Second Generation 2015+ Chevrolet Colorado Buyers Guide [Texas Edition]

Autodigg team

Feb 25, 2021


The Ultimate Midsize Pickup Truck For Texas

The Chevrolet Colorado, at least in its first generation, was originally a compact pickup truck that was mostly meant to be used in-city. It replaced the then-ancient Chevrolet S-10 pickup when it was launched in 2004, and was placed in the market to directly compete against the Ford Ranger compact pickup.

While North American sales were significant, they paled compared to the larger lightweight and heavy duty trucks offered up the Chevy model range, such as the Silverado and its HD2500 and HD3500 variants. It is also worth noting that the first generation of the Colorado sold extremely well across the Eurasian subcontinent, from the Middle East through to Taiwan. This was because it was a small, compact, inexpensive pickup that could fit in the tight roads of many cities in places such as Vietnam, Thailand, and even into China, while also being able to handle the sometimes rough roads without snapping in half.

However, in 2010, the Colorado was discontinued for sale in North America, having not secured significant in-roads against competitors as consumers were looking more for full size and midsize trucks. Chevrolet, through the parent GM company, brought in designers and engineers from Holden in Australia to help make a midsize pickup that was desirable, reliable, and, much like the original Colorado, inexpensive.

Now, taking a moment aside here, there is one thing that both Australia and Texas have in common: a hell of a lot of ranches, and ranchers looking for reliable vehicles. We also share extreme temperature variations, bordering on a large body of salt water, and long-haul trips between cities. Although, and quite frankly, Australia can keep all the snakes and spiders!

The Holden Colorado prototype made its international debut at the 2011 Bangkok International Motor Show in Thailand, and then the finished model was revealed at the Australian International Motor Show just a few months later. Due to differences in regulation as well as engine preferences, the North American version needed a further two years to make it to the 2013 Los Angeles Auto Show for its official unveiling.

The new second generation Colorado was an instant hit. Premiered side-by-side with the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, it immediately stood out as matching the quality of materials and trim levels as its bigger brother, but at a very attractive price point several thousand dollars less. It also impressed by being able to fit a full crew cab on a midsize truck chassis, while not losing out on any functionality in terms of towing or hauling.

It arrived on dealership showroom floors less than a year later, and was sold as a 2015 model year vehicle. And since that 2015 launch, it really hasn’t looked back. Retaining much of the classic Chevrolet styling that made the S-10 it replaced such a beloved truck, it was fully modern, yet kept just enough to tug at the heartstrings. It also offered an North American industry first for a midsize pickup in 2016, with the American release of the Duramax turbodiesel that had been honed and perfected by Holden engineers in cooperation with Chevrolet’s stateside engine development department.

Now, 6 years into its model life, the Chevrolet Colorado has become the best selling midsize pickup, not just in Texas, but all of North America. Ford kept the Ranger to corner the compact market, and even Dodge doesn’t have a vehicle in the midsize truck sector anymore. In fact, it has done so well in the Friendship state that it is one of the best selling trucks in Texas. of all time

A Quick Breakdown On Chevy Colorado Trims & Cabin Sizes

Borrowing from names across the Chevrolet model ranges, the Colorado has five official trim levels. These are, in order of most basic to premium, Base, WT (Work Truck), LT, Z71, and the off-road sport model, the ZR2.


In a bit of brilliant or just plain honest marketing, the Base model is… well, the base model! However, the WT trim level was made the base model in 2021. This 2020 and before trim level includes:

  • Vinyl
  • Power central locking
  • Power Windows
  • Manual outside mirrors
  • Extended cab only
  • 2.5L inline-four engine only
  • 6-speed manual standard (discontinued for 2019 model year)
  • Optional 6-speed automatic (standard 2019+)
  • Steel wheels
  • Compact spare
  • A/C
  • ABS brakes

This model was meant to be the fleet sale trim, and came with barely anything other than what was needed to make it a functional, comfortable truck that could take a beating while also not being overly large.


