The Chevy Colorado has been around for 20 years, yet it’s only just entered its third generation. It was a much-needed replacement to the S-10 back in 2003. The Colorado continues as the smallest Chevy pickup available, but today it faces some strong competition from mid-size rivals such as the Honda Ridgeline and Jeep Gladiator.
The Colorado is offered as a four-door cab with a five-foot-two-inch box no matter how far over its $30,695 starting price you dare to climb. The new Chevy replaced the outgoing 308-hp V-6 and Duramax Diesel powertrain options with a 2.7-liter turbocharged inline-four bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The five trims offered vary from work truck to rock-crawling plaything. We’ve driven four of them (in a few months Chevy will give us the keys to the ZR2 released later this year). So naturally, we spent our lunch break poring over the online configurator for the new Colorado, doing a little window shopping before we had to clock back in. Here’s how some of our staff would spec the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado.
Ezra Dyer’s $32,600 Rear-Wheel-Drive Colorado WT
For my 2023 Colorado, I’m envisioning a basic starting point for a truck that will be built into a monster—namely, a prerunner. With the new Colorado’s sharper approach and departure angles and punchy turbo power, it’ll make a great candidate for off-roading of the Mint 400 variety, even in two-wheel-drive form. So I’m starting with a two-wheel-drive WT and adding the upgraded engine with 310 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque ($1050). Hell, give me the front center console ($135) so I’ll have somewhere to rest my right elbow during blasts across the Warp Zone lake bed. And I’ll grab the automatic locking differential ($325)—or, as I call it, “poor man’s four-wheel-drive.” My only frivolous spend, if you can call it that, is for Glacier Blue Metallic paint ($395), because the other WT colors are boring. That puts me at $32,600 all in, leaving me plenty of imaginary budget for long-travel suspension, fiberglass bodywork, and bed-mounted spares. —Ezra Dyer
Drew Dorian’s $33,110 Rear-Wheel-Drive Colorado WT
Ezra’s right. There’s something charming about the base Work Truck trim. Sure, the Colorado is offered in higher-end trims that are more focused on off-roading too, but the WT has a lovable blue-collar, straight-from-the-fleet appearance. I particularly like it in Sand Dune Metallic which, combined with the 17-inch steel wheels, gives it a handsome look.
I’d stick with rear-wheel drive because, honestly, I’m putting this thing to work, not taking it to the trails, so why bother? The 237-hp version of the turbo four is fine too. Where I would spend some money, though, is on several option packages, because believe it or not Chevy will let you add some very non-WT options to the WT.
First, I’d start with the WT Convenience and WT Convenience II packages ($415 and $545, respectively), the first of which adds a remote locking tailgate, a manual sliding rear window, and a rear window defogger. The second one adds an eight-way power-adjustable driver’s seat with lumbar and a tailgate with an integrated storage cubby. I’d then add the Safety package ($505), which includes heated and power-adjustable exterior mirrors with black-painted caps, rear parking sensors, rear cross-traffic alert with automated emergency braking, and blind-spot monitoring. Finally, the Technology package ($950) adds adaptive cruise control, rear pedestrian alert, and a 360-degree exterior camera system.
Considering the Colorado comes standard with that big 11.3-inch touchscreen and a digital gauge display, you’re getting a very not-basic base truck here, and the total is just $33,110. Jumping up to one of the Colorado’s more expensive trims puts it in Silverado 1500 price territory, so if you’re smart you’ll stick with the WT too. —Drew Dorian
Austin Irwin’s $41,200 Colorado Trail Boss
I don’t like getting bossed around. I want to be the one calling the shots. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t be brainstorming on Zoom all afternoon I’d be in the kitchen building a grilled-cheese triptych. True genius takes time and, in some cases, many slices of cheese.
That’s why I’d choose the Colorado Trail Boss. It’s Chevy’s own perfect sandwich. It’s got the off-road attitude of the more expensive ZR2 but costs less than the Z71. You can’t get the LED headlights, which is a huge bummer, but you do get 1.5 inches of extra suspension travel up front with an extra 1.0 inch in the rear. Plus it has four-wheel drive and the limited-slip differential from the Z71. I’d get mine painted in Nitro Yellow Metallic ($395), which is close enough to the color of Kraft Singles. The standard gloss-black 18-inch wheels are fine, but wrap them in 32-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires ($495).
The Trail Boss also gets the 310-hp engine and 7700 pounds of towing, which makes adding the Advanced Trailering package’s ($620) integrated trailer brake controller a must-have. It’s a little silly that cruise control and a manual sliding rear window are an option on a mid-size pickup that costs $41,200, but sometimes you have to pay the cost to be the boss. Another extra is Chevy’s chemically bonded sprayed-on bedliner ($475). The only superfluous (a new word I learned from a recent Zoom meeting) option I’d get would be the darkened name plates and badges ($195). I can hear the salesperson now, “Sir, at $8 a letter, you need to get this for your truck.” Hey buddy, don’t tell me what to do! —Austin Irwin
Andrew Krok’s $42,545 Four-Wheel-Drive Colorado LT
In the interest of trying to keep things somewhat affordable, I chose an LT, which is the next step above the base trim work truck. I did opt for the beefier engine tune ($1050), which puts out 310 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque, for a little more around-town moxie. I would’ve loved to add all the bells and whistles in the LT Convenience Package III, but instead, I settled for LT Convenience II, which forgoes stuff like a heated steering wheel in favor of the thicker-sidewalled 17-inch wheels, since Michigan’s roads are garbage. I capped it off with the Tech package for the 360-degree cameras, the Safety package for a little extra peace of mind, a spray-on bedliner, and the Bose seven-speaker audio upgrade. The Harvest Bronze Metallic paint is a freebie and is a class above an otherwise boring selection of free paint choices. —Andrew Krok
Katherine Keeler’s Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss
Ordinarily, I would spec a truck practically and prudently. But much like the mid-size Colorado that lives in a full-size world, I too suffer from a Napoleon complex. With a little help from a stool and some grab handles, I’d jump into the boss of all bosses, the Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss. It’s not available today, but Chevy isn’t going to ignore you if you flash a rucksack full of Benjamin Franklins at them.
To make the ZR2 (and myself) feel even more special, I’d spend extra for Radiant Red Tintcoat paint ($495). The Desert Boss package is the quickest way to cover the ZR2 with accessories, short of crashing one into an O’Reilly Auto Parts store. Unfortunately, Chevy’s configurator doesn’t reveal how much they’re charging to add the heavy-duty front bumper, winch, LED roof lights, and underbody camera. It’s also the only way to get the best-looking wheels offered, these 17-inch beadlock-capable units with the Tech Bronze surface.
That equipment, plus the 430 pound-feet of torque from the ZR2’s high-output engine, is plenty to pull Mom’s car out of the ditch, should she end up there, again. Love you, Mom! Like others, I’ve added the Safety package ($445), to keep myself safe from bigger trucks. The yellow seatbelts ($50) were too good to overlook, and to save the most important for last, I picked the off-road steps ($495) over entering the Colorado with a running start. Crap, did I mention I’m a little afraid of heights? Mom? —Katherine Keeler
Yes, he’s still working on the 1986 Nissan 300ZX Turbo project car he started in high school, and no, it’s not for sale yet. Austin Irwin was born and raised in Michigan, and, despite getting shelled by hockey pucks during a not-so-successful goaltending career through high school and college, still has all of his teeth. He loves cars from the 1980s and Bleu, his Great Pyrenees, and is an active member of the Buffalo Wild Wings community. When Austin isn’t working on his own cars, he’s likely on the side of the highway helping someone else fix theirs.