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2021 Chevrolet Colorado Review

The 2021 Chevrolet Colorado finishes in the middle of our compact pickup truck rankings. It has a great towing capacity and powerful available engines, but its poor predicted reliability rating drags down its overall score.

Pros & Cons

  • High towing capacity
  • Capable V6 and turbodiesel powertrains
  • Smooth ride and good handling
  • Easy-to-use infotainment features
  • Fewer active safety features than rivals
  • Less rear seating space than competitors
  • Rock-bottom predicted reliability rating

Rankings & Research

The 2021 Chevrolet Colorado's #5 ranking is based on its score within the Compact Pickup Trucks category. Currently the Chevrolet Colorado has a score of 7.1 out of 10, which is based on our evaluation of 39 pieces of research and data elements using various sources.

7.1

Overall

Scorecard

Critics' Rating: 8.1
Performance: 8.3
Interior: 6.4
Safety:
This rating isn’t available yet for the current model year. In the meantime, last year’s rating of 8.1 for safety is being used to calculate this vehicle’s overall score.
TBD
Reliability:
J.D. Power Ratings Logo

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Is the Chevrolet Colorado a Good Truck?

Yes, the Chevrolet Colorado is a good truck. It gets decent gas mileage, and its available V6 engine is energetic. The Colorado offers a turbodiesel powertrain – something you can't get in most competitors – that gives this Chevy class-leading towing ability. Inside, the Colorado has spacious front seats and an intuitive infotainment system.

It's not all fun and games with this small truck, however. The base engine is lackluster, and the cabin incorporates a lot of low-grade materials, giving it a shoddy feel. The Colorado's rear seats are smaller than those in several class rivals, and it has the lowest-possible predicted reliability rating.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado Dimensions and Weight

  • Length: 17 feet, 8.4 inches to 18 feet, 8.9 inches
  • Height: 5 feet, 10.4 inches to 6 feet, 0.4 inches
  • Curb weight: 3,936 to 5,011 pounds
Why You Can Trust Us: 35 Reviews Analyzed

Our car reviews include everything you need to know before heading to the dealership. We combine the opinions of the automotive press with quantifiable data like crash test results and reliability ratings to form a complete picture of every vehicle we rank.

This 2021 Colorado review incorporates applicable research for all models in this generation, which launched for 2015.

U.S. News Best Cars has been ranking vehicles since 2007, and our team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the automotive industry. Our car reviews are objective. To keep them that way, our editorial staff doesn’t accept expensive gifts or trips from automakers, and a third party handles all the advertising on our site.

Should I Buy the Chevrolet Colorado?

The Chevrolet Colorado may not be the right choice for everybody, but it's a solid pick in the compact pickup truck class. Even better, its MSRP is right in line with many rivals' price tags, so it gives you a fair amount of bang for your buck.

Find a 2021 Chevrolet Colorado for sale near you »

2020 vs. 2021 Chevrolet Colorado: What's the Difference?

The 2021 Chevy Colorado isn't too different from the 2020 model. There are some exterior styling updates, and Chevrolet dropped the Base trim, leaving the WT as the lowest trim in the lineup.

Compare the 2020 and 2021 Colorado »

Here are the key changes for the Chevrolet Colorado over the last few years:

  • 2017: new V6 engine debuted
  • 2018: upgraded base infotainment system introduced
  • 2019: no major changes
  • 2020: Infotainment 3 interface replaced MyLink system
  • 2021: Base trim discontinued; exterior styling updates

If you're considering an older model, be sure to read our 2018 Colorado, 2019 Colorado, and 2020 Colorado reviews to help make your decision. Also, check out our Best New Car Deals and Best New Car Lease Deals pages to learn about savings and discounts you can find on new vehicles.

How Much Does the Chevrolet Colorado Cost?

The Colorado WT, which is now the base trim, starts at $25,200 for the Extended Cab/long bed configuration. That's a reasonable starting price for a compact pickup. Models with the Crew Cab and short bed start at $27,100, while models with the Crew Cab and long bed start at $29,400.

The range-topping Colorado ZR2 starts at $41,600 for Extended Cab models. ZR2 models with the Crew Cab and short bed start at $43,200. That's comparable to several rivals' top-trim prices.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Chevrolet dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Chevrolet deals page.

