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2004 4x4 Truck Of The Year Vehicles

Engine Compartment
Posted February 1, 2004

2004 4x4 of the year

Chevrolet Colorado Z71Highs*Strong engine*Limited slip that actually works*Aggressive looksLows*Tinny sheetmetal*Entry-level-looking interior*Overheated in the sand

VerdictVersatile off-roader that even we could afford

Typically, the least expensive 4x4 on the test becomes the penalty box of the trip, the one nobody wants to drive after being behind the wheel of the high-dollar competitors. Chevy's new Colorado dodged the turd title by coming to the test with a good power-to-weight ratio, aggressive exterior styling, and an interior that's roomier than you think it should be. Pop the hood on the potent 220hp five-cylinder engine (the middle child in the GM inline engine series and the largest engine available in the Colorado), and you're greeted by a very well laid out compartment with thoughtful routing of all lines and accessories. We know many of you were hoping for an optional V-8, but keep in mind that 10 years ago V-8s didn't even have this much power! When backed by the 4L60E auto, it's got more than enough grunt to turn the 265/75-15 tires. Mix in the Gov-Lock rear differential option, the spring and shock tuning of the Z71 package, and the XM satellite radio for long trips, and you have a giant-slayer 4x4 that even fullsize truck lovers can get excited about.

Just don't get too excited when you take a cold-blooded Colorado into the desert. Why? Because it seems GM didn't spend enough time with these trucks at the Arizona proving grounds, and after a couple hours of testing in the sand our truck's temp gauge was climbing into the danger zone when most of the group was as cool as cucumbers. We should have known something wasn't right when we saw that fresh air vent for the 12-volt battery that screams "high underhood temperatures." Perhaps a few strategically placed louvers in the hood and front sheetmetal would cure the problem? And speaking of sheetmetal, GM obviously saved some money by specing some pretty thin body panels. Don't go getting in any demolition derbies with one of these trucks.

Now that we're whining, the only other complaints we have are that the four-wheel-drive indicator lights are too dim and the interior has a "you get what you pay for" cheap feel to it. Besides all that, we really liked the little truck and felt it was a strong contender this year in all categories. It has certainly made us reevaluate our opinion of midsize trucks.

Manufacturer Chevrolet
Model Colorado Z71
Base Price $19,855
Price as Tested $24,520
Options as Tested 3500 I-5 engine,
4L60E transmission, locking rear differential, XM Radio, Z71 equipment package
Type DOHC I-5
Displacement (liters/cubic inches) 3.5/211
Bore & Stroke (inches) 3.66x4.00
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Induction Type Sequential, multiport fuel injection
Fuel Req. (octane)/Capacity (gal.) 87/19.6
SAE Peak Horsepower 220 @ 5,{{{600}}} rpm
SAE Peak Torque (lb-ft) 225 @ 2,800 rpm
Type Four-speed automatic overdrive
Model 4L60E
Ratios First: 3.06:1; Second: 1.63:1; Third:1.00:1; Fourth: 0.70:1; Reverse: 2.29:1
Transfer Case
Type Two-speed electronically shifted
Model T150
Low-Range Ratio 2.48:1
Front Type IFS w/AAM 7.63- inch centersection
Rear Type Solid AAM 8-inch with Gov-Lock
Hubs N/A
Ratio 3.73:1
Front Upper and lower A-arms/torsion bars
Rear Live axle, semi-eliptic leaf springs
Type Rack-and-pinion
Turns Lock-to-Lock/Ratio 3.20/19.1:1
Turning Radius (feet) 40.7
Size (inches) 15x7
Material Cast-aluminum
Size P265/75-15
Brand General Ameritrac TR
Brake System
Front 11.0-inch discs with ABS
Rear 11.6-inch drums with ABS
Weight (pounds)
Curb Weight 3,537
Advertised GVWR 5,150
EPA Estimate (city/hwy. mpg) 17/25
As Tested (mpg) 12.99
Standing 1¼4-mile (seconds @ mph) 17.40 @ 77.55
60-0 mph (feet) 156.21
Dimensions (inches)
Wheelbase 111.3
Overall Length 192.8
Overall Width {{{80}}}.75
Overall Height 68
Front/Rear Track 60.625/60.5
Front/Rear Overhang 35/46.625
Min. Front Ground Clearance 9.25
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