All-new 2023 Chevy Colorado hones off-road image
The all-new 2023 Chevrolet Colorado is coming next year and brings more power, more torque, increased off-road capability, more standard features, and a new design that gives it a chiseled, muscular look. Key to Colorado’s rugged style is a new chassis that pushes the front wheels forward almost three inches while keeping nearly the same overall length, reducing front overhang and increasing approach angle. A big change for this all-new generation of Colorado is that it will be offered in just one configuration: crew-cab short bed.
Five trim levels of Colorado will be available for 2023: WT (Work Truck), LT, Z71, Trail Boss, and ZR2. WT models, like all 2023 Colorados, will include forward collision alert, automatic emergency braking, front pedestrian braking, lane-keep assist with lane departure warning, following distance indicator, and IntelliBeam automatic high-beam assist. All Colorado trims will be available with additional safety and convenience technology including blind-zone steering assist, rear cross-traffic braking, adaptive cruise control, HD surround vision, and rear pedestrian alert. Hands-free Super Cruise will not be offered in the Colorado, at least not yet.
Inside, all 2023 Colorados will use an 11-inch diagonal infotainment screen and an eight-inch digital instrument panel, even the fleet-level work truck models. Wireless Android Auto and Apple Carplay are available and the new center console offers a large, wireless phone-charging pad up front. The console places the shifter to the right side and puts the transfer case/mode selection dial closer to the driver. Drive modes include Normal, Tow/Haul, Off-Road, Terrain, and Baja. All modes alter the shift points and throttle response to suit the conditions, with Terrain focused on slow, technical off-roading, while Baja is meant for high-speed runs through sand and dirt.
Optional cameras provide up to 10 views to help navigate tight parking spaces or venturing off-road. The cameras can stitch together a simulated overhead view while also showing what each front wheel is doing, acting as a spotter on the trail. Z71 and ZR2 models are also available with an underbody camera for especially tricky terrain.
With only one bed length available, Chevrolet made several design decisions to make the space as configurable and cargo-friendly as possible. The bed comes with eight standard fixed tie-downs, and modular tie-downs are optional to add up to nine more anchors. There are a pair of indentations that help position bicycles or motorcycles, which fit with the tailgate down. An optional tailgate includes a 45-inch-long, four-inch-deep storage compartment that’s accessible when the tailgate is open, but all tailgates can be positioned midway down, which puts the gate at the same level as the stamped-in bed pockets that accommodate 2×6 or 2×8 lumber and creates raised loading levels.
Wheel bolt patterns are now shared with the Silverado, giving Colorado owners even more choices of factory accessory wheels, especially since the new, more forward location of the front axle accommodates larger rubber. While WT and LT trims ride on similar 255/65R17 tires like the previous Colorado, tire sizes and ground clearance are both increased for the Z71, Trail Boss, and ZR2. The Trail Boss ships with 265/65R18 tires that are nearly 32 inches tall and provide 9.4 inches of ground clearance thanks to a two-inch suspension lift and longer control arms that provide a wider track. The ZR2 also gets longer control arms and unique knuckles that match the track width of the Trail Boss, but its suspension is another inch taller and it wears 33-inch-tall 285/70R17 tires that provide 10.7 inches of ground clearance.
The ZR2 was an off-road standout since its inception and the 2023 Colorado continues to offer its top trim with all of the same performance features we’re used to, including the near-magical DSSV dampers, front and rear locking differentials, tough cast-iron lower control arms, unique bumpers, and plenty of skid-plate protection for vulnerable underbody components. Chevrolet didn’t give us specifics on wheel travel but did mention that despite the larger tires, wheel travel is increased both front and rear. The rear suspension was also redesigned to package the shocks outboard of the frame to better damp each rear wheel. That should make the ZR2 even more capable of soaking up whoops and tackling trails. New for 2023, ZR2 is available with a Desert Boss package that includes 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, a new bumper, bed-mounted sport bar with lights, and underbody cameras. Expect an AEV Bison version to debut later in 2023 that will add even more off-road hardware.
Each 2023 Colorado will be powered by a 2.7-liter turbocharged inline-four paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The base engine, standard on WT and LT, is unique to the Colorado and provides an estimated 237 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. While it uses the same block and head as the other 2.7-liter fours, this one has some hardware differences. One that was noted in our time with Chevrolet engineers was that it doesn’t have piston oil squirters, as they’re simply not needed at this power level. It replaces the base 2.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder that produces 200 hp and 191 lb-ft in the current Colorado.
Trail Boss and Z71 models will receive the 2.7-liter Turbo Plus which produces an estimated 310 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. The ZR2 will come standard with a 2.7-liter Turbo High-Output engine that produces the same amount of horsepower but 40 more lb-ft of torque. The two upper levels of this engine are physically identical and are the exact same engine used in the Silverado. That should make it easy for aftermarket companies to work their magic to squeeze out extra power if owners so desire.
The difference in output for the top two engines is purely based on the tune that allows the high-output engine to use more boost. That additional power, which may tick up a few ponies once SAE ratings are finalized, comes while using 87 octane, so premium fuel won’t be necessary. We’ve driven this engine in the 2022 Silverado and were impressed by the throttle response and power in full-size truck applications. It should do quite nicely in the Colorado. Unfortunately, compression-ignition fans must mourn the loss of the 2.8-liter diesel, which will no longer be available. Chevrolet’s engineers told us that since the 2.7-liter turbo bested the power of the previous 3.6-liter V-6 as well as the torque of the turbodiesel, it was an easy choice to make it the sole powerplant. Its wide, flat torque curve also meant that Colorado was a great match for an updated version of Chevrolet’s 8L90 transmission. The 2023 model-year truck is first vehicle to use the second-gen eight-speed.
That powertrain, with its added top-end power and low-end grunt, is also good for towing. The ZR2 gains half a ton in towing capacity, up to 6000 pounds. Other trims can tote a bit more, with a tow rating of 7700 pounds, up 10 percent compared to the previous generation.
Overall, we’re excited to see this third-generation of Colorado pick up where the highly competitive second-generation Colorado left off and can hardly wait to get behind the wheel of the Trail Boss and ZR2 in particular. Final pricing info, as well as the EPA fuel economy rating for Colorado, will come closer to launch, which is expected in the first half of 2023.