First Drive: Global 2012 Chevrolet Colorado

Colorado front II
By Daniel Fernandez 

The all-new 2012 Chevrolet Colorado offers all the toughness of the previous model but now has more creature comforts and a more stylish design, inside and out, that will likely broaden its appeal. 

We drove the turbo-diesel with a five-speed manual and a six-speed automatic transmission in Chiang Rai, in northern Thailand. This new midsize is available with a 2.5- or 2.8-liter four-cylinder Duramax diesel engine. Both engines meet the strict European emission requirements and are produced at GM’s Rayong powertrain plant in southern Thailand.

The Colorado is completely new from tip to tail, with a large gold bowtie on the nose and tailgate. The Chrome-accented headlamps sit higher on the new hood and flow into the front fender arches. Fog lamps sit at each corner of the front bumper, which has a tough metal sump-guard integrated underneath to protect the bottom of the powertrain during hard off-roading. At the rear, large LED taillights complete the more vertical look. You can expect GM to use more chrome on the exterior for a premium look on all three cab configurations.

We drove the four-door Crew version because the extended and regular cab models will be introduced at a later date. Seven color choices will be available: Alpine White, Switchblade Silver, Black Sapphire, Royal Gray, Sizzle Red, Oceanic Blue and auburn brown. 

Colorado Int 2

The cabin is more carlike, with a dashboard that comes equipped with dual airbags (on the top-trim LTZ only; the LT carries fewer features). The interesting-looking center stack seems to be borrowed from the Chevrolet Captiva, an SUV not yet sold in the U.S. The speedometer and tachometer display is borrowed from the Camaro, and it’s backlit with ice-blue illumination. 

An information display in the gauge cluster provides travel data, average fuel consumption, total fuel used and more. At first glance, the interior looks more like an upscale SUV interior, unlike anything you’d see in the basic pickups that are usually sold for commercial use in Thailand.

Colorado Gauges IIThe Colorado’s CD/MP3/WMA stereo can connect to Bluetooth devices and is iPod-compatible and USB-ready. The overall sound quality was quite good. A narrow glove box offers more knee room for the front passenger, and two cupholders can accommodate average-size bottles and cans. 

We started our drive with the LT model, which came with a 2.5-liter turbo-diesel engine and a five-speed manual gearbox. Our drive on the open highway started in the wee hours of the morning, so we decided to run with the windows down and the air conditioning turned off. We enjoyed our highway drive; the driver’s seat comfortably cradled our large frames and allowed us to take in the long journey without a sore back or any stiffness. 

The drive was smooth, and the engine pushed out 150 brake horsepower at 3,800 rpm with a generous 258 pounds-feet of torque at 2,000 rpm. The Colorado rode surprisingly well, and handling at speeds approaching 70 mph was fine. 

It soaked up bumps and did well on gravel roads, with the rack-and-pinion steering returning a good feel and firm feedback, just like in an SUV. To get an SUV-like ride on the highway, the Colorado’s frame was designed to take more stiffness by using bigger cabin mounts and tunable torsion bars that are biased for a smoother ride — something GM had been criticized for on earlier small pickups. 

The clutch was fairly light, so when we reached the tight and twisty section of the drive up to the Thai-Burmese border, there was little effort to keep the momentum going as we rowed the gears from 2nd to 3rd and back to 2nd. The 2.5-liter diesel had ample power, so we never needed to downshift more than one gear.

Torque felt strong and seemed to be delivered early the power band, and with the new suspension setup, we did not need to slow down much at sharp corners. The rear brakes are still drums, but we found the pickup’s capability plenty strong enough to stop us confidently as we drove down steep hills without any fuss.

Colorado Engines The Colorado's turning circle is tighter than most vehicles in its class, allowing us to negotiate tight mountain switchbacks with ease. Our Colorado LT came fitted with 16-inch wheels running 245/70 tires, while the top-end LTZ model is fitted with 17-inch wheels running 255/65 tires.

We were given a range of off-road sections to test the Colorado’s capabilities. Underneath the new sheet metal is a double-wishbone configuration with coil springs and a stabilizer bar in front, and leaf springs and a live axle in back. A quick look underneath the vehicle reveals that the Colorado is equipped with a generous amount of ground clearance as well as good approach and departure angles (30 degrees and 22 degrees, respectively) that beat Japanese competitors. 

From gravel tracks to soft sand, the Colorado did not overreach its capabilities, as it was surefooted in its traction on all sections. The steering felt more direct on the gravel compared with the previous model. It’s worth noting that when we hit some larger rocks, there was very little kickback from the steering, leaving us with a more confident feel.   

