The auto industry has long ago shaken the perception that trucks were for workers, while sedans were for commutes and families. A glimpse into an $85K luxury pickup truck that has the interior of a fancy luxury sedan shows just how everything has changed. Further proof is the spectacular rise of Sport Utility Vehicles, offering a cross-over of sedan comforts and truck cargo and interior space. Back in the day, however, a basic pickup truck was one of the most inexpensive vehicles you could drive off the dealer’s lot specifically because they didn’t include all the bells and whistles.
It’s in this sense that the newly redesigned 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss pickup truck is still a throwback to simpler vehicle design times. I had a chance to drive one for a week and found a lot to like, but some really curious omissions due to the design trade-offs. Most notably, a lack of automatic door handles. Want to unlock the car? There’s no way other than using the key fob. This makes the Colorado the first vehicle I’ve driven in over a decade that didn’t have either a button on the door handle or a sensor strip to unlock it.
The exterior of the truck shows off the years and years of Chevy expertise with truck design. This is in “Glacier Blue Metallic” and with the Trail Boss trim level, it adds a 2″ suspension lift, wider track, 32″ Goodyear Territory A/T off-road tires, and a skidplate. It’s got a great curb presence:
This has the stock 18″ wheels and a spray-on bed liner, ready for your cargo and towing needs. It can pull up to 7,000 pounds too, impressive for its size. More importantly, as a crew cab, ready for your crew too: In fact, every Colorado is now a crew cab design. As is typical for smaller trucks, the addition of the second-row crew cab eats into the truck bed length, with this just a bit over 5-feet long. My suspicion is that most owners toss a bike, sports equipment, or some weekend fixit gear into the very back for which the size is just fine. The addition of the spray-on bed liner (a $475 option) gives it a solid cargo area that I utilized for some furniture transport while I had easy availability with the loaner truck:
One feature I definitely appreciated was the dampened EZ Lift tailgate. My son, who owns a 2022 Toyota Tacoma, envied that the Colorado’s tailgate locks when the truck is locked: The Tacoma doesn’t have a locking tailgate, making it easy for thieves to literally pop it off and steal it. Notice also the step-up bumper, standard for the Colorado (and probably all Chevy trucks). That’s the kind of attention to detail that marks every aspect of the Colorado, making it a very thoughtful truck that’s light-years from the initial Colorado, as released back in 2003.
While we’re outside the truck, here’s that mysteriously featureless door handle up close:
However much the upgrade is to get a button added or a sensor strip on the inside of the handle, it would be worth it if you’re considering this truck. The most frustrating part of my week with the Chevy Colorado Trail Boss was that I was constantly pulling the keys out of my pocket to lock and unlock the truck, which was definitely awkward at times.
The legroom for passengers entirely depends on the height of both the driver and front passenger; if they moved their seats back all the way, the back seats most then resembled airplane seats where they’ve squeezed too many rows into the plane by sacrificing comfort:
Worth noting is that the 8-way power driver’s seat is another optional add-on ($545 including EZ lift tailgate and various other useful features) but that the front passenger’s seat is still manually controlled. In other words, the driver can very easily slide their seat forward to create more rear legroom, but the passenger will be reaching between their legs and fiddling with a lockbar to do the same.
SWINGING INTO THE TRUCK
Moving inside, the dashboard, also newly redesigned for 2023, features an eye-catching 11.3″ infotainment display that features both wireless Apple CarPlay and Wireless Android Auto:
Behind the classic gear shifter is a Qi wireless charging pad with both USB-A and USB-C plugs too, giving you lots of options for powering your smartphone. Notice the awkward climate control vents: The left side is a very retro circular control, while the central vents are squeezed between the layers of the main dashboard design. In fact, I found it tricky to manage the climate in the truck through different weather conditions, having to fiddle quite a bit to get the air pointing where I prefer. The climate management area is also weirdly missing a very basic control. Can you spot it?
There’s no “AUTO” feature to let the vehicle manage the climate. It’s much more of a DIY sort of approach where I found myself fiddling with it as the interior temperature varied. Perhaps it’s attained through a secret button combination, but I was not able to identify it during my time with the vehicle. Leave a comment explaining the control if I just missed this one!
Of course, the drivetrain control knob does have an “AUTO” setting, but it ain’t quite the same thing:
In fact, one of the nice features of the Chevy Colorado is this integrated two-wheel / four-wheel drive system. Set it to AUTO and for most drivers, you’ll never have to think about it again. Get into rough terrain where your wheels are slipping and it’ll figure out it needs to drop into 4-wheel drive all by itself. The truck holds the road very well in my experience too, so I expect off-roading with the Trail Boss additions would be great fun. Also worth noting is that it includes the “Terrain” drive mode that enables the fun, though rather disconcerting one-pedal driving.
Fuel economy for the model I drove, powered by the Chevrolet 2.7 liter turbo plus engine with 8-speed automatic transmission was rather decent for its class: 17/21 with me seeing about 20.1 mpg for my own driving period. The main gauge display included fuel efficiency information on the trip info screen, but not on the main vehicle monitoring display:
The 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss I drove included the Advanced Trailering Package, but I did not have a chance to test it. If you’re going to be towing a boat, camper, jetskiis, or trailer, it’s worth reading up on the ATP to learn more. It’s a nice setup for a reasonably modest ($620) upcharge and I would imagine the vast majority of Colorado owners opt to include it in their own truck configurations.
The drive experience was surprisingly good, with a bit of hesitation from a standing start but a smooth acceleration and quiet, comfortable highway experience. It’s also reasonably easy to park in a modern suburban parking lot with its 74.9″ width. The size feels like a great midpoint between the weirdly small mini-pickups like the Honda Ridgeline or Hyundai Santa Cruz and the big RAM 3500 work trucks that are all over the place in my neighborhood. It’s a solid, well designed truck that’s sure to appeal to many potential buyers:
While there were some aspects that felt a bit unfinished – most notably the lack of smart door handles to make unlocking the vehicle easier – overall I found the Colorado Trail Boss a really fun and enjoyable drive, and the open bed hugely convenient with some chores I faced during my eval period. If you’re in the market for a pickup truck that can carry your growing family and easily haul a few bikes to the trailhead while towing your beloved boat, this is unquestionably one to check out.
2023 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD Trail Boss, with 2.7L Turbo Plus engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. BASE: $37,000. Options included: Advanced Trailering Package, Trail Boss Convenience Package II, Bed Liner, Glacier Blue Metallic paint, Trail Boss Convenience Package I, 220amp Generator, Front License Plate Mount Kit. AS DRIVEN: $41,095.00.
Disclosure: Chevrolet loaned me the Colorado for a week in return for my candid writeup. Thanks, Chevy!