2015 Chevy Colorado vs. 2015 Toyota Tacoma

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2015 Chevy Colorado vs. 2015 Toyota Tacoma

Unchallenged leadership is never good. Toyota hasn’t needed to put up a fight in the mid-size truck market for a very long time. At least not until now because for 2015, GM is releasing all-new versions of Colorado and Canyon.

Just to get it out of the way, yes it’s true that Toyota revealed the next-gen Tacoma in Detroit earlier this year with significant upgrades and you can bet we’re already planning that shootout.

Why Bother?

But for now, it’s useful to juxtapose the Colorado and Tacoma because it puts GM’s new truck against the current segment leader and it also ought to offer a benchmark for the improvements GM made relative to the previous Colorado.

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And boy howdy, is there ever a difference. The Colorado’s cabin feels modern through and through, which makes it even more obvious that Toyota hasn’t bothered to give any meaningful updates to the Tacoma. Frankly, nobody gave them a reason to and it shows.  The Colorado is quiet and the Tacoma is noisy. The Colorado looks new and the Tacoma looks like it belongs in the last decade.

The point is that if you wanted a mid-size truck, it meant compromising by paying for a vehicle that felt 10 years old until now because GM is finally offering something that keeps doesn’t feel outdated. Then again, pickups don’t necessarily need to be pretty. The Tacoma doesn’t retain its value so well because it changes clothes every couple of years. It has a long-established reputation for reliability and utility that people respect. But how do they drive?

On the Road

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Well the simple answer is: like trucks. After all, the Colorado uses a downsized version of the same fully boxed frame as the Silverado and Sierra. If you’ve driven a Tacoma and are thinking about either replacing it with another one or possibly a Colorado, the steering is probably the first thing that will jump out at you.

Toyota still uses old school hydraulic steering while Chevrolet is using an electrically assisted setup. We tend to boo and hiss at electric steering for feeling fake but, it really does make the Colorado much easier to maneuver in rush hour traffic jams and I honestly don’t mind losing the analog feeling in the Tacoma.

One of the other things you’re going to notice is how well the Colorado mutes road and engine noise. It actually offers a pretty quiet ride, but as you can probably hear, that isn’t the case with the Taco.

Wind, engine noise and tire roar all make it right into the cabin.

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Performance With a Load in the Bed

The Colorado’s V6 is also direct injected mated to a six speed that makes it more powerful than the Toyota.

But things aren’t necessarily all that simple. After all, we’re looking at a pair of pickup trucks and there’s a good chance you plan to use it like one. With that in mind, we loaded a snowmobile into the beds and took them out for a spin to see how they would perform with weight in the bed. For reference, the sled sits at about 600 lbs.

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The Colorado’s rear end can feel a little bit rough with nothing to weigh it down, but that all changed under load. It actually felt better to drive with a burden on the leaf springs because the truck feels more planted on the whole without feeling like it is appreciably slower to accelerate. Unfortunately, the sled also doesn’t fit between the wheel wells.

It’s hard to fault the Colorado there because the same thing is true with the Tacoma. Similarly, it didn’t feel particularly taxed with a snowmobile sitting in the rear, but there are differences between how the two behave. Where the Colorado seemed to gain an improved ride, the Tacoma still felt uncomfortably stiff for hauling a load over a long distance. The same goes for towing a trailer.

Both trucks offer similar tie-down points, but the Tacoma is better equipped at the base level. In the Colorado, you need to pay $100 to get optionally higher tie-down hooks that go a long way in making it easy to secure awkward objects.

That isn’t the only place where Toyota’s ancient truck still has a more convenient bed because it also offers a 110-volt outlet that the Colorado lacks. It’s still far from perfect because the outgoing Tacoma – and this is something the new generation fixes – still uses a trailer light connection that sits underneath its bumper and that’s very annoying to deal with.

The Colorado is quieter, but it’s also heavier and despite the fact that it has more horsepower and torque, it and the Tacoma feel like they are similarly powerful.

That could come down to gearing, but it’s probably because this truck has about a 160-lb weight advantage over the Colorado.

