Midsize trucks are enjoying a moment in the spotlight among American buyers. They haul and tow mightily, and their smaller size makes them far more affordable than their larger siblings. One midsize pickup, in particular, the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado, is truly basking in fanfare, at least where the editors at MotorTrend are concerned.
As in 2015 and 2016, they’ve chosen it as the best midsize truck to buy this year. Read on to learn why the Colorado is a big favorite among the MT folks.
Engine options, utility, and fuel economy for the Chevy Colorado
The MotorTrend editors gave this year’s Chevy Colorado a thumbs-up for its three very different powertrain choices.
The base engine is a 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder mated with a six-speed automatic transmission. It produces up to 200 hp and 191 lb-ft of torque. The payload for this engine is 1,444 pounds and the maximum towing is 3,500 pounds.
The next step up is a 3.5-liter V6 paired with an eight-speed automatic that churns out 308 hp and 275 lb-ft. It hauls up to 1,578 pounds and tows 7,000 pounds.
The best engine for towing among the three is the 2.8-liter Duramax turbo-diesel inline-four matched with a six-speed automatic. It makes 186 hp and an impressive 369 lb-ft of torque. The Duramax’s payload is 1,510 pounds. Its max towing is 7,700 pounds, which, along with its corporate cousin the GMC Canyon, makes it the champion of towing capacity in the midsize segment.
The EPA average fuel economy for the Colorado is 20 MPG city and 26 MPG highway. The rough-and-ready offroad ZR2 trim yields lower numbers: with 18 MPG city and 22 MPG highway for the Duramax and 16 MPG city and 18 MPG highway for the V6.
Safety ratings and features
The 2020 Chevy Colorado received a four-star rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The ratings for each testing area broke down into four stars for the frontal crash, five stars for side impact, and three stars for rollover.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave this year’s Colorado two different ratings. Its extended cab received “Good” ratings for moderate overlap front offset, roof strength, and head restraint crash tests. This cab configuration earned “Acceptable” ratings for the driver-side small overlap and side-impact tests.
The IIHS gave the Colorado’s crew cab a “Good” rating on both the driver-side small overlap and side-impact tests but only a “Marginal” rating for the passenger-side small overlap test.
The MotorTrend editors acknowledged that the Colorado fell short in offering available advanced safety features compared to rivals such as the Ford Ranger and the Toyota Tacoma. GMC’s Teen Driver system and a rearview backup camera are standard, but forward collision warning and lane departure warning are available only on the mid-level LT trim. Other active safety features such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control aren’t available on any Colorado trim level.
Interior and infotainment tech
The MotorTrend editors noted that the Chevy Colorado’s interior is quiet and comfortable due to its carlike handling and smooth ride quality. But they were disappointed in the outdated cabin styling.
That said, the Colorado has a solid showing in infotainment and connectivity offerings. It has a standard 7.0-inch infotainment touchscreen display plus two USB ports are standard in the base model and Work Truck (WT) versions.
An 8.0-inch touchscreen, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, OnStar services, and four USB ports come standard on the LT and higher trim levels. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a six-speaker audio system are standard for all trim levels.
The Chevy Colorado is an affordable midsize truck with six trim levels
The Chevy Colorado gives buyers flexibility with two available cab configurations. The extended cab seats two or four people and has a six-foot cargo box. The crew cab seats five and comes with either a five-foot or six-foot box. Buyers also have six trim levels to choose from, and there’s a price point for everyone.
The base model Colorado is available only as an extended cab with 2WD and the 2.5-liter I-4 engine. Pricing for this model starts at $22,395. The versatile Work Truck (WT) trim is offered in all cab and bed configurations. Four-wheel drive, the 3.6-liter V6, or both options are also available. It is priced starting at $25,895.
At $28,795, the mid-level LT trim features a damped EZ-Lift and lower tailgate, cruise control, and 17-inch aluminum wheels. A new standard feature this year on the LT and higher trims is a remote locking tailgate. A heated steering wheel and seats are available.
Included as standard features on the Z71 trim level are projector-beam halogen headlights, foglights, all-terrain tires, rear parking assist, and remote start. Comforts such as automatic climate control, power seats, and heated seats and steering wheel also come standard. The Z71 starts at $34,995.
The offroad-tuned ZR2 is lifted by 1.6 inches in crew cabs and 1.9 inches in extended cabs. Its track is 3.5 inches wider than the other models. The ZR2’s DSSV dampers respond to rough terrain yet smooth its ride on the pavement. Other off-road goodies that come standard are front and rear axle locks and high-clearance front and rear bumpers. This model costs $44,095.
The ZR2 AEV Bison builds on the offroad prowess of the ZR2 by adding American Expedition Vehicles front and rear bumpers and 17-inch wheels to the mix. This model also has boron skid plates to protect the fuel tank, rear differential, and transfer case. The extended cab version runs at $48,045, and the crew cab is priced at $49,645.