2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Review

Reintroducing the Midsize Colorado - A Compact Pickup with Full-size Attitude.

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When I was a kid the mini truck craze was in full bloom, and as I grew a little bigger with each passing year so did the dimensions of the compact pick-up truck.  This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as the growing crop of offerings, both import and domestic mid-size pickups, provided consumers with more utility and ever increasing levels of equipment and space to promote passenger comfort.

General Motors brought new life to the compact pickup category last year by debuting the all new Chevrolet Colorado and its corporate cousin, the GMC Canyon, to the North American market. 

Trims and Options

Both trucks are available in either rear-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive configuration, and there are two different cab styles available: extended cab (space cab), and crew cab (double cab).  Base models derive their motivation from a 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, but GM offers a 3.6-litre V6 as an optional upgrade, as well as a Duramax 2.8-litre turbo-diesel V6 engine for those buyers seeking extra torque (369 lb.-ft) for towing.

2016 chevrolet colorado review
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71. Photo: Russell Purcell

2016 Colorado accessories and price

While a bare bones Colorado can be had for $23,115 CAD or $16,660 US , it would probably have to be specially ordered as most dealerships like to populate the lot with units packaged to have the most appeal to their clientele.

In the case of our test rig, a fully loaded Z71 model resplendent in bold Red Hot paint, the truck offers a long list of accessories and four-wheel-drive.  All these niceties and gear come at a hefty cost, as this truck stickered at  $42,585 before taxes.

Our week long test period coincided with the arrival of a severe winter storm, so I very much appreciated the fact that the test unit was equipped with four-wheel-drive.

2016 chevrolet colorado review
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71. Photo: Russell Purcell

Drive Impressions: how does the Colorado Z71 perform and handle?

I had the opportunity to take the Colorado over some pretty challenging terrain – including steep gravel logging roads, mild scree slopes, and somewhat marshy pastures.  The truck’s drivetrain was never overwhelmed, and the four-wheel-drive system helped the Colorado navigate through the rough sections of the evaluation course without any drama, despite running on a set of Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain  tires more adept at delivering competent road handling than a more aggressively treaded tire specifically engineered for off-road duty.

Colorado off-road options

The upgraded Off-Road Suspension Package that was standard on our LTZ test model (Z71 Off Road package includes an automatic locking rear differential, electronic transfer case, off-road suspension, underbody protection and hill descent control) did an excellent job of smoothing out the irregular road surfaces typical of the rural areas I tend to explore on weekends, while still offering enough travel to clamber through deep ruts and over road debris. The electrically-assisted power rack-and-pinion steering allowed for accurate vehicle placement and handling was sharp and direct. With its quiet ride and competent road manners, the Colorado performs well as a daily driver.

Footwork and Suspension

The design team at General Motors  has equipped the Canyon with power-assisted four-wheel disc brakes with Duralife long-life brake rotors to ensure they will hold up to heavy usage under load, and ABS is standard.  Should you plan to tow a trailer or mount a camper, these brakes will be more than up to the task of bringing the extra weight to a stop with relative ease.

The crew cab test unit was very nicely equipped as it featured tow/haul mode, GM’s proven Stabilitrak electronic stability control system, electronic traction control, hill-decent control, a full complement of six airbags (front, curtain and side), tire pressure monitor and a rear vision camera system.

Z71 Styling

2016 chevrolet colorado review
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71. Photo: Russell Purcell

Styling elements include LED projector headlamps, front fog lights, two-tone  17-inch aluminum wheels, and a healthy use of black trim enhancements and accessories.

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Interior

The interior was refined and loaded with a good mix of comfort and electronic equipment including an up rated Chevrolet MyLink Radio and navigation, as well as GM’s proven OnStar system with built in 4G Wi-Fi capabilities.  Other updates for model year 2016 include Bluetooth phone integration, Apple CarPlay capability, and driver safety enhancements including available forward collision alert and lane departure warning.

The interior proven roomy enough for my 6’2″ frame in all seating positions, although I did feel that my legs would be unhappy confined against the front seat backs if I had to travel as a passenger in the rear compartment for more than a brief period of time. Access to the cabin was made easier by the presence of plenty of grab handles and cab-length accessory step rails.

2016 chevrolet colorado review
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71. Photo: Russell Purcell

The overall look and feel of the cabin environment is an upmarket affair, and all materials and trim pieces looked like they would hold up well to the abuse that often comes with “truck” use.

Acceleration from the V6 was sufficient to hustle this rig to highway speeds in short order, and the engine pulled strongly and generated far less noise than expected, and combined fuel economy figures for this vehicle were indicated to be 10.5-litres per 100 kilometres of travel.

Cargo and Payload

The cargo box is deep and well constructed, and the tailgate is an EZ Lift design which operates without crashing down which is a nice touch. The rugged spray-in liner will protect the bed’s surface from scratches and its textured surface has some grip to help prevent the load from moving around too much. There are plenty of tie-down cleats to facilitate load retention and the use of tarps. A clever  CornerStep bumper design helps make accessing bed items a much easier proposition.

2016 chevrolet colorado review
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71. Photo: Russell Purcell

The Colorado will  carry a 721-kilogram payload (1,590 pounds) and has a maximum tow rating of 3,175 kilograms (7,000 pounds). If you select to order a Colorado fitted with the new 2.8-litre Duramax four-cylinder diesel the tow rating is boosted to 3,447 kilograms (7,600 lb).


The Colorado is more than enough truck to meet the needs of the average consumer, and its smaller size and dimensions make it easier to navigate through busy urban environments. It seems that the public agrees, as dealerships are having a difficult time keeping up with demand, which in my mind is a good thing, as it means that the compact pickup truck still has a market and will no-doubt, be a mainstay of the automotive landscape for many years to come. In 2018 alone, the small truck segment saw a 20-percent increase YoY, according to Motortrend. 

2016 chevrolet colorado review
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71. Photo: Russell Purcell

2016 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD Crew Cab Z71 Specs:

Base price (MSRP): $37,155 CAD, $26,775 US

Price as tested: $42,585 (Options: Exterior Convenience Package – $920; Audio System / Mylink Radio with Navigation – $795; Chrome Recovery Hooks – $215; Polished Exhaust Tip – $155; Black Bowtie Emblem Package – $165; Spray-On Bed liner -$525; Bose Premium 7-Speaker System – $685; All-Weather Floor Mats – $175; Destination and delivery – $1,795; A/C Tax – $100.                                                                                                                         

  • Type: Five-passenger mid-size pickup
  • Layout: Front-engine, all-wheel-drive.
  • Engine: 3.6-litre DOHC V6
  • Horsepower:  305 @ 6,800 RPM
  • Torque:  269 @ 4,000 rpm
  • Transmission: 6-speed automatic
  • Brakes: Disc/disc
  • Weight: 1,745 kg
  • Towing Capacity: 3,175 kg (7,000 lb)
  • Payload: 721-kg (1,590 lb)
  • Fuel economy (L/100km): City-9.9; Hwy- 13.6

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 pictures:

Russell Purcellhttps://www.flickr.com/people/autoexposurecanada/
Russell Purcell is an award-winning automotive journalist and photographer based in Vancouver, B.C. His passion for automobiles was sparked at the tender age of six, when a family friend gave the wide-eyed first grader a ride to school in a track prepared Porsche 911 RSR. He continues to fan the flames by building an impressive library of automotive related books as well as a vast collection of interesting automobilia and motoring artefacts. Russell is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada, and is active on Twitter as RoadTestRuss.