Compare Specs

2015 Chevrolet Colorado
vs
2015 Toyota Tacoma
Vehicle 2015 Chevrolet Colorado Advantage 2015 Toyota Tacoma
Engine 3.6 L V6 - 4.0 L V6
Transmission Six-speed auto Colorado Five-speed auto
Horsepower 305 HP Colorado 236 HP
Torque 269 lb-ft. Colorado 266 lb-ft.
Max payload 1,590 lbs. Colorado 1,500 lbs.
Front Headroom 41.4 inches - 40.2 inches
Rear Headroom 38.3 inches - 38.5 inches
Rear Legroom 35.8 inches Colorado 32.6 inches
Fuel Economy (US) 17 MPG city, 24 MPG hwy Colorado 16 MPG city, 21 MPG hwy
Fuel Economy (CDN) 11.5 L/100 km city, 9.5 L/100 km hwy Colorado 13.5 L/100 km city, 9.8 L/100 km hwy
Observed Fuel Economy 20 MPG Colorado 15 MPG
Starting Price for V6 4WD (US) $30,580 Colorado $32,280
Starting Price(CDN) $30,296 Tacoma $30,030
As-Tested (US) $37,815 Tacoma $36,530

Size Matters

It would be a mistake to call either of these trucks “small.” Instead, they’re just smaller than the half-ton Silverado and Tundra. The Colorado is two inches wider than the Tacoma and roughly the same height. Conveniently, they’re narrow enough to make navigating parking garages totally feasible if not easy. Just keep in mind that both of them are still almost as tall as a half-ton,  so low garages are still an issue.

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It’s just that the Colorado so much nicer to sit in. The seats are better positioned and it’s easy to find a comfortable position in them. I’m only about 5’ 9” and even I feel like I’m sitting too high in the Tacoma.

Even mid-size trucks tend to be pretty thirsty. The six-speed and direct-injected V6 in the Colorado make it more efficient. We got almost 20 MPG with nothing in the bed on mostly open roads. Driving side-by-side, the Tacoma only managed a little better than 15 MPG.

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The Verdict:

It boils down to a few important points. The Colorado looks newer because it is. The fact that it takes advantage of modern technology both in its powertrain and cabin make it a much nicer vehicle to own.

The trucks we drove would cost you almost the same cash to buy, but the Chevrolet comes loaded with things like a locking rear differential and modern technological convenience features that make it both nicer to drive and more capable and it also doesn’t hurt that it’s more efficient. With a new Taco in the kitchen, one question remains: will Toyota’s mid-size truck be able to make the same massive leap that the Colorado just did?

2015 Chevrolet Colorado

2015 Toyota Tacoma

  • keltypack

    Look at resale value. Toyota had been king for decades. A pretty truck that is a new design doesn’t matter when it spends a lot of time in shops. No union labor is a big plus for the Toyota. Lack of accepting government handouts makes Toyota more attractive. I’ve owned a Suburban (still have it) and a Silverado. I liked them, but the Silverado cost a bunch to fix a brake problem. I also own a Tacoma. It is by far the best vehicle I have ever owned. Yes, it is noisy. Yes, it is stiff. The gas mileage estimates are typically low on Toyotas. I usually get what they estimates. On my Chevys, the estimate was only what I would occasionally see under the best of conditions. When I by a new truck, the Chevy is not likely to be a finalist.

  • But for me, the Chevy IS likely to BE a finalist.

  • ZX-10R

    You guys got a review right….Most of my engineers would never buy a Toyota based on the fact they are selling you old tech that has been refined thrice over but for a PREMIUM that is not commensurate of the years gone by. Generally it would be cheaper and newer tech added would offset that pricing. I have been in both with one friend owning a recent Taco and I have test drove the Chevy…No contest. The Colorado is much better truck experience as a whole. I had a 2003 Chevy Trailblazer that went 249K trouble free miles until someone did a hit and run with a big rig. The size is perfect and yes, the seating is off on the Taco…Seems like you are somewhat rolled in versus sitting normal in the Chevy. I drive a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 4×4 loaded to the hilt. If the the GMC and Chevy had come out earlier it would have been a tough choice for me…I love GM, I love Ford (Loaded 2013 Focus Titanium Hatchback too)…I love Jeep (My second one)…I would not buy the Toyota even if it were discounted heavy. There is just nothing in it to warrant considering it. The new Taco will just bee the same but different sheetmetal…Worth it? Hell no.

    Resale? That is if you buy a car every three years…I own on average 8 years. We are in America man…Support your products but Unions have nothing to do with the car you buy unless you carry a bunch of them in your commute.

    GM hit it out of the park with these trucks and it is on a short list for a third automobile.

    Thank you Autoguide…You know I am hyper critical of you guys but you did right on this one.

