For a time in the mid to late-2000s, it was looking like midsize pickup trucks would follow compact trucks and roll off into the sunset. Some automakers argued that it cost about as much to make a midsizer as a full-size truck and they didn’t have a fuel economy advantage so consumers should just go big. But as full-size trucks continued to get upscaled in dimensions and price a market opportunity arose General Motors GM joined Nissan and Toyota in pursuing it with new versions of the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Now for 2023, the Colorado (and presumably the Canyon in the near future) have been redesigned to be even more competitive.
The 2023 Colorado remains approximately the same overall size as before with a length between 212.7 and 213.2-inches depending on the trim level. The big change is a 3.1-inch longer wheelbase with most of that going to move the front axle forward. This reduces the front overhang and increases the approach angles for improved off road capabilities. The most hardcore off road variant, the ZR2 now has a 36 degree approach angle. That’s six degrees better than the current ZR2, but still shy of the 43.4 degrees available with the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon.
The styling of the new Colorado looks significantly more aggressive than before, but thankfully, Chevrolet designers have avoided the current trend of massively oversized grilles. The headlamps are now higher up and slimmer than before.
The Colorado is dropping two of its previous three body configurations. The current base extended cab model has very limited utility behind the front seats and the jump seats are barely usable for children. It does however have a longer 6 ft 2 inch bed than the 5 ft 2 inch bed on the crew cab. Chevrolet also offers the longer bed on a longer wheelbase version of the crew cab, something not available for the Ford Ranger and other midsize models. The new Colorado is only launching with the crew cab short bed configuration. The vast majority of buyers opt for this configuration, and reducing the buildable combinations helps to reduce costs and improve quality.
The 2023 truck continues with six bolt wheels but gets an upsized wheel bolt pattern that matches the larger Silverado allowing owners to use any wheels that fit the full-size truck. The Colorado will be offered in four main configurations, the Work Truck and LT, Z71, Trail Boss and ZR2. The Trail Boss is new to Colorado for 2023 and provides a raised, off-road look for those that don’t need all of the really serious capability to chase Gladiators.
Also adding to build simplification is the engine lineup. Instead of four and six cylinder gas engines or a diesel, all 2023 Colorados will have the 2.7-liter turbocharged four that debuted in the Silverado in 2019. The Work Truck and LT get 237-hp and 259 lb-ft of torque and 3,500-lbs of towing capacity. Optional on those and standard on the Z71 and Trail Boss is a variant with 310-hp and 390 lb-ft. The ZR2 gets a different tune of the engine that bumps torque to 430 lb-ft. All engines are paired with an upgraded version of GM’s eight-speed automatic transmission.
Drivers that want to go Jeep hunting can opt for the ZR2 which continues with Multimatic DSSV dampers that have been upgraded. The new chassis also moves the rear dampers outboard of the frame for better control. Also new for 2023 is the Desert Boss package on the ZR2 which includes 17-inch bead-lock capable wheels, off-road bumper for enhanced approach angles, sports bar in the bed, roof top light bar and an underbody camera. This is in addition to the other ZR2 features like skid plates, 33-inch tires, cast iron control arms for extra durability, rocker panel protection and 10.7-inches of ground clearance.
The tailgate innovation wars also continue with the ZR2. While Chevrolet won’t have the six-way multi-flex tailgate, the ZR2 gets a gate with built-in storage (optional on other trims. With the tailgate down there is a lockable 4-inch deep, 45-in wide compartment that can be used to store tools. It also has a drain so that it can be used for ice at tailgate parties. Like the Ford Maverick, the Colorado will have the ability to hold the tailgate halfway open to support longer cargo that spans above the wheel arches in the bed. There are also available AC outlet, bedliners and standard tie downs and stake pockets.
2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss
The interior also appears to have some major upgrades. An eight-inch digital instrument cluster display is standard on all trims as is an 11.3-inch center touchscreen. Like other new GM vehicles, it gets the Android Automotive-based infotainment system that includes Google Maps, Assistant and the Play store to download apps directly to the truck. Apple AAPL iPhone users need not worry, despite Android running underneath, there is still support for wireless Carplay.
Production of the Colorado and Canyon will remain at the Wentzville, MO assembly plant and get kicked off in the first half of 2023 which probably means late spring.