The WT trim, meaning Work Truck, as of 2021 is the new base model. In 2020 and before, it was outfitted to be able to be attractive to tradesmen, with slight quality of life upgrades over the Base trim. These upgrades included:

  • Optional 3.6L V6 engine w/ 8-speed transmission
  • Available in both extended and crew cab configurations
  • Standard dual rear seats with underseat storage
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Carpeted flooring
  • Optional cloth seating
  • USB charging ports

As per marketing and sales materials over the years, the WT trim can, quite literally, be customized to fit any job requirement. It is also aimed at the tradesman with the availability of the 3.6L V6, which has far greater towing capacity than the 2.5 inline-four


The LT trim level is where Chevrolet expects to sell the most Colorados, and as such is the trim with the widest range of options. While listing all of them would make this trim level overview into a novel, the most important features are:

  • Silver painted aluminum wheels
  • Optional 2.8L Duramax Turbo Diesel (available 2016+)
  • Full ESC and TC systems
  • 8-inch Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Plus System screen
  • Hydraulic assist EZ Lift tailgate
  • Remote locking tailgate
  • 6-way power driver's seat
  • HD rear camera with trailer assist markings

It truly is mind boggling the amount of items listed as “Optional” or “Available” on the LT’s trim spec sheet, however comfortably equipped it will not significantly rise over its base price


The range-topping on-road version of the Colorado has all the options of the LT, but with four significant additions befitting the Z71 badge. These are:

  • Z71 off-road suspension package for light off-road duty
  • Automatically locking rear differential
  • Automatic climate control
  • 3.6L V6 standard


This is the truck that is designed for the enthusiast that doesn’t mind getting a little mud and grass on the paint. It is basically a fully kitted out Z71 with significant work done to make it a rough and tumble sport off-roader. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Off-road appearance package with high mount air intake
  • 4x4 only w/ AutoTrac 2-speed transfer case
  • Recovery hooks
  • Driver selectable fully locking front and rear differentials
  • Hill descent assist
  • Transfer case bash plate and shield
  • Full off-road suspension replacement, including 2.5 inch lift
  • Multimatic DSSV (Dynamic position Sensitive Spool Valve) dampers, available only on the ZR2.

Special Mention: US Army ISV


While not a trim that you can just wander into the dealership and order, being Texans, we’re proud of our armed forces. The US Army Infantry Squad Vehicle is a new type of Light Utility Vehicle (LUV) for the Army, GM Defense was awarded a $214 million contract to build 649 ISVs over the next few years.

The requirements were:

  • Transport 9 full-kit troops and their rucksacks
  • Payload capable of 3,200 lbs
  • Able to be slung under a UH-60 BlackHawk or CH-47 Chinook helicopter, or transported by a C-130 Hercules or C-17 Globemaster aircraft
  • At least 6 hours field endurance with diesel fuel, preference for over 8 hours endurance, at 55 MPH average speed

The GM US Army ISV is 90% of a ZR2 trim level, but with an armored hood, military grade shocks and wheels developed by motorsport company Rod Hall Products (who provide the shocks for the ZR2), and uses the 2.8L Duramax Turbo Diesel, tuned to 186 HP and producing over 370 lb-ft of torque. The roof frame can also mount a forward facing M240G/B machine gun/squad assault weapon or an M249 LMG heavy machine gun if parameters require it.

2015+ Chevrolet Colorado Cabin Sizes


IIncludes a second row of seating, with two full-size front doors and smaller back doors With no changes to seat options, this cab will fit 4 people in moderate comfort, as the legroom in the rear seats is a bit tight at 35.8 inch



The crew cab is the full sized beast. Four full doors and available rear bench seat means that this cab can comfortably seat 4 to 5 adults without compromise.


Box Sizes (truck bed)

  • Short: 5.5 ft
  • Standard: 6.2ft (extended cab)
  • Long: 6.2ft (crew cab)

The Second Generation Colorado: 2015-Present


As we covered in the introduction, the Chevrolet Colorado is almost entirely in a class of its own. It is, realistically, the only option for a proper midsize truck platform in the USA. It is smaller than a typical light truck, such as its bigger brother the Silverado, while also dwarfing the compact truck sector, where its first generation began.