  • oxi

    GM did not hit anything out of the park and Jan. 2015 sales proved it. Toyota still sold well over 11,000 Tacoma’s, better than the Colorado by almost 2 to 1, enjoy…

  • oxi

    One thing overlooked by this article, the Colorado is still a GM product! Tacoma retains its value better than any other vehicle on the planet for a reason that GM will never understand!

  • ZX-10R

    Think about it…People buying a Taco on old marketing is ridiculous…I went 249k miles with my Chevy until a truck hit it. As as reliability, you need to inform yourself more on how the differences are not even significant anymore.

    As far as knocking it out of the park…They did. The fact that there are a lot of uneducated consumers hides that fact.

  • and you are a bullshit because you will never understand that the Colorado is the best value vehicle on the planet!

  • and you are a bullshit because you will never understand that the Colorado outsold the Tacoma 10000 to 1!

  • and you are a bullshit because I will buy the new Colorado!

  • oxi

    Sales numbers do not lie…

  • oxi

    You are no expert in this field. Please read KBB and find out yourself hater!

  • oxi

    How old are we today?

  • oxi

    Is that a Toyota Subaru in your avatar? How old are you?

  • 23

  • oxi

    You are too young…

  • keltypack

    I bought a Prizm because it was basically a Corolla. Several years later (when I outgrew the Prizm), the Geo had a much lower resale value soley BECAUSE it was a GM.

    Since the bailout and the political gift to the UAW, I have sworn to NEVER support GM or Chrysler. Prior to the bailout, I owned 1 Ford, 1 Jeep, 1 Toyota, 3 GMs. Since then, I have bought two Toyotas and have never had a better ownership experience.

  • david

    Chevy Colorado isn’t going to last long once the new 2016 tacoma comes out with its new 3.5l atkinson cycle v6.. 300+ hp, 270-280lbs of torque and 20mpg city/28 mpg hwy..

  • Instinct

    we don’t know yet..this is total bs…toyota marketing hasn’t release any specs…

  • Instinct

    Buddy, think about it..let’s say tacoma sold more than colorado but…silverado sold more than tundra..plus chevy has HD trucks and many more..GM has better selling numbers has a whole..not just based on a middle size truck…Just as a F.Y.I. i stopped by Toyota they had bunch of tacoma and i stopped by chevy sold out colorado…SO I ORDER ME A NEW ONE..awesome !! right now colorado is the best mid size truck..we’ll see in 2016..

  • Instinct

    Jeeps are american automotive, chrysler corporation 1925 and toyota 1937 how old are you? Toyota is not the best..Just to make my point clear some american vehicles are better than toyota..way better..

  • Instinct

    jeeps are always better re-sale value than toyota…keep your mind open and check on the specs of the colorado and tacoma..your focus on toyota but not on the specs..

  • oxi

    Have you read the global sales numbers? Toyota is global #1 again! GM is old news… Colorado will never be as good as the Tacoma and the sales numbers prove this! More folks flock to a Tacoma in January 2015 than the Colorado, almost 2 to 1, gee I wonder why?

  • oxi

    Read KBB, Tacoma is the #1 in value retention and resale value! KBB does not lie! specs.? Tacoma will last longer and holds its value longer end of discussion! So where was GM when Toyota was building small pickups in 1963, industry’s first 4wd in class in 1979? Oh that’s right, they had Isuzu build the LUV truck for them until GM grew a pair to build their own in 1984!

  • david

    I got these numbers from the 2012 lexus gs 350.. it has the same engine they’re putting in the new tacoma… and both vehicles roughly weigh about the same.. so the numbers I pointed out previously in my comment are pretty much at or near the actual specs of the truck.

  • Tom

    I live in the rust belt Toyota has a huge problem with the truck frames folding in half. Has been a disappointment in fuel economy and rust out for us .The Chevy seems to be a far better truck time will tell on repairs. However the Toyota is no winner in our climate. They fold up to make a big L like in Loser. Some people out here ignored the recalls for new frames they now have Junk they cannot drive. Looks like the same rust out on some newer units also. Recall round 2 ?

  • Joey Warren

    GM that is all that needs to be said. If you prefer rice, go live there.

  • uknowit

    you keep talking about american there is nothing american about chevy but the name. tacoma is built in states and so is tundra. there is a reason colorado went out and stopped distribution. toyota truck is the best. and for those of you who are comparing silverado to tundra its like comparing prius to ferrari,

  • krivka

    Big deal. You are probably a “patriot” to a few lunkheads in your circle.

  • Gsxr600

    Yea and I bought a TB the first year it came out. Problems every single day. Sold the car with less than 5k on it and lost most money than I wish to admit.

