TRAVERSE CITY, MI – Driving Chevrolet’s all-new ’15 Colorado midsize pickup from Detroit to Grand Traverse Bay may not give you a Rocky Mountain High, as the song goes, but it’ll give you a Pure Michigan kick.
While Ford and Chrysler dropped out of the compact/midsize pickup market, General Motors returned after a 1-year hiatus with the ’15 Colorado and companion GMC Canyon.
Chevy sold a few of the revamped Colorados in 2014 but this is its first full year in dealerships, and sales so far are running at a 100,000-unit annual pace. That’s still well behind the segment-leading Toyota Tacoma (155,041 units in 2014, down 2.8%), but it’s a start.
Equipped with a base 2.5L gasoline 4-cyl., the Colorado is rated at 27 mpg (8.7 L/100 km) on the highway. Our 4-wheel-drive test crew short box with the Z71 off-road package is powered by a stout 3.6L V-6 mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The EPA fuel-economy rating is 17/24 mpg (13.8-9.8 L/100 km) city/highway.
At the end of our 253-mile (407-km) trip, most of it on the highway, we average an acceptable 21.7 mpg (10.8 L/100 km).
It helps to keep a steady cruising speed of 70 mph (113 km/h), not just to conserve fuel but also because the screamingly bright Rally Yellow paint job would attract the prying eyes of county mounties and state troopers.
There’s much to like about our test vehicle, though the base price of $34,115 might cause a twitch, compounded by $5,065 in options, although blindspot detection is lacking, oddly enough.
Otherwise, the truck is well equipped, including a backup camera with a high-resolution display. The infotaintment system sports large icons and is easy to use. Most options are exterior add-ons, such as the off-road step bars in the TrailBoss edition.
If our Colorado needed a water-resistance test, it passed easily as we encountered a gigantic thunderstorm on the way here.
It didn’t leak as we were battered by rain and marble-size hail that the windshield wipers couldn’t keep up with, forcing us to pull off the road and switch on the flashers. After the storm, the roads were blanketed with water and fallen trees stretching across both lanes.
What I like about the Colorado: The comfortable seats and steering wheel position, providing excellent forward visibility. The smooth ride, despite Michigan’s rough roads. The quiet cabin, even with the hum of the driveline.
What I don’t like: The small gas gauge and the tiny storage bins in the doors. Plus, the transmission seems quick to find lower gears on roads that are not particularly steep.
Bottom line: A worthy competitor in the midsize pickup segment.