As a longtime believer in the “bigger is better” school of thought, I approached the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado with a bit of skepticism—the walkup from the reconstituted midsize pickup to a comparably equipped full-size Silverado is less than $10,000. For the more senior Chevy, you get more cabin space, a wider box and the reputation (and resale) that goes along with a perennial segment leader.

But after spending some time with our long-term Colorado, there are nuances to the vehicle’s size and capability that aren’t reflected in the spec sheet or the window sticker. And while it’s clearly no substitute for someone who is a diehard Silverado loyalist, there’s much to recommend in the Colorado for someone who may for the first time be considering a pickup truck and isn’t so sure which way to go.

The smaller footprint of the Colorado is certainly a consideration—the cabin is more closely coupled than the Silverado, but is as roomy as any mid-size SUV or crossover on the market. Ditto for the rear seats on our crew cab model. There’s plenty of room for 5 adults and the rear bench has a nifty fold-up/fold down feature that increases the secure load carrying capability.

Pickup capability and ride

There are some inherent advantages to the midsize package—you get a high seating position giving you great visibility especially when around other trucks. But also, the Colorado is lower, so that stepping up into the cabin isn’t as challenging as the climb into other full-size pickups with all-wheel drive. The seats are comfortable and supportive, with plenty of warmth in the heated buckets. There’s plenty of power on tap from the 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, which is mated to a smooth acting 6-speed automatic. Our mileage has ranged from a low of about 17 mpg around town to as high of 20 mpg when more highway driving is added into the mix, which is close on one end and missed the high end of the 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway EPA ratings.

The only downsize is the ride, which is like a buckboard when the tires are inflated to their recommended pressure. We experimented a bit and found the ride improved by letting some of the air out, but that’s hardly a long term fix. Perhaps there will be more tweaks on the Z71 off-road oriented suspension to improve compliance in subsequent models.

On all the other scores, Chevy is pitch perfect. The size makes the Colorado easy to wield when it comes to parking, has good passenger accommodations and all the functionality you get with a cargo box. It has found a sweet spot in the truck universe and if its early sales success is any indication, it has reached a new audience without putting a dent in full-size Silverado sales.

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