During the 1970’s, Datsun (now known as Nissan) and Toyota flooded the U.S market with small pickup trucks. Chrysler, GM, and Ford were market leaders when it came to the larger pickups, but the market changed and it fell in love with the smaller and compact “fun-to-drive" pickups. Chevrolet is one of the first compact pickups or “trucklets” to compete in the compact pickup segment, which gave birth to the LUV, (Light Utility Vehicle) S-10, GMC Canyon, and the Chevrolet Colorado.
1972 to 1980: The Chevy LUV
Since GM owned a part of Isuzu Motors Ltd, Japan, it decided to buy trucks from Isuzu and rebrand them as Chevy LUVs or Light Utility Vehicles. These LUVs made their debut in 1972 and they were powered by a 1.8-liter SOHC engine, coupled with a four speed transmission. Sales of the LUV grew and in 1979, Motor Trend named the LUV 4x4 as their second “Truck of the Year”. But in 1983, the popularity of the LUV waned and it was time for GM to build its own home-grown pickup.
1982 to 2004: The Chevy S-10
It was the new generation Chevrolet pickup that was “not too big, not too small.” Using the GMT325 platform, it was powered by a 1.9-liter Isuzu I4 engine with a two-barrel carburetor. The compact sport utility S-10 was called the Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, and it was powered by a 2.5-liter “Iron Duke” OHV I4 engine. A 2.8-liter V6 and 4.3-liter V6 was also offered to the S-10 in 1998. From 1998 to 2004, the S-10, was always second to the Ford Ranger and just like the LUV, it had to give way to a slightly larger midsized truck, the Chevrolet Colorado.
2004 to 2012: The Chevrolet Colorado
The Colorado was designed by Isuzu, GM’s Brazil Operations, and GM’s North American Operations. Using the GMT355 platform, the Chevy Colorado was powered by a 2.8-liter LK5 I4 engine, coupled with a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission. The ZQ8 was a more road-tuned Colorado, which offered 17-inch alloy wheels, low profile fender flares, a sport suspension system, and color-matched bumpers and grille. Side skirts, a different set of front and rear bumpers, fender flares, headlights, grille, and 18-inch alloy wheels were offered to the ZQ8 Extreme edition. Four more engine options were made available to the Colorado, and they were the 2.9-liter LLV I4, 3.5-liter L52 I5, and the 5.3-liter Lh8 V8. In 2005, the Chevrolet Colorado’s sales peaked at 163,204 units, surpassing the Ford Ranger. Due to the “Poor” side impact rating received from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Colorado was equipped with side curtain airbags in 2010.