2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Verdict: 31,069 Miles in One Impressive Workhorse

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We managed to log 31,069 miles in 370 days with our 2015 Truck of the Year, which is on the high side of mileage for a yearlong loan but not unusual for a pickup in the MT Garage. Trucks and vans end up as the workhorses of the fleet, both for personal use on the weekends and on the job in support of photo shoots and other editorial projects.

One epic personal trip that didn’t make it as a regular update, but really should have, was the 2,700-plus-mile road trip undertaken by former photographer Julia LaPalme and her father.

Our time with the Colorado began in Detroit, and halfway through we decided to swap it for our L.A.-based Chevy Tahoe. LaPalme was willing to make the drive out to the Motor City with her father, with plans to attend a wedding in Wisconsin and visit friends and family all over the Midwest on the journey back.

“We picked up the truck from Frank [Markus] in Detroit then drove to Wisconsin to meet up with family for the wedding,” she said. “The truck came in handy for carrying flower arrangements to the reception and gifts back to my aunt and uncle’s house. After we visited family in the Madison area for a few days, we drove to Dubuque, Iowa, then Cedar Rapids, then caught I-80, which we took through Des Moines, then Omaha, Nebraska. We split off onto I-76 before getting into Colorado, where we met up with my mom for lunch in Golden.

“We then took I-70 through the Rockies into Utah, where we caught Highway 50 in Salina, Utah, and took it the rest of the way through Nevada, where we met up again with I-80. We stopped to visit family in Grass Valley, where I left my dad. Then I just bombed south on I-5 back to L.A. after that.”

And bomb she did. On this trip, LaPalme recorded some of the highest fuel economy figures we saw all year—as high as 23.7 mpg for the last tank that dropped her into the L.A. basin. At 19.5 mpg, fuel economy over the life of our loan was considerably lower but spot on with the EPA-estimated 20 mpg combined.

Julia guesses she drove more than 80 percent of the 2,700-plus-mile trip and had no long-haul complaints. That jibes with Benson Kong’s observations. “The Colorado is currently the only new midsize truck that I wholeheartedly believe I would not tire of driving for 100,000 miles,” he said. “That is only part of the truck’s beauty.”

Another beauty mark: our Colorado’s maintenance costs. Our top-trim LTZ, equipped with the 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6, had no repair issues or out-of-pocket expenses of any kind, though we did have see the dealer for four recalls, including one for improper wiring in the airbag system.

As a work truck, ours performed admirably despite being slightly down in utility from previous trucks in the fleet simply because of its smaller stature. We added two accessories that vastly increased the Colorado’s flexibility; a lockable rollup bed cover and a soft yet durable bedliner made the Colorado the support vehicle of choice for our photo and video crew. Pelican cases full of gear could be secured out of sight, and light stands and other supports could be tossed into the bed without fear of sliding or scratching..

Video producer Cory Lutz drove the Colorado exclusively during our weeklong Truck of the Year program in Arizona and found the built-in steps in the bumper “great for grabbing stuff out of the truck bed without having to drop the tailgate” and the 12-volt and USB charging outlets and 4G LTE Wi-Fi “awesome, especially for those who work in production.”

He praised the Colorado’s ability to transition to off-road driving quickly and smoothly, even when packed with equipment. “It rode smooth on- and off-road, had the right power, and was easy to park,” Lutz said.

One bummer we noted after sampling Apple CarPlay integration in the 2016 Chevrolets at Truck of the Year is how much we missed the system in our 2015 truck, so much so that I called Chevrolet PR and confirmed that CarPlay could not be added retroactively via a software or hardware update.

“After numerous trips to the Sierras in the Colorado, I feel like it is a solid, reliable midsize truck, one that felt very much like the numerous trucks (S-10s and Tacomas) my friends owned when I was in college,” head photographer Brian Vance said. “It’s not fast, fancy, or refined, and at times, it feels like it’s built with slightly older tech. But it also feels like a truck that will last for years and years, and I was always glad to have a bed on the back and the option to go into 4WD when the snow piled up high.” Lutz and Vance both expressed distaste for the tubular side steps, particularly in winter weather. They collect a lot of dirty snow and are guaranteed to muck up pant legs if occupants try to step over them when exiting the vehicle.