The LTZ trim comes with airbags for the driver and the front passenger and three-point seat belts for every passenger. Driver aids include traction control, electronic stability control, panic brake assist (increases braking force and triggers the antilock brakes), hydraulic brake assist (automatically increases braking pressure to enhance stopping power), cornering brake control (helps the driver maintain control when the brakes are applied midcorner) and hydraulic brake fade assist (increases braking pressure when the system detects brake fade). 

GM looks to have a clear winner with the new Colorado — it far surpasses the vehicle it replaces, and it throws considerable dirt at the competition. The SUV-like cabin, smoother ride and handling, long list of safety features, powerful and efficient engines, and the bold new look should excite many new Thai buyers.  Whether that strategy will work when the Colorado arrives in the U.S. might be a different story. 

Colorado rear II



I just hope this Colorado is of better quality than the last generation.....

First thing I'll be doing to mine is taking a Sawzall to that grill and cross bar. Got just the right steel mesh to take the place of that hideous setup that makes it look like a cheap Aveo coming at ya!

Have you got the fuel economy on this truck yet? Don't really like the center stack, GM will probably change that.

Wait a minute, on the picture with the speedometer and tachometer I saw that it said 9.4 km/liter which converts to 22 miles/gallon...

2.8, with a little mini Allison tranny would be strong.

In regards to approach/departure angles, I am not sure what "Japanese competitors" are being referred to.

The Hilux has just as good/better angles. While NA only, the Tacoma's are even better yet.

Sheer proof that GM wins and Ford LOSES with it's steaming pile of cow dung....the fugly Bum Ranger. Flame on Frakie and Louie.

It actually works out to 25 mpg US or around 30 MPG Imperial.
That would be awesome for around town. Sucks if that is highway.
The instrument cluster is hideous. Looks like the eye pieces for those coin operated viewers.
I don't mind the look of the truck.

Quote " it far surpasses the vehicle it replaces"
Not that it would take much effort for that to happen.

@Dav , That would be the Hilux, Nissan Navara, Mitsubishi Triton , Mazda BT-50 and the Isuzu Dmax(which is now the sister vehicle of the Colorado. Interesting production stats for the previous Colorado and D Max. Chevrolet sold roughly 4000 to the 92,000 D-Max's sold in Thailand.
Toyota's Hilux, Nissan Navara and Mitsubishi's Triton are the "Big 3"as far as Global sales go. VW wants its Amarok to start challenging the "Big 3". Ford and Chevrolet are still minor players.

The Old Colorado was 30mpg US. What the cycles they measured that is another matter.

The instrument cluster is ugly and the rest of the interior is typical GM. 16 inch rims and drum brakes? Can't they build trucks with discs on the rear as standard equipment? Seems like all Chevys, car or truck, are wearing that same generic front end. Sorry GM, butter luck next time.

Its a Traverse. My sister has one and same front end, same color, then just put a bed in the back and installed a solid rear axle.

I think they should just take the current generation or the next 2013 and downsize everything 20% change the sheetmetal a little, chop off 2 piston on every engine including the 6.6 and start buiding them.

Everyone says the full size GM needs a new body style, well if it looks anything like this Colorado, i will be keeping my 2011 Denali HD 3500 Dmax for a very long time.

The instrument cluster is ugly and the rest of the interior is typical GM. 16 inch rims and drum brakes? Can't they build trucks with discs on the rear as standard equipment? Seems like all Chevys, car or truck, are wearing that same generic front end. Sorry GM, butter luck next time.

Posted by: Jordan L | Oct 28, 2011 10:19:36 PM
Totally agree.. and Chevy had 4 wheel disc brakes 8 years ago with the 4x4 Chevy S10's, and they work awesome.. 100K miles easily on the OEM brake pads and great stopping power. The only reason they went away from it was cost.

i like the drum brakes they don't warp like ford's gets old riden in a ford every time you hit the brake padel and feel the truck hopping all that way to a stop i think the center stack and gauges are sweet i'd probably buy this for a driver when im not pulling with my duramax probably trade my pos 2010 super pooper in for this looks great inside and out to me just think most are jealous cause the ranger aint coming here sore losers

Chev stopped putting disc brakes in the back of their trucks due to nightmare reliability problems. They held up ok on pavement but were poor on gravel roads or offroad. It got so bad the local dealerships were putting aftermarket shielding kits on all of the truck they sold. GM's answer- go back to drum brakes.I had one friend who had a Chevy and GM refused to warranty his rear disc brake. One was completely shot in one year. The other 3 brakes were still 95%.

