1,500 Miles, Off-Road and On, with the 2015 Chevy Colorado Truck

 Kitt Doucette

For active guys a truck offers a little bit of go-anywhere, do-anything freedom. After all, you can throw your boards, bikes, boats, buddies, and anything else in at a moment’s notice and hit the road. But recent models’ larger sizes have made them fairly impractical for anyone but contractors: They don’t fit in parking spots, can’t flip a U-turn on a city street, and generally don’t make sense as your only ride — leaving a lot of truck lovers wondering what ever happened to the mid-size truck that can tow a trailer or boat when needed, gets 20 mpg or more, and is comfortable enough to take on long road trips and tough enough to go camping in the backcountry.

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After spending 1,500 miles chasing waves, single track, and good times in California with the truck, we might have finally found a trustworthy replacement. The Colorado handled everything we threw at it, from parallel parking on the steep and narrow streets of San Francisco, to rumbling down the rugged dirt fire roads in Big Sur’s backcountry. Meanwhile, we got approving nods at the sleek looks from valet attendants at the Santa Barbara Biltmore and rock climbers at our campsite in Yosemite.

Most importantly, it was a dream to drive — quiet and responsive thanks to the Z71 suspension and StabiliTrak stability control system with rollover mitigation technology. This was definitely a blessing when we were following our lead-footed friends in their Audis and Beamers up the twisting PCH. When we hit the dirt, though, the Colorado left those low-clearance wagons in the dust. It’s a comfortable and smooth ride on the freeway with all the bells and whistles of a 21st century rig: WiFi, USB ports, an 8-inch color touch screen built into the dashboard, Satelite radio, OnStar, premium Bose stereo, push-button 4WD, and six airbags including head curtain side-air bags. The Colorado also comes equipped with a highly functional integrated rack system that makes securely carrying boards, bikes, and boats easy. The truck’s 305 horsepower 3.6L V-6 with direct injection averaged 20 mpg over the entire trip. And it can tow up to 7,000 pounds when equipped with the Z82 trailering package.

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Our only complaint: The gas pedal felt a little soft, causing a few hiccups when we had to step on it and make a pass, but that’s easily remedied by switching the truck to Manual. There’s also a general lack of secure storage space inside the truck’s cabin, which caused items to shift around a lot on the windy roads. But the bottom line is that the Chevy Colorado reaffirmed our belief in the mid-size truck. It’s a rig that’s willing to work hard, but it would rather play hard. And it’s a great option for weekend warriors who need their truck for everyday driving in between adventures.

[From $20,120; chevrolet.com]