November 07, 2016 @ 08:36 PM

Review: Chevrolet Colorado 2.8L High Country - The dark horse picks up the pace

Rising from its deep slumber, Chevrolet is pinning its revival here on the Colorado but can the new truck shoulder the expectations heaved upon it?

There came a time a short not too long ago when the pick-up truck hit a crossroad on its journey towards modern times and had to make a decision. Would it continue down the path of the agricultural workhorse or maybe take that turn that pointed towards urban appeal without sacrificing too much on its expected robustness.

Many can lay claim to redirecting the modern pick-up’s heading but none could hold a candle to the pre-facelift Ford Ranger T6 that tore up the pick-up rulebook with its refinement and cabin that was on par with passenger sedans of its time.

Since then, all of its peers have gone down the same route and are increasingly targeting urbanites looking to make a lifestyle statement rather than outright rough and tumble workhorse duties.

The Ranger still leads the way in that respect but Chevrolet is throwing their hat into the ring with the new Colorado that looks to be quite the adversary; on paper at least.

The silence at Naza Quest; the official distributor of the Chevrolet marque here, has been deafening, although through no fault of their own. There simply isn't a suitable product bearing a bowtie on its grille that appeals to buyers here.

However, Naza Quest is quietly self-assured the Colorado will be the backbone of its revival here, such is its confidence in the truck.

On paper, the Colorado 2.8-litre looks to be quite a match for the frontrunners in its class but claims are only worth the paper they’re written on until proven.

Although the mid-range 2.5-litre Duramax engine has seen some improvements, the big-daddy 2.8-litre Duramax VGT found in the Colorado High Country tested here maintains the same power figures at 190bhp and 500Nm of torque.

Some cosmetic refreshments were grafted in as well, especially to the head. A new grille, muscular hood, slimmer more swept back headlights with DRLs and dual-tone 18inch wheels lends the Colorado some much needed presence on and off the road.

The High Country trim we tested serves as an alternative to the Ranger Wildtrak with an aggressive body kit consisting of a redesigned front and rear bumper, gloss black front grille, High Country sports bar and 18-inch two-tone alloy wheels as well as strategic High Country badging.

Chevrolet primed its focus on improving refinement with features that would appeal to the urban, lifestyle consumer. A switch to electric power steering irons out unwanted steering twitches and reduces vibrations.

The cabin itself benefits from thicker door glass, improved rubber seals for the windows and windscreen as well as new rainwater channel mouldings on the roof. Noise intrusion into the cabin is significantly reduced with the diesel clatter at idle barely audible. Wind noise also begins to creep in only at speeds above the legal limit.

Additional kit includes forward collision warning, lane-keeping assist and remote start although the integration of these features fall short of complete convenience. The collision warning and lane-keeping assist only serve audible warnings and not active interference while it goes without saying that remote start should go hand-in-hand with keyless entry and a push-start button although the latter two are glaringly absent.

Tactile feel has been elevated and is certainly closer to the likes of the Ranger than the plastic fantastic interiors of pick-ups. High-contact areas feel premium to the touch and the piano black plastic with faux brushed aluminium inserts don’t look out of place with the leather upholstery.

An 8.0-inch touchscreen serves as the infotainment hub, complete with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay support.

A fancy cabin in a truck is most welcome but it still needs to climb mountains and cross oceans. Fortunately, it does that pretty well too.

It has a wading depth on par with the best in class (800mm) and goes one better with the best in class towing capacity (3500kg). The approach angle is up to 40-degrees.

Enhancements and redesigns to the engine and transmission mounts as well as revised damping, spring rates and bushings ensures it rides as well as a truck can, inspiring confidence and demonstrating stability on and off the road. Even the traditionally bumpy rear seat now feels heaps more composed for the occupants and is a spacious spot to be parked in for a long drive over any terrain.

Having 500Nm of torque just above idle helps it haul ass from a standstill and proved its worth on the medium-difficulty off-road course we tackled. The Colorado took the muddy and bumpy excursion into the jungle in its stride without breaking a sweat. However, an alarming dip in the torque band towards the lower revs is an annoyance and should have been tidied up during the calibration stages.

The switch to electric power steering paid dividends as violent steering yaw from deep undulations on the mud track was easily muted out, allowing the driver to focus on pointing it in the right direction without having to fight back.

Like its predecessor, a six-speed automatic is the transmission of choice for the flagship variant. Here, it has been beefed up with a centrifugal pendulum absorber torque converter that eliminates driveline vibrations.

Sticking it up to the Ranger can be quite a daunting task but the Colorado does an exceptionally impressive effort at it. It rides like a passenger sedan; and is kitted out similarly as well, takes on tough terrains with ease and is still every bit a pick-up.

That bowtie on the grille is arguably the only thing preventing it from being taken seriously as a contender to the Ranger but we implore you to give the Colorado a shot, it could very well surprise you.

Chevrolet Colorado 2.8L High Country
Engine: 2776cc, 16V DOHC, commonrail direct injection, variable geometry turbine, 190bhp @ 3600rpm, 500Nm @ 2000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic, electronically-controlled four-wheel drive
Dimensions (l/w/h): 5404mm, 1874mm, 1858mm
Price: RM129,189


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