By Keith Buglewicz
KBB Expert Rating: 8.6
The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado expands on its popularity with a unique proposition: a new Duramax 4-cylinder turbodiesel engine. It expands the towing capacity of the Colorado to 7,700 pounds, and promises to bump the fuel economy significantly as well. Yet it all comes with a surprising amount of refinement, enhancing the Colorado's day-to-day drivability. Also new are Apple CarPlay and an off-road package known as "Trail Boss." Combine it with features like Forward Collision Alert, Lane Departure Warning and a standard rearview camera, and the 2016 Chevy Colorado has the goods to go toe-to-toe not just with the segment-leading and all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma, but also against crossover SUVs that may have left the midsize- truck market when it became stagnant.
If you frequently tow more than 7,700 pounds, need more interior room, or just need more capability than a compact or midsize truck can offer, then a full-size truck or SUV might be more your speed. And, truth be told, the Colorado doesn't have the Toyota Tacoma's off-road chops.
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All-new last year, the 2016 Chevy Colorado adds a new 4-cylinder Duramax diesel engine, plus cool technology like Apple CarPlay.
There's really no bad engine choice when it comes to the 2016 Colorado, but there's definitely a best choice: the new 2.8-liter Duramax diesel. It's surprisingly smooth and quiet, with...
... its diesel soundtrack just enough to remind you that it's special, but not so much to be intrusive. There's also excellent power delivery, with a nice smooth swell of torque from right off the line that carries up to the redline. This is the premium engine, though; budget-minded folks will likely stick with the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or 3.6-liter V6, both of which are also surprisingly well sorted. All come with a 6-speed automatic transmission, but the gasoline-powered 4-cylinder can also be equipped with a 6-speed manual. Around town the 2016 Colorado offers a ride that is smooth enough to woo SUV drivers, but not so plush that it would be mistaken for one.
The new 2.8-liter Duramax diesel may just be the best thing to happen to the midsize-truck market since the Chevy Colorado itself. Smooth and powerful, it offers up a superior driving experience compared to either gasoline engine, and any of its competitors' engines, too.
There are two things we like about Apple CarPlay in the 2016 Colorado. First, the slick integration of your smartphone into the touch-screen display is pretty much exactly what we've been waiting for. Second, it's standard on LT and Z71 models.
Chevrolet walks a difficult tightrope with the 2016 Colorado. To attract non-traditional truck buyers, it's comfortable and quiet, and the front seats, easy-to-use controls, and surprisingly good rear seat – in Crew Cab models at least – are easy to live with. We especially like premium features like the heated seats, Apple CarPlay, and an 8-inch touch-screen infotainment system. Yet it also has to maintain the ruggedness one expects of a truck, which explains the tough-feeling plastics, comfortable but durable seat upholstery, and touches like the foldable rear seat.
While there's no mistaking the 2016 Chevy Colorado for anything but a midsize pickup truck, the curves and lines are softened away from the in-your-face boldness that's found on today's full-size trucks, and even the new Toyota Tacoma. That also goes for the Trail Boss add-ons, which include a flying-buttress-style light bar in the bed, super-bright LED spotlights, and other accessories. It's easy to use, too, thanks to the standard CornerStep rear bumper that makes it easy to get into the bed, and the available EZ Lift-and-Lower tailgate, which allows you to lift the tailgate with one hand.
The base-model 2016 Chevy Colorado is the stripped-down model that your next pizza delivery guy will be driving, but it still includes the utility-enhancing CornerStep rear bumper, locking tailgate and cargo-box lighting, air conditioning, a 4.2-inch touch-screen audio system with USB, and power windows. The reality is that Colorado buyers who aren't managing a fleet will likely start at the more lavishly equipped LT, which includes the 8-inch touch-screen display with Apple CarPlay, an enhanced multicolor information display between the gauges, nicer wheels and interior trim, three months of Sirius satellite radio, cruise control and OnStar.
The 2016 Colorado offers two engine options – the 3.6-liter V6 or new Duramax diesel – plus available 4-wheel drive with a low-speed transfer case. You can also pick an extended cab or crew-cab body, plus a standard length or long bed. Other features include a spray-on bedliner, fog lights, cross rails for the cargo-box storage system and a locking rear differential. Safety can be enhanced with Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning, and there are even luxury touches like seat heaters for the driver and front passenger.
In addition to last year's 2.5-liter 4-cylinder or 3.6-liter V6, there's the new 2.8-liter Duramax 4-cylinder diesel. All come with a 6-speed automatic transmission, although the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder is also available with a 6-speed manual. The 200-horsepower 2.5-liter gas-powered 4-cylinder is a surprisingly good engine, and although the 3.6-liter, with its 305 horsepower, is clearly stronger, 4-cylinder buyers will likely be happy with their choice for either the 2-wheel or 4-wheel drive (2WD, 4WD) model. The diesel is the premium engine, and its 369 lb-ft of torque is 100 more than the V6, giving the Duramax a maximum towing capacity of 7,700 pounds. The two gasoline engines use regular unleaded, the 2.5-liter 4-cylinder getting an EPA estimated 27 mpg on the highway when equipped with the automatic.
200 horsepower @ 6,300 rpm
191 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/26 mpg (manual), 20/27 mpg (automatic, 2WD), 19/25 mpg (4WD)
305 horsepower @ 6,800 rpm
269 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26 mpg (2WD), 17/24 mpg (4WD)
2.8-liter turbodiesel inline-4
181 horsepower @ 3,400 rpm
369 lb-ft of torque @ 2,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: NA
A base 2016 Chevy Colorado has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) just under $21,000 including the $895 destination charge. However, most buyers will skip that, and the $23,000 Work Truck model, and instead start at the LT model level, about $26,500 for an extended-cab and long-bed 2WD version. Go nuts, and a 4WD long-bed Z71 Crew Cab Colorado with the Duramax diesel can top out well over $45,000. Still, you can get the diesel for right around $30,000 if you're careful, and that's a pretty good deal. Prices are right in line with the Nissan Frontier and Toyota Tacoma – save for the diesel, which adds about $3,700 over the price of a V6. Check out the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others are paying in your area. The Colorado ekes out a resale advantage next to the Frontier, but both get whomped by the Tacoma.