Chevrolet Colorado Versus the Competition

Chevrolet Colorado vs. Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger finishes a bit ahead of the Colorado in our compact pickup truck rankings. The Colorado can tow slightly more and has dedicated off-road trims, but the Ranger has a higher maximum payload and offers plenty of features that turn it into a capable off-roader. The Ranger has only one engine option, a turbo-four that slots between the Colorado's V6 and diesel engine in terms of output.

The Colorado has a better standard infotainment system, but the Ranger's available SYNC 3 system works great, and the Ford offers more advanced safety features. At the end of the day, there are plenty of reasons to like both trucks, but the Ford is just a bit better overall.

Compare the Colorado and Ranger »

Chevrolet Colorado vs. Chevrolet Silverado

The Chevrolet Silverado is a full-size pickup truck, and you wouldn't be too far off if you thought of it as the Colorado's big brother. The Silverado is much bigger than the Colorado, it offers a longer bed, and it can tow and haul significantly more. It also has a much larger interior, and its Crew Cab's rear seats can easily accommodate adult passengers. Features-wise, these two are pretty similar, though the Silverado offers many more driver assistance aids.

You'll pay for all of these advantages though, as the Silverado's base price is several thousand dollars more than the Colorado's. And while it does offer more capability and interior space, it has a larger footprint, which can make it harder to fit into tight areas. At the high end of the trim lineup, the difference is even greater. The Silverado is a better truck, but you may not need all of its extra capability and space.

Compare the Colorado and Silverado »

Compare the Colorado, Ranger, and Silverado »

Colorado Performance: Something for Every Buyer

Colorado Engine

The Colorado comes standard with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that puts out 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.

There are two available engines. One is a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. The other is a 2.8-liter turbodiesel that puts out 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. The V6 is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, while the diesel comes with a six-speed automatic.

The base four-cylinder is potent enough for city and highway driving, though it's well behind the available engines when it comes to towing capacity. The V6 feels stronger than the base engine, and it provides better acceleration. The best tow rating comes from models with the turbodiesel.

Colorado Gas Mileage

With its base four-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive, the Colorado gets 19 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway, which are solid ratings for the class. Models with the V6 are a tick worse at 18 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Turbodiesel models get the best fuel economy, with ratings of 20/30 mpg city/highway.

Four-wheel-drive models' fuel economy ratings are about 1 mpg worse than in their rear-wheel-drive counterparts.

Colorado Ride and Handling

You may be surprised at how easy it is to drive the Colorado. It delivers a smooth ride, even over rough pavement, and it's fairly maneuverable in parking lots and crowded city streets, giving it an almost carlike feel. Its handling isn't too shabby, either.

Colorado Off-Road Performance

The best choices in the lineup for off-roading are the Z71 and ZR2 models. Thanks to an array of specialty features, these trims are extremely capable when the pavement ends. These options include locking front and rear differentials, hill descent control, and a heavy-duty suspension system.

The ZR2 and ZR2 Bison are better equipped for extreme off-roading than the Z71, and these are the trims to look to if you want something that might keep up with the Jeep Gladiator or the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.

Colorado Towing Capacity

This Chevy's towing capacity varies pretty widely, depending on which engine you want. When equipped with the turbodiesel engine, the Colorado's highest capacity is 7,700 pounds, which is tied for the best rating in the class.

V6-powered models aren't far behind, with a max tow rating of 7,000 pounds. Colorados with the base engine sit well below the other two, enabling a maximum capacity of 3,500 pounds.

When properly equipped, the Colorado can haul up to 1,578 pounds. That's fairly typical for the class.

Read more about performance »

Colorado Interior: Room for Improvement

Colorado Cargo Space

As is the case with most small trucks, the Colorado offers two bed lengths. Extended Cab models come with a 6-foot-2-inch long box, which is slightly longer than class rivals offer. The Crew Cab body style lets you choose between the long box and a 5-foot-2-inch short box.

Features like a step built into the corners of the rear bumper and accompanying hand grips in the bedrails come standard, but the bed's side walls are high, and you can't fit full sheets of plywood between the wheel wells, though this is common among compact trucks.

How Many People Does the Colorado Seat?

Extended Cab Colorado models seat four, and Crew Cab models seat five. Up front, the Colorado provides spacious, comfortable accommodations. Drivers will welcome the high seating position, which offers a commanding view of the road.

