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A blue 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is shown parked in the desert.

Who Is the Better Off-Road Companion?: The 2023 Chevy Colorado or the 2023 Jeep Gladiator

It’s bold to compare a non-Jeep to a Jeep. After all, Jeep’s lineup is designed and engineered with a certain off-road quality that’s in the very DNA of all of their vehicles. However, many truck manufacturers have acknowledged the gauntlet thrown during the Gladiator’s 2019 re-release. When Jeep dropped a vehicle that was equal parts Wrangler and pickup truck, manufacturers across the country took note and accepted the challenge. As a result, we can compare the 2023 Chevy Colorado vs 2023 Jeep Gladiator without fear of infuriating every long-time Jeep fan.

The 2023 Chevy Colorado is not the only possible contender in the Gladiator’s off-road pickup class, but with the introduction of three available off-road ready models, it is time to take the Colorado as a serious competitor in the off-road arena. The comparison is unique in that Chevy is a pickup truck expert venturing into off-road territory, while Jeep is a heavily off-road-focused brand that has happened to make a pickup truck version of its best-selling Wrangler.

It would be impossible to get a hardcore Chevy or Jeep fan to switch teams, so that’s not the point of this article. Instead, let’s look at the 2023 Colorado and 2023 Gladiator next to each other so drivers with a less fierce brand allegiance can take a look at each truck’s important details. From roads to rocks, there’s a lot to consider!

A close up of the Chevy badge on the grille of a grey 2023 Chevy Colorado Z71 is shown.


Power and Performance

There are many schools of thought when it comes to the best engine for off-roading. This is especially true when considering the best engine for off-roading on a vehicle that has to be driven on the road most of the time. That means finding a perfect balance between feral ruggedness and sophisticated good manners, which typically only works well in movies. To that end, Chevy is offering the 2023 Colorado with three potential options, depending on the trim selected. Chevy has gone to great lengths to recalibrate and improve the Colorado’s previous engines, gaining horsepower and torque in the process.

The first engine, standard on the WT and LT trims, is a 2.7 Turbo that’s good for 237 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. A 2.7L Turbo Plus is standard on the Z71 and all-new Trail Boss trim. Offering 310 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, this engine can also be optioned into WT and LT trims. At the top of the line is a 2.7L Turbo High-Output, which gives the ZR2 trim 310 hp and an impressive 430 lb-ft of torque. All engines are also paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission for quicker downshifts and low-gear maneuvers.

The 2023 Jeep Gladiator offers just two engines that are the same classics that have been around for a while. The standard engine is a 3.6L Pentastar V6, which provides 285 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. A 3.0L EcoDiesel V6 is the other available option and offers 260 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque.

One interesting difference between the Colorado and the Gladiator is the transmission. Gasoline-powered Gladiators are offered with a 6-speed manual transmission, with the exception of the Overland trim, which includes a TorqueFlight 8-speed automatic transmission tuned for low-RPM work. The automatic transmission is also paired with the EcoDiesel engine. Those who are not fans of manual shifting can switch to the automatic transmission for an additional charge.

Off-Road Capability

As many drivers are aware, there are different types of off-roaders. Some casually partake as often as possible, while others find every excuse to avoid pavement. Both Chevy and Jeep have designed their trucks accordingly. For Chevy, this starts with the chassis. The WT, LT, and Z71 trims all have a standard chassis, while the Trail Boss trim enjoys a 2-inch factory lift with an ultra-wide stance, and the ZR2 gets a high-performance 3-inch factory lift and wide stance. In contrast, the Gladiator offers just one chassis configuration; however, many Jeep drivers enjoy customizing their lift to fit their needs.

The 2023 Colorado also includes five selectable driving modes: Normal for pavement driving, Off-Road for extra traction, Terrain for crawling and other low-speed maneuvers, Baja for those who enjoy mixing speed and sand, and Tow/Haul which is self-explanatory. In addition, the Trail Boss offers a 2-speed auto transfer case and a transfer case shield, and the ZR2 includes Multimatic DSSV dampers. An Off-Road Performance app is also available, which provides readings regarding pitch, roll, altitude, and transfer case status, depending on the drive mode.

Jeep Gladiator models don’t have a single button to press to impact driving mode. Instead, they have features like the Command-Trac two-speed transfer case, Selec-Terrain Traction Management System, the available Trac-Lok limited-slip rear differential, and Rubicon-exclusive Rock-Trac two-speed transfer case with electronic locking differentials in the front and rear. These features allow drivers to adapt to a variety of different terrains by switching up how the Gladiator moves.

A person is shown driving an ATV into the bed of a white 2023 Jeep Gladiator.

Towing and Hauling Capabilities

At the end of the day, the reason one might choose a pickup truck as an off-roader is to enjoy a truck’s extraordinary capabilities. They can both tow and carry, with the brawniness needed to haul things in the bed or hitched to the back. The Colorado is powered by the same engine that allows its bigger sibling, the Silverado, to handle demanding work. As a result, the Colorado has impressive towing numbers for a midsize truck. The Turbo can tow up to 3,500 lbs, the Turbo Plus can pull 7,700 lbs, and the ZR2, with its High-Output, can tow 6,000 lbs.

The Colorado is offered only in a crew cab/short bed configuration, and the payload maximum is 1,684 lbs. However, the 5-foot 2-inch bed is designed for work, with 8 standard tie downs, which can be multiplied to a total of 17 available tie downs. An available storage section within the tailgate itself offers a lockable and watertight solution for stashing smaller items, while the mid-position option and 110V power outlet help make the bed more functional when out in the wild.

A properly equipped gas-powered Jeep Gladiator can pull a maximum of 7,700 lbs and can handle up to 1,710 lbs of payload in its 5-foot box. Drivers can customize their beds for their needs, including optional LED bed lighting, a spray-in bed liner, a power outlet, and a Trail Rail organization system. The Gladiator includes 4 standard tie-downs, too. While both models offer similar capacities in towing, payload, and box size, the Colorado has a slight advantage over the Gladiator with its versatile bed and storage system.

Which One Is More at Home off the Pavement?

For drivers who need the capability of a truck on a regular basis, the 2023 Chevy Colorado has plenty to offer wherever it goes. But for those more focused on off-road performance, it’s fair to say that the Jeep was purposefully designed to excel in those areas. This also means that the Colorado is perfectly happy on the pavement, while the Gladiator was specifically tuned to roll across anything that’s not flat. Hardcore Jeep fans will argue that few vehicles have the trail sense of their favorite vehicle, but the Colorado offers three trims that offer various degrees of trail sensibilities to an otherwise highly capable truck.

Drivers will need to weigh their priorities when choosing between the 2023 Chevy Colorado and the 2023 Jeep Gladiator. Both are capable for a number of duties, but while the Colorado can play nice on the streets, the Gladiator’s specifically-tuned off-road suspension and off-road features aren’t quite as fun on the pavement as they were on the trail.

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