The Chevrolet Colorado is a popular mid-size pickup truck to both modify and take off-road. Both of these are activities that can be harsh on a truck’s components. But, in day-to-day situations, the Chevy Colorado shouldn’t suffer such a level of stress. However, that’s not what Consumer Reports has found. Consumer Reports considers the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado the least reliable new vehicle one can buy. Here’s a closer look at why CR gave the Colorado such a low score.
How Consumer Reports determines reliability scores
Every year, Consumer Reports sends out a survey to its members. The survey asks each truck owner to ID problems they consider serious, whether because of cost, safety, downtime, or failure. Warranty problems are included, but not ones from accidents or recalls. Each problem is sorted based on a list of trouble areas, such as engine, transmission, electronics, etc. For each model, CR receives roughly 200-300 samples for each model year.
CR ranks reliability based on how it deviates from the average: “worse than”, “below”, “average”, “above”, and “better than”. A model that gets a “worse than average” reliability rating isn’t necessarily unreliable but has significantly more problems than what is expected. And “better than average” trucks aren’t always problem-free, just relatively so. To warrant a “worse than average” rating in a specific trouble area, the model’s problem rate has to exceed 3%. Below 2%, a model is “above average”. And below 1%, a model is “better than average”.
In the case of newer trucks and cars, like the 2020 Colorado, CR issues a ‘predicted reliability.’ This is based on the model’s overall reliability score for the newest 3 years unless it was redesigned. Of course, because these predictions are based, ultimately, on a given owner sample. Some people who own a problematic truck may never see a problem. And some who own a recommended truck may wind up with a lemon.
2020 Chevrolet Colorado trouble spots
Considering the 2020 Colorado is a new truck, its CR reliability is predicted. Unfortunately, the preceding model years have not been terribly reliable. The 2017-2019 Colorado received “worse than average” overall reliability scores.
Most of the blame can be placed on the transmission. The transmission has been an issue ever since the 2015 Colorado’s redesign, and only in 2019 did transmission reliability rise above “worse than average.” The in-car electronics, such as the infotainment system, have also been problematic.
It is worth noting that the 2017 and 2018 models had issues with both their drive and fuel systems. However, based on CR’s data, these issues appeared to have been fixed for 2019. This is to be expected, considering how reliability improves in a model design’s lifetime. So, it is possible that the ’17 and ’18 trucks are partially skewing the data.
The Colorado also received several red marks in the CR road test. The ride was “stiff and choppy”, although better than the Toyota Tacoma. The interior was noted to be well laid out and easy-to-use, but the seats were uncomfortable, and the driving position awkward. And CR found the Colorado’s value threatened by how many incentives are offered on full-size pickups. All this, plus the reliability issues, contributed to the 2020 Colorado’s low overall score.
2020 Chevrolet Colorado: Consumer Reports score vs. other reviews
Other publications have potentially noticed some of the issues that led CR to rank the 2020 Colorado lowest on its “10 Least Reliable Cars” list. Motor Trend noticed several shifting issues with its 2015 and 2016 Colorado long-term test trucks. However, the most recent work truck test revealed no such issues. MT did experience some in-car electrics issues in the 2016 Colorado: some toggle switches wouldn’t operate, and the driver information display initially showed the GMC logo instead of the Bow Tie. However, that was the extent of the problems.
The Colorado’s interior has been criticized before. MT called it “functional but not aesthetically pleasing,” with a Playskool quality to it. And Car and Driver called it “low-quality.” However, neither of those two have criticized the ride. It’s possible that MT and Car and Driver consider the Colorado’s ride refined for a truck, but that is speculation.
In the end, the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado’s Consumer Reports reliability score is still a prediction. And J.D. Power does note that reliability appears to be of lesser concern to most Colorado buyers. But savvy consumers should nevertheless keep these past issues in mind.