Gone are the days of the pick-up truck being viewed just as an utility vehicle or merely as a suitable weapon for hard-core, off-tarmac high jinks. Now, it’s very much an everyday urban warrior as it is a payload specialist or trail blazer, and so it’s not enough that a truck can do the heavy and dirty when asked, but it has to provide more than a modicum of driving finesse as well.

The last is a by-product of the truck as a lifestyle choice for many, and so inevitably, pure road-going ability – or rather, comfort – has become an important criteria in how a pick-up is viewed and perceived. It’s no car, of course, and anyone expecting it to be that from a ride and driving perspective shouldn’t be looking at one, but refinement has become paramount in this day and age, and the humble truck isn’t exempt from such demands.

Great strides have been made in the evolution of the pick-up from pure workhorse to style statement over the last decade and a half, and at this point anything strident is going to suffer the consequence of being ignored by a buying public that is spoilt for choice.

One such example is the second-gen Chevrolet Colorado, which arrived on the scene in 2012. While not a poor performer by any means, it never gained any traction to note of, and not just from a local viewpoint. Much of it had to do with its NVH and ride qualities, which in the face of the competition was showing the truck up considerably. A significantly reengineered facelift supposedly addresses all the necessary issues – is it good enough to bring the Colorado into contention? We find out.

A lot of work has gone into the facelift – which made its local debut late last year – to ensure it’s capable of scrapping it out with the current competition without falling face-flat like the first time out. Nowhere is this better encapsulated than by the numbers piled on in the redevelopment effort – over 360,000 km driven on three continents and 12 million km worth of simulated testing was undertaken for the redo.

Much of the redesign involves the mechanicals, but external changes do their bit – a new front fascia design with a redesigned dual-port grille and a new front bumper as well as new headlights, complete with tube-type LED daytime running lights, helps freshen the exterior presentation and gives the truck a more machismo look and added road presence.

The previously dull interior has also been snazzed up with a new dashboard and door trim, which features a more horizontal perspective. Additionally, more soft-touch surfaces can be found, and a redesigned instrument cluster now offers a new multi-info display offering readouts for maintenance intervals and oil life cycle, among other things.

Entry-level variants feature a revised MyLink infotainment system with a 7.0-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth connectivity and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support, plus four speakers and a reverse camera, while the mid-range and high-spec models bump the touchscreen display to an 8.0-inch unit, with a seven-speaker Premium Sound System in place of the base audio system.

The local line-up consists of five variants, with a spread of three engines to be found. The range starts with the 2.5LT manual (RM99,911, on-the-road, with GST and insurance), which is powered by a 2.5 litre Duramax fixed geometry turbocharger (FGT) unit, carried over from the pre-facelift. Output figures remain at 161 hp (163 PS) at 3,600 rpm and and 380 Nm at 2,000 rpm, and the unit is paired with a six-speed manual.

Next, the 2.5 LT auto (RM107,948) and 2.5 LTZ auto (RM115,031) variants, which feature an upgraded 2.5 litre Duramax four-cylinder turbodiesel engine with a variable geometry turbo (VGT). The Euro 4-compliant unit is new to our market – offering 177 hp at 3,600 rpm and 440 Nm at 2,000 rpm, it’s mated to a six-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift function.

The last two variants are the 2.8 LTZ (RM124,916) and 2.8 High Country (RM132,874), which are equipped with a 2.8 litre Duramax VGT mill and six-speed auto ‘box. The engine is also carried over from the pre-facelift, but has been given some tweaks to improve its NVH aspects. Output remains at 193 hp at 3,600 rpm and 500 Nm at 2,000 rpm.

The equipment list for the Colorado includes LED tail lights, automatic headlamps and wipers, a reverse camera, front parking sensors and a remote-start function on higher spec models, and from the 2.5 LT auto on, electric power steering is to be found. The change to the last improves responsiveness and precision while reducing judder and unwanted vibration.

