For many who move to this part of Southeast Asia, picking a car is one of the more tricky decisions to make - especially if you have a family. Large SUVs like the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport or the Ford Everest offer seating for seven and gear comfort, but in some cases they may be a little precious to take off the beaten path. For that, you need to stick to the tried-and-true pickup truck, and if you’re not hard up on fitting half a football team’s worth of children in the back, it’s perfectly adequate.
Enter the new Chevrolet Colorado. It’s the latest in a relatively short line of small pickup trucks from Chevrolet, and we say small because pickups designed for the ASEAN market are easily dwarfed by their American counterparts. The previous Colorado was a platform-sharing exercise with the Isuzu D-Max, and this one follows suit although powertrains are provided by Chevrolet.
Mechanically, this new Colorado is smoother and quieter than its predecessor. Revised dampers and springs allow it to take the increased power of the new range of engines without compromising comfort or stability in the process. Chevrolet has made comprehensive improvements to the rubber seals for windscreen and window, along with thicker glass in order to drop cabin noise by roughly eight per cent.
It comes in five different flavours, although if you’re picky with the options list then you’ll notice that things start ramping up with the 2.5-litre LTZ AT variant. From here on up, your extra money nets you a larger 2.8-litre engine and cosmetic changes, but the features and interior are largely the same. If you had to pick a variant to go with, the 2.8-litre LTZ AT gives you the most powerful variant with the most creature comforts, for the most economical price. All models are equipped with the 4x4 system.
Chevrolet was wise to make this new Colorado more urbanite-friendly, following the trend that Mitsubishi put into motion with their Triton. Looking around the interior, you would be hard-pressed to differentiate it from a common sedan or hatchback. The LTZ and High Country variants in particular come with a leather interior and an eight-inch touchscreen for entertainment.
Given that the Colorado would be your one-car-suits-all workhorse, it has to function as well in town traffic as it does out in the wilderness. Smashing along mud paths is par for the course for these vehicles, but it is dealing with day-to-day traffic and parking that truly tests a pickup’s worth. This new generation model comes with electric power steering, which makes it easy and effortless to manoeuvre in tight spaces.
Also worth noting is that the engine is barely noticeable at idle; this is usually a problem with diesel cars as the vibrations can easily tire you out without realising, and having the revised insulation as well as the new Centrifugal Pendulum Absorber helps to smoothen out the Colorado for its occupants.
Power is plentiful no matter which powertrain you pick, but if you heed our advice and opt for the 2.8-litre variant, you will have a massive 500 Nm of torque at your disposal. This makes overtaking a breeze, especially when paired with the fairly smooth six-speed automatic transmission. Diesels also have the added benefit of being incredibly efficient if you’re light-footed enough, and this is a solid plus point if you’re the type to make long overland trips where good quality diesel may be scarce.
If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because these qualities could be said of most pickup trucks on the market today. Car manufacturers have wisened up to the needs of this nascent urban demographic, and have readily provided the creature comforts to make their pickup trucks more liveable. The Colorado may not be the most popular option, but on paper and in the metal, it is every bit as good as its more contemporary rivals.
The question here isn’t really which pickup truck you want, but rather whether you prefer a pickup truck to an MPV or an SUV. Whether the Colorado appeals to you will depend on whether you lean towards comfort or practicality.
As good as these modern pickup trucks are, they still can’t match the comfort and refinement of a modern SUV - things like the Honda CR-V or the Ford Kuga. Pickup trucks are still a body-on-frame affair, and no amount of sound deadening or clever suspension engineering is going to take that way.
But the flip side is that pickups like the Colorado have maintained their off-road capabilities, while manufacturers have quietly disposed of that in their SUV offerings. If you’re the kind of person that enjoys the weekend trip into the jungle, perhaps for a spot of hashing or fishing, then the Colorado will prove to be the better choice.