Over at General Motors, the Chevy Colorado small pickup accomplished what full-size Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra hopes to gain with its upcoming redesign this Fall. As a leader in the move to larger midsize, it took off as a newbie, winning converts and credits and some 117,000 initial sales when it launched in 2004. Now in 2006, after two years on the market, it includes some subtle refinements rather than radical changes.
GM's midsize hauler actually is two vehicles sold by both Chevrolet and GMC divisions, like its full-size brothers. Colorado's paternal twin, the Canyon, is the less populist version from GM's "professional grade" all-truck division.
For those wanting variety, Colorado/Canyon won't disappoint. Start with three cab variants -- Regular for two (once standard on most pickups), Extended Cab and Crew Cab with sedan style doors and the most accommodating ride. Three suspension choices include basic two- or four-wheel-drive versions, low-rider and off-roader.
It also boasts the biggest midsize passenger load for six in "higher levels of ride comfort" says GM. Translated: Separate seating, seatbelts, firm headrests, wiggle room and lean-back space rather than rear seats set bolt upright. One might pay the price with a shortened truck bed or slightly less fuel economy, but spacious comfort can be the biggest factor, especially on long family road trips.
Underneath there's a choice of two inline Vortec engines. The 175-HP, 2.8-liter 2800 four (21/27 MPG manual; 18/25 auto) is standard in all but Crew Cab Z71 and ZQ8 sports suspension "power play" models. Those get the standard 3500, a 3.5-liter five, delivering 220-HP (19/25 MPG manual; 18/23 auto).
In addition to such standard goodies as air conditioning, intermittent wipers, tilt steering, folding outside mirrors and cruise control, there are plenty of available amenities. They include remote keyless entry, XM Satellite radio, power outside mirrors, high back buckets, leather seating and running boards for the size-challenged, plus standard or optional side curtain airbags.
Colorado/Canyon add a Sun and Sound package with AM/FM, six in-dash stereo and power sunroof for LT models. Blue Granite Metallic joins exterior colors, with seating fabric upgrades for LTs and Crew Cabs. With solid workhorse capability and comfort combined, and a regular cab base of $15,390 ($21,315 crew cab), it sets the midsize standard.