All New 2023 Chevrolet Colorado First Drive Impressions

Coming out of the gate swinging in 2023, Chevrolet is looking to dominate the mid-size truck market by releasing the all-new 2023 Chevrolet Colorado. This brand-new platform showcases a different strategy for Chevy. With aggressive styling, a new powerplant, and a focus on off-road capability, has Chevy hit a home run? Join Off Road Xtreme as we get behind the wheel to test out what might be the best mid-size truck on the market.

2023 Chevrolet Colorado First Glance

It’s hard not to notice that Chevy has chosen to go aggressive with the Colorado when it comes to styling. Starting in front, the large bumper and grille fascia will ensure no one mistakes the 2023 Colorado Trail Boss for the Colorado Z71. The hood features more peaks and valleys than a mountain range and slopes down sharply to the flared fenders. Overall, we think the bold design presents a great tone for an aggressive truck but can see how some people might find it over the top. I have a feeling it will grow on the masses.

The 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss in Nitro Yellow Metallic and the Z71 in Glacier Blue Metallic.

Moving to the passenger compartment, Chevy is taking a new approach with the 2023 Colorado line. Gone are the days of choosing a cab configuration or engine size. The new Colorado is available in multiple trim levels, but they are all Crew Cab shortbeds. All the trim levels also include the same 2.7-liter turbo four-cylinder gas engine, but that engine does have a variable output, dependent on the trim level.

Five different trim levels will be available for the Chevrolet 2023 Colorado: Work Truck )WT_, LT, Trail Boss, Z71, and ZR2. The lineup offers three distinctive stances geared toward the vehicle model’s intended use. But this is Off Road Xtreme, so let’s take a deeper look at the trims designed for hitting the trail.

Enhanced Performance

The 2023 Colorado lineup arrives reengineered with three distinct chassis setups to support everyday tasks and off-road adventures, without sacrificing off-road capability or on-road comfort:

  • Standard Height Configuration: WT, LT, and Z71 trims
  • 2-inch Factory-Lifted, Ultra-Wide Stance: Trail Boss
  • High-Performance 3-inch Factory-Installed Lift and Wide Stance: ZR2

Is The New Colorado Off-Road Race Tested?

Before we compare the trim models, let us throw it back to what went into the vehicle development. Chevrolet was all-in when it came to the development of the new third-generation Colorado. Engineers worked closely with their factory-supported off-road racer Chad Hall during the refinement of this truck. Racing in the stock class in multiple series, Chad’s factory truck, with a roll cage and fuel cell, has validated the off-road performance of the new Colorado.

There are few torture tests better than racing, so it’s great to know that off-road trails, research, and development from the race course have made their way back into the production-line trucks.

The 2023 Chevrolet Colorado’s New Off-Road Focus

Chevy describes this Colorado as built for adventures. With trims catered to the occasional dirt road all the way up to bombing across the desert, there is a truck in this line for just about everybody.

While we are itching to get our hands on a 2023 ZR2 Colorado, we did have the opportunity to drive both the Z71 and Trail Boss. But, not to worry, we will be doing a separate feature and deeper dive into Chervolet’s high-end ultra-capable off-road model. Both the Z71 and Trail Boss trim levels offered great first impressions. While we didn’t get a chance to go too crazy with our test trucks off-road, we were able to put some miles on each to get a feel for their capabilities both on and off the pavement. This included playing with the selectable drive modes.

2023 Chevrolet Colorado selectable drive modes

Colorado has integrated up to five selectable drive modes to increase off-road and trailering capabilities.

Selectable Drive Modes

To support the new Colorado’s increased off-road and trailering capabilities, up to five selectable drive modes, depending on the model, are offered. Each is tailored for different driving conditions, and they are accessible using a knob located on the center console, to the left of the gear selector. The five drive modes include:

  • Normal: A balanced mode for everyday on-road driving
  • Tow/Haul: Transmission shift points, throttle response, and additional calibrations optimized for trailering and hauling
  • Off-Road: Specific tractive and other dynamic performance features designed for general off-pavement driving
  • Terrain: Designed for low-speed rock crawling, with specific throttle control, brake performance, and other calibrations, with three settings
  • Baja: Developed for high-speed desert running, with specific throttle control, transmission shifting, and other body/drivetrain control calibrations.

Technology Integration With Off-Road Benefits

Another great feature of the Z71 was the underbody camera system. The truck comes standard with front, rear, and 360-degree cameras which project into the infotainment system. We think the underbody camera could prove to be incredibly useful when choosing difficult lines on tougher trails. Technology can sometimes be an afterthought to integrate into dynamic driving ergonomics. Nobody likes parking sensors barking at you as you go up and over hills while out on the trail, but the Colorado seems to have found a great balance for useful features both on and off the road.

