$8,304 - $16,040

2012 Chevrolet Colorado Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2012 Chevrolet Colorado was new.


Performance: 6.8

The 2012 Chevrolet Colorado has adequate performance for a truck, according to most reviewers, but the competition is more comfortable and more powerful.

  • "Around town, the Colorado is reasonably quiet, although the amount of wind and road noise is certainly trucklike. The standard suspension affords plenty of load-carrying capability, but at the price of plenty of bounce across bad pavement and dirt roads.” -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2012 Colorado's base engine is a 2.9-liter four-cylinder that makes 185 horsepower and 190 pound-feet of torque. Slotted in the middle is a 3.7-liter five-cylinder that makes 242 horsepower and 242 pound-feet of torque. The top-of-the-line V8 engine makes 300 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic transmission is standard with the V8 and five-cylinder engines, while a five-speed manual comes with the base four-cylinder. If you’re considering the Chevrolet Colorado to save money at the pump, the most fuel-efficient model you’ll find is the two-wheel drive, four-cylinder model, which gets 18/25 mpg city/highway with either the manual or automatic transmission, according to the EPA. Stepping up to the five-cylinder engine doesn’t come with too much of a penalty, as the Colorado will still net 17/23 mpg, but at 14/20 mpg, the V8’s fuel economy is worse than that of some full-size trucks. For instance, a two-wheel drive Chevrolet Silverado equipped with the 5.3-liter V8 engine gets 15/21 mpg.

While reviewers agree that the four- and five-cylinder engines are barely adequate for around-town driving, they're split on the V8. While some like its performance, especially when matched with the upgraded suspension, others question Chevrolet’s decision to release a larger engine in an era of fluctuating gas prices. Others say that with the V8, the Colorado’s price approaches that of the Chevy Silverado, and for a similar amount of money, the Silverado is more comfortable and capable.

  • “Standard four-cylinder engine kills the 0-to-60 time and the fun.” -- Car and Driver
  • "All of Colorado's rivals offer V6 engines that are smoother and more refined than the (optional) 5-cylinder engine.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "The Colorado's four-speed automatic transmission shifts cleanly, yet it can't deliver the acceleration or fuel economy delivered by the competition's five-speed automatics.” -- Edmunds
  • “The Colorado's optional 3.7-liter in-line five-cylinder engine does not offer as much torque as the V6 engines from Toyota and Nissan, while the V8 option tends to be a bit too fuel thirsty.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Handling and Braking

In general, reviewers say the 2012 Chevy Colorado's ride and handling are adequate for a compact pickup truck, but many buyers will want something better, especially since automakers have been drastically improving the handling of their full-size pickups. If the Colorado’s mediocre handling doesn’t bother you, and you don’t plan to do much off-roading, reviewers recommend that you stick with the base suspension, saying that it provides a better ride over long distances.

  • "The Colorado is reasonably quiet around town, but noticeable wind and road noise enter the cabin at higher cruising speeds. The standard suspension offers a satisfactory ride and handling trade-off for a small truck, though it can be bouncy at times. Those with more focused needs will be well-served by the added control and performance of the optional off-road and sport suspension packages.” -- Edmunds
  • "The ride is better than most compact pickups, provided you stick with the base suspension. Still evident, however, are abrupt vertical motions over bumps and dips, with some jittery feel on badly broken surfaces. The base suspension furnishes the best ride. The available off-road suspension grows tiresome on long trips.” -- Consumer Guide
  • "Surprisingly, for such a small truck, the Colorado has a rather wide turning circle.” -- Kelley Blue Book

Hauling and Towing

At minimum, the Colorado can tow 1,900 pounds in extended cab models with four-wheel drive, the four-cylinder engine and a manual transmission. All extended and crew cab models with Chevy’s V8 engine and automatic transmission can tow up to 6,000 pounds. That’s about average for the class, although the Ram Dakota can tow about a half-ton more than that, with a maximum towing capacity of 7,200 pounds.

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