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[Behind the Wheel] Will Chevrolet Colorado attract Korean adventure enthusiasts?

Facelifted pickup truck has more power than rivals, advanced off-road technologies

The Real New Chevrolet Colorado (GM Korea)
The Real New Chevrolet Colorado (GM Korea)

Pickup trucks, which often top the list of bestselling cars in the US, were not always so popular in the South Korean market.

However, with the recent increase in the number of people enjoying outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and surfing, pickup trucks are being reevaluated by adventure seekers.

The local pickup truck market, which used to be dominated by local brand SsangYong Motor, is now expanding with the entry of imported brands such as the Chevrolet Colorado and the Jeep Gladiator.

GM Korea introduced the Chevrolet Colorado in September last year and launched a facelifted model last month. FCA Korea introduced the Jeep Gladiator in September.

Over a two-year period, pickup truck sales increased more than 85 percent to 43,000 vehicles last year, according to the Korea Automobile Manufacturers Association.

The Korea Herald test-drove the new Chevrolet Colorado on an off-road course on Oseongsan, a mountain near the island of Yeongjongdo in Incheon.

The Real New Chevrolet Colorado (GM Korea)
The Real New Chevrolet Colorado (GM Korea)

What stood out at first sight was its enormous size. The body is 5,395 millimeters long, 1,885 millimeters wide and 1,795 millimeters high, and the wheelbase is 3,258 millimeters. It is much larger than a large sport utility vehicle.

The test drive focused on the Colorado’s off-road driving performance. GM Korea created an off-road course with muddy roads, rocky roads, puddles and steep slopes near the summit of the mountain. The roads were so tough that an urban SUV would not have been able to drive on them.

But the pickup truck proved fit for the task. When navigating a section of muddy, bumpy terrain full of potholes in which the wheels got submerged, it was noisy outside the car window but the driver’s seat was still comfortable.

The steep slope was not so difficult either. When descending from a 30-degree slope, there were fears that the vehicle might fall sideways. But it remained stable due to its differential limiting device function, which intensively transmits force to the wheels when they are touching the ground.

For the downhill section, the newly added hill descent control function played a role. On steep slopes, excessive acceleration can cause a car to slide down, but this function allowed the vehicle to brake automatically. It was possible to safely descend the slope at a constant speed without applying the brakes.

The new Colorado may be a good option for those who are contemplating using a trailer.

On the day of the test drive, the car was connected to a 500-kilogram trailer and drove it up and down the mountain road, but it had enough power that the weight of the trailer was hardly noticeable. The Colorado’s towing capacity is 3.2 tons.

The pickup truck has a maximum output of 312 horsepower and a maximum torque of 38 kilogram-meters, which is stronger than competing models. SsangYong’s Rexton Sports and Jeep Gladiator respectively get no more than 181 horsepower and 284 horsepower.

User convenience has been upgraded with an easy-lift-and-lower tailgate, which allows users to open and close it easily. It has corner steps that make it easy to move cargo while stepping on the bumper, with no need to climb into the loading box.

The price of the Real New Colorado is 38.3 million won ($33,232) for Extreme, 41.6 million won for Extreme 4WD and 43 million won for Extreme-X. The newly added Z71-X trim costs 44.99 million won, and the Z71-X Midnight Edition costs 46.4 million won.

When the Chevrolet Colorado was introduced in September last year, the price was set between 38 million won and 42 million won, much higher than rival Rexton Sports from SsangYong. In 2019, the company sold 1,261 of the vehicles in three months, and this year it had sold 3,272 as of last August -- around 400 vehicles per month on average.

By Shin Ji-hye (
Korea Herald Youtube