By on August 19, 2019

2006 Isuzu I-280 in Colorado wrecking yard, RH front view - ©2019 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSome guys dream of finding a Blower Bentley or Hemi Super Bee in a dusty barn. I get excited when I find an obscure example of badge engineering in a big self-service junkyard.

No Suzuki Equatoryet— but here’s something just about as rare: the Isuzu-badged version of the Chevrolet Colorado, found close to Pikes Peak in Colorado. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2019

Yes, the ZR2 is far from a base truck. But based on a suggestion from the peanut gallery  (*waves at PrincipalDan*) we thought it would be a good idea to see if a “base” off-roader is a healthier bet than upgrading to the full meal deal.

In fact, calling the ZR2 a base truck – with its DSSV dampers and other gonzo off-road kit – seems like heresy to your author. Jumping a Colorado ZR2 at 40 mph over an obstacle on a trophy truck track proves just how capable the thing is.

(How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter, then.)

Chevy has, however, added another layer onto the ZR2 cake. Called the Bison, is its extra gear worth the cash? Or are gearheads better off with a “base” ZR2 and spending the money on mods of their own? Let’s see.

(Read More…)

By on December 6, 2018

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

How much would you pay for a midsize truck that was just as capable off-road as Ford’s full-size Raptor?

I am not asking about a Ranger Raptor, since that seems unlikely to be sold here for the moment. So if you want to boulder-bash in size medium, it’s either the Toyota store or the Chevy dealer down the street that will tempt you. One with the Tacoma TRD, the other with the Colorado ZR2 Bison.

Tempt Chevy stores will, but for $50K, is it worth your monthly payment?

(Read More…)

By on November 20, 2018

2018 chevrolet colorado red - Image: Chevrolet

Advice time. My friend wants (though she might say “needs”) a truck, and the choice is narrowed down to two prospects, each competing for midsize pickup supremacy.

Can you help her make a decision? (Read More…)

By on November 10, 2018

As we told you earlier, midsize pickups are enjoying a healthy upswing in sales this year — a trend that’s sure to continue in 2019 after the release of the Ford Ranger. It’s generally agreed that this segment is not an afterthought, and might be something worth investing in for automakers lacking a less-than-big truck model. Ram’s got one on the way, too.

For General Motors, which enjoys major segment share via its Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, the sky seems to be the limit for its midsize clan, and that goes for price, too. With the Colorado ZR2 Bison, the automaker has a truck that more than doubles its entry price. (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2018

2019 Ford Ranger at MAP - Image: FordJust ahead of the launch of a new Ford Ranger, production of which began earlier this month, midsize trucks’ share of the overall U.S. pickup truck market is up to a respectable nine-year high.

Thanks to significant year-over-year improvements from the two top sellers in the segment plus meaningful increases from the third and fourth-ranked midsize pickups, category-wide volume has grown by more than 60,000 units during the first nine months of 2018. Compared with the same period in 2017, volume in the much larger full-size pickup truck segment hasn’t even grown by half that much.

If you’re a pickup truck buyer, you remain far more likely to acquire a full-size F-150, Silverado, Ram, Sierra, Tundra, or Titan than a Tacoma, Colorado, Frontier, Canyon, or Ridgeline. But the slice of the pie afforded to the five-strong midsize sector is above 18 percent for the first time since 2009.

Could the new Ford Ranger push midsize trucks over the one-fifth mark for the first time since 2006? (Read More…)

By on September 6, 2018

Image: GM

Chevrolet has finally unveiled the production version of a model bearing a name it trademarked quite some time ago. The Colorado ZR2 Bison is an extra-brawny variant of Chevy’s off-road truck — a collaboration between General Motors and aftermarket manufacturer American Expedition Vehicles (AEV).

It was clear to everyone and their mother that GM was prepared to further plumb the butch end of the midsize truck market. Recall the Colorado ZR2 AEV SEMA concept from the 2017 SEMA show. Certainly, with Toyota planning upgrades (including a snorkel) for its 2019 Tacoma TRD Pro, the domestic automaker wasn’t about to see the Colorado positioned as an also-ran.

Looking at the Bison, it seems GM took Ford’s 2018 Detroit auto show put-down to heart. “Real trucks don’t have fascias,” said soon-to-be-ousted North American president Raj Nair. (Read More…)

By on August 24, 2018

Here’s that Ranger day
They told me about
And I laughed at the thought
That it might turn out
This way

Apologies to the Chairman Of The Board on that one, but I couldn’t help myself. You see, I never truly believed that the Ranger would return to this country. I absolutely did not believe that it would come back as an American-made product in a newly configured factory, during what amounts to the endgame senescence of its platform. This is the kind of against-all-odds urgency that one typically associates with desperately needed products like the K-car or the first-generation Ranger — vehicles that had to be rushed into showrooms because the dealerships were screaming bloody murder and the Japanese had moved from mere flensing to actual bone-eating.

This Ranger, on the other hand, will arrive in the market to find itself lined up against a few equally superannuated sluggards from Nissan and Toyota, the indifferently-received Colorado/Canyon twins, and… is there anybody else? The unibody Ridgeline? Is it even possible to make money in this segment? Why bother doing it, particularly when the Rangers could have been rushed over from Thailand in a matter of months in the event of another oil and/or confidence crisis?

