The Colorado with its more sedan like looks, moves away from the macho American truck it once was.
Published on February 13, 2008
There was once a time when Thais were avid followers of Western culture, or to be more precise, American culture. And while there are still many of them among us, it seems the majority of the crowd these days do not look up to things American like they once did. New-car customers appear to be among those who have tipped Americana from their private pedestals.
Take the case of the Ford Focus. In its Thai operations, Ford has always portrayed its vehicles as being "tough" and reflecting American tastes. Then came the Ford Focus, and the company was deliberate in pointing out it was not an American design, but rather a European one.
This brings us to the Chevrolet Colorado tested here. When it was launched about three years ago, the Colorado was all about American pickup design. A big horizontal bar on the front grille split the lights into upper and lower pairs. I thought it looked great. It was a refreshing change from the boring designs that were then plaguing the market. (The Mitsubishi Triton had not yet been launched.)
A few years down the track and the Colorado now comes with a new design. Gone are the macho looks, but this has not made it any less attractive. The version I tested for four days was the Z71 4 x 4 CTI Maxx, with a 3-litre common-rail diesel engine.
It came with 16-inch mag alloys that looked great on the road. The vehicle actually managed to make people turn their heads for another look, although most of them were drivers of other pickups.
The new headlamp and front grille design is once again a refreshing change. To some extent it feels like the Colorado has adopted the design features of a sedan. The bonnet scoop that comes with the CTI version may be the last remnant of the Colorado's macho era.
I must assume the Chevrolet had quite a few leftover front bars from the previous design, so they decided to put them on the rear of the new model, on the truck bed door. Once again, it makes the Colorado stand out, as a pickup with a noticeably different rear end. The only other pickup that grabs attention with its rear could be the Navara, with its rear-end black patch.
You start to get slightly disappointed with the Colorado when you see the interior. It was this aspect that made the older Colorado a turn-off. However, I must admit the brown interior of the test vehicle made it a lot more attractive. The full black finish that I'd driven before only magnified the cheap plastic and bland interior.
The audio system plays both MP3 and WMA formats, although the system looks mediocre. The instrument cluster looks good, with a blue halo around the speedometer.
There are little things that make the Colorado more likeable.
The 3-litre engine produces 360Nm of torque from as low down as 1,800rpm, which makes the Colorado more zippy on the move, especially with the manual-transmission version I drove. But the engine is still loud, feels very strained at higher revs and lacks refinement compared with new-age competitors like the Toyota Vigo and Nissan Navara.
The electronic button system for engaging the four-wheel drive means more space for two cup holders, because there's no longer any need for a second gear lever. The Colorado also comes with a special G-80 differential-locking mechanism that helps you out of sticky situations when one of your wheels loses traction.
As the test vehicle was the four-wheel-drive version, driving in the city, especially with manual transmission, meant an aching knee and difficulty manoeuvring around tight parking lots. But on upcountry roads, the Colorado feels firmly planted and comfort up front is good, although you'll hear an occasionally unhappy grunt from the rear-seat passengers. It has the body roll you may expect from a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Driver visibility is great, and there is the added advantage of sitting high.
So, with its fair share of pros and cons, is the Colorado a worthy competitor? The CTI Maxx in manual form will set you back Bt865,000, with an extra Bt40,000 for an automatic transmission. Competitors like the Toyota Vigo and Mitsubishi Triton in the same class will cost you Bt846,000 and Bt866,000, respectively.
So does the Colorado's American origin make the difference?
The Luxury LS 460 is a wonderfully comfaortable car fitted with all mod cons, althoough not necessarily the most fun vehicle to drive.