Finding Commonalities

The models we tested were both four-wheel-drive trucks featuring the 2.7-liter Turbo Plus engine configuration. Both trucks also featured the same eight-speed automatic gearbox and G80 rear limited-slip differential. While the Trail Boss does sit a little higher than the Z71, both trucks utilize a similar suspension and shock setup. Coilovers up front and two-stage multi-leaf springs in the rear.

Powerful New 2.7-Liter Turbo Engine Variants (GM Estimated)

A 2.7-liter turbo 4-cylinder gas engine, proven in the full-size Silverado, is new for Colorado and powers all five models with three distinct output variants that exceed the output of the current model.

Output Variant Horsepower Torque (lb.-ft.) Max Trailering Availability
2.7L Turbo 237 259 3,500 lbs. Standard: WT & LT
2.7L Turbo Plus 310 390 7,700 lbs. Standard: Z71 & Trail Boss

Available: WT & LT

2.7L Turbo High-Output 310 430 7,700 lbs. Standard: ZR2 (Max trailering up to 6000lbs)

Inside, the trucks we drove offered the aforementioned multiple driving modes as part of their technology package. The Trail Boss and Z71 feature two drive modes specific to taking the truck off the beaten path. Off-Road mode changes your traction control settings to help get you through a variety of terrains like mud and sand. It also adjusts other dynamic performance features to help you get the truck through anything. Terrain mode is all about low-speed crawling, it drastically changes the vehicle’s throttle control and brake performance to help get you up, over, and back down obstacles.

Outside, you could tell the truck bed was built for serious work and play. The tailgate can be configured to hang in a medium open position for hauling longer cargo. The tailgate storage cubby was another very cool feature that has endless potential.

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71

This is where Chevrolet’s new focus on off-road capability starts with the Colorado. Sitting one inch higher than the WT model, the Z71 offers almost 9 inches of ground clearance. The Z71 is powered by the 2.7-liter Turbo Plus, boasting 310 horsepower and 390-foot pounds of torque.

Inside you’ll notice a sportier black interior with red accents and upgraded finishes. On the outside, Z71 brings gloss black trim to the fascia and rest of the truck as well as trim-specific badging. This trend is also the first model with a 7,700-pound. towing capacity, standard.

We took our Z71 through some rutted-out hard-packed terrain as well as some grated dirt areas. When we were able to push the throttle down, the truck felt stable and well-planted. The 310-horsepower turbo motor was big fun when you laid into it. In the ruts, the truck felt very capable and willing to climb back out of anything the ground clearance allowed us to drop into. Overall, Chevy seems to have found a solid balance for the suspension that is hard enough to be stable without being too punishing over the rough stuff.

2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss

New for the 2023 Colorado line, is the Trail Boss. Ground clearance is pushed up to 9.5 inches over the standard ride height, and the truck boasts a greater-than-30-degree approach angle for obstacles. The wider track width is another key feature of the Trail Boss, which provides added stability. Inside the cabin is a rugged aesthetic that matches more closely to the work truck than the Z71. Outside you’ll get a host of Trail Boss badging.


We found a different kind of test bed for the Trail Boss. Heading towards the coast we found an area that had been recently beaten up by heavy rains and took the chance to play in the mud. The Trail Boss’ wider and taller stance felt better to us, inspiring a little more confidence to throw the truck around. The 2023 Chevrolet Colorado was never short on power or torque to muscle through the deepest mud we could find at our test site.

A Sporty Truck For Getting Around Town

We took the time to drive the trucks around town as well because we all have to go back to civilization sometime. On the highway, the trucks are comfortable and don’t hint at their off-road capability. The Z71 was slightly more comfortable throughout the commute but the Trail Boss was still a really great truck for daily driving. The turning radius on the Colorado is good and working our way through a parking garage was easier than expected, as the truck felt smaller than it looks.

The sunroof feature is also new for the 2023 Colorado. Feeling the warm golden San Diego sun rays on a chilly winter day while driving around town was pretty awesome.

There’s a lot of technology packed into the very spacious cabin. Getting control over everything takes a little time to get used to as the entire truck seems to operate through the center-mounted infotainment system. The lack of physical controls will be a hot topic of discussion when it comes to the Colorado. For those willing to embrace the future, the system interface and navigation tools become fluent after you learn the icons.

Conclusion: 2023 Chevrolet Colorado First Drive Impressions

Is the new Colorado the perfect midsize truck? Time will tell for certain, and there’s a good chance it might be the home-run Chevy was looking for. The truck definitely raises the bar for the competition and will be a standout in the mid-size market. You can learn more about the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado online or see one in person sometime in March at your local dealer.

We are anxiously awaiting the release of the ZR2 and we’ll be getting our hands on one as soon as possible. So, stay tuned to OffRoad Xtreme for more details on that and other new vehicle releases.

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About the author

Dustin Singleton

Dustin is an internationally published photographer and the founder of IALS Photography. Managing a successful mobile electronics shop led him to become completely entrenched in the tuner scene.
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