New 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Ups Mid-Size Pickup Game

July 28, 2022 5 min read 2 Comments

New 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Ups Mid-Size Pickup Game

Offering up to 310bhp and 430lb-ft of torque from a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, front and rear locking differentials, a factory +1.75-inch long travel suspension, Multimatic spool valve dampers, and a tech-laden interior, the new 2023 Chevrolet Colorado will come with significant advantages over other mid-size pickups. 

All that does, however, include two significant caveats. Most of the above features will only be available on the top ZR2 trim level. General Motors isn’t releasing pricing for the new Colorado yet, but all those features suggest a price tag in excess of $50,000 for the ZR2. And, like its competitors, the Colorado retains some of the downsides inherent to all current mid-size trucks. 

What Is It?

The 2023 Colorado is built on a mostly-new chassis with a wheelbase that’s 3.1 inches longer than the outgoing model. 2.9 of those additional inches come from repositioning the axle further forward. And that appears to address the current Colorado’s weak approach angle. 

Where approach on the current Colorado ZR2 is a relatively limited 30.0 degrees, that number for the 2023 Colorado ZR2 is a much improved 38.3 degrees. A three-inch lift on the ZR2, plus 33-inch tires, help ensure the longer wheelbase doesn’t compromise breakover angle. That number on the old truck was 23.5 degrees. On the new ZR2, it’s 24.6 degrees. 

Chevy is only building dual-cab, short bed versions of the new truck. That’s by far the top-selling configuration in this segment, so makes sense from a business perspective, but may prevent some commercial fleets from adopting the new truck. 

All versions of the new Colorado will come equipped with a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder gas motor carried over from the larger Silverado. Like in the Silverado, that motor will be offered at several different performance levels. The base WT and LT trim trucks will make 237bhp and 259lb-ft. Optional on those trims and standard on the Z71 and Trail Boss will be a version that makes 310bhp and 390lb-ft. The ZR2 will be equipped with a high output version that also makes 310bhp, but increases torque output to a very impressive 430lb-ft. No diesel powertrain will be offered.

Those are some impressive numbers. The 2.3-liter turbocharged four-cylinder in the Ford Ranger makes only 270bhp and 310lb-ft. The diesel Jeep Gladiator produces 448lb-ft, but only 260bhp. The only downside here is that motor will be paired GM’s disappointing 8-speed automatic transmission on all versions of the new Colorado. 

Inside, all versions of the new Colorado will come with a high definition 11.3-inch touch screen display mounted centrally. In front of the driver there’s a standard 8-inch color display that will be user-configurable, and which will include the digital speedometer and tachometer. Up to 10 external camera views will be available on the center screen, including an underbody camera that will be optional on the Z71 and ZR2. 

Max payloads on the new Colorado will be competitive with the segment-leading Ranger—WT and LT versions can carry up to 1,684 pounds, while Trail Boss and Z71s are rated for up to 1,587 pounds. The ZR2, however, features Tacoma-like limitations, with a max payload of only 1,151 pounds. Lower-spec Colorados will feature a class-leading trailer towing capacity of up to 7,700 pounds. That number on the ZR2 will be a lower, but still useful 6,000 pounds. 

GM is not currently providing performance, fuel economy, or prices for the new Colorado. Production is scheduled to begin in the first-quarter of 2023. 

LT, Trail Boss, and ZR2 versions of the new Colorado. 

How Will It Perform Off-Road?

The Colorado will include three off-road focussed trim levels: Trail Boss, Z71, and ZR2. 

The Z71 is primarily an appearance package that will get the 390lb-ft motor, underbody camera, and LED lights. It does, however, include a limited-slip rear differential for some additional traction on slippery surfaces. Unlike the Toyota Tacoma and Ford Ranger, the Colorado will not come equipped with an electronic brake-based wheel speed-matching capability. 

The new Trail Boss trim is fitted with a two-inch factory lift, but retains economy-focussed dampers. It will also include the Z71’s limited-slip rear differential. The most interesting feature on this trim is the inclusion of the ZR2’s lower control arms, which are 1.75-inches wider than lower trim levels, increasing the front track by three-and-a-half inches in total width. GM was unable to provide wheel travel numbers for either the ZR2 or Trail Boss. 

Then there’s the ZR2, which gets all the fun stuff. In addition to the wider front track, GM has also re-positioned the ZR2’s rear suspension mounts from inside, to outside the frame rails. Typically, this location would limit articulation, but GM tells us the ZR2 actually has more rear wheel travel than other versions of the new Colorado. Again, the company was unable to provide that number. The ZR2 will come equipped with 33-inch rubber, but appears to provide enough room for a larger tire, potentially even up to 35 inches thanks to that three-inch lift. Oh, and it gets electronic front and rear lockers, maximizing potential traction on slippery surfaces. 

The ZR2 is also fitted with high-end Multimatic DSSV dampers. Multimatic’s unique spool valves offer more precise damping than the typical shim valves, and are also more resistant to heat. 

Good Stuff

  • Handsome new looks
  • Strong new motor
  • High payloads on lower trims
  • Class leading tow capacity
  • All the screens
  • All the cameras
  • High spec interiors look seriously nice
  • Long travel suspension, position sensitive damping, front and rear lockers, and all that torque combine to make the ZR2 one hell of tempting proposition.

Bad Stuff

  • Brake-based wheel speed matching would seriously help lower-spec Colorado’s achieve more traction off-road
  • A genuine locking rear differential would be welcome on Z71 and Trail Boss versions
  • Taco-levels of payload on the ZR2 will massively limit safe modifications
  • That 8-speed just isn’t fun to drive
  • 3.42 final drive ratio shared across all versions won't be enough to push tires larger than 33 inches without regearing. 

What’s The Best Camper For A 2023 Chevrolet Colorado?

The ZR2 is clearly the Colorado to buy if you enjoy driving off-road. But let’s run some math on that 1,151 pound payload. Assuming two adults at 150 pounds each, a full 21-gallon tank of fuel, and 150 pounds of camping gear, recovery tools, or any other cargo, that leaves only 575 pounds left over. Any modifications will have to remain within that number. 

Weighing just 250 pounds when sized for a short bed mid-size truck, the GFC Platform Camper will take the smallest bite from that limited payload possible. And, will leave you enough left over to safely carry another adult, a large dog, or a few cases of beer. — Wes Siler


2 Responses

Sam
Sam

July 28, 2022

Unfortunately even if it is better than the Tacoma, it still probably won’t dethrone it. Currently, the Tacoma is on paper and in drivability the worst of the mid-size market. The Ranger beats it in about every category (including reliability) yet people still flock to the taco. I hope the domestic market give it more of a run for its money, but even with its current gen doggish & unreliable engine/transmission combo, terrible seating position & dismal fuel economy, the taco is still the king. Exciting year 2023 will be with the new ranger, taco, and colorado/canyon twins. Midsize market is sure to be shaken up.

Greg C
Greg C

July 28, 2022

Well written summary, and better than some articles I read from Press articles this morning. I’m torn whether to move up to an AT4X AEV edition and sacrifice some trail maneuverability and increase my ability to tow and increase payload, or push the limits of the new Colorado ZR2. Either way though it’ll likely have a GFC added

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