The rear seats aren't as inviting. Extended Cab rear seats only offer adequate space for small kids. The Crew Cab body style is definitely the way to go if you plan to regularly carry passengers in the back, but even that isn't as spacious as rivals' crew cabs, and it can be tough to get in and out because of narrow rear-door openings. Also, the large roof pillars inhibit visibility.

Colorado and Child Car Seats

This Chevrolet features two complete sets of LATCH connectors for the rear outboard seats, and Crew Cab models have an upper tether for the rear middle seat. This LATCH system is relatively easy to use, but the anchors in both models can be difficult to locate.

Colorado Interior Quality

The Colorado definitely feels like a truck inside. While it looks fairly modern, there are plenty of hard plastics and low-grade materials throughout the cabin.

Colorado Infotainment, Bluetooth, and Navigation

There's a lot to like about the Colorado's infotainment system. Standard connectivity features like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto make it easy to sync your smartphone, and the center stack is well-organized with controls that are easy to see and reach. The touch screen is responsive, and the interface is easy to master.

  • Standard infotainment features: a 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and a six-speaker audio system
  • Available infotainment features: wireless device charging, an 8-inch touch screen, a seven-speaker Bose audio system, HD Radio, a Wi-Fi hot spot, additional USB ports, and navigation
  • Other available features: automatic climate control and remote start

For more information, read What Is Apple CarPlay? and What Is Android Auto?

Read more about interior »

Colorado Reliability

Is the Chevrolet Colorado Reliable?

The 2021 Chevrolet Colorado has the lowest-possible predicted reliability rating of two out of five.

Chevrolet Colorado Warranty

Chevrolet covers the Colorado with a three-year/36,000-mile basic warranty and a five-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Read more about reliability »

Colorado Safety

Colorado Crash Test Results

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado an overall safety rating of four out of five stars, with four stars in the frontal crash test, five stars in the side crash test, and three stars in the rollover test.

At the time of writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not crash tested the 2021 Colorado.

Colorado Safety Features

Standard advanced safety features:

  • Rearview camera
  • Teen Driver (lets you do things like set speed and audio volume limits for secondary drivers, as well as monitor their driving performance)

Available advanced safety features:

  • Cruise control
  • Rear parking sensors
  • Forward collision warning
  • Lane departure warning

Read more about safety »

Where Is the Chevrolet Colorado Built?

General Motors builds the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado in Missouri.

Which Chevrolet Colorado Model Is Right for Me?

The Colorado comes in four trim levels: WT, LT, Z71, and ZR2. First you have to decide which cab and bed best suit your needs, since not every cab/bed combo is offered with every trim level. There are also three engine options – four-cylinder, V6, and turbodiesel – that can significantly affect towing capacity.

Once you've chosen a cab, bed, and powertrain, you can pick a trim level. The LT is one of the best values in the lineup. It comes standard with several infotainment features that are optional or unavailable in the WT trim, as well as an EZ Lift & Lower tailgate. Buyers looking for the best off-roaders in the lineup will want to skip straight to the top two trims: the Z71 and the ZR2.

Chevrolet Colorado Powertrain Options:

  • Base engine: 2.5-liter four-cylinder with 200 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque; starts at $21,300 (standard in WT and LT)
  • Available engines:
    • 3.6-liter V6 with 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque; starts at $26,685 (available in WT, LT; standard in Z71 and ZR2)
    • 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel with 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque; starts at $36,615 (available in LT, Z71, and ZR2)
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available four-wheel drive
  • Transmission: six-speed automatic (base and turbodiesel); eight-speed automatic (V6)

Chevrolet Colorado Appearance Packages:

  • Redline Special Edition (prices start at $2,690): 18-inch black-painted aluminum wheels, a spray-on bed liner, off-road step bars, red tow hooks, black body moldings, and a black grille and badge
  • Chrome Appearance package (prices start at $300): chrome door handles, grille, rear bumper, outside heated power mirrors, and beltline moldings
  • Colorado RST Special Edition (prices start at $2,995): black body moldings, an RST badge, 20-inch black-painted aluminum wheels, and a spray-on bed liner
  • Custom Special Edition (prices start at $1,135): 18-inch painted aluminum wheels and body-colored grille, door handles, rear bumper, and power outside mirrors
  • Tonneau and Step package (prices start at $1,195): black off-road assist steps and a soft roll-up tonneau cover
  • Z71 Midnight Edition (prices start at $2,600): black emblems, a body-colored grille, a spray-on bed liner, all-weather floor mats, 17-inch black-painted wheels, and 31-inch all-terrain tires
  • ZR2 Dusk Special Edition (prices start at $3,215): off-road lights and sport bar, 17-inch gloss-black painted aluminum wheels, and a 17-inch spare wheel
  • ZR2 Midnight Special Edition (prices start at $3,215): black paint, off-road lights, 17-inch gloss-black painted aluminum wheels, and a 17-inch spare wheel

