What You Need to Know About Buying a Used Chevrolet Colorado

  • By: Sean Cooper
  • Date: September 1, 2022

Although full-size pickup trucks are still America’s favorite vehicles by any measure, it can’t have escaped your notice that midsize trucks have been gaining in popularity over the last few years. The Chevrolet Colorado is a popular midsize pickup truck that’s been in production since long before the current smaller pickup truck renaissance so here’s what you need to know about buying a used Chevrolet Colorado.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Before you buy a used Chevrolet Colorado to save yourself a good amount of money on the price of a new one, there are several things you need to know about to avoid ending up with a bad one. You need to know which year and model is right for you if there are common problems with them to watch out for, how much you can expect to pay for one, how many miles might be too many, and if there might be some other midsize trucks you out to consider instead.

Before you even think about parting with your hard-earned money for any used car, please make sure you know what you’re buying by getting a vehicle history report you can trust like one from EpicVIN. If you’re buying from a dealer they should provide one, but if they don’t, get your own and it could save you a fortune in the long run.

Chevrolet Colorado history

The Chevy Colorado is an American midsize pickup truck that has been in production since 2003 that is also made in Brazil and was also produced in Thailand between 2004 and 2020. In South America, it has been marketed as the Chevrolet D-Max and in Australasia, it was badged as the Holden Rodeo.

Although it has been classed as a midsize truck since the second generation was launched in 2011, the first generation was actually a compact pickup truck. You will probably notice other trucks that appear to be remarkably familiar to the first-generation Colorado.

You’d be right to assume they are related as the GMC Canyon is a GM stablemate built to almost the exact same specification as the Colorado, while Isuzu also sold a truck called the i-series that was built on the same GMT355 platform and shared powertrains, styling, and equipment with the Colorado and Canyon.

First-generation Chevrolet Colorado (2003-2012 model years)

2006 Chevrolet Colorado LT

First-generation versions of the Chevrolet Colorado were built between 2003 and August 2012 for the 2004-2012 model years. Over the years, Colorado was offered with a wide range of different engines from a 2.8-liter inline-four to a 3.0-liter V-8, and with either a five-speed manual or a four-speed automatic transmission.

The Colorado was produced in standard, extended, and four-door crew-cab body styles and with either rear-wheel drive (4×2) or four-wheel drive (4×4) drivetrains. There were just three trim levels to choose from to start with, which were the entry-level Base Colorado, the mid-range Colorado LS and the range-topping Colorado LT.

The maximum towing capacity for a first-generation 2004 Chevy Colorado ranged from 1,600 pounds to 4,000 pounds, but the 2009-2012 model years saw that capability rise to between 1,900 pounds and 6,000 pounds, depending on the specification.

You will find lots and lots of different specifications of first-generation Colorado in the used market, but if you’re just looking for some affordable fun on and off-road you might want to look out for a Z/71in decent condition. But if you’re looking for something a little bigger and more capable than the first-generation Colorado you probably need to begin your search with the second generation instead.

Second generation Chevrolet Colorado (2015-present)

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Although the Chevrolet Colorado continued to be produced elsewhere in the world, in America that was a gap of around three years before the end of the first and the start of the second generation. The second-generation Chevy Colorado arrive in America in late 2014 as a 2015 model and it was a considerable upgrade on its first-generation predecessor in terms of both styling and capability.

When the first 2015 Chevrolet Colorado arrived it was available with either a base 2.5-liter inline-four engine that produced 200 horsepower or a 3.6-liter V-6 that was good for a much more spirited and capable 305 horsepower. But if either of those engines doesn’t sound like what you want you may want to skip the 2015 Colorado in favor of a 2016 Chevrolet Colorado instead.

The 2016 Chevy Colorado still had the same two engines as the 2015 Colorado, but you will also be able to find versions with a new 2.8-liter inline-four turbodiesel that put 181 horsepower but a more tow-friendly 369 lb.-ft. of torque at the Colorado’s disposal. And if you are wondering how much you will be able to tow with a 2016 Colorado, models equipped with the turbodiesel engine are rated to tow up to a maximum of 7,700 pounds.

If you move up to a 2017 Chevy Colorado you’ll find the same engine lineup and the same levels of capability, but this was a year that introduced some very cool styling options, and those who watch the fuel gauge can enjoy new fuel-saving technology such as cylinder displacement that lets the V-6 run as a V-4 under low-load situations. This was also the year when the V-6 started to come mated exclusively to a new eight-speed automatic transmission for the first time.

To see more significant changes to the Colorado you’ll have to jump forward to the 2021 model year which is when Chevy decided to give its midsize truck a well-deserved refresh. Along with some cosmetic enhancements, the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado also got a new Custom Special Edition, an upgraded ZR2, and an available Bison off-road package.

Is the Chevrolet Colorado a reliable truck?

The Chevrolet Colorado has a pretty decent record for reliability, which is good news for anyone thinking of buying a used Chevy Colorado. The Repairpal website gives the Colorado a reliability rating of 4.0 out of a possible 5.0 which places it in fourth place out of seven midsize pickup trucks. The site also claims the Colorado has an average annual repair cost of $599 which places it in the category of “average.”

2010 Chevrolet Colorado LT

Which used Chevrolet Colorado model year is best?

Any of the model years from 2008 to 2010 represent good value in the used market, but don’t forget that these models are smaller than second-generation models and have lower levels of capability. I know they will be a little new and a little expensive for some more budget-conscious buyers out there, but I’d say that the best Colorado model year to buy used is the 2017.

