The inline-five engine sounds pretty good, but it reverberates through the cab around 2,000 rpm. The five slugs don't provide a lot of out-of-the-gate pep, but at freeway speeds it pulls just fine up to the computer-governed top speed of 96 mph.

Our test truck came equipped with the ZQ8 suspension, which includes lower-profile rubber and a low stance, resulting in a quick response that helped it rip through the corners. But that also made the ride a little choppy and firm, but since this was the performance suspension package, that is to be expected. As for the transmission crossmember, it is bolted to the bottom of the frame and hangs way down; that will pose a problem with ground clearance if you want to lower the truck.

Inside the cab, the Colorado offers several welcomed changes from the S-10; namely a flat floor and increased legroom. The front seats retract rearward so far that a 7-foot-tall giant could practically drive from the back seat. The interior, as one of our editors put it, "looks like its right out of an '80s Cavalier," devoid of class and detail. The truck comes with the standard GM head unit but with one added feature built in: XM Radio, which provided more than 100 stations to enjoy. The sound system rocked with the best of them, missing only a powered sub to really crank. The rear-seat headrests cover at least 40 percent of the rear window and really cut down on visibility; it would have been nice if they were smaller or removable.

The Colorado is a nice, roomy truck that will really get you where you want to go without killing you at the pump. With some attention and some aftermarket hop-ups, this truck will easily take the place of the S-10.

Sport Truck of the Year Score
Acceleration: 6.8 of 24 possible
Ride and Handling: 12.7 of 18 possible
Ergonomics/Style/Build Quality: 11.96 of 18 possible
Total: 31.46 of 60 possible

The Chevy Colorado was hit hard in the performance testing. It's not that it's exceedingly slow; it just got hammered because we award performance points on a curve, so if you test with fast company (SRT-10), you're penalized in the scoring. In fact, the only bright spots in this category for the Colorado was that it was third fastest through the slalom, had decent towing capacity, and had just slightly below-average braking. Its ride and handling scores were pretty good, and it also fared well in terms of creature comforts, styling, and build quality.

* Decent power; great tranny programming
* Lots of front legroom and flat floor
* XM radio; great customizing potential

* Transmission crossmember will inhibit lowering the truck down
* Cheezy, cheap plastic interior
* Where's the 300hp six-cylinder from the Trailblazer? Why five cylinders?

'04 Ford F-150 SuperCrew Lariat
The Cowboy Cadillac Comes of Age
By the numbers, the Ford F-150 has been America's best-selling pickup for the past 20 years. Critics would charge, Why mess with success? But when it came time to freshen up Ford's bread-and-butter vehicle, designers went back to the drawing board and came up with an all-new pickup - bolder, stronger, bigger, better. There's so much new stuff on this truck that space doesn't allow us to tell you about all of it, but we did provide the complete rundown in the Nov. '03 issue.

In a nutshell, the truck is new from the ground on up: a new hydroformed frame, a reworked suspension for better ride and handling, and styling that fits somewhere between the old F-150 and the Ford Super Duty. Ford is the first to offer a four-door regular cab pickup and the first to have roll-down second-row windows in the SuperCab model. The new F-150 is offered in five different models and wheelbases, three cab configurations, all with four doors. The F-150 is also offered in two bed styles and is sold with two Triton V-8s, the newest of which is a three-valve version of the venerable 5.4L, which is now rated at 300 hp and 365 lb-ft of torque.