Midsize Matchup: Chevy Colorado vs Nissan Frontier

April 29th, 2024 by

A blue 2024 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is shown from the front at an angle after leaving a dealer that has trucks for sale.

When browsing trucks for sale, today’s drivers certainly aren’t hurting for choices. The pickup market is as hot as ever, with established automakers and spunky startups alike flooding dealerships with new models, trims, and powertrain options. It’s a great time to be in the market for a new pickup, but it can also get overwhelming in a hurry.

Take the Chevy Colorado and Nissan Frontier, for example. These midsize pickups have both undergone significant redesigns in the last couple of years, with new, third-generation models rolling out in 2023 and 2022, respectively. This new era has brought a host of new options, tech features, and specialty models, with both Chevy and Nissan latching onto the off-road trend that’s gripped the market over the last few years.

So, how do these two pickups stack up in terms of power, performance, towing capacity, and other areas that carry so much weight in the hotly-contested midsize segment? Read on as we outline some key differences and see which model is more worth a test drive…


Both Chevy and Nissan’s midsize offerings are limited to a single-engine setup, but the two automakers have taken a very different approach to selecting their powerplants. Chevy has opted for the turbocharged approach, outfitting the 2023 Colorado with a 2.7-liter inline-four that puts out between 237 and 310 hp. The lower-power version is the perfect complement to the entry-level WT and LT trims, but those investing in the Colorado’s off-road-focused Trail Boss, Z71, and ZR2 trims will be happy to learn that Chevy has tweaked the inline-four to put out 310 hp.

A little turbocharging goes a long way with the Colorado’s 310-hp motor (which just so happens to be the same one found in full-size Silverado 1500), besting some of the segment’s V6-toting models like the Toyota Tacoma and Honda Ridgeline. Even better, the brand has made torque a priority on its midsize offering, with the Colorado packing some 430 lb-ft. This should come in handy in off-road applications where torque—not raw horsepower—is often the difference between successfully surmounting an obstacle and looking for an easier way around.

So, how does the 2022 Frontier stack up in terms of performance? The truck’s naturally aspirated 3.8-liter V6 might be larger, but the lack of forced induction means that it puts out the same max horsepower as the Colorado. Nissan’s midsize pickup can almost keep pace with the Colorado in terms of raw acceleration (posting a 7.3-second zero-to-sixty time to the Chevy’s 7.1), but it’s noticeably short on torque with almost half the twisting force of its competitor.

A truck with 281 lb-ft of torque might not seem like a dealbreaker for everyday driving, but it leaves the Frontier lagging behind the Colorado by a considerable margin. This gulf in torque could be especially noticeable in terms of off-road driving, not to mention towing capacity.

A white 2023 Chevy Colorado WT is shown from the front on a jobsite.


Speaking of towing, the 2023 Colorado is almost untouchable when it’s time to put in a little hard work. This truck’s admirable torque allows it to best the rest of the midsize segment in towing, with a 7,700-lb capacity, but it’s important to read the fine print.

The WT and LT trims fall on the lower end of the spectrum with a max capacity of 3,500 lbs, which is just one of the reasons we’d recommend spending the extra $5,000 to upgrade to the Trail Boss or Z71. The same goes for the range-topping ZR2 and all-new ZR2 Bison trims, which, in a bid to focus on their off-road credentials, lose some 1,700 lbs of capacity to bring the number back down to 6,000 lbs. That said, it’s a small price to pay for the sort of off-the-grid fun these trims can deliver.

The 2022 Frontier puts up a fight with a 6,720-lb capacity across all six trims, but it’s no match for the best-in-class Colorado. The Frontier also lags behind some other segment favorites like the GMC Canyon and Jeep Gladiator, but it does make up some ground in payload capacity.

This midsize pickup can accommodate 1,710 lbs of payload, which is a particularly important consideration for those seeking a reliable off-road that can haul a weekend’s worth of adventure gear, equipment, food, and the like. The Colorado only falls to the Frontier by a small margin, though, with its 1,684-lb limit eclipsed by only 26 lbs.


Fuel economy might not be a make-or-break factor for some pickup drivers, but it can have a big impact on a vehicle’s lifetime ownership costs. Trucks already tend to be a little more reliable and longer-lasting than their car and crossover SUV counterparts, but that value can quickly erode if you’re constantly finding yourself pulling up to the pump. Chevy seems to have factored this into its calculations with its midsize pickup’s turbocharged engine, making it one of the more efficient models in the segment.