Chevrolet Colorado Performance Packages/Options:

  • Power package (prices start at $1,850; available in all trims): a performance air intake and a cat-back performance exhaust
  • Performance Skid Plate package (prices start at $375; available in WT, LT, and Z71): front and mid skid plates
  • Colorado ZR2 Bison (prices start at $5,750; available in ZR2): a trim-specific front bumper with winch and a rear bumper with tow hooks; trim-specific fender flares, 17-inch wheels, contoured floor liners, skid plates, and fog lamps.
Chevrolet Colorado WT

The Colorado WT starts at $25,200 for the Extended Cab/long bed configuration. WT models with the Crew Cab and short bed start at $27,100, while models with the Crew Cab and long bed start at $29,400.

Standard features include a rearview camera, Teen Driver, and the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 system with a 7-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, satellite radio, and a six-speaker audio system.

Chevrolet Colorado LT

The Colorado LT sports a starting price of $27,700 for the Extended Cab/long bed configuration. LT models with the Crew Cab and short bed start at $29,700, while models with the Crew Cab and long bed start at $31,900.

The Colorado LT adds an EZ Lift & Lower tailgate, cloth upholstery, cruise control, keyless entry, an 8-inch touch screen, a Wi-Fi hot spot, and additional USB ports.

Chevrolet Colorado Z71

The Colorado Z71 is one of the two off-road trims in the lineup. Models with the Crew Cab and short bed start at $33,800, while models with the Crew Cab and long bed start at $37,600. Extended Cab/long bed models start at $35,500.

The Z71 comes standard with a 308-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. It comes standard with some off-road-oriented features such as an automatic locking rear differential, recovery hooks, hill descent control, and an off-road suspension.

In addition to the lower trims' standard features, the Z71 comes with automatic climate control, remote start, cloth and synthetic leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, voice recognition, HD Radio, wireless device charging, and rear parking sensors.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

The Colorado ZR2 starts at $41,600 for Extended Cab models. ZR2 models with the Crew Cab and short bed start at $43,200. The ZR2 isn't available in the Crew Cab/long bed configuration.

The ZR2 is the most rugged off-road trim in the lineup, and it's the only one to come standard with four-wheel drive. Other features include a two-speed transfer case, a transfer case shield, driver-selectable full-locking front and rear differentials, and off-road rocker protection. The ZR2 also comes with genuine leather-appointed seats, a power-adjustable passenger seat, and a trailer brake controller.

Which Colorado Cab Style Is Right for Me?

You have two choices when picking a Colorado cab style: Extended Cab and Crew Cab. Extended Cabs seat four people and have small rear-hinged rear doors, and Crew Cab models seat five and have full-size front-hinged rear doors.

If you don't usually have rear-seat passengers, then the Extended Cab will probably work just fine for you. Its rear seats aren't that spacious, but they should work in a pinch. The downside is that it's tough to get in and out because the rear-hinged doors are small, as is the opening they reveal. The Extended Cab body style only comes with the long bed.

The Crew Cab is the easy choice for anyone who will often have passengers in the back seat. Crew Cabs have full-size rear doors and a rear middle seat, as well as more legroom. Still, even in Crew Cab models, the rear seats aren't exactly cavernous, and some rival pickups have more passenger space in the back.

Which Colorado Bed Length Is Right for Me?

Crew Cab Colorado models give you a choice between a 6-foot-2-inch and a 5-foot-2-inch bed. Extended Cab models only come with the longer bed. Because of its extra length, the longer box is helpful if you regularly haul large items (it's also a couple inches longer than most rivals' longest bed option).

The longer bed can make the Colorado a bit unwieldy, as the Crew Cab/long bed combo gives this Chevrolet an overall length of nearly 19 feet. As a point of reference, a full-size pickup like the Silverado 1500 in Double Cab/standard bed or Crew Cab/short bed configuration is only about 7 inches longer than the longest Colorado, and these full-size trucks are also wider.

