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Chevrolet Truck Showdown: Colorado vs Silverado

Steven Mitchell

The Silverado and Colorado shows that Chevrolet has a pickup truck for everyone, but which of these Chevrolet trucks is best for you?

Chevrolet Trucks: Colorado vs Silverado

chevrolet.com | chevrolet.com
chevrolet.com | chevrolet.com

If you’re like most truck buyers, you don’t actually need an 800 lb-ft of torque from a 5500 HD class pickup. Yeah, it would be nice to have since, let’s be honest, they’re amazingly engineered vehicles. Plus, you never know when you’ll be asked to pull a house off of its foundation – right? But the truth is, the majority of truck owners could get by with a light-duty truck. Let’s assume that the Honda Ridgeline and all-new Hyundai Santa Cruz are a little too light duty, and you’re looking for a good middle ground in the pickup class. Chevrolet has a couple of contenders for your money if that’s the case, called the Silverado and Colorado.

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado is broad-shouldered and aggressively capable, with loads of space and tech features to assist you. The 2021 Chevrolet Colorado is a rugged, off-road rated pickup with a go-anywhere attitude. For 2021, Chevy gave the Colorado some new skin and updates to battle its competition, but is it in competition with its bigger older brother too? Let’s throw down the gauntlet between these two Chevrolet Trucks and see who wins the unlikely but surprising battle of the bowtie brand.

Powertrains in Chevrolet Trucks

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 3.0L I6 Diesel - carsforsale.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado 3.0L I6 Diesel - carsforsale.com

The 2021 Silverado Chevrolet Silverado is available with a 310-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder, 277-horsepower diesel inline 6-cylinder, 285-horsepower gas-powered V6, 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8, and a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 for engine options. Depending on the model you choose, the Silverado 1500 comes with a six-speed, eight-speed, or 10-speed automatic transmission. The Silverado’s V8s can deactivate cylinders to boost gas mileage.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado 3.6L V6 - carsforsale.com
2021 Chevrolet Colorado 3.6L V6 - carsforsale.com

The 2021 Chevy Colorado receives three engine options. The standard 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine mated with a 6-speed automatic transmission that produces 200 horsepower and 191 lb-ft of torque. For those that want something bigger, the Colorado has a 3.6-liter V6 engine paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission that generates 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque. The final option is a 2.8-liter turbo diesel 4-cylinder motor that creates 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque.

Although the Silverado has a much more powerful engine between these Chevrolet trucks, it’s also a cumbersome pickup. For pure driving enjoyment, we love the Colorado. It’s much lighter and more responsive than the Silverado. However, when asked to do 0-60, the Silverado will be faster by seconds and pull a bigger trailer while doing it.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - chevrolet.com

However, if we consider the best-selling 2021 Colorado ZR2 compared with the best-selling 2021 Silverado High Country, the big brother loses out. The Colorado ZR2 is an animal when it comes to off-roading. It has Multimatic shocks and lifted suspension that can take a beating while soaking up every jarring moment like a cloud – not kidding. Included is the hill descent control, locking front and rear differentials, steel skid plates, and front winch point options. It also rides comfortably and handles well on the road, but you’ll hear the off-road tires rumbling.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss - media.chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss - media.chevrolet.com

The Silverado is offered in the Trail Boss trim and features a lifted suspension, added skid plates, upgraded shocks, and off-road tires. But the Silverado’s big seller is the High Country that has features rivaling any luxury car. It’s no Trail Boss and most definitely not a ZR2.

Fuel Efficiency

If you stick with gas engines for these Chevrolet trucks, the Colorado will be your choice. The 4.3-liter V6 standard engine in the Silverado is much less efficient than even the V8s. It gets 15 mpg in the city and 20 mpg on the highway. The V6 in the Colorado gets an estimated 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. It’s not much, but it’s something.

