Towards the latter stages of a vehicle's showroom shelf life, there's a good chance you'll start seeing some special editions pop up.
It's a marketing thing to reinvigorate a product, and it works. Toss in a few exterior updates, a few extra features, and maybe even some slight mechanical upgrades, and you've got a special edition that has a good chance of boosting sales.
That's why we have models like the Chevrolet Colorado High Country Storm. Quite a mouthful, isn't it?
The High Country Storm is arguably Chevrolet's answer to the Ford Ranger Wildtrak; a more aggressive and sportier variation of the Colorado. The naming, however, is almost as silly as Daenerys Targaryen's many titles.
Through and through, it's still a Colorado and belongs in the same generation that Chevrolet initially launched in 2011, followed by a redesign in 2017. The High Country Storm is not technically another redesign; instead, it's a variant that has been enhanced with accessories and decals... in black.
The wheels, while of the same design as the standard Colorado LTZ, are now black. They added black decals on the hood and a slash pattern on the doors and cab frame. The doorhandles are black and not chrome, same goes for the tailgate handle. The rear bumper is also black. They also added a black “sports bar” that outlines the bed and the rear window; it's not a roll bar because it's plastic, and you can't mount any lights unless you want to drill holes in it. The only real functional enhancement is the addition of a pair of crossbars for the roof rails. Yes, they're also black.
I'm sure there are probably more black details that I can point out, but those are the most obvious. I have to admit, the contrast does work very well to enhance the look of the Colorado especially in orange (hello, Wildtrak), but maybe not if the actual vehicle is black.
While the enhancements on the exterior did much to accentuate the design of the Colorado, they really didn't do much to the interior. Not that they really needed to, as the redesign in 2017 did do wonders, especially with the look and feel of the dashboard which differentiated it from its cousin from Isuzu: the D-Max.
The leather seats are still nice, the quality is pretty good, and the functionality is still spot on. But I do find it a bit of a shame that Chevrolet didn't really do anything more for the HCS. Being a Wildtrak competitor, I would have expected similar interior accents like special upholstery with different piping or contrasting stitch patterns. Instead, we got some High Country Storm badges on the doors and High Country stitched into the headrests. The one change I would have really wanted was a new steering wheel; I actually expected Chevrolet to have changed the design of the wheel back in 2017, but they didn't. And they didn't touch it for the HCS either.
Don't get me wrong; I have my misgivings about the HCS, but that doesn't mean it's not a capable or a well-equipped pick-up for everyday use because this is a top spec model after all. Everything is electrically assisted including the power steering. Climate control is standard, as is a cruise control system that maintains a steady and safe gap to the vehicle in front. You've got a full suite of safety features including warning systems if you don't react to a vehicle slowing down in front or when you inadvertently stray from the lane on the highway. What I did find odd is that the range-topping HCS only has dual airbags while competitors already have 6 or even 7.
What I did like was the MyLink touchscreen audio unit; it's very intuitive and easy to use, certainly a leg up above many OE head units. The sound from the seven speakers is quite nice, and I do prefer the execution of Apple CarPlay in this unit compared to some of the others I've tried, and that includes the Wildtrak's which felt rather awkward to use.
Powering the Colorado HCS is a 2.8-liter Duramax engine. This turbodiesel is designed by Italian diesel specialist VM Motori, and in the HCS it makes 200 horsepower and 500 Newton-meters of torque. It's a bit louder than other models, but I actually like it that way; it sounds like a proper diesel, not one that's trying to masquerade as a gas engine. Only the six-speed automatic is available along with four-wheel drive, and with the usual low range transfer case for serious off-roading or crawling.
As a daily drive, the HCS does deliver the goods. It's surprisingly easy to maneuver in the city, and easy to park thanks to sensors front and rear. The ride, while not the best, is pretty comfortable considering this is still a truck with a leaf spring rear suspension. Drive it fast and what does come through right away is the sensation of weight from the vehicle; it feels heavy, but not in an awkward way. If anything, it feels natural unlike the lightness of other trucks, particularly in steering. You just have to learn to adjust to the way it drives. Tire noise is kept to a fair minimum, and grip from the Dueler tires are good, as always.
If you want to get our thoughts on how this Chevy performs off-road, you can check out our other reviews of the Colorado because nothing really significant has changed in terms of overall performance or driving characteristics. But one thing we did get to try out this time with the Colorado was in terms of loading.
Most of the time when we get a pick-up truck to test, we end up driving it around with the bed unladen, or at least not anywhere near what we would consider being loaded. This time was different, as we chanced upon the Colorado HCS during the water shortage of the capital a few weeks back, and I had to get three huge drums, fill them with water, and bring them home. Not an easy task, but the Colorado HCS easily managed. One thing of note though: that sports bar did get in the way of the tall 200+ liter drums, though with the help of some spacers (2x4's) I had lying around and some creative lashing with rope. That's about 600+ kilograms, with passengers. Save for a bit of squat from the rear suspension, the Colorado HCS easily got up the hill without breaking a sweat.
For PhP 1,638,888, the Colorado High Country Storm is a pretty good option and rather handsome for a daily-driven pick-up truck. The cosmetic enhancements do look properly OE for those that prefer to not have too many gaudy bells and whistles on their truck. But I'm still trying to find a unique selling proposition for this special edition because the upgrades are really just for the look. I find myself comparing it to another special edition of the pre-facelift Colorado I tried a few years back: the out-of-the-box off-roader called the Tracker Pro from 2015.
In that version, the enhancements were not cosmetic: a snorkel, a suspension lift kit, all-terrain tires, a trailer hitch, and even a winch. Those were functional upgrades that anyone considering a pick-up would have appreciated, especially the way the lift kit boosted the water wading from the stock 800mm to 880mm.
The HCS is a good solid truck, one that undoubtedly feels rugged for duty as a carry-all, but I still think they should have brought back something like the Tracker as their top-spec special edition because of the added functionality. And the essence of a truck is really about being as functional as can be.