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Chevy’s Colorado Trail Boss is Ready to Explore.

Automakers love to sell big pickups. In America, it’s a business that over the years has grown from sturdy implements of work machinery to family transport with extra utility. Today, our country’s number one volume vehicles by far are pickup trucks, outselling sedans and SUVs in the top ten rankings by a two to one margin. This is a business that Detroit takes very seriously.

Over the last couple of decades, pickups have grown from what used to be “half-ton” models to todays 5,000-pound big rigs that can easily haul one ton of cargo along with leather seating for five adults. Smaller pickups like Chevy’s S10 were available, but just didn’t seem much of a value compared to the “full size” Silverado siblings. That’s because automakers put their best efforts into their large, profitable trucks. Back in 2004, when Chevy’s first edition of the Colorado was launched, it was apparent that they just didn’t want this “mid-size” offering to steal any sales from Silverado. Today it’s a different story.

The third Colorado edition, along with its GMC cousin Canyon, were launched just last year and the new Chevrolet pickup won MotorTrend’s Truck of the Year along with a number one pick in its category by Edmunds and other accolades. And from its curb appeal to specifications and drivability, I wouldn’t quarrel with those awards.

Our Trail Boss edition sits two-inches higher on its factory lift kits to provide a 9.5-inch ground clearance along with 30.5-degree approach and 22.4- degree departure angles. And since we’re talking in off-road language, there’s a 21-degree break over angle. Add the self-locking, limited slip rear differential and control switch for four different driving modes, and the Trail Boss should go pretty much anywhere. I went right to our public beach to play in deep sand.

Driving out on the over packed sand was simple and momentum helped position the truck for the photo shoot. But when I tried to exit, the rear wheels spun, so I made sure the rotary mode switch was in “off road” not “normal” or “trailer towing”. No dice. I considered looking at the owners manual, but I’m a guy and a professional vehicle evaluator. So I pushed a button that simply said “auto” and the Colorado quickly dug its way out of the predicament. Rescued by software control.

Speaking of software, inside the new Colorado there’s digital displays for the driver-focused instruments as well as a customizable 11.3-inch high-res screen for accessing maps, music and vehicle functions. Google and Android are tech partners. If you’re off-roading, you may like the 10 camera views or perhaps the optional Hitch Guidance to line up the trailer with the hitch like a pro. And when hitched, our Colorado can pull up to 7,700-pounds of trailer with its 2.7-liter Turbo Plus that produces 310 HP and 390 lb.-ft. of torque.

Although our Trail Boss was lifted and shod with all-terrain tires, it was perfectly civilized driving on paved roads. It might not be my first choice for a long cross-country journey, but certainly could be a family’s single vehicle, ready for work or play. Pricing begins at $30,695 for a WT model, our well-equipped Trail Boss retailed for $41,195. Competitors include Jeep’s Gladiator, Toyota’s Tacoma and Ford’s Ranger.

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