Text: Anton Andres / Photos: Kelvin Christian Go | posted June 09, 2016 15:01
Better late than never
When we did a spec check on 4x2 automatic pickups, Chevrolet was absent from the lineup. That's because the only way for you to have an automatic Colorado was with the 4x4 models and the automaker missed out on the high-volume 4x2 automatic pickup niche. Chevrolet has now rectified that with a 4x2 Colorado LT A/T, introduced during this year's Manila International Auto Show.
Chevrolet finds itself on the back foot with this particular variant as the competition offered automatics from the start. The question hovering above the Colorado 4x2 A/T's roof is this: "Is it better late than never or too little too late?"
If you think the Colorado looks bigger than other pickups, that's because it is in fact the biggest truck in its segment over-all. The large dimensions are complemented by its squared-off styling and bold Chevy grill; its large logo letting everyone know who built this truck. With the LT serving as the entry-level variant for the Colorado, it loses the projector headlights and 17 inch alloy wheels seen on the LTZ. Instead, the LT gets a pair of halogens and rides on smaller 16-inch wheels. Nonetheless, the Colorado still looks brawny and the chunky tires give it that work-truck look and I don't mean that in a bad way.
Being the base model, don't expect luxuries when you step inside. The seats are trimmed in hard-wearing fabric, the armrest isn't padded, and the steering wheel is urethane, not leather. Then again, you wouldn't want to tear seats and ruin leather on the job site. If anything, it's the modern interpretation of a 90's pickup, with far more comfortable seats, tougher cabin materials and friendlier ergonomics. It even comes with a multi-information display that monitors fuel range and economy, plus a speed limit reminder. I do lament the loss of Chevy's easy to use MyLink infotainment system as I found the 2-DIN stereo lacking in features. Bluetooth pairing is only for the phone book and you have to store your music in a USB or buy an auxiliary cable to listen to your tunes.
Tough-looking on the outside and rather bare on the inside, Chevrolet gave us a treat under the hood. Rather than using the 2.5 liter Duramax seen in the manual transmission-equipped Colorado, the Colorado LT Automatic packs the 4x4's 2.8-liter mill. That means 200 PS and 500 Nm of torque, putting it straight to the top of the 4x2 automatic pickup class. An interesting note about our Duramax engines: the engines we get are actually more powerful than the US-Spec Colorado Duramax, which is down by almost 20 PS. Consider ourselves blessed. With that much power, rear wheel drive and no traction control, it's best to be easy on the accelerator when driving with an empty bed.
There's no disguising the fact that it's a diesel when you crank the Colorado to life. Clatter is on the loud side from the outside but the cabin does a good job of isolating noise and vibration. Around town, the seats are comfortable enough and the huge side mirrors make maneuvering easier. However, your parking skills will be put to the test as the LT does not come with sensors or a reverse camera as standard and, being the widest in the segment, looking for space isn't easy. These parking assists are available as dealer options. Equipped with the heavy-duty Z71 suspension pack, ride is traditional pickup, meaning it's on the stiff side when traveling at low speeds. It becomes slightly more pliant when cruising and took on our pock-marked streets with ease.
For a tall pickup on skinny tires, stability on the highway was good and does a good job resisting strong winds. Overtaking is no problem for the 2.8 Duramax, although it can get vocal when doing 80 to 100 km/h pulls. The transmission also has a tendency to shuffle gears, but putting it in manual mode lessens that habit significantly. On the highway, the Colorado is relatively quiet for a work truck at cruising speeds. During its stint with me, the Colorado LT A/T did 7.7 kilometers per liter in the city and 14.2 kilometers per liter on the highway, similar to the Trailblazer 4x4 we tested late last year.
The LT trim level serves as the base model for Chevy pickups in the Philippines. At Php 1,218,000, this particular Colorado is aimed squarely at the lower end of the pickup segment. With the Z71 suspension pack and the 2.8 liter Duramax, it surpasses all comparable variants from other brands with its payload of nearly 1,200 kilograms. It may be a late arrival, but the Colorado LT Automatic caters to a different kind of pickup user — one that needs the hauling capability of a top-spec pickup with the convenience of a self shifter. If there is anything I would suggest to Chevrolet, it would be a better equipped 4x2 automatic model. If you can live with the stiff ride and bare interior then the Colorado LT A/T is one truck to consider if you're the pickup user who demands a heavy duty workhorse that won't break the bank.