I can't get over the rounded CUV nose they're putting on these little trucks. I understand why they do it, but it sure is ugly.

I also hate the plastic bumper covers. Anyone who has ever owned a truck with plastic bumper covers knows they suck. They get chewed up in no time flat and then it costs an arm and a leg when you want to get 'em replaced/repainted.

@paul810. They must be fairly reliable as in Thailand and a lot of SE Asia they come in for a lot of abuse.

Interior looks cheap just like the last Colorado.

looks r subjective but sheesh, goggle eyes instrument cluster just looks uhmm....

Not beautiful but not so ugly, and I'm curious to know how much payload ??


If it's going to compete with the Hilux/Navarra/Triton/etc it's got to be at least 1 metric ton.

Sad to see so many naysayers on here. I like the looks for the truck. It's modern and not the same old square cookie cutter style used in North America. The instruments look fine too. The best part is, it will be available in the US/Canada. I am a Ford guy, but this will be my next vehicle when it arrives here. I recently drove a F150 with the regular 3.7 V6 and love the truck & mileage, but the vehicle is just to darn big. Just hope the will offer the 2.8 diesel engine too.

I like this truck, I also like the global Ranger and the new Hilux. These are all products that I would consider buying. I find nothing wrong with the interior. This is a truck not a luxury sedan. The global Ranger might be the next regular F-150 and this Colorado might eventually be the regular Silverado as the new fuel standards for trucks come closer to their deadline. I doubt any of these trucks are not capable. Thailand has some harsh conditions (my Great Uncle was with the Army Corp of Engineers and was one of the engineers that helped build the first major road in Thailand after WW II. He showed me pictures of the terrain which was heavily forested, rugged, and lots of trees and snakes. His team ran 4 wheel drive Dodges which for the time were a pretty tough truck. He showed me pictures of huge snakes they killed which were the thickness of a huge tree limbs. I realize that Thailand has become more urbanized but it is no place for a whimpy truck. Robert Ryan could probably comment that Australia, especially the Outback, is no place for a whimpy truck as well. If we get this Colorado in the US it probably will not be as capable as this model. It will still be good just not as good.

I will take a silver one with gray interior and put a 5 or 6 speed manual in with a large displaced 4 banger.

I really hope that the Big 3 have different design teams for the full size trucks than they used to come up with the recently developed small trucks. I could care less how the small trucks look. I will never own anything but a full size, but please god don't ever make the big trucks look like these. I am not trying to offend anyone who likes the new small, or even older small trucks. Only posting this in case anyone from the manufacturers are reading..... Mike Levine, cough, cough, don't ever let them make my big Ford's look this way ;-)

Here we go again, we hear the whinners saying I don't like the looks, waaaa, waaaa,waaa, what a bunch of wussies you all are. Don't like the looks of something, then don't buy it! Looks are subjective after all and I love the look of the New colorado. bitch bitch bittch and more bitching and complaing.

I sure like that front end alot better than Fords Rump Ranger Fusion front end. Yes, fords rump ranger has the same front end as a fusion.

I really like the looks of the Equinox front end and I know the New Colorado will look much better in person.

Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder or beer holder. Don't like it keep it to yourself and have a nice cup of shut the F*%k up.

Enjoy reading about the "world engines" that North America will not get.

Hopefully they will put in a decent V-6 and dump the I-5.

if that thing is coming to America, it needs a serious facelift!

22 mpg in a diesel? Please tell me that was in the city ;)

@Bitchagain Bob- I actually like the way this looks, more so than the Ranger. Now, that aside... Your hypocrisy knows no bounds does it? You say you get tired of hearing people whine, whine, whine, about how they dont like the looks of this but multiple times I have heard you say how you dont like how the Ranger looks. Well, dont like it? Dont buy it. Practice what you preach and stop your incessant b!tching. Complaining about how much others complain is, well, something a woman would do

Yawn. Good function but nothing exciting enough at least for me to sign on the dotted line. Plenty of good used trucks.

I like the looks of this truck and I like the looks of the global Ranger. Like a few other guys have pointed out - plastic cladding for a truck made for offroad use is the wrong approach. Looks are subjective, but the instrument pod looks lame.
-enough with the girlie man, whiner, and gay inuendo's. You forget that Louis Chevrolet got the inspiration for the "bowtie" from a wallpaper pattern in a French bathhouse. That sounds manly, doesen't it?

It looks alright, but I bet they redo the front for the North American market. Take a look at the new D-max, thats just a simple face lift on this truck and it looks way better. They spent 2 billion developing this truck, I'm sure they can tack on a more aggressive looking front end for the US market. However they NEED to offer the diesel!

