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2023 Chevy Colorado: No diesel and 4 other things to know

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A new 2023 Chevy Colorado has been revealed with a new engine, styling and off-road focus.

Since its return in 2015, the Chevy Colorado has been different than the full-size Silverado, thanks to its unique engines, off-road ZR2 trim and pricing with a base trim below the work truck (WT). Now, most of those differences are gone, and this new Colorado is much more like a baby Silverado.

Single engine, different tunes 

While the styling will get people’s attention with its strong Silverado looks, the engine is going to be a hot topic. The unique 2.8-liter diesel? Gone. The naturally aspirated V-6? Gone. How about the 2.5-liter? Gone. Instead, General Motors has brought the 2.7-liter inline 4-cylinder from the Silverado and dropped into the Colorado.

The 2.7-liter is no slouch, and engineers decided to tune the engine to produce three different variants for the five different trims: WT, LT, Z71, Trail Boss (a first for the Colorado) and the ZR2. Plus, this engine is designed to run on regular fuel even with the higher output.

These engines are mated to a new, second-generation 8-speed transmission, which is different than the Silverado’s 10-speed, and peak horsepower hits at 5,600 RPMs. Torque is the same except for the Plus and High Output, which comes on quicker at 3,000 RPMs. When asked about the transmission, GM engineers said the way the power band differs for the 2.7-liter on the Colorado, the extra two gears on the 10-speed wasn’t useful to the midsize truck.

Built for the off-road lifestyle

With this new Colorado, Chevrolet focused on the off-road crowd with three different chassis setups, adding the Trail Boss trim from the Silverado and then making changes to the ZR2 to be more capable.

The automaker also gave Colorado a slightly longer wheelbase with an extra 3.1 inches, moved the front axle forward by 75 millimeter for better front approach angles and simplifyied the cab/bed configurations to just a crew cab, short bed (5-foot, 2-inch) setup.

For the Trail Boss, the Colorado gets a 2-inch lifted suspension and a wider chassis with 3-inch wider front track than WT and LT.

The ZR2 gets a 3-inch lift, the upgraded Multimatic DSSV dampers, like those found on performance sports cars, and the rear shocks have been moved more outboard to improve wheel articulation. It also gets unique badging, spray-on bedliner, new front fascia and a “Flowtie” for better ground clearance and air flow for cooling the turbos, 33-inch diameter mud/terrain tires, new cast-iron control arms, selectable front and rear electronic locking differentials, a modified 3.42 rear axle ratio, aluminum skid plates and rocker panel protection.

Plus, there is a special ZR2 Desert Boss model building on the ZR2 with 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, different off-road bumper and front fascia, sports bar with sail panel, roof-mounted light bar, underbody camera and unique Desert Boss decals and black emblems.

For the driver, this means better ability to climb terrain without having to resort to aftermarket mods.

For a more in-depth trim features comparison, be sure to check out our 2023 Chevy Colorado trim comparison story.

New Interior

The interior has been completely redone and, no surprise here, it is virtually identical to the new 2022 Chevy Silverado with its larger 11.3-inch diagonal infotainment screen blending into the dash with the Google built-in operating system.

Compared to the prior-generation this screen is brighter and offers higher resolution allowing you to actually see clearly the images from the available 10 different cameras mounted on the truck with one of those cameras being the new underbody camera to show the terrain as you climb over it.

There is also a new available off-road display on the main screen, showing things like terrain (pitch, roll and tire pressure), Baja (g-force, wheel slip indicator and transfer case status) and Overlanding (altitude and GPS guidance).

Finally, the interior is going to be offered in four different interior options (like different materials and colors) featuring sporty round outboard vents, wrapped and stitched knee pads on the doors and center console on select models and more adventurous contrast stitching on other models.

Let’s get dirty drive modes

With the focus on off-road driving, it is no surprise the Chevy Colorado comes with a variety of different drive modes to enhance the truck’s performance.

These drive modes include Off-Road, Terrain, Baja and Tow/Haul mode as well as Normal for everyday driving.

For models with 4WD, which is nearly all of them with only WT and LT being offered with a 2WD option, changing these modes will affect traction control, throttle, transmission shifting and brake performance.

The truck also comes standard with Chevy Safety Assist which is a suite of safety and driver awareness technologies like automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane keep  assist, following distance indicator and automatic high-beam assist.  

Available features for all models include blind spot steer assist, rear cross-traffic braking, adaptive cruise control, high-def 360 camera and rear pedestrian alert.  

Small improvements

Aside from the big changes, there are a ton of smaller improvements.

For example, there is now a unique storage option on the tailgate. When the tailgate is down, a lockable lid opens to reveal a 45-inch wide, 4-inch deep compartment with a drain. There is also the ability to setup the tailgate to be positioned midway between closed and open to allow you to store longer items more securely (up to 500 pounds). Plus, there are eight tie-downs, four stake pockets and two motorcycle/bicycle tire grooves in the front bed well. Finally, there is a 110-volt power outlet and available remote tailgate locking/unlocking.

Inside the cabin, there are a variety of make-your-life easier changes. This includes an extra large wireless phone-charging pad, new center console with a new friction hinge allowing it to stay open at any angle, front USB ports, an electronic parking brake, available dual-zone climate control, a Colorado-first sunroof on 4WD LT, Z71 and ZR2 models and available rear-seat air conditioning vents (FINALLY!). Oh, and exclusive red or yellow seat belts available on the Z71 and ZR2 models.

Chevrolet says it expects to start building this truck in the first half of 2023, and more details like fuel economy estimates and pricing will be announced closer to launch.

The bottom line on the 2023 Chevy Colorado

The new mini-Silverado really is really aimed at the off-road-minded consumer. This is a smart strategy from Chevrolet with the amount of focus right now on stock, off-road trucks from all the different brands. Plus, whether you actually go off-road or not, the looks are appealing and the performance on the higher-output 2.7-liter engine should get everyone’s attention.

We are just hoping this performance comes at a reasonable cost. Sorry, but we just can’t see anybody interested in a $80k Colorado.

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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