Both trucks are available in three body styles, Crew Cab, Extended Cab, and Regular Cab, and they feature two all-new inline engines: a Vortec 3500 3.5L I-5 with 220 hp and 225 lb-ft of torque; and a Vortec 2800 2.8L I-4 with 175 hp and 185 lb-ft of torque. These trucks have an all-new MA-5 five-speed manual as well as the proven 4L60-E four-speed automatic. You can also get a locking rear differential on both 2WD and 4WD models and available traction-control on rear-wheel-drive models.
Safety features are improved with a reinforced cab structure, available roof-rail side airbags, an energy-absorbing front framerail structure, and bumper alignment that conforms to most sedans. The truck features dual-stage front airbags, driver and right front, with a passenger-side deactivation switch (on Regular Cab and Extended Cab without rear seats). Lower anchors and tethers for child seats are available, as well as top tether anchorage for child seats in the front seat of Regular Cabs and rear seat of Extended and Crew Cabs. OnStar is also available.
Other features include an innovative two-position locking tailgate, standard ABS, and foldaway outside rearview mirrors.
Driving ImpressionWe had a chance to drive the new Colorado with the ZQ8 high-performance street suspension and one with the Z71 2WD performance suspension thorough the backroads of Vermont. In both instances, we were impressed with the just how good the factory offerings are, but were most impressed with the Z71 package.
The ride height is appropriate for the truck; not too high, but high enough to give you good visibility. The package produces a comfortable ride on most surfaces with a good sense of the road. It absorbs bumps quickly and smoothly and doesn't upset the chassis, so it keeps the tires on the ground and the driver in control. The road shocks don't transmit into the steering wheel; a result of the truck's solid structure and appropriate spring and shock rates.
It's a very stable and confident truck at speed, even though the spring and shock rates are high enough, and the antisway bar bushings and suspension bushings are tight enough to allow the truck to respond quickly and predictably to steering inputs. The system's response is very linear; small steering inputs are effective, producing the sense of a very controllable machine. On-center feel is positive, sensitive, and stable. Not at all nervous, instead it tracks well, doesn't follow ruts excessively, and the steering effort and rate is well balanced. Overall, we'd rate the suspension tuning as excellent.
The ZQ8 is all of the above with a few tenths more cornering force, but is just a tick harsher over rough road surfaces. The additional suspension travel of the Z71 allows for the compliant-yet-positive-feeling ride and handling.
The five-cylinder produces good low-end torque, and by virtue of the variable cam timing, the torque band is quite broad, which produces good power and accelerative abilities in most rpm points the engine inhabits during normal driving. Transmission and engine power management are as well executed as any we've encountered. The shift points are well placed in the powerband, and the transmission downshifts quickly and appropriately, making it much more akin to the performance we've admired from the Toyota Tundra's power team.