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2023 Chevy Colorado: Awesome with a side of quirky [First Drive]


Driving through the hills side outside of San Diego, California in the 2023 Chevy Colorado and several things become immediately clear: the scenery is spectacular, this new midsize truck is really well done, and several of the quirky features leave me scratching my chin.

The 2023 Colorado is all new this year, and Chevy has really changed things up from prior model years — like only having one bed/cab configuration.

For this drive, I got to spend time in the Trail Boss and Z71 trims while the ZR2 is planned for a future drive.

On-road and off-road shocker

The 2023 Chevy Colorado has a single engine option, a 2.7-liter, turbocharged, inline 4-cylinder. But, and here’s one of the quirks, it can be tuned three different ways with a base setup of 237 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque. Then there is the mid-range 2.7-liter “Turbo Plus” tune with 310 horsepower and 391 pound-feet of torque. Finally, you can opt for the 2.7-liter “Turbo High-Output” tune with 310 horsepower, 430 pound-feet of torque.

For this first drive, we were in Turbo Plus models since it is standard in both the Trail Boss and Z71.

Starting in the Z71, we drove on twisty, mountain roads, and it was shocking how planted the Colorado felt on the pavement. While cornering is nothing like a sports car, it was impressive for a truck. Off the line, however, I was less impressed with the engine output. It wasn’t awful, but I just wanted more power. The transmission performed flawlessly, which is worth noting due to GM’s past 8-speed transmission issues.

Coming down the mountain off road, we swapped into the Trail Boss, with a 2-inch lift and wider stance, and this trim really proved its worth coming down the mountain. This truck is tailor made for this type of driving, and it hardly scraped the ground — unlike the Z71. The wider stance allowed us to maneuver over obstacles better, and the Goodyear Wrangler K02 tires had the more aggressive off-road tread pattern, adding much-needed grip on a rainy, windy day.

Typically, when you go with a more off-road trim, you give up some on-road driving dynamics. The Trail Boss bucked this trend. I did feel the Z71 was better-suited for the pavement, yet the Trail Boss wasn’t very far behind, and I could comfortably drive either on a road trip or a commute to work.

For those wondering about fuel economy, the screen showed about 15 MPG, and while GM hasn’t announced official ratings at this time, I’d expect better numbers when they do come out since we weren’t doing typical driving.

2023 chevy Colorado

Inside the cabin

Climbing into the cabin, the exterior design shape allows for ample room to clear your head and once inside there is a surprising amount of headroom, hip room and legroom, which should fit the bill for most drivers. I’m 5-foot, 7-inches and my drive partner was 6-foot, 2-inches. We both fit well.

While prior generations had good interior room, this front cabin is even more suited for the driver with all the controls easily accessed and plenty of room for cups and phones. In contrast, the rear, well, that’s a different story. At one point I had my partner set the front seat up for himself then climb into the back. Once back there, his knees were well into the seat in front of him. I fit better, but it is an around-town sitting position — not something for a road trip. Oh, and what about a rear-facing baby seat? Forget about it.

We had previously reported the 2023 Colorado had less legroom than the 2022 model, but an engineer on the program said that isn’t the case. GM just changed the way they measured legroom, which resulted in this spec looking like it’s less. Take that for what you will, I can confidently say this isn’t a four-adult-male-person vehicle.

Finally, the seats are fairly comfortable, although the seat-bottom cushion isn’t very long and could be an issue if you have long legs.


While this truck is certainly more refined, there are some head scratchers.

First, the headlight controls are now built into the infotainment system. Yup, no more physical knob.

Second, while the large 11.3-inch infotainment screen is standard across all trims, the camera resolution kind of sucks. It’s odd that Chevy gives you this beautiful screen and doesn’t improve the camera resolution.

Third, high gloss piano black for the (cough) win? The front and rear bumper have some impressive molding protecting it from scrapes and dings. Below that? High gloss piano black material which is also carried into the cabin. I mean is this a Cadillac or an off-road truck?

Fourth, the less-off-road-ready Z71 comes with a 120-volt bed plug. Meanwhile the Trail Boss has no such plug. Huh? The one you plan to go way off-road and take overlanding has no built-in power plug in the bed. There isn’t even a 120-volt plug in the cabin.

Finally, the starting price isn’t actually less than $30k. On Chevrolet.com, it says the Work Truck starts at $29,200, but that’s without the destination fee — which General Motors typically includes in its advertised pricing. The actual base price: $30,695. Oh, and since pretty much everything is optional, including cruise control, you won’t likely pay that either.

The bottom line

The 2023 Chevy Colorado looks pretty darn cool, drives great, handles off-road trails with ease in the Trail Boss. While the quirks and price tag may make many question if they should just go full-size, the Colorado fits in garages and on trails and is easier to live with than a full-size truck. It is this adventure-ready livability that will grab your attention. I was seriously considering buying one at the end of my time with it.

Editor’s note: Driving impressions in this “First Drive” review are from an invitation-only automaker launch event that allowed special access to the vehicle and executives. Chevrolet covered our accommodations, meals and transportation costs.

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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  1. patrick February 20, 2023

    tim you just schill for these manufacturers that 2.7 gm motor is pure junk and you know it and ford and dodge are making the same turbo pieces of shit wake up and stop pushing this unreliable pieces of shit and pushing your propaganda GM and ford haven’t made a reliable car in 40 years turbos are nothing but problems stop lying to the public

  2. Jared February 23, 2023

    @Tim are you able to comment on the rear seat comparted to the Maverick? Which would you rather be stuck in for 2-3 hours?


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