With video: All-new 2023 Chevy Colorado pickup boasts major interior, engine updates

Posted by Talbot Payne on July 30, 2022

The Chevrolet Colorado is getting an extreme makeover.

General Motors’ mainstream brand unveiled an all-new, 2023 model of its mid-size pickup truck that expands in length, interior tech, and model trims even as it shrinks its engine and bed options. Responding to America’s thirst for all things off-road, the Colorado lineup will add a rugged Trail Boss trim to its lineup of base Work Truck, LT, Z71, and ZR2 models.

2023 Chevy Colorado models (left to right): LT, Trail Boss, ZR2

The Colorado is Chevy’s starter truck and the 2023 model benefits from hand me-downs from big brother, full-sized Silverado — most significantly the 2.7-liter turbo-4 engine that is now the core of the lineup as well as a modern, dash-mounted, 11.3-inch digital touchscreen. As GM pours capital into an uncertain, all-electric future, its gas-fueled truck lineup is key to profitability and the Colorado — like Silverado — is loaded with new trims and features that can goose sticker prices over $50,000.

“The all-new Colorado is enhanced in every way,” said Chevy vice president Scott Bell. “With its rugged and sporty styling, enhanced capability, new technology and customization options, it’s designed to do more for discerning customers.”

Those discerning customers embraced the last-generation Colorado’s crisp handling — a signature of Chevy trucks — as well as its tree-chewing ZR2 model. Customers also noted the truck’s dated, plastic interior and base engine offering, and fixing those shortcomings is high on the list of 2023 upgrades.

“While the interior is overrun with cheap plastics, and even the biggest cab size has a small back seat, the truck maintains a pleasant driving position and athletic handling,” noted auto enthusiast magazine Car and Driver of the outgoing model. “Colorado has a good enough resume to suit many pickup shoppers, but it lacks the qualifications to interest a wider audience.”

2023 Chevy Colorado Trail Boss

That wider audience has an array of choice in a segment that has expanded significantly since Colorado was introduced in 2015. There’s sister GMC Canyon as well as Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator, newly-redesigned Nissan Frontier and perennial sales-leader Toyota Tacoma. In addition to these ladder frame bruisers, the midsize segment has added unibody pickup like the Hyundai Santa Cruz and Honda Ridgeline. In 2021, the GM twins sold 97,133 units — second only to the Taco’s 252,520.

To stay ahead of the stampede, the ‘23 Colorado brings a significant interior makeover with standard, high-resolution, configurable, digital instrumentation alongside biggest-in-class infotainment screen. The setup mirrors a Silverado dash that itself was remade for the 2022 model year. The touchscreen upgrade includes a new Google-based software system that will make smartphone users feel right at home when using features like maps and music. The 2023 model will also offer a sunroof for the first time.

“Across all trims, the exterior’s presence and attitude is reflected in the interior, which is designed around the large center stack screen,” said design boss Phil Zak.

The Colorado sits atop a ladder frame redesigned for better interior space and dirt-chewing. Chief engineer Nick Katcherian said the truck gains 3.1 inches in wheelbase — some of which goes to increased rear legroom — as well as a front axle that has been moved forward for better approach angle.

2023 Chevy Colorado interior

Behind the front bumper and aggressive blacked-out maw, the engine bay welcomes GM’s torque-rich 2.7-liter turbo, which is also used in the Silverado and Cadillac’s CT4 performance sedan. The turbo-4 has three different configurations in the new pickup and replaces the previous model’s base 2.5-liter 4-cylinder, as well as the 3.6-liter V-6 and 2.8-liter diesel. Truck buyers are fond of diesels, and the oil-burner will be missed.

The 2.7-liter will be offered in the Work Truck and LT models with 237 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. In the off-road Z71 and Trail Boss models, it will produce 310 ponies and 390 pound-feet of torque, and in the range-topping ZR2, the four-banger will replace the 308-horse, 275-torque V-6 with 310 horses and 430 pound feet of torque (the same numbers as in the Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickups). Like the Silverado (and unlike the Cadillac’s 10-speed), the turbo-4 in the Colorado will be mated to an 8-speed transmission.

Unlike other brands, Chevy does not offer a hybrid variant — its electrification options are based on a separate, Ultium battery skateboard chassis. The Colorado is not yet offered on Ultium.

“The industry is not going to convert to EVs overnight,” said Bell. “We are going to stay true to our customers who want an internal-combustion-engine variant.”

2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2

In addition to sporting the lineup’s most powerful engine, ZR2 is the most capable, from its twin-locking differentials to its Formula One-inspired Multimatic shocks (though its 6,000 towing capability trails the other trims’ 7,700 pounds). So you know that it’s the alpha male of the lineup, it comes equipped with a power dome hood, 33-inch all-terrain tires and wider stance.

ZR2’s personality has inspired ruggedness throughout the lineup. The truck features a class-best 10 camera views — including an underbody lens on Z71 and ZR2. The cameras compliment trailering tech pioneered on the Silverado like Hitch Guidance. Meeting customer demand for more custom options, Colorado’s off-road accessory portfolio has more than doubled from previous model years.

“The new Colorado is a lifestyle enabler,” said engineer Katcherian. “Because outdoor activities are a big part of our Colorado customers’ lifestyles, we’ve made the truck even more capable to support them.”

Offered for the first time on Colorado, the Trail Boss trim boasts 32-inch tires, a 2-inch suspension lift, and chassis widened 3 inches beyond the standard Work Truck and LT. But wait, there’s more: a special edition ZR2 Desert Boss model will be offered with 17-inch bead-lock wheels, light bar, and underbody camera standard.

Complementing Colorado’s mud-bathing and trailering ambitions, five drive modes are on offer, including Normal, Tow/Haul, Off-Road, Terrain and Baja. The truck’s new electric architecture also enables a suite of standard safety goodies such as forward collision alert, lane keep assist and automatic high-beam assist. Options include rear cross traffic braking and adaptive cruise control.

Running against the vehicle’s customization theme, Colorado will only be offered as a Crew Cab with a short, 5-foot 2-inch rear box. The long box option has been canned.

2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2

The pickup, however, does option a new Tailgate Storage Box (a narrow cargo space within the tailgate) that measures 45 inches wide and 4 inches deep. The tailgate also has a mid-level setting in order to carry longer items in the bed, and the bed featurs grooves for bicycle and motorcycle tires in the front wall.

Colorado rolls off the line in the first half of next year at Wentzville Assembly in Missouri. Pricing and more details to come.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at hpayne@detroitnews.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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