And if you want me to narrow things down even further, my number one pick for a used Chevy Colorado would be a 2017 Colorado Z71 Midnight Special Edition. If you want a sensational-looking truck that can be used as a daily driver or an adventure vehicle that won’t break the bank, that’s definitely one to look out for.

How much does a used Chevrolet Colorado cost?

The amount of money you can pay for a used Chevy Colorado will vary immensely, from very little for a hard-worked example to almost eye-wateringly expensive for an all-singing, all-dancing range-topper that’s been looked after like a favorite child. Here’s a guide on what to expect for each model year using the minimum and maximum average prices from thecarconnection.com website.

MODEL YEARMinimum Average PriceMaximum Average Price
2008$5,922$19,900
2009$7,949$21,995
2010$10,495$23,995
2012$7,991$26,999
2015$12,990$37,991
2016$13,500$40,988
2017$16,798$44,920
2018$17,448$49,999
2019$17,985$52,995
2020$22,500$55,995
2021$26,185$59,112

Used Chevrolet Colorado problems to watch for

When you start to study the list of known issues to look out for when buying a used Chevrolet Colorado, you might be a little alarmed, but please don’t be. This is a fairly comprehensive list of known problems that have been documented, but they are not massively widespread and they are just things to keep in mind.

Transmission

There have been reports of delayed shifts with the automatic transmission in the 2019 Chevy Colorado. If you are test driving one and you experience a delay of around three seconds before the transmission selects the next gear it’s something you should be wary of.

Likewise, shuddering and excessive vibration has sometimes been reported at certain speeds with the 2018 Colorado, and flushing and replacing the transmission fluid or fitting a new torque converter often solves the problem.

It’s worth asking the seller if any work of this type has been done, but if it hasn’t and you don’t find anything wrong on the test drive then it’s not something you should lose sleep over.

Engines

Worn-out valve seats are reported to have been responsible for some engines stalling and failing emissions tests with model years from 2004 to 2009, and again with the 2016 Colorado. Worn-out spark plugs, faulty ignition coils, and vacuum leaks are claimed to have caused some engines to misfire, but this issue certainly isn’t unique to the Colorado.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Steering

Some 2016 Colorado models have had issues with their power steering units. Power-steering and StabiliTrak warning lights on the dash can be a prelude to a loss of steering, so seeing these lights on during a test drive is a cause for concern. The causes include contaminated power steering fluid, low fluid levels, damaged belts and faulty power steering pumps, but the fact so many different causes have been cited suggests there isn’t an intrinsic problem with the system itself.

Brakes

If you’re on a test drive in a Colorado and the brake pedal feels spongy and needs to be pumped before the truck comes to a complete stop, there’s obviously a problem. This kind of thing has been flagged up primarily for the 2012 Colorado, but it obviously wouldn’t be a good sign with any model year.

Damage to brake lines air or air in the lines, leaking brake calipers, worn master cylinders, worn brake shoes, and malfunctioning ABS hydraulic assemblies have all been diagnosed as causing the problem. But problems with brakes are a cause for concern when test-driving any vehicle.

Fuel level sensor

A number of owners of Colorado models from 2004 to 2012 have reported their trucks running out of fuel unexpectedly, and it appears a faulty fuel level sensor is usually responsible. Sometimes the sensor stops giving any reading at all and sometimes it can give a false reading. A replacement sensor will only cost between $50 and $100, but there will be labor costs to add on top of that.

I’m not sure how you would have any idea that this was a problem during a short test drive unless you ran out of gas and the gauge said you had plenty in the tank, but it’s worth asking the seller if the sensor has ever had to be replaced in the past. If it has, you know you’re probably good on this score.

How many miles is a Chevy Colorado good for?

How many miles a Chevrolet Colorado is good for will depend on how old it is, how many miles it’s done, and how well it’s been maintained, which you could probably say about any used vehicle but these are especially important considerations with a used pickup truck.

In general, a Chevrolet Colorado should be good for around 200,000 miles, although there are plenty of them out there that are still going strong after 300,000 miles or more. On the other hand, a Colorado with more than 300,000 miles on it may well have benefitted from a replacement engine at some point in its life.

Does the Chevrolet Colorado hold its value?

Once again, how well a Colorado will hold its value will depend an awful lot upon how hard it’s been worked and what condition it ends up in. A Colorado that’s spent its life as a family vehicle for commuting and weekends in the wilderness will hold its value very well, but a similar model that’s spent its time on a construction site, not so much.

According to the caredge.com website, a new Chevrolet Colorado will only depreciate by around 25% over its first three years and 36,000 miles. But even if you buy a Colorado that’s two years old you should only expect it to depreciate by around 15-20% after another three years.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

What are the main rivals of the Chevrolet Colorado?

There are far fewer alternatives to the Chevrolet Colorado available to American buyers than there are elsewhere in the world where half-ton and bigger trucks are rarely even available so every pickup truck is compact or midsize.

The main alternatives to the Colorado in America are the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Nissan Frontier, Honda Ridgeline, and the almost identical GMC Canyon. The Colorado would face much stiffer competition if the likes of the Toyota Hilux were available in America, but that’s another story entirely that you can read about.

Should you buy a used Chevrolet Colorado

If you’re shopping for a used pickup truck and you don’t want something as big as a Silverado 1500 or an F-150, a used Chevrolet Colorado should definitely be at the top of your list of ones to consider. Admittedly, there isn’t a huge amount of competition in this segment in North America, but the Canyon would still be a contender even if more European and Japanese midsize pickup trucks were available.

A used Chevy Colorado will handle all the usual pickup truck duties within the confines of its size and power, but lower-spec models can be good value and if you want a truck that looks cool already without having to spend a fortune, the Colorado certainly checks that particular box.