Sure, it can’t compete with the hybrid engines sported by some of its competitors, but when it comes to purely gas-powered pickups, few can outdo the 2023 Colorado. This midsize truck offers a competitive 20 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway in its rear-wheel drive guise, though it does fall to 19 MPG in the city and 23 MPG on the highway when four-wheel drive enters the mix.

The ZR2 is the Colorado’s thirstiest iteration, getting 17 MPG in the city and 19 MPG on the highway, though we can be a little forgiving when you factor in its off-road chops. The ZR2 is both wider and taller than the rest of the Colorado lineup, two factors that, while promoting off-road success, hurt the model in terms of pure aerodynamics and efficiency.

The 2022 Frontier lands in the middle of the pack as far as fuel economy is concerned. An EPA-estimated 18 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on the highway is certainly nothing to turn your nose up at, but it too suffers from the introduction of all-wheel drive, with these figures dropping to 17 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway.

If there’s a bright spot, it’s the Frontier’s Pro-4X off-road trim. The rig might not be quite as well outfitted as the Colorado ZR2, but it does manage to be a little more eco-friendly than the ZR2 with a combined 20 MPG, so maybe Mother Nature will take it a little easier on you in recognition of the improved efficiency.

The black interior of a 2024 Chevy Colorado Trail Boss is shown from the driver's seat.


The Chevy Colorado and Nissan Frontier have both been treated to new generations within the last few years, and these brought substantial upgrades to each one’s interior and tech offerings. We’ll start with the 2023 Colorado, which earned a new center console, gauge cluster, infotainment screen, and steering wheel design as part of its redesign. The centerpiece of the new interior would have to be the infotainment screen, which, at 11.3 inches, is easily one of the largest in its class.

There’s no mistaking the third-generation Colorado for its second-gen ancestor, especially when in the realm of interior tech. This pickup has gained some thoroughly modern features like a wireless device charger, though it still has plenty of USB ports for those who prefer a wired connection. The truck’s software is par for the course in the modern pickup market with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and Google Built-In, though the lattermost is offered only as a subscription-based service.

Nissan has also worked to keep the Frontier fresh with the third-gen model. Launched in 2022, the new Frontier was graced with a thorough makeover that saw a number of this truck’s cheaper, more plastic-only pieces replaced with more sophisticated accents and soft-touch materials. When comparing displays, the Nissan does lag behind the Chevy with a standard 8.0-inch or optional 9.0-inch infotainment display to choose from, and the story is largely the same for the two trucks’ digital instrument clusters.

The Frontier comes standard with a 7.0-inch color cluster display to track speed, RPMs, and other vital performance-related metrics, but the Colorado does it one better with a standard 8.0-inch display on most trims and an 11.0-inch display on the high-end ZR2. The Frontier does round out the cabin with available heated steering and front seats, USB ports, and a subscription-based Wi-Fi hotspot (and the physical knobs for volume adjustment and tuning are a nice touch), but in a world where screentime is so important, Nissan’s midsize pickup just can’t keep up with the Colorado.

The Unrivaled Chevy Colorado

From performance and towing to fuel economy, interior tech, and styling, the Chevy Colorado is a clear standout in its class. The 2023 Colorado is untouchable in terms of value and towing capacity, and that’s without even touching on its ample cargo and passenger room. The Colorado and 2022 Frontier both offer seating for five passengers (or four in the case of the Nissan’s smaller King Cab), but the Chevy is the clear winner in regards to interior space with a comfortable cabin that can accommodate even the lankiest passengers.

The Frontier offers two off-road trims in the Pro-X and Pro-4X, though the former is a little light on actual off-road equipment with little but a revised suspension to its name. This stands in stark contrast to the Colorado, where four of the available six trims have some sort of off-road focus. The Colorado Trail Boss has a limited-slip differential and 32-inch all-terrain tires, while the Z71 features all that along with a number of appearance-related upgrades, Hill Descent Control, and a Driver Mode Selector system complete with Off-Road and Terrain modes.

The undisputed off-road champ would have to be the Colorado ZR2 and ZR2 Bison, which more than justify the added cost with premium off-road components like Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers, a 2.0-inch suspension lift, and 3.5-inch-wider track. The Frontier is certainly a good value—especially when it comes to the lower-tier trims—but the fancier models just can’t keep pace with the class-leading Colorado.

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