Chevrolet Colorado Z71

Little Big Man

The Chevrolet S-10 is the quintessential compact pickup. But after 22 years on the market, Chevy is replacing it with the Colorado, a pickup that's roughly 3" wider and 4" longer. Combined with a frame that's 2 times stiffer, the Colorado charges into the midsize pickup class-previously occupied only by the Dodge Dakota. The only parts in the new pickup that remain from the S-10 are the front seat frames.

We tested the Z71, a Colorado model with faux four-by-four trim that gives it the look of a serious off-roader without it being a four-wheel-drive vehicle. The truck had a 3,200-pound tow rating, but the twin-cam in-line-5 engine-which delivers 220 hp through a five-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels-felt overwhelmed hauling two waterbikes on a trailer. Plus, there was an unpleasant cabin thrum whenever this engine was required to give output. With the 1,570-pound rig, the Colorado Z71 took a reasonable 12.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, but it needed 14.4 seconds to complete a third-gear passing maneuver. Stopping performance was more satisfactory: The combination of fat tires, more than adequate brakes, and standard ABS halted the rig from 60 mph in less than 200'. At the launch ramp, the optional electronic traction control system ($295) kicked in when we were pulling the waterbikes out of the water, causing the engine to stop dead. Disabling the traction control system and relying on wheel spin to get the rig up a slippery surface can avoid this problem. Fortunately, a limited-slip rear axle is included with the traction control option, so both rear tires are digging in when you engage the clutch.

The Colorado Z71's extended cab configuration resolves the conflict of passenger accommodation versus bed length: There's access to the rear seat via reverse-hinged doors and a 72.9"-long cargo bed. If you want to fit four adults comfortably, you'll need to step up to the crew-cab edition, which sacrifices a foot of the cargo bed length.

Last Word. If you don't need big-truck towing capacity, the Colorado is a good midsize hauler.