I have been sensored from saying that an emblem is advertising. The Colorado, Ranger, and Hilux are all attractive vehicles that happen to borrow their front treatments from related products. Some of these designs might not be the greatest but none of them are terrible. If any of you remember the Pontiac Aztec, the Kia Soul, the Nissan Cube, or the Honda Element you know what ugly is? But the owners of these vehicles liked them just as a mother loves an ugly child. Whether it is a bowtie, a blue oval, or any other emblem these are all capable vehicles. I would just a soon have no advertising on any of my vehicles. Choose which one you like whether it is big, medium, or small. Enjoy.

@Jeff right about that in the Outback , not the country areas of Australia, they need to be extremely durable. In those Outback the Toyota L70, Nissan Patrol and Toyota Landcruiser dominate,
All up the Hilux, Triton and Navara do a pretty good job off road. The Colorado and Ranger are used more in urban areas.
L70 with a locally made Truck Camper

L70 Non-Conventional truck camper and boat

Landcruiser pulling Off Road Caravan through rough terrain

Pulling Off Road Caravan across a river


Still cannot come close to the basc Tacoma's approach/depature/breakover angles!!!

Approach/departure/breakover angle (degrees) 35/26/24

approach and departure angles (30 degrees and 22 degrees, respectively)

So which is it, torsion bars or coil springs?

Note GM finally decided to go with rack and pinin steering something a basic Tacoma had back in 1995! Same with coil springs!

It looks like a Toyota anyways, HiLux that is, copy-catters!

@Robert Ryan,

I agree, the haters just do not understand how durable Toyota pickups are when you go off-road with them...

It's about time Ford and GM start to copy Toyota so at least their can be some competition in this segment...

For those that keep claiming how fugly, etc... about the looks of vehicles:

How do you like those vanity mirrors?

C'mon, pickups are not made to look pretty...

They are made to look meaner and have a look all their own and not what mommy drives the kids to school with...

@Oxi the current Asian Colorado and Ranger are not great Off Road vehicles. The New Ranger on the other hand loks a lot better in that department.

Thanks for the pictures Robert. That is impressive. I have never been to Australia and would like to go some day. The people I have met from Australia are really nice. My wife use to be a Pan Am flight attendant and would tell me about Australia and the Sydney Opera House. She loved it there and she really liked New Zealand too. I did go with her once on a trip to Hong Kong. That was great. I also went to Frankf= WG. Those are tough trucks to survive to Outback. Thanks again Robert.

I wonder where Frankie is??!! I guess he realized after reading this that Ford LOSES yet again and there was no need to make an absent minded comment about how wonderful Ford is and how they do no wrong....hahaha

For crying out loud it still has torsion bars ? if so then I aint interested

@Bob's Gourmet Chef

I am flattered. Get off my nuts!


The article said double wishbone w/coils up front.

Is this the 4 wheel drive or 2 wheel drive? The tire size 255/65/17 are is small for the 4-wheel drive version. The old Colorado came with 265/65/17's on the LTZ trim 4-wheel drive and inch and a half taller tire which equals more ground clearance....

I'm puzzled, one spot mentions torsion bars and another mentions double wishbones with coils, what gives?

" the Colorado’s frame was designed to take more stiffness by using bigger cabin mounts and tunable torsion bars that are biased for a smoother ride"

" Underneath the new sheet metal is a double-wishbone configuration with coil springs and a stabilizer bar in front, and leaf springs and a live axle in back."

@Dav you can get both.

@lou, I think it could be a mistake by someone who is writing the article. Generally I would go with Double wishbones and coils. Leaf springs in the back sounds reasonable.

I'm sorry...But I tend to generally think these ''global'' trucks are just ugly. I'm a Ford guy and all but I'm not just bashing the colorado here...I personally am not very attracted to the new global Ranger either. I don't like how rounded they are, I guess I'm old fashond, I never did like the 1997-2003 model F-150s as much as the older one's...I was so glad when Ford went back to a more square look in 2004.

But yeah, I don't care how good these global trucks run or what kind of gas mileage they get...They are still ugly as sin IMO.

@Nate M cultural thing really. People here are not excited by the styling of US sourced pickups, they are more interested in the total package. Some 5th Wheelers are bizarrely called "Motorhomes", the Pickup being the "engine and cabin"
From a Trading Post advertisement

Sierra 30ft 5th Wheel & F350 Ford To Tow!"
The Asian sourced Pickups do get more of a "bling" treatment though.

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