Our 2015 Truck of the Year acquitted itself quite nicely during our yearlong loan, and the Colorado team in Wentzvile, Missouri, should be proud of the truck they have built. So are we bummed to see our 2015 Colorado head to the great used-truck lot in the sky? Not really. Our 2016 Truck of the Year has just arrived, and we look forward to seeing how the 2.8-liter Duramax I-4—less power, more torque—in the Colorado diesel measures up to new competitors.

More on our long-term 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71:

Arrival Update 1: Long-Hauling the Colorado Is Refreshingly Comfortable Update 2: Making Easy Work of Many Jobs Update 3: Pickup Tows Max Loads Like a Champ Update 4: Our Colorado Goes Surfing Update 5: Colorado Ups and Downs Over Two Road Trips Our Car SERVICE LIFE 13 mo / 31,069 mi BASE PRICE $34,990 OPTIONS Bose 7-speaker sound system ($500), navigation ($495), spray-in bedliner ($475), GearOn Bar package ($395: cross rails tiered storage system, cargo tie-down rings), Trailering package ($250: trailer hitch receiver, 7-pin electrical connector), all-weather floormats ($160) PRICE AS TESTED $37,265 AVG ECON/CO2 19.5 mpg / 0.99 lb/mi PROBLEM AREAS None MAINTENANCE COST $0 (3-oil change, inspection; 2-tire rotation) NORMAL-WEAR COST $0 3-YEAR RESIDUAL VALUE* $20,868 RECALLS Front brake calipers, power steering, front seat mount hooks, driver airbag *Automotive Lease Guide data

2015 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 4WD POWERTRAIN/CHASSIS DRIVETRAIN LAYOUT Front-engine, 4WD ENGINE TYPE 60-deg V-6, alum block/heads VALVETRAIN DOHC, 4 valves/cyl DISPLACEMENT 217.5 cu in/3,564cc COMPRESSION RATIO 11.5:1 POWER (SAE NET) 305 hp @ 6,800 rpm* TORQUE (SAE NET) 269 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm* REDLINE 6,500 rpm WEIGHT TO POWER 15.0 lb/hp TRANSMISSION 6-speed automatic AXLE/FINAL-DRIVE RATIO 3.42:1/2.29:1 SUSPENSION, FRONT; REAR Control arms, coil springs, anti-roll bar; live axle, leaf springs STEERING RATIO 16.8:1 TURNS LOCK-TO-LOCK 3.0 BRAKES, F; R 12.2-in vented disc; 12.8-in vented disc, ABS WHEELS 8.0 x 17-in cast aluminum TIRES 255/65R17 110T M+S Goodyear Wrangler Fortitude HT DIMENSIONS WHEELBASE 128.3 in TRACK, F/R 62.4/62.4 in LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT 212.7 x 74.3 x 70.6 in TURNING CIRCLE 41.3 ft CURB WEIGHT 4,588 lb WEIGHT DIST, F/R 56/44% SEATING CAPACITY 5 HEADROOM, F/R 41.4/38.3 in LEGROOM, F/R 45.0/35.8 in SHOULDER ROOM, F/R 57.5/56.2 in PICKUP BOX L x W x H 61.7 x 57.8 x 20.9 in CARGO VOLUME 41.3 cu ft PAYLOAD CAPACITY 1,412 lb TOWING CAPACITY 7,000 lb GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING 6,000 lb GROSS COMBINED WEIGHT RATING 12,000 lb TEST DATA ACCELERATION TO MPH 0-30 2.7 sec 0-40 3.8 0-50 5.6 0-60 7.4 0-70 9.4 0-80 12.7 0-90 16.2 PASSING, 45-65 MPH 3.7 QUARTER MILE 15.7 sec @ 88.7 mph BRAKING, 60-0 MPH 123 ft LATERAL ACCELERATION 0.76 g (avg) MT FIGURE EIGHT 28.1 sec @ 0.61 g (avg) TOP-GEAR REVS @ 60 MPH 1,600 rpm CONSUMER INFO STABILITY/TRACTION CONTROL Yes/yes AIRBAGS Dual front, front side, f/r curtain BASIC WARRANTY 3 yrs/36,000 miles POWERTRAIN WARRANTY 5 yrs/100,000 miles ROADSIDE ASSISTANCE 5 yrs/100,000 miles FUEL CAPACITY 21.0 gal EPA CITY/HWY/COMB ECON 17/24/20 mpg ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY 198/140 kW-hrs/100 miles CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB 0.99 lb/mile REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB 18.0/22.4/19.7 mpg RECOMMENDED FUEL Unleaded regular *SAE Certified