The aforementioned stripe graphics also are black. The effect isn't boy-racer wild, but has enough flare to push distinctiveness to a higher level. These graphics bring to mind those made famous on the Boss Shinoda Mustangs of the 1990s. While the execution is considerably different, the basic concept of a series of wide parallelogram stripes, graduating in pattern size - and density in the Colorado's case - is similar. These graphics adhere to the lower portions of the front doors and the sides of the hood, where it slants upward to meet the fenders.
Also delivering the message that the Xtreme is no ordinary Colorado are "XTREME" badges - with the "X" in red and the rest in chrome - on the lower portions of the front doors.
Wheels and tires are big contributors to the Colorado Xtreme's appearance. Its wheel wells are filled with big 18-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with a designer-style split-spoke pattern. Tires are high-performance, low-profile P235/50ZR-18s.
These wheels ride on a ZQ8 sport suspension, tuned to match the wheels. It's lowered 1.6 inches to create both a menacing effect and enhance the Xtreme's pavement-hugging capability. ZQ8 upgrades include high-pressure, gas-charged Bilstein shocks; sport-ratio coil springs; front and rear stabilizer bars; and quicker-ratio steering. General Motors engineers benchmarked the suspension on a racetrack against several rear-drive high-performance cars. While the ZQ8's suspension is stiff enough to boost handling efficiency, surprisingly it doesn't produce a harsh ride.
Another part of the performance story is power - the same top-line 3.5-liter inline five-cylinder engine offered in other Colorados. Its availability is limited in the Chevy lineup to Colorado models, but is spawned by the 4.2-liter straight six powering the Chevy TrailBlazer. In essence, engineers chopped off a cylinder to create the engine that generates 220 horsepower and 225 lbs.-ft. of torque.
This output is competitive in the compact pickup market. Compared to the Chevy S-10's long-lived 4.3-liter V-6, Colorado's five-cylinder tops it by 30 horsepower, but comes up short by 25 lbs.-ft. of torque. However, a GM spokesman said it delivers its torque at a broader, more usable range than the 4.3-liter.
Interestingly, the four-speed automatic, vs. the typically standard five-speed manual, is the sole transmission offering.The driver taps into five-cylinder power inside a cab with a clean, straightforward design. Its instrument panel has simple controls, featuring a trio of big, easy-to-manipulate AC/heat knobs.
There also are Xtreme elements - an "XTREME" badge attached to the glovebox door, and white-faced, chrome-ringed speedometer and tachometer. "XTREME" also is imprinted on the tachometer.
While Chevy's Xtreme version is created to appeal to those whose priority likely isn't work-truck functionality, it does have its practical side. This Colorado can comfortably haul five adults, has a 4,000-pound trailer-towing capability, and is fitted with a 5-foot-1-inch-long bed that can haul 1,489 pounds.
And another plus, which most youthful Xtreme buyers aren't likely to think about when it comes to the lowered ZQ8 performance suspension, is the low 16.5-inch step-in height it creates.
Tim Spell is the automotive writer for the Houston Chronicle's Cars & Trucks section.
Copyright Motor Matters, 2005