Chevrolet Colorado tamed

By JAY WONG | 24 October 2014

Chevrolet Colorado - 03
Like its namesake, the Chevrolet Colorado is truly a mighty beast and its latest iteration, the aptly named Muscle Power, exemplifies that point.

I first came across the Colorado a couple of years back when the American car company held a media drive to launch the current generation of its truck in Thailand.

Back then, the Colorado was the mightiest of all the next generation pick-ups as nothing in our regional market matched the Duramax engine’s brute strength.

Three years later, there are contenders for the most powerful engine, but Chevy’s Muscle Power edition beats its closest rival by just 30Nm of torque and still holds on to its title.

I distinctly remember just how much of a beast the first flavour of Colorado was.

Chevrolet Colorado - 01
It took awhile for even us salty pressmen to learn the ropes of reining in this bucking bronco of a truck.

Let me just say that it was the first time I ever experienced a wheel-spin because I stepped on the accelerator a wee bit too hard when in fourth gear.

That being said, I was curious to see what Chevrolet had put on the table with the introduction of the latest version of its pick-up.

Seeing that they had upped the ante and squeezed even more juice out of its 2.8L diesel, I was keen to see if they had ironed out the pick-up’s skittishness.

When I picked up the truck from Chevrolet’s 3S Centre over in Glenmarie, Shah Alam, I was happy to see that the truck was pretty much as how I remembered it.

I always liked the pickup’s broad facia with its massive bi-sected grille and little gold bow-tie.

To me it has a memorable, masculine look to it, maybe not iconic, but definitely appealing.

Chevrolet Colorado - 02
From the side, you see the wide wheel-arches hovering over the 17-inch wheels with 255/65 tyres since this is the automatic variant of the pick-up truck.

The tyres you get are simple road tyres, not AT or MT.

I do wish manufacturers would give buyers the choice of tyre types.

If you plan to use the truck on any other surface than tarmac, you are forced to get a new set.

As for the cargo area at the back, you get quite a bit of space to work with.

I do feel that the trend in the industry nowadays seems to be for high truck bins that are slightly shorter than from what they used to be and this can be seen in the Colorado.

Interior-wise, Chevy gave the Colorado ample storage bays and cubby holes and arranged all of the necessary gizmo and doodad controls on a column that divides the dash.

Now on to the drive.

To get a good sense of what the new Muscle Power was on both tarmac and mud, I plotted a route that took me up to a farm I knew in Janda Baik, Pahang.

The first thing I noticed pulling out of the showroom was that this new Colorado was a gentler beast than its progenitor.

Like I mentioned earlier, the original flavour of next-gen Colorado was aggressive and perhaps a bit too sensitive, whereas the Muscle Power was not.

It was well-behaved when I switched gears and there was none of that wheel-spin-on-the-fly malarkey.

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As for drive comfort, you get nice wide seats with more than ample room in the cabin.

Cabin sound insulation is not too bad, you can barely hear the engine on the highway and there’s not much road noise or wind for a pick-up.

One point I liked about the Colorado is that you get a clear sense of where the corners are on the truck, making parking and driving trough highway traffic a breeze.

Once I turned off the highway and hit the little old trunk roads near Janda Baik, I found the truck to be agile enough to take the corners at a decent clip.

You do however, have to be conscious of the fact that the pick-up is rather wide.

Keeping to your lane as much as you can is a must, especially around the corners.

Once I hit the farm, I decided to “explore” a bit and found a nice stretch that led up into the hills that even had a river crossing.

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Now reviewing a 4WD with an eye on testing it out in the bush is a bit of a gamble.

You rarely get a vehicle that’s fitted with the correct tyres, namely ones meant for mud, so even if you think the trail looks simple, all it takes is a little bit of rain to turn it into hardcore off-road Special Stage (SS) named after some movie monster.

That did not happen to me, thankfully. What did happen to me was that it had rained earlier in the day a little bit up the track from where I started.

So, instead of reaching, say the Godzilla SS, I got Pulp Fiction.

As it was a single track road up the side of a hill, I was committed to proceed as it was simply too dangerous to reverse all the way down.

Climbing up hill on the mushy bits would have been daunting had it not been for oodles of power I had on hand.

The truck’s 500Nm of flat torque meant that I could practically bulldoze my way up the slope.

Hardly as elegant as I’d prefer, but effective nonetheless.

When I finally did manage a point on the track that was wide enough (and level enough) to U-turn, I found that the Colorado does have quite a decent turning radius for a beast its size.

Chevrolet Colorado - 08
Going back down that hill was a whole different kettle of fish of which the Colorado fried quite nicely.

The Colorado boasts an interesting bit of tech called the Hill Descent Control System (HDCS).

Basically you turn it on and let the computer decide which wheel needs more traction and when.

You can take control by simply tapping on the brake, especially on the fiddly bits that needs a more manual approach.

The HDCS performed spectacularly and kept the truck nicely on the track where it belonged.

After a hairy hour-and-a-half of “fun”, I finally made it back down again.

To conclude, I think the Colorado Muscle Power AT is a fair improvement on its predecessor.

Its got a fair bit of decent kit and tech to offer any pickup aficionado.

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Furthermore, its competitive price tag which starts at RM106,000 is sweetened by the fact that its parts are manufactured in Thailand, making spares affordable.

On top of that, Chevy has tuned its engine to be more in control of its urges and making the truck a joy to drive both on road and off.

Truly the Colorado has been tamed, but it has not lost any of its spirit.