The Colorado, however, thrives in this sector of its own. It can still tow way more than its diminutive size may lead you to believe, and can even serve as a comfortable family vehicle for daily driving and long-haul trips between cities. And, thankfully, even at the Base (pre-2021) and WT (2021+) trims, it has a powerful AC system to keep us Texans nice and cool in the hot summers. It also, in light of February 2021, has a very capable heater that is time tested in the Northern USA and, critically, in Canada and Alaska.

Being a simpler truck than the Silverado, the Colorado hasn’t changed much in its 6 years of life. What was offered in 2015 mostly speaks true to what is offered in 2021, although, of course, there are some mild model refreshes and technology updates so that it doesn’t become obsolete.

Another thing that has impressed about the Colorado is that, as it was meant to be a light to moderate duty compact (first generation) or midsized (second generation) truck, it is quite easy to keep in good working order. Standard maintenance and a monthly check in the garage for fluid levels, axle grease points, and the like will keep the Colorado trucking of for many, many years

2011 to 2014 Holden Colorado

Sold only in Australia and New Zealand, the Holden Colorado was offered in three major trim levels: box frame with a low-sided bed (also known as a “Ute”), 4 door Light Utility Vehicle, and Z71 off-road. It was powered by the 2.8L Duramax Turbo Diesel inline-four exclusively, and through multiple years of tuning and updates, became the source of the excellent 2016 2.8L LWN-variant Duramax Turbo Diesel inline-four that became the standard the world over, including the USA.

2015 Colorado

2015 saw the North American launch of the Colorado. It was initially offered with a choice of two engines, the 2.5L Ecotec inline-four that produces 200 HP and 191 lb-ft of torque, or the 3.6L LFX V6 which produced 304 HP and 269 lb-ft of torque.

It also launched with three cab and bed configurations. The Base trim came with an extended cab with a 6.2ft bed, while the WT trim and up could have the Base setup, a crew cab with a 5.2 ft bed, or a crew cab with a 6.2ft bed (unofficially known as the “long truck setup”).

Being the first USA model year, with the North American parts packages, there were bound to be a few growing pains. However, unlike many other first-model-year vehicles, there were really only two moderately important recalls. This is because the actual first-model-year bugs were worked out with the Holden Colorado starting in 2011.

The first recall of note regarded the first US production Colorado’s, up until build dates of December 24, 2014, for a slight imperfection in the front brake calipers that could allow for a slow leak of hydraulic brake fluid. The other recall was far less serious, but still was considered a moderately important recall as the electric assist steering in the first few months of 2015 built models could have wires come loose, leading to a loss of the assist system, leaving the steering manual only.

2016 Colorado Updatess

The big news of 2016 was the addition of the 2.8L LWN Duramax Turbo Diesel inline-four, which produces 197 HP with a generous 375 lb-ft of torque. If there is one thing that Australians have in common with us Americans, it’s that we both love to get great grunt from our engines.

Another, slightly less widely reported update for the 2016 model year was the phasing out of the 3.6L LFX V6. Despite being a good engine, it was used across multiple GM brands and cars, and a more truck appropriate 3.6L LGZ V6 was introduced halfway through 2016 as a “2017” update. This newer engine increased fuel efficiency by several points, while also boosting power to 308 HP and 275 lb-ft of torque.

2016 also saw the introduction of the newest version of the Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, which included upgraded Bluetooth 4.0 connectivity, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and auxiliary USB ports becoming standard on most trims.

No major recalls happened in 2016 for Colorado, while a few technical service bulletins were issued. These were mostly for firmware updates on electronic control systems, and many of the other updates needed for the trucks systems were able to be downloaded over-the-air using the new MyLink connectivity. The only minor recall of note was that the drivers airbag on a very select few VIN ranges of the Colorado may have been improperly stitched, and may inflate a microsecond slower during secondary inflation during a high speed crash. These airbags were replaced under regular maintenance, or as part of a replacement-request campaign.

2017 Colorado Updates

2017 was an extremely quiet year in terms of updates. As the old saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sales were strong, and demand was surprisingly high for an inexpensive truck that could haul hay on Sunday, and groceries on Monday.