Ours is not to reason why; ours is but to do and buy. Truth be told, I’m kind of excited about the Ranger, because I saw a bunch of pumped-up ones in Thailand and I was more than mildly impressed. If you could get it with a 3.7-liter V6 in addition to the 2.3L EcoBoost I don’t know if the Chevy dealers would even bother to order any Colorados for stock in 2019. There’s only one little problem: it’s far from cheap.

Which brings us to an unpleasant topic: How much is a compact pickup worth?

(Read More…)

By on August 8, 2018

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax

Until an automaker comes along with something better, your cheapest bet for highway fuel economy in a pickup is the Duramax diesel-powered Chevrolet Colorado and its GMC Canyon twin. The full-size Ford F-150 with 3.0-liter diesel V6 matches it in economy, but not price.

Boasting a 30 mpg EPA rating for highway consumption, the oil-burning midsizers command a premium over their lesser siblings, but make up for it with thriftiness and heaps of torque. The 2.8-liter inline-four generates 369 lb-ft of twist — far more grunt than the 275 lb-ft on offer from GM’s 3.6-liter V6.

However, there’s a mystery afoot. The EPA ratings for the newest Colorado and Canyon diesels show a drop in city and combined efficiency for the 2019 model year, despite the powertrains being a carry-over. (Read More…)

By on April 11, 2018

Image: GM

With its jacked suspension, cutaway front fenders, and upgraded rubber, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 appeals to midsize pickup buyers who aren’t in the habit of staying on dry, safe pavement over the course of a weekend. But, while the ZR2 is the General Motors vehicle most cut out for Oregon Trail work, there’s always room for improvement.

In a bid to satisfy these adventurous customers, GM appears ready to offer a better off-roader. (Read More…)

By on April 4, 2018

2017 Nissan Frontier King Cab - Image: Nissan

With an extra selling day compared to the March that came before it, last month saw U.S. new vehicle buyers continue doing what they’ve done for years. By that, we mean snap up trucks and SUVs like it’s going out of style. (There’s no indication it’s going out of style.)

According to figures from Autodata, truck and SUV sales rose 16.3 percent in the U.S., year over year, while traditional passenger cars continued to fade from the minds of new vehicle buyers. That segment declined 9.2 percent, year over year.

Monthly sales figures can be fickle, which is apparently the reason for General Motors’ switch to quarterly sales reports starting next month, but we prefer receiving data more often. And last month’s data paints a very different picture than February’s. Leaving SUVs aside, which pickups soared in March? (Read More…)

By on January 9, 2018

2017 Chevrolet Silverado - Image: Chevrolet

The word “disruptive” is thrown around quite a bit in the auto industry, usually to mean “some wacky idea that won’t succeed without a multi-billion-dollar investment, an outrageous set of coincidences, and an overnight change of heart affecting two-thirds of humanity.”

Allow me to offer an example of something that has truly disrupted the auto business without so much as a single fawning piece in Fast Company or WIRED: the massive and significant extension of reliable service life among cars and trucks built after, say, 2001 or thereabouts. In 1957, there was no reason to have a sixth digit on an odometer; in 1987, owning a car with 100,000 miles on it meant that you were either dirt poor or a seriously skilled shadetree mechanic.

In 2017, 100,000 miles is the new 30,000 miles. People are paying real money for cars with six-figure odometer readings. Hell, people are taking out five-year used-car loans on vehicles with six-figure odometer readings. More importantly, the social stigma associated with owning a used car has more or less disappeared in many circles.

As a consequence, today’s buyers operate in a sliding-scale market where mileage affects price but doesn’t always have much effect on utility. It can be a good idea to get “more car” or “more truck” even if it means accepting an older vehicle with a longer history. Which is where today’s episode of Ask Jack begins.

(Read More…)

By on December 2, 2017

2018 Ram 1500 Hydro Blue Sport

Barring a blockbuster December, 2017’s light duty vehicle sales stand to dip below 2016’s record 17.55 million units. The National Automobile Dealers Association forecasts 17.1 million sales in the U.S. this calendar year, with 2018 sales falling to 16.7 million vehicles.

Bad news for automakers? Not if profits stay up. And nothing generates profits quite like large volumes of high-margin vehicles — pickup trucks, to be exact. While November 2017 was a relatively flat month for the industry, a closer look at the pickup segment shows America’s love affair with trucks is keeping the money taps flowing. (Read More…)

By on August 12, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, Image: Stephen Elmer and Anthony Delacruz.

If you have dreams of racing in Baja, but lack a race team’s budget, it’s a good time to be in the market for a pickup truck. That is thanks to the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, two midsize off-road focused pickups with a special emphasis on high-speed desert running.

The Ford Raptor, now considered the granddaddy to both of these two young trucks, started this push into credible high-speed off-road packages from the factory, and both Chevy and Toyota have applied the treatment to their midsize pickups, each with something unique to offer would-be racers. (Read More…)

By on June 14, 2017

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - Image: ChevroletGeneral Motors evidently hopes you like the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon the way they are.

The midsize truck twins, which arrived in second-generation form nearly three years ago, won’t be replaced for another five years.  (Read More…)

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