Towing and Payload Capacity

2021 Chevrolet Silverado - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado - chevrolet.com

A Silverado can tow up to 13,400 pounds, depending on your configuration. It can then carry another 2250 pounds in the bed and cabin. You’ll be hard-pressed to overload the Silverado. If you do, then you should be considering a HD classed pickup, because that’s already some capable towing and hauling power.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Colorado - chevrolet.com

If you’re looking at the Colorado, its V6 has a maximum towing capacity of 7,000 pounds. The average camper weighs around 6,000 pounds, so each of these Chevrolet trucks can do the haul for your camping trip to the mountains, but no timber logging for this one.

Interior, Comfort, & Cargo Space

The interiors in both of these Chevrolet trucks are comfortable with similar quality control. The big difference is in space, and the Silverado provides a lot of it. If you’re looking for backseat room, there’s no comparison to the Silverado, even among its full-size competitors. By contrast, the Colorado is narrower and has a smaller back seat to accommodate a useful sized truck bed.

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado can also be optioned out with much higher luxury options if that’s important to you, but size and luxury come at a premium of over $10,000. We think the seat comfort is virtually the same in both trucks, so you’re not giving any of that up by going smaller. In the end, your decision based on interior is going to be about practicality. However, if it’s about putting stuff in the bed, the Silverado is your choice. Yes, you can make do with the Colorado for most situations, but its 74-inch length will lose the utility race against the Silverado’s 82.25-inch bed.

Both Chevrolet trucks continue to give you large, easy-to-use buttons and knobs instead of going all touchscreen. Everything is in easy reach and logically placed, for the most part. The Colorado slips behind the Silverado because of its hard plastics on every surface, and it’s most apparent when comparing the Silverado High Country and Colorado ZR2. At this level, it’s evident that the Silverado is aiming for a different type of buyer. And the same could be said for comparing the Trail Boss to the ZR2 – the Silverado costs more and has better luxury.

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Entertainment & Technology

The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado and 2021 Chevrolet Colorado are almost identical when it comes to infotainment and tech, including their available 8-inch touchscreen. Both have standard USB, WIFI hotspot, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, remote start, and optional Bose sound and wireless charging. GM’s infotainment operating system is smooth operating and one of the best you’ll find in an automobile. Plus, when you add the Bose sound system, you’ll have a sweet-sounding interior in either truck.

Comparing Trims & Pricing

2021 Chevrolet Silverado Trims & Pricing

2021 Chevrolet Silverado WT - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado WT - chevrolet.com

Silverado WT – $32,790

The Silverado Work Truck (WT) is a basic model primarily built for contractors and corporate fleet vehicles. Its strong V6 and livable features make it a reasonable choice for everyday transportation. You won’t get a 4-wheel-drive setup, but you do get the full option of cab choices. The WT’s rubber floormats and vinyl seats make it easy to clean – like a work truck.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado Custom - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado Custom - chevrolet.com

Silverado Custom – $34,990

The Silverado Custom is a WT with a more comfortable interior, and you can option it up with 4-wheel-drive. Inside, the cloth replaces vinyl seats, plus there are a few more options not available in the WT. The rearview mirrors are heated, and LED taillights come standard. Although the Custom’s standard engine is the 4.3-liter V6, you can pay extra for the more powerful 4-cylinder.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado LT - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado LT - chevrolet.com

Silverado LT – $34,195

The 2021 Silverado LT has the standard turbocharged 2.7-liter 4-cylinder. If you don’t want that and need more torque, you can option up the new diesel.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado RST - media.chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado RST - media.chevrolet.com

Silverado RST – $36,095

For the RST, you’re looking at an LT with added fog lamps, LED headlights, and LED taillights. Inside, Chevy gives you an extra power outlet in the back plus a keyless entry with a remote start button.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado Custom Trail Boss - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado Custom Trail Boss - chevrolet.com

Silverado Custom Trail Boss – $40,090

The Silverado Custom Trail Boss runs with a solid off-road pedigree. It comes with a 2-speed Autotrac transfer case, automatic locking rear differential, 18-inch wheels, off-road tires, and a lift kit. Also included are skid plates to protect the essential parts and a standard trailering package.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ - media.chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ - media.chevrolet.com

Silverado LTZ – $42,295

The Silverado LTZ is a little bit more serious when it comes to being a truck. It has the 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 engine that gives you 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. You also get the advanced trailering system, automatic locking rear differential, and extra engine and oil coolers.