Standard safety kit across the Colorado range includes three airbags (including one for the driver’s knee), ABS with EBD and brake assist, front and rear seatbelt warnings and ISOFIX child seat anchors, and from the 2.5 LTZ, ESC, hill-start assist, hill descent control and lane departure warning, forward collision alert and a tyre pressure monitoring system finds its way on.

The effort to improve driving refinement, meanwhile, has seen a number of chassis changes. There are new engine and transmission mounts, with the introduction of shear mounts in place of the previous compression units.

Also on, new cabin mounts – which provide better isolation between the cabin and chassis – and a new suspension package. The latter sees springs with revised rates and the use of digressive shocks to offer better ride comfort. A wind noise improvement package, along with new door seals, further improves NVH properties, and the automaker says the work done has resulted in the interior now being up to four decibels quieter than before.

There was plenty of opportunity to find out how much improvement the changes have effected. The Colorado was sampled over a couple of excursions in its 2.8L High Country form, the first in the Philippines. With local traffic conditions dictating terms, the pace was generally slow going in Cebu, but that gave the truck the chance to shine in terms of parading its improved NVH aspects.

In this regard, the difference between old and new isn’t microscopic but easily discernible. As mentioned at the start, one of the biggest issues concerning the pre-facelift was with its rather poor in-cabin noise level performance, which impacted negatively on overall refinement. The old one didn’t drive too badly, but its lack of finesse did it no absolutely no favours.

The extensive work in rectifying this looks to have paid off handsomely, with sonic gains audibly obvious and already noticeable from idle – there’s much less engine clatter seeping into the cabin, and isolation from vibration has also gone up a few notches.

The good work continues on the move, with interior noise levels tidily quiet at cruising speeds of 80-90 km/h – it’s not a library, of course, but such is the transition from raucous to civil that it might as well be considered that figratively, and it’s not until you fully stand on the accelerator pedal that the truck serves up inescapable notice of what it is.

The gains provide a good lead-in to the other positive aspects shaped by the rework. Ride has smoothened out considerably, the Colorado now decently compliant even without load present, and the rear seats have become a fundamentally easier proposition to deal with, as confirmed through a short session on the bench.

In terms of space, it’s still not quite that offered by the Ford Ranger (both in rear space and overall cabin scope), and the latter is still ahead in terms of overall ride refinement, but the Colorado has narrowed the gap considerably. Elsewhere, the EPS does its part in upping comfort, with a much lighter effort needed to steer the truck about. It’s a bit dull in feel, but no complaints about its isolation.

The Cebu drive saw a short off-road jaunt involving light-duty trail work as well as a water crossing and a hill ascent/descent exercise, which the Colorado accomplished without fuss, as expected. The ability in this area was never in question before, and it remains the case with the facelift.

As for features, the remote start works a boon, and a cool interior function is a useful thing to have on hot days – the latter gets the AC operating at 25 degree Celsius to pre-cool the cabin.

A short aside on the High Country, which essentially is the 2.8 LTZ with cosmetic bits plonked on. The add-on list includes a front bumper nudge bar, a gloss black grille with chrome trim, a sports bar, chrome side mouldings, gloss black B-pillar trim, roof rails and High Country badging on its black leather seats.

The next sampling of the particular variant was on the local front with a run to Pekan. As before, the improved levels of quietness from engine and road noise shone through, brought to light even further with a quick comparison against a pre-facelift unit utilised by the support crew – the difference really is night and day in terms of noise and ride, and this over a short distance. Imagine the amplification of a few hundred kilometres, then.

Elsewhere, the 2.8 litre unit continues its decent work – the mill isn’t short of push and is by all accounts an able performer, and the associated work done around it as part of the NVH improvement package has even managed to temper its slightly roughish nature (especially when pushed) by masking it through better isolation.

There was no chance to try out the new 2.5 litre VGT unit because it wasn’t made available, but it looks to be a cost effective alternative, what with the 2.5L LTZ not being short on the equipment front.

As far as facelifts go, this one does more than just bring about cosmetic change – it gets a whole lot sorted, and transforms the Chevrolet Colorado from an also-ran into a contender. While something like