may have had the statistical edge in a few categories when it hit the
dealerships ahead of the Dodge Dakota, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier,
but let’s see how our Chevy midsize crew cab test truck now stacks
up against the latest competition in a few key categories. The following
chart reflects 2005 comparable models from the competition. All are 2-wheel-drive
crew cabs and come with the biggest engine, automatic transmission, lowest
rear axle ratio, top trim level and proper tow equipment. The Toyota reflects
the short-bed, PreRunner configuration. As of this writing, Nissan had
not released all data on the new Frontier, so some numbers are missing
or preliminary estimates.
225 lb-ft torque
295 lb-ft torque
284 lb-ft torque
283 lb-ft torque
* High Output
version available next year with 250-plus horsepower and 300-plus lb-ft
** Preliminary estimates
The Z71 suspension
option gives a 2-wheel-drive Colorado the look and ride of the 4-wheel-drive
without the extra weight and expense. It uses the same torsion-bar setup
(all other 2WD models have coil springs) that the 4-wheel-drives have
up front, including gas-charged monotube shock absorbers, a 28mm stabilizer
bar and urethane jounce bumpers. In the rear is a live axle-leaf-spring
arrangement, but the Z71 adds a locking differential and traction control.
The Z71 package also includes front tow hooks and leather-wrapped steering
wheel. Only one point about the Z71 package is annoying: the wheels. Many
will find them bold and distinctive but I find them unimpressive, bordering
on hokey. It’s just a first impression and nothing to get twisted
about, but the ZQ8 wheels are more appealing to that street truck package
than the Z71 wheels are to the off-road look.
badge first gained popularity as a super-stiff option on fullsize 4x4
trucks and SUVs. Now the Z71 is no longer just an RPO number; it’s
a complete model that has been expanded to 2-wheel-drives and compact
trucks. While previous Z71 suspensions were notorious for a painfully
rough ride, the Colorado Z71 is refined and tuned for a more compliant
ride on the pavement without giving up too much control over rough terrain.
GM has said it didn’t mind sacrificing towing capacity in favor
of a smoother ride. The base Z85 suspension would probably be the proper
platform to test this strategy against the competition, but the new Z71
offers a strong dose of civility lacking in previous off-road suspensions
in other GM products.
Z71 adds 3.5 inches of ground clearance over the Z85 and ZQ8 suspensions,
and the step-in height is 5.5 inches higher than the ZQ8. The stance is
aggressive without being cartoonish and follows the pre-runner look popular
in desert states. The Z71 also adds bigger P265/75R16 tires that hold
up well off-road. But 2WD owners need to be aware that even with the locking
differential and traction control, Z71 is not a substitute for 4-wheel-drive.
If you’ve got a slippery boat ramp, like to hit the mud or find
yourself in deep snow or sand, then get the 4WD model.
In the open
desert, the 2WD Z71 soaks up moguls with surprising authority and maintains
a confident ride through turns in the dirt. Steering response and feel
are much improved over the old S-10, thanks to a new rack-and-pinion system.
The 2WD version is slightly quicker than the 4WD, but both have a fairly
wide 44.6-foot turning circle.