Inside, the LTZ has 10-way power-adjustable driver and passenger seats with lumbar support and an upgraded infotainment system with better audio and an 8-inch HD touchscreen. We think you’ll appreciate the heated and power-folding outside mirrors. Unfortunately, there still are no standard safety features. You have to pay some more cash for those.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss - media.chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss - media.chevrolet.com

Silverado LT Trail Boss – $45,395

The LT Trail Boss gives you the luxury and comfort of the LTZ with the off-road strength of the Trail Boss.

Outside you get body-color bumpers and mirrors, skid plates, and other Trail Boss equipment. We love the additional cargo bed LED when you need to load and unload cargo when it’s dark.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado High Country - media.chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado High Country - media.chevrolet.com

Silverado High Country – $53,395

The Silverado High Country is loaded. Chevy says it’s rugged and luxurious with high performance. Although it comes with the 5.3-liter, you can put any engine in it and throw on any tire and wheel combo other than the 20-inch all-terrains. For your $54,000, there’s a standard spray-in bed liner and high-intensity LED headlamps. These look good with the body color bumpers and trim. Once inside, you’re comforted with the Bose premium audio system, extra USB ports, and a heated passenger seat.

2021 Chevy Colorado Trims & Pricing

2021 Chevrolet Colorado WT - carsforsale.com
2021 Chevrolet Colorado WT - carsforsale.com

Colorado WT – $27,100

The 2021 Colorado WT model has the standard 2.5L inline-four, with the V6 offered as an option. Even a work truck needs convenience features, and Chevy gives you quite a bit. Inside, you have a 7-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, power locks and windows, and automatic air conditioning.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Colorado LT - chevrolet.com

Colorado LT – $27,790

The Colorado LT adds color-keyed mirrors and handles since it’s not a work truck. Chevy also upgrades the touchscreen to an 8-inch model with the ability to Bluetooth stream from two separate devices and two extra USB ports.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 - chevrolet.com

Colorado Z71 – $35,500

The 2021 Colorado Z71 used to be the off-road choice, but now it’s more of a luxury-filled poseur with heated and automatic everything and wireless charging. You still have an automatic locking rear differential and Z71 off-road suspension package with 17-inches off-road wheels and tires, but the Z71s primary purpose is looking good on date night.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - chevrolet.com

Colorado ZR2 – $41,600

The ZR2 has tremendous DSSV position-sensitive shocks from Multimatic, a 2-inch lift, wider track, and standard front and rear electronic locking differentials. Of course, all that is kept safe by solid cast iron skid plates.

Our Pick for These Chevrolet Trucks

2021 Chevrolet Colorado - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Colorado - chevrolet.com

If this will be your first truck purchase and you’re also using it to commute with, we’d recommend going with the Colorado. Although it needs some love on the interior luxury, it’s an excellent cross between a fun-to-drive vehicle with a truck’s utility and ruggedness. If you were opt-in to the ZR2, then you have an unstoppable force of a pickup. For the Chevrolet truck vets out there, you know which one you’re choosing even before you started reading this article, and the Silverado is still the right choice for you.

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Steven Mitchell
Steven Mitchell

Steve's first car had pedals, and he's been filled with passion for four wheels ever since. He lives and breathes the car life as a technologist, futurist, and writer while keeping up with the whys, hows, and plans of the automotive industry. His automotive journey began with a fully restored Triumph TR3b that he sadly never appreciated until decades later. Ownerships of X-1/9's, BMW's, an SVT and a Dodge Ram Hemi have given way to the house of Audi Sport. You'll also find him as an endurance athlete on the bike in SoCal, but you'll know he's thinking about cars.

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