The 2023 Chevy Colorado is totally redesigned, with sharp styling and more modern tech that will make it the freshest mid-size pickup truck when it hits the market. That’s at least until its corporate counterpart, the GMC Canyon, and the equally new Ford Ranger are fully revealed for the U.S.
For now, we’re only interested in comparing the new Colorado’s specs with those of the Toyota Tacoma, which isn’t just the bestselling mid-size truck in America, it’s one of the bestselling models in the country regardless of segment. The Taco has old bones and other outdated elements (we expect a new generation to arrive for 2024), but its popularity among both mainstream audiences and the off-road crowd makes it a respected measuring stick for the new Colorado’s major makeover.
With the 2023 Colorado, Chevy appears to have taken a leaf out of the Honda Ridgeline’s book by only offering a single cab configuration and a standardized 131.4-inch wheelbase. That means every model has a crew cab and a 5-foot-2-inch cargo bed. Toyota doesn’t take that one-size-fits-all approach with the 2023 Tacoma. It can be had with an extended cab (a.k.a. Access Cab) or a crew cab (a.k.a. Double Cab). The Taco also includes the choice of either a standard 5.0-foot bed or a longer 6.0-foot bed.
Engine, Transmission, and Towing
Unlike its predecessor, the 2023 Colorado no longer offers a V-6 and a diesel engine. Instead, its sole powertrain is a turbocharged 2.7-liter four-pot paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile, the 2023 Tacoma offers the choice of two naturally aspirated engines, a 2.7-liter four-cylinder or a 3.5-liter V-6. Both hook up to a six-speed automatic, but a six-speed manual is also available with the V-6.
Obviously, people who like to swap gears on their own will appreciate that the Tacoma has a manual-transmission option. However, the Colorado offsets not offering three pedals with three differently tuned versions of its turbo four, including two that are more powerful than the Taco’s V-6. The standard engine in the Chevy makes 237 horsepower and 259 pound-feet of torque. Stepping up to the “2.7 Turbo Plus” brings 310 horses and 390 pound-feet; the high-output version adds 40 pound-feet (430 total). For comparison, the Tacoma’s four-cylinder is rated at 159 horses and 180 pound-feet; the V-6 generates 278 horses and 265 pound-feet.
The four-cylinder Tacoma and the Colorado with the standard turbo four can tow 3500 pounds. When properly equipped, the V-6–powered Taco can pull up to 6800 pounds. However, that’s 900 pounds less than the Colorado’s max tow rating of 7700 pounds. When it comes to payload, the Taco’s ratings range between 1135 and 1685 pounds; the Colorado’s range is between 1151 and 1684 pounds.
The Toyota Tacoma is an off-road icon, and its TRD models maintain that legacy with their specialized hardware. The Chevy Colorado doesn’t have the same pedigree, but its lineup does include multiple off-road-oriented models. The Colorado Z71 remains the entry point to extra ruggedness, similar to the Tacoma SR5 with the TRD Off-Road package.
The Colorado Trail Boss kicks it up a notch with a standard 2.0-inch lift and a wider front track shared with the full-blown ZR2. Toyota’s answer is the Trail Edition, which also has a lifted suspension as well as better clearances. For example, the Trail Edition’s 34.0-degree approach angle is 3.5 degrees steeper than the Trail Boss’s. Likewise, the Toyota has a slighlty steeper departure angle, and its breakover angle is 24 degrees versus 21 degrees.
At the top of their respective lineups are the Colorado ZR2 and the Tacoma TRD Pro. Not only is the ZR2 considerably more powerful than the TRD Pro, it also has a 3.0-inch lift and taller tires that help it stand 2.1 inches higher. While the beefiest Taco has an electronic locking rear diff, special Fox dampers, and higher clearances than any other model, the ZR2 is more impressive in myriad ways. Its list of notable advantages includes advanced Multimatic spool-valve dampers, electronic locking front and rear diffs, and 11.1 inches of ground clearance.
Interior and Tech Features
Inside, the new Colorado looks vastly better than the Tacoma. Chevy’s designers appear to have combined attractive materials and traditional switchgear with modern-day tech. While we can appreciate the Taco’s simple controls and durable interior materials, its cabin looks more 2003 than 2023. The Colorado boasts better legroom, too, with more than 2 inches of added space in the front and rear seats. The Tacoma, however, does have wider shoulder and hip dimensions that might make three-deep seating arrangements a little more comfortable.
Toyota has retrofitted the Tacoma family with an array of driver-assistance features, almost all of which are standard. For example, every Taco comes with adaptive cruise control, whereas it costs extra on the Colorado. Still, the Chevy’s roster of technology is much more desirable. Every model has an 8.0-inch fully digital gauge cluster and a huge 11.3-inch touchscreen that includes Google’s voice assistance, maps, and app store. Also, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included with that. Meanwhile, the Tacoma’s largest touchscreen measures 8.0-inches and only comes with wired Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. More disappointing than the screen size, though, is the infotainment system’s archaic graphics and menu structure.
Price and Trim Levels
While Chevy says the new Colorado will start production in early 2023, the company hasn’t announced pricing. We only know the truck’s trim levels: Work Truck, LT, Z71, Trail Boss, and ZR2. Starting prices for the 2022 models ranged from $27,230 for the Work Truck and $44,345 for the ZR2, so we expect to see an uptick across the board.
Toyota also hasn’t yet announced pricing for the ’23 Tacoma lineup. Based on the previous model year, we expect the following trim levels: SR, SR5, TRD Sport, TRD Off-Road, Limited, and TRD Pro. If their starting prices are an indication of what each will cost, we’d wager the range will be between $28k and $51k.