Which Colorado Model Is Best for Towing and Hauling?

If you're looking for the best Colorado to serve as a work truck, go with the WT with the Extended Cab and V6 engine. This configuration with two-wheel drive gets you a towing capacity of 7,000 pounds and a 1,530-pound payload capacity. The four-wheel-drive version has a slightly lower payload rating but the same towing capacity.

Colorado models with the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine can tow up to 3,500 pounds and haul up to 1,440 pounds. That's an unimpressive towing capacity, as even many compact SUVs can match it. Still, you can probably get away with picking this engine if you only need to tow a small trailer.

If you need to pull more weight, you're better off with either of the other two engines. Colorado models equipped with the 2.8-liter turbodiesel can tow up to 7,700 pounds, which is tied for the highest capacity in the class. The diesel Colorado has a maximum payload capacity of 1,511 pounds. That's with rear-wheel drive, as four-wheel-drive diesel models manage 7,600 pounds of towing and 1,474 pounds of payload. Models with the 3.6-liter V6 can tow up to 7,000 pounds and haul up to 1,574 pounds.

Which Colorado Model Is Best for Off-Roading?

The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is the most capable Colorado for off-roading, and it's also probably the most impressive off-road vehicle that Chevy makes. Outfitted with standard four-wheel drive, the ZR2 is available with either the V6 or the turbodiesel engine. It has a 2-inch suspension lift, and its front and rear tracks are 3.5 inches wider than the standard Colorado.

The ZR2 includes driver-selectable electronic locking front and rear differentials, an off-road-specific dynamic damping suspension, a transfer case shield, off-road rocker panel protection, 31-inch off-road tires, and modified bumpers for better ground clearance and approach/departure angles.

For those who want to up the ante, check out the ZR2 Bison edition. Developed in conjunction with American Expedition Vehicles, the Bison features AEV bumpers, wheel moldings, contoured interior floor liners, and 17-inch wheels. Wrapped around those are 32-inch off-road tires. The Bison also gets unique AEV skid plates for the front and rear differential, engine oil pan, transfer case, and fuel tank.

Check out our U.S. News Best Price Program for great savings at your local Chevrolet dealer. You can also find excellent manufacturer incentives on our Chevrolet deals page.

See 2021 Chevrolet Colorado specs and trims »

The Final Call

The 2021 Chevrolet Colorado isn't the most upscale truck in the class, but it has powerful engines, plenty of capability, and some specialty off-road trims for those looking to live on the wild side. It has a reasonable starting price too, making it a solid value. The bottom-of-the-barrel predicted reliability rating is an undeniable blemish on its resume though, which is why the Colorado only finishes in the middle of our compact pickup truck rankings.

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out comments from some of the reviews that drive our rankings and analysis.

  • "In the midsize truck segment, the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado works hard when it comes to truck form and function. With striking refreshed looks, the Colorado also provides truck shoppers with the most powertrain choices in the category. The diesel engine earns the Colorado best-in-class towing capacity. The Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator and Toyota Tacoma do not offer diesels and are less customizable when it comes to cab and bed combination options. The Colorado can be purchased with the long and short bed with either Crew or Extended cab. Both the Z71 and ZR2 trims provide robust capability, while the on-road ride quality feels surprisingly comfortable. With its well-rounded credentials, the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado makes for a competitive opponent in a contentious segment." -- Autotrader
  • "We like the Colorado a lot. The crew-cab cabin is spacious, and the tech interface is straightforward and effective. Compared to the Honda Ridgeline, Jeep Gladiator and Toyota Tacoma, the Colorado occupies a nice middle ground. It provides a little bit of something for everyone and compromises very little along the way." -- Edmunds
  • "The mid-size 2021 Chevy Colorado pickup and its corporate sibling, the GMC Canyon, provide everyday practicality and broad capabilities, with considerable towing and payload ratings. Plus, they are much easier to maneuver than their full-size offspring." -- Car and Driver

Buying

Expert Advice

Last Updated: October 23, 2020

Sliding Sales: The Chevy Colorado is currently the third best-selling compact pickup truck, close on the tail of the Ford Ranger. The dominant Toyota Tacoma is outselling the Colorado by over 2 to 1. That said, demand has tumbled recently; Colorado sales have decreased 29.2 percent this year compared to the same period in 2019. 

Research more buying advice »
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