Trucks Trucks & SUVs

Towing and Hauling with the Chevrolet Colorado Z71

The team at Motor Trend acquired a 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 for a long-term test vehicle and they put it to the test when it comes to hauling and towing. The truck they named 2015 Truck of the Year proved it could tow max loads like a winner.

Efficient hauling

Motor Trend’s Detroit office came to rely on Colorado as a trusted work truck. They wished in hindsight that they would have selected the longer truck bed. All Chevy Colorado’s crew cab models have a 5-foot-2-inch bed standard with an optional 6-foot-4-inch bed. With the size difference, the larger bed would be able to easily handle more of everything whether it was plants, mulch, siding, trash, or whatever you needed to move.

Frank Markus, technical director for Motor Trend, hauled gravel in Colorado to place a driveaway at Lake Huron for a summer retreat. The tow/haul function he found helped the truck handle larger loads. It also allowed for helpful upshift delays, downshifts when slowing down, and helped the truck function efficiently.

Markus was curious, however, as to why Colorado didn’t automatically shift to tow/haul mode once a trailer was connected to it using its nine-pin connector. The engine would be able to detect the need to work harder because it would be aware that it has an attachment.

Handling max weight

On one of the gravel runs, Markus hitched a 2,800-pound dump trailer to Colorado and filled it with 2 tons of gravel. Colorado has a 7,000-pound towing limit. With the max weight reached, the truck had to work up to speed. But it did so quickly and safely. Understandably, its fuel efficiency dropped. It got 11.5 mpg while cruising by his estimations which isn’t a huge surprise when towing larger loads.

A larger truck may have saved Markus a trip or two. Still, Colorado didn’t show any signs of strain when it returned to cruising around metro Detroit. The truck got an oil change and tires rotated for $50 and it was ready to get back to work.

Life with Colorado Z71

At the six-month mark, the team had nearly reached 15,000 miles in Colorado but they say it felt like the truck was still new. The seats handled the constant wear well and kept the same shape and comfort level they had when they first got the truck. The team found the cabin to be well-arranged and durable as well. They admitted to a lot of coffee spills and fast-food malfunctions and Colorado bounced back after each one.

The truck’s performance driving around town was described as fantastic. The big tires handled potholes like a champ and offered a smooth, comfy ride wherever they went. The athletic 3.6-liter V6 offers excellent acceleration and cruises the highway well, getting 20 mpg.

The short bed was the team’s biggest gripe. That and the Bak Revolver X2 tonneau cover they used with it. The cover took up around six inches of the bed length when it was rolled up as the metal roll sits on top of the bed’s walls. Still, while the cover made a short bed shorter, it didn’t lessen their opinion of Colorado that much.

Maybe they noticed the limitations of the truck bed because the longer they had Colorado, the more tasks they found it useful for. Altogether, the Motor Trend team had Colorado for 370 days and logged a total of 31,069 miles during their yearlong loan. While that’s indeed a lot of mileage for a year’s time, it happens in the Motor Trend garage. It’s how the team tells which vehicles are pretty good and which are trucks of the year — like the Chevrolet Colorado Z71.