We drove a $44,000 Chevy Colorado ZR2 and a $38,000 Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport to see which pickup we liked better — here’s the verdict (GM)

Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport

  • Both the Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport and the Chevy Colorado ZR2 are aimed at owners who want to go off-road in their pickups.
  • We sampled these mid-size off-road warriors back-to-back.
  • The Chevy Colorado ZR2 is a nicer truck. The Toyota TRD Sport is very capable, though, less refined.

Chevy is credited with single-handedly reviving the compact pickup-truck segment in the US, but the truth is that Toyota has long ruled the segment with its Tacoma. It was just that the “Taco” stood more or less alone, with just the Nissan Frontier to challenge it in the entry-level pickup space.

The Chevy Colorado arrived in 2014 to crash the party. By rights, this segment isn’t the same as it was back in the day, when the Chevy S-10 and the Ford Ranger were in the game. These new small pickups are mid-size, sitting a notch below the big stuff: Chevy’s Silverado and Toyota’s Tundra, for example.

I recently had a chance to check out the off-road, high-performance version of the Chevy Colorado, the ZR2. Soon after, I borrowed Tacoma TRD Sport, the competition from Toyota.

OK, I didn’t go rock busting or explore a desert. But I did tool around in both trucks on the daunting winter roadways of suburban New Jersey.

Here’s what I thought.

SEE ALSO: We drove a $63,000 Ford Raptor and a $58,000 Chevy Silverado Z71 to see which pickup truck we liked better — here’s the verdict

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Let’s start with the fetching 2018 Colorado ZR2, in “Cajun Red Tintcoat.”

Our test truck was $43,475 — the Colorado ZR2 is already a lot pricier then the $20,000 basic Colorado, but our tester came well-optioned out of the box before a few extras added about $700.

Our ZR2 came with a crew cab and a “short box” bed. Some folks don’t much like short boxes, but I think that for most owners the short box is ideal.

The Colorado ZR2 kind of blends aggression with sporty sleekness. Personally, I don’t think the various fascia elements — grille, badge, headlights — are in good balance.

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