Thursday, December 1, 2011

First Drive: 2012 Chevrolet Colorado

Photos by GM Press

The week before our departure date, there were some worried and anxious faces as Bangkok was facing the worst flood in its modern history. With Thailand’s capital serving as our jumping off point to Northern Thailand, Chevrolet’s regional office coordinated with us back and forth to make sure that our seat time with the all-new Colorado pick-up truck would push through. Luckily, we were given the thumbs up, and before we knew it, we were touching down at the Chiang Rai International Airport.


Located 180 kilometers from Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai is at the northern tip of Thailand, kissed by Burma’s borders. Filled with natural mountainous beauty and some good off-road trails, Chiang Rai is known as the ‘quieter neighbor’—an ironic choice for a flag off point as the Chevrolet Colorado is anything but quiet.

First of all, it’s highly significant for both Chevrolet in a global and local level; globally because it’s the first world pick-up truck designed and engineered to be sold in over 60 countries (including North America) and locally because it’s the first time Philippine distributor, The Covenant Car Company, Inc. (TCCCI) will be getting into the highly competitive pick-up market. Second, the Colorado represents the fruits of Chevrolet’s multi-million dollar investment in the ASEAN region, capped off by a new state-of-the-art diesel engine plant that builds and assembles the Duramax engine line. Lastly, the Colorado is just a plain and simple great pick-up truck.

Stepping off the airport terminal, two dozen Chevrolet Colorado pick-ups awaited us at the parking lot. Built with 100 years of Chevrolet’s automotive expertise, the Colorado is built from the ground up as an all-new global offering. The design clearly wears the Chevrolet DNA, with the gold bowtie and the signature dual-port grille. Flanking it is large, projector-type headlamps and squared-off chrome-lined fog lamps that add a visibly bold look. At the side, the Colorado features flared wheel arches filled with either 16 or 17-inch wheels while a metal sump-guard provides both an aesthetic and practical purpose as it protects the powertrain vitals from rugged terrain. Some models will even come with LED tail lamps, another first in the pick-up segment.


Inside, I easily mistook the Colorado’s interior for an upscale sport utility vehicle or luxury sedan with the use of low-gloss and soft-finish materials throughout the cabin. The beige-and-black, two-tone color scheme is complimented by metallic inserts used throughout giving it a sporty feel that’s capped off by the deep dual-bin instrumentation cluster (integrating a complete on-board computer system) inspired by the Camaro sports car.

Pick-up trucks aren’t known to be habitable places for long distance travel, but the ‘dual cockpit’ design (also part of Chevrolet’s design DNA) adds more head and shoulder room for the front occupants while the circular designed center console adds even more hip room while giving the Colorado an extremely ergonomic command center.

In addition to its space and comfort, the Colorado is also surprisingly well-equipped with features usually reserved for upscale passenger cars. On our test drive unit, features such as a fully automated climate control system, a 2-DIN audio system with integrated USB and Bluetooth hands-free capability with six speakers are standard. We hear that some models will be made available with cruise control as well.


Driving off the Chiang Rai International Airport, we immediately hit the open road and savored the power generated by the Colorado’s all-new family of diesel engines: the Duramrax turbo-diesel. Promising less maintenance cost and longer service intervals, this family of four-cylinder engines marks the first time the ‘Duramax’ name is used outside the 6.6-liter V8 Duramax found only in the US market.

With a displacement of 2.5 or 2.8-liters, the new Duramax diesel engine family comes with Common Rail Direct Injection as well as an intercooled turbocharger as standard. The 2.8-liter version churns out an impressive 180 horsepower and 470 Nm of torque thanks to its variable geometry turbo (440 Nm when equipped with the manual transmission). The 2.5-liter version loses the variable geometry turbo, but still manages to push out 150 horsepower and 350 Nm of torque. The 2.8-liter version will be made available with a six-speed automatic or five-speed manual, while the 2.5-liter version will only have the five-speed manual as the sole transmission of choice.

Sampling the 2.8-liter Duramax paired with the six-speed automatic, I found the experience buttery smooth and fuss-free. The power delivery is linear and the throttle is very responsive. And despite the monster torque, the shifts are actually free from shock and smoother than even some luxury sedans. On the twisty mountain passes, the Colorado is almost telepathic, offering power when I needed it the most. Perhaps the only lacking thing would be a Limited Slip Differential (LSD) system, the absence of which is fairly apparent when accelerating full throttle through tight corners.



As roads turned to trails, it was time to test the Colorado’s off-road capabilities. Built on a strengthened chassis that has high torsional rigidity, the Colorado features eight cross members in its step-ladder frame for best-in-class noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) isolation. It can easily absorb anything the Thai roads could throw at it from deep gouges to steep rocky paths. And if this wasn’t enough an electronically selectable part-time four-wheel drive system, excellent approach and departure angles and over 750 cm (29 inches) of water fording depth, gives the Colorado exemplary driving feel, handling and capability on any terrain.

Finally, in conjunction with its stiffer chassis which also offers better overall structural integrity, the all-new Colorado has been endowed with a host of both active and passive safety features, some of which are being offered in pick-ups for the first time. Among them are: Traction Control System (TCS), ESC (Electronic Stability Control), PBA (Panic Brake Assist), HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assist), CBC (Corner Brake Control) and HBFA (Hydraulic Brake Fade Assist).


After nearly 500 kilometers of driving the all-new Chevrolet Colorado (and no sign of floods), it indeed impressed me with its combination of superior on and off-road performance, comfort, refinement, user-friendly features in a tough and highly-durable package. It will still be a couple of months before the Philippines will get to taste the all-new Colorado, but until then, I can wait and dream: to drive another 500 kilometers in a Colorado, but this time, on our roads.

5 comments:

  1. Please publish a head to head comparison of Ford Ranger Trekker 2012 and Chevrolet Colorado 2012.

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  2. Panggit ang puwit ng colorado mababah.malaki ang ulo at macho sa harap,kaso lang panggit ang puwit.

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  3. bagay sya palakihan yung gulong 20inch at medyo wide na tires,para ma compensate ang puwit na panggit.

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  4. Yup ganon rin sa mind ko :)at naka mud terrain,kaso lang medyo mainggay sa highway cguro.

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  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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