Previously, Thai trucks especially didn’t have the interior and ride comfort levels of a car, rear leg- and shoulder room for three adults, carlike interior features, or the all-important cabin noise insulation from the hard-working diesel engine. There’s one other factor needed for urban success: It is essential to reduce the cost of running diesel-powered pickups, which consume more diesel in start-stop city traffic.
We drove the Colorado in the northern Thailand province of Chaing Rai over a mix of tarmac, gravel, and sand. In urban conditions, the Colorado’s compromises are kept to a minimum. It offers easy entry and exit, thanks to its SUV height and a design that focuses on practicality and refinement. It’s built with an ultra-rigid steel frame structure, which means ride and handling are much more akin to a conventional road car than many like-minded four-wheel-drive pickups.
Another surprise is the automatic six-speed gearbox, which is exceedingly smooth with no hint of an abrupt kick-down prevalent in other pickup trucks. Even in manual mode, the gearbox works well, and its electronics help prevent balky gearshifts (an indicator will appear on the information display). The engine we tested is a 2.8-liter common-rail turbodiesel (180 horsepower at 3800 rpm with a peak torque of 347 lb-ft at 2000 rpm), and proved powerful enough to haul our fully loaded Colorado up the steepest slopes and around the tightest corners as we raced up the Mae Salong hill to Doi Chang Moob on the outskirts of Chaing Rai to the Thai-Burmese border.
We got a challenging off-road route to tackle using the stock trucks we had driven on the highway, and the Colorado completed the course with little or no issues. No one — not even the die-hard 4×4 enthusiasts in the group — had anything negative to say about the truck’s off-road capability. Apart from the expected jolts and bumps over some rougher sections, the Colorado met the route’s challenges rather well. The impressive torque from the new diesel engine allowed the truck to ride up steep, rocky inclines with little effort, needing only slight nudging of the accelerator pedal, and the ABS and panic brake assist easily managed the descents. The drive mode selector goes from rear- to four-wheel drive with a simple twist of the electronic knob selector located below the gear shifter.
The airbag steering wheel has buttons to control the audio system, and the steering column and driver’s seat are adjustable for reach and height. Smallish pockets in the front doors contain cup/bottle holders that can accommodate most beverage sizes. Some shortfalls include a console between the front seats positioned too far aft to serve as an armrest. Then there’s the shallow, two-tier glovebox, whose bottom tier is so narrow that only a small PC tablet and service manual will fit. The top tier is of little use.
© 2012 MotorTrend Magazine, Source Interlink Media
All rights reserved. WEB-050