    Yes, everyone’s experience will be different. I haven’t bought an american vehicle since that incident. I have owned a Ford LTD, Pontiac Grand prix, GMC Jimmy, Chev Blazer (the mid-90s good one).

    But hey, I sold that piece of crap TB and bought myself a 04 Honda Pilot, one of the greatest cars I have ever owned, alongside my Toyotas (Camry/Corolla), my Nissans (Versa/Altima/Sentra).

    I will never waste money on a GM car, because that is exactly what it is, a waste of my hard-earned money.

  • Superglider

    I bought a new 2002 Envoy and watched it plummet in value for 3 years… mostly because GM kept offering humungous rebates on new ones. Then the troubles started. After they tore the dash apart twice to fix those motors that open and close the vents, I knew the writing was on the wall. I wasn’t going to own this outside of warranty. This is just one of the horror stories I can tell about the last few GM products I’ve owned. I’ve now owned 10 Toyota pickups, and not one warranty issue. A couple of recall issues they covered for free, and that’s it. I haven’t seen anything yet that compares with the resale value of a Tacoma… and until GM can build something that’s dependable enough to repair their reputation, they won’t be building anything with any resale value. If I ever buy another one, it will be a used one, and only because it’s too cheap. I almost always have to buy a new Tacoma, because a new one costs little less than one 2 years old. Yea, they’re not perfect, but nothing is.

  • Superglider

    from what I’ve read, I’d have to agree about the frame rust issue…. if you live in the rust belt. I live in the sun belt, which also equates to the “if you buy anything but Japanese, you’ll have to drive it till it’s dead… because no one will buy it used” belt.

  • Superglider

    interesting review. I used to sell Chevrolets, and I’ve owned lots of them, and I’m still hoping they can some day become the good product they used to be… but most likely my next truck purchase will still be another Tacoma, purely because it’s the least costly pickup I’ve found to own. It’s a given that a new Colorado should be a lot better vehicle than a Tacoma, considering the Tacoma’s 11 years old now. I did find one thing interesting in this test/review though… the gas mileage they reported for the Tacoma. I’ve now driven my 2009 Tacoma V6 5 speed auto almost 50K miles, and I have a ScanGauge hooked to the OBD plug, and it gives me gas mileage several different ways. At every fillup, I check the real mpg figure against what the ScanGauge says (it never varies by more than 2 tenths of a gallon). I’ve NEVER done worse on a tank than 17MPG, and it’s usually 20-21. If I drove the piss out of it for 300 miles, I still don’t think I could get it down to 15… LOL Maybe if I drove it 300 miles in downtown Manhattan? This was a 10 mile segment on city streets in Phoenix one day. Seems I hit all the traffic lights just right 🙂

  • Mountain Techsan

    Toyota trucks are made in San Antonio, numbnut. At this point in GM’s history, Toyota is more of a domestic auto manufacturer than the company that owes our taxpayers billions of dollars.

  • Mountain Techsan

    I think it’s all a matter of personal preference. I’ve owned a Tundra, 2 Silverados and now a Tacoma. I do feel more confident in my Toyota’s ability to endure than my previous Chevrolets, but that could all be fallacy. I can say this with confidence (and it’s still kinda BS): when my trucks have reached the 50k+ territory, none have felt more “solid” than the Toyotas. My Chevys tended to get loose in the steering wheel and felt too heavy when cornering.
    I’m not a fan of GM accepting and not paying back bailout money, AND employing union labor. I AM a fan of Toyota manufacturing it’s vehicles in San Antonio.

  • Joey Warren

    And where does the profit go Mr. Polesmoker! That is right, right overseas! Remember Pearl Harbor?

  • Joey Warren

    http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2637728/posts
    Get you facts together before running that mouth!

  • Mountain Techsan

    A. I’d rather the profits go to a company that’s invested in the American people than a company that’s accepting bailout money from them.
    B. You’re citing a user-generated article. That’d be like me posting a link to my Facebook status I created and using it as empirical evidence.
    C. You’re masquerading your misinformation as patriotism, and while I know your intentions are pure, you need to remember that your neo-conservative vomit is the trash that keeps people my age from identifying with our (the republican) party.

  • rene

    and you forgot to mention gm factory in mexico to avoid tax and union labor

  • rene

    plus you need to mention the diesel tacoma that is coming to compete against the colorado diesel

  • rene

    with the traffic in this city and any efficient gas vehicle will be crap in gas saving. even the hybrid get extended low mile for gallon here