I've been driving trucks lately. All kinds of trucks. Some work trucks. Some play trucks. Some best for long-haul driving. Some best for off-road.
But they were all huge.
From the Ford F-150 to the Ram 1500 to the Nissan Titan, the 2017 pickups are massive. Climbing into the driver's seat requires a stepladder or a running leap. Getting back down requires a knotted sheet. Lower the lifeboats! Women and children first!
This is even true with some trucks that are marketed and sold as "midsize." The Toyota Tacoma and the Honda Ridgeline aren't as massive as the Toyota Tundra or the Chevrolet Silverado, but mounting them requires real commitment. Try getting into one while carrying a minty venti vanilla latte in your hand and … forget it.
So it was with real satisfaction that I slid into the front seat of a 2018 Colorado Redline 4WD LT. I just hopped right in, without needing a safety harness or an oxygen mask.
The unit I borrowed was a Crew Cab Short Box Colorado. That meant it had a back seat for passengers or storage and a truck bed big enough to carry a load of luggage, with the tailgate up, or a motorcycle, with the tailgate down.
Despite the "Short Box" designation, this is no kiddie car. Its exterior dimensions are about the same as an equivalent Ford F-150 — except for vertically.
The Colorado step-in height is 22 inches, almost two inches lower than a similarly configured F-150. The seats feel lower too. So even though the Colorado gives up an inch in ground clearance to the taller Ford, it's an easier mount.
Around town, the Colorado drove more like a sedan than a truck. It felt easy to park — thanks in part to a better-than-average backup camera — and easy to maneuver on narrow streets, which is a key factor for people who, like me, live in tight, twisty residential areas.
Steering and braking also felt smooth and sedan-like.
Sitting on the optional 18-inch wheels and burly tires, it's still tall enough to rise slightly above the traffic and give good visibility.
Like most trucks, it's not exactly silent on the freeway. Despite the use of an adequate amount of sound-deadening material in the carpet and headliner, there still was plenty of wind noise and tire noise at higher speeds.
The four-wheel drive and 3.6-liter V-6 engine, mated to Chevy's eight-speed automatic transmission, offered enough low-end torque to get me out of sticky situations, though I didn't challenge it much beyond a few rocky uphills and one stretch of deep sand, which we conquered without breaking a sweat — me or the truck.
The backseat offers room for three full-size adults and is outfitted with cup holders, device plug-ins and plenty of head room. Despite what looked like limited leg room to me, my passengers reported the rear real estate was comfortable.
Those rear seats also fold up to reveal a handy storage area hidden beneath. This is where the tire jack tools are located, too, and would be a good place to store valuables during that Joshua Tree hike.
Standard on the LT trim line are minimal amenities, such as keyless entry, locking tailgate, power seats and a tilting and telescoping steering wheel.
The model I drove had, as options, 18-inch wheels, two hooks, cargo tie-downs, an off-road sports bar, locking differential and other items that prepared the truck for bumpy terrain and bumped up the MSRP.
The Colorado won't do what a lot of bigger trucks will. The Ford F-150 I last reviewed was a better heavy-duty work truck. The Ram 1500 I used to haul motorcycles up to the Cycle World Sierra adventure rally was more off-road ready. The Nissan Titan I drove off-road in the White Mountains was a superior rock-crawler.
But if I were buying an around-town truck, capable of dragging me and my machines to the desert but also easy enough to get into a crowded Trader Joe's parking lot, I'd look hard at the Colorado.
2018 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD LT Crew Cab
Times' take: Finally, a midsize truck that's midsize
Highs: More practicality than many larger trucks
Lows: Not big or powerful enough for serious hauling
Vehicle type: Four-door, five-passenger pickup truck
Base price: $34,770
Price as tested: $41,055
Powertrain: 3.6-liter V-6 gasoline engine
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Torque: 275 pound feet
EPA fuel economy rating: 17 mpg city / 24 highway / 19 combined