong 4-cylinder engine.
You May Not Like This Car If...
The 2012 Chevrolet Colorado is more compact than mid-size when compared to its competition. It is not as wide or long as Tacoma or Dakota, and Crew Cab models aren't big on rear-seat legroom, either. Those who need to tow heavy loads should note the Colorado's 3.7-liter in-line 5-cylinder engine cannot equal the torque output of the V6 engines from Toyota and Nissan.
What's New for 2012
For 2012, Chevrolet makes a number of equipment changes to the Colorado line. The Power Convenience Package is added to 1LT trims, while 2LT trims gain standard front bucket seats. LT models no longer offer a manual transmission, and the 5.3-liter V8 engine is no longer offered on the 1LT. A locking rear differential is made standard on 2LT, 3LT and 1LT 4x4 models.
Among the 2012 Chevrolet Colorado's greatest strengths are its solid chassis and potent yet fuel-efficient powertrains. The Colorado's rigid body-on-frame architecture renders rattles and vibrations nearly nonexistent, even on washboard roads and rough pavement. Thanks to Chevy's off-road and performance packages, the Colorado can step up its off-road game, as well as its around-town image. If there is one fly in the Colorado's ointment, it's the unusually wide turning circle, which can prove problematic when trying to maneuver in tight quarters. We think the standard 2.9-liter engine is quite robust for its size and offers exceptionally good fuel economy.
The Colorado's tailgate can be set at a 55-degree angle so that items can rest flat on the tops of the wheel wells and align with the tailgate.
Side Curtain Airbags
Standard side-curtain airbags are an important safety feature worth having.
The 2012 Chevrolet Colorado offers a no-frills interior that is highly functional and easy to maintain. Seating is comfortable for front-seat passengers, with good thigh support from the firm cushions. However, the Extended Cabs tiny jump seats are not fit for human occupancy over any great length of time, and while the Crew Cab offers true 2-person seating, rear-seat legroom is tight. Base models have an overabundance of gray plastic and gray cloth seats, neither of which is very inviting. Higher-level models can be equipped with cloth or leather cashmere colored seating and feature a bit more dash and door-panel embellishment to brighten the interior.
While the Colorado's look is not exactly ground-breaking, it is unmistakably Chevrolet. Like its Silverado big brother, the 2012 Chevy Colorado displays its strength through bulging fender flares, slab-sided doors and bright machine-finished alloy wheels. Regular and Extended Cab models feature a 6-foot bed, while the Crew Cab offers a slightly shorter 5-foot, 1-inch bed. Thanks to the tall side walls, the Colorado's bed offers best-in-class volume, and the clever tailgate has a 2-position setting that allows it to either lay flat or be propped at a 55-degree angle. When in the propped position, the top of the tailgate is parallel with the tops of the rear wheel wells inside the bed making it easier to load and carry, for example, sheets of plywood or dry wall. Regular Cab models ride on a 111.3-inch wheelbase while Extended and Crew Cab models are on a 126.0-inch wheelbase.
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2012 Chevrolet Colorado WT features a 5-speed manual transmission, 2.9-liter 4-cylinder engine, air conditioning, cruise control, anti-lock brakes (ABS), side-curtain airbags, stability control, Bluetooth, tilt steering wheel, dual outside mirrors, automatic headlights, carpeting, AM/FM stereo, XM Satellite Radio, tachometer and forward-facing jump seats in the Extended Cab. The LT trim adds an automatic transmission, chrome front and rear bumpers, Deluxe Cloth upholstery, CD player, power mirrors and leather-wrapped steering wheel. To that the Z71 adds the Z71 off-road suspension, auto-dimming mirror, rear sliding window and the 3.7-liter 5-cylinder engine.
Notable Optional Equipment
Options for the 2012 Chevy Colorado include 4-wheel drive, 4-speed automatic transmission, power windows, power door locks, power mirrors, heated leather seats, automatic locking rear differential, tow package;, 16-, 17- and 18-inch wheel options; 6-disc CD changer, traction control, Z71 off-road package, the ZQ8 performance package (18-inch wheels, sport suspension and 5.3-liter V8 engine) available on the Sport trim.
Under the Hood
Engine choices for the 2012 Chevy Colorado include 4- and 5-cylinder powerplants, as well as a V8 engine on the LT trim. The standard 2.9-liter 4- and the optional 3.7-liter 5-cylinder engines might seem small, but they are both big on power. The 2.9-liter 4-cylinder produces an impressive 185 horsepower and offers up most of its 190 pound-feet of torque between the ranges of 1,200 and 5,600 rpm. That's enough power to muscle any lightly-equipped 4-wheel-drive vehicle through the toughest terrain. The optional 3.7-liter engine makes 242 horsepower. Both of these engines produce class-leading horsepower while returning good fuel economy. The big 5.3-liter V8 is powerful but not easy on gas and is best ordered only when towing is a priority.
2.9-liter in-line 4
185 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
190 lb-ft of torque @ 2,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 (2WD), 18/24 (4WD, manual), 17/23 (4WD, automatic)
3.7-liter in-line 5
242 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm
242 lb-ft of torque @ 4,600 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/23 (2WD), 17/23 (4WD), 16/21 (4WD, Crew Cab)
300 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm
320 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/20 (2WD), 14/19 (4WD)}
The Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2012 Chevrolet Colorado ranges from around $18,000 for a WT Regular Cab to about $24,500 for a Crew Cab LT. A fully loaded LT Crew Cab with 4-wheel drive tops out at close to $34,000, while the base Regular Cab model can be loaded with options and still remain around $21,000. To help make your best deal, be sure to check the Kelley Blue Book Fair Purchase price. It shows what the Colorado is typically selling for in your area, a valuable piece of information when negotiating. As for resale potential, the Colorado falls far short of the values held by the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. Kelley Blue Book expects the Colorado to retain less-than-average residual values.