The biggest update of note was the introduction into the Base and WT trims of a 7 inch infotainment system, and the inclusion of a HD backup camera in every trim level. This was to preempt upcoming rules in 2018 regarding vehicles of a certain type and length requiring a backup camera for safety reasons.

As well, this year saw the quiet introduction of available vehicle-based 4G LTE wi-fi. All one needed to do was get a data plan from any carrier, insert a SIM card into the infotainment dash area, and drive off happy. Voice calls still required a smartphone connected via BlueTooth, although the OnStar customer service system could piggyback the SIM card for emergency services calls. This is not as much a Chevrolet feature as much as the fact that every SIM card, even if used for data only, has emergency number bypass instructions on them, allowing a data-only card to be used for 911 calls.

To give an idea of just how reliable the Colorado had become, there was exactly one recall in 2017. ONE. The issue of note was that a high-pressure fuel pump could, under extreme conditions, detach slightly from its securing flange. This could cause a slow gas leak, which was considered a fire hazard. The affected fuel pumps were replaced free of charge, even if the truck was out of warranty.

2018 Colorado Updates

If 2017 was quiet, 2018 was one of those chambers that absorb all noises and echoes, at least in terms of updates (they are called anechoic chambers, for those interested). The Colorado simply soldiered on.

In fact, the only major update across all trims of the Colorado was that a newer version of the suspension and dampening system for the ZR2 was introduced, that added a slightly wider track to the stance of the truck. And by slightly wider, we are really scraping the barrel for updates here, as it was about 3/8ths of an inch wider.

No new recalls were issued for Colorado in 2018. The only recall or service bulletin was a re-issuing of the high-pressure fuel pump issue to catch any trucks that may have slipped through the gaps.

2019 Colorado Updates

2019 was both a sad year for Colorado, as well as a great year for Colorado.

It was sad as the simple, reliable, no-nonsense 6-speed manual was quietly shuffled off of the standard equipment list for the Base model. Sometimes, a good old row-your-own 6 speed is all you truly need to enjoy your truck, however it accounted for less than 5% of all Base trim Colorado sales even in the best years.

It was a happy year, however, as its replacement, the 6-speed automatic, brought much more interest to the lower end of the trim range. By moving to an automatic, a driver without manual transmission experience could not mess up and potentially damage the clutch or engine. This subsequently led to a significant increase in fleet orders year-to-year, by at least 5% in most states, and up to 10% in major states such as Texas, California, and the like.

Also, at the very end of the 2019 model year, the 2WD Z71 Extended cab and 2WD Z71 Crew cab with the 6.2 ft long box were discontinued as trim options. This was, again, because those specific combinations were selling poorly and did not make fiscal sense to keep around.

2019 was also a superb year for reliability and durability of the Colorado, as it was able to complete a full model year with, as reported by the NHTSA, the official federal governing body for vehicle safety, no recalls whatsoever. And trust us, we didn’t believe it either! So we sent off an email to the customer inquiry contact email address, and received a response a couple of days later that indeed, there were no safety-affecting recalls issued for any trim of the 2019 Chevrolet Colorado. Perhaps that's part of the reason why Chev sold more than 121,000 Colorados in 2019.


The 2020 model year, which has been extended due to the global pandemic, introduced only a few updates before the automotive industry was shuttered for a couple of months.

These updates include a new type of bash plate for the ZR2 transfer case, with rock sliders now supporting it front and rear. The front skid plates were changed from steel alloy to automotive grade aluminum to reduce unsprung weight.

2020 also saw the demise of the Base trim, as the WT and Base trims had been growing closer and closer over the years in terms of the incremental upgrades that both trims had been receiving. As well, the WT trim name literally standing for “Work Truck” also made much more sense in terms of marketing and fleet sales. That said, the Base trim was still available as a special boxless cab-and-chassis version for those that wanted to turn it into a small flat panel truck or tow-truck. At the end of calendar 2020, the Base trim simply disappeared from the brochures and online sales sites.

There is a planned facelift refresh for 2021 models, however it has not been officially confirmed when the refresh will be fully implemented. Due to the pandemic, it may even be shuffled forward to become a 2022 model refresh.

For 2020, there has only been one minor recall, which relates to a very narrow series of VIN numbers that may have had a faulty front seat belt pretensioner installed. Chevy expects the actual number of vehicles affected to be in the hundreds, not thousands, and so it barely received a cursory glance by most major automotive sites.

TrimYearsMSRPEngineTow Rating (lbs)Review

Recalls & Technical Service Bulletins

Throughout the second generation, there were only two major recalls:

  • 15V278000: Improperly manufactured brake calipers could cause a slow hydraulic brake fluid leak, which could lead to reduced front braking force or, in the worst case, front brake failure with 100% of the braking being done by the rear wheels.
  • 16V054000: Improperly manufactured electric assist steering units could have wires come loose, causing the electric assist for steering to fail. This would not lock the steering, it would simply make it extremely heavy.

Apart from these two major recalls, there are barely any minor recalls or technical service bulletins of note. Being a “simpler truck” than its multiple-trim, multiple-model brother the Silverado, the less there is to go wrong, the less actually goes wrong. It should be pointed out that for 2019, the Colorado recorded zero safety-affecting recalls, and barely any technical service bulletins across the second generation as a whole.

Known Problems & Reliability Issues

In terms of known problems, the Chevrolet Colorado has none of import. While there are the recalls discussed above, it is not as if the Colorado will shake apart at the first sign of a dirt road. As we pointed out in the introduction and the second generation overview, the first generation Colorado has seen use in some of the toughest environments for a truck, be it rocky highlands to jungle mud. It has also been proven and tweaked by the Australians, who are just crazy enough to be able to match Texans!

In terms of reliability and maintenance, the Colorado is often spoken of as a “simple truck.” While it is anything but in terms of what it can do, it is true that it is quite easy to work on and maintain. Expected yearly expenses for maintenance work is between $500 to $700, making it a great value for money.

Which Silverado Should I Choose?

While not as dynamic as the Silverado, the Colorado isn’t trying to be the truck to solve all problems. Instead, it is the truck that solves most of them, and leaves the jobs it can’t do to the bigger, brawnier brothers it has in the Chevrolet and GMC lineups:

Work & Trades

If you can find a used one in good condition, a Base trim Colorado can be found for as little as $10,000 with decent mileage. A WT trim adds a few more creature comforts, but can be had in the same range, and quite honestly, both will get you to, from, and around almost everything you need to get to. As well, seeing as they are as simple to maintain as a wood burning stove, you can sling the thing around as you see fit and it will just take it.


If you need to have the greatest payload capacity, the 2016+ LT trim with the 3.6L V6 is your answer. Max payload for this truck, with the crew cab and long box, is 1,578 lbs, meaning you could move quite a lot before the truck would even notice that it has a payload. However, it is important to not overload the bed, as the rear shocks and springs could become compressed on longer trips, making both the trip uncomfortable and the suspension may be damaged.

Trailering & Towing

The LT trim with the 2.8L Turbo Diesel is your best option here. With 370+ lb-ft of torque, this little four banger can pull way out of its class, with a Silverado LT V8 beating max tow rating of 7,700 lbs. One of the great things about the Duramax turbo diesel as well is that it is frugal, even when towing, sipping down diesel at 30 MPG on the highway, and 25 MPG combined, including in off-road usage… although towing something off-road could be quite uncomfortable.

Daily Driving

As everyone has their own opinion on what is a daily driver to them, this is a difficult subject to pin down to “yes, that one trim and that one spec.” For us, we’ve all agreed that for the price, a LT with the 3.6L V6, a crew cab, and the short box option is the most city-friendly layout. It can get you to and from work, can take the family camping on the weekend, can haul the BBQ and the hog out to an oceanfront cookout, and do it all without complaint.

If some leather and nicer interior trim is important, the same configuration on a Z71 will not fail.

Off-Road & Trail Driving

The Colorado ZR2 starts to salivate a little when you point it towards a dirty, bumpy, off-road trail. With the built in 2.5 inch lift, and the wide track and off-road tires, it is happy to scramble over rock fields, up and down grassy hills, plow through the underbrush in the Australian outback, or reign supreme in a muddy field that would swallow up lesser trucks.

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