Beasts of burden don’t need to look good. Chevrolet apparently didn’t get the memo on that, because from Day One, the Colorado pickup was designed to be a tough, no-compromise workhorse and a good-looking personal transport unit, in equal measure.

The work part of the Colorado is easy to spot. The pickup is big, its 5,347 millimeters X 1,882 mm footprint nearly as large as its full-size American counterpart. It’s actually longer than the Silverado but, sensibly, narrower, clocking at 91 percent of the full-size Chevy’s footprint. The truck is in the one-ton pickup class, its 1,138 kilograms surpassing that requirement. Towing capacity is a hefty 3,500 kg. Such a big load capacity puts powerful strain on the chassis, and the Colorado is prepared with an eight-point crossmember frame supporting the body. The high torsional rigidity gives the truck the capability to deal with such cargo and towing loads.

Propelling the pickup is Chevrolet’s new diesel engine, dubbed Duramax. With 2.8 liters of displacement, the power plant uses turbocharging with variable geometry and an intercooler to extract a maximum 180 horsepower and 470 Newton-meters of torque. The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic with tiptronic-type override. The additional gear ratios help to make quick work of hauling heavy cargo, while still being fuel-efficient, especially on the highway. The four-wheel drive system can be switched from rear-wheel drive to four-wheel drive high or four-wheel drive low via a convenient console-mounted switch. The engagement of the front wheels is done electronically, so it’s easy for the driver to call up more traction when needed.

With its workhorse credentials as solid as the mountains of its namesake, the Colorado is also well-built as a personal vehicle. The car’s front incorporates the trademark split grille inserted into a rock-jawed visage worthy of the Incredible Hulk. The headlamps feature projector units, and foglamps are integrated into the bumper. The distinctive taillights are all LED units, for better visibility as well as a hint of style.

The Colorado cabin features a tall greenhouse for easy all-around visibility. For such a wide and long truck, and without parking sensors at that, the pickup was surprisingly easy to maneuver even on city roads and in underground parking spaces. The view down the front is commanding, with a clear view of traffic and a distinct line of sight to the truck’s front corners.

Climbing into the cabin—and it’s a big hop up, even using the stepboard—we find an interior seemingly more suitable for a plush SUV  than a dedicated work truck. There are plenty of soft-touch surfaces, on the doors and dashboard. Seats are decked out in light-colored leather, and there’s a plethora of power features, including folding door mirrors and a powered driver’s seat.

With the supporting seat in place, we stare at the dual rotary gauges, lit in a cool Tron blue, just like the Camaro’s. The red-tipped needles with black center portion lends a high-tech touch to the instrument panel. The center screen displays trip computer information, including liters consumed and a timer.

Colorado features a spacious cabin, with sufficient legroom front and rear. Shoulder room is wide, particularly at the back seat, where even four can fit, if there were only enough seatbelts. As it is, all three seating positions feature three-point belts. If you’re worried about getting that beige leather dirty, the rear seat back can be folded down for additional cargo carrying capacity, or if the items can’t be exposed to the elements.

Using the truck in our flood-challenged city can be no less daunting than a trip to the off-road trail, and here the Colorado is well-equipped, too. It can wade through 800 mm of water, or higher than its meaty tires. A limited slip differential helps ensure that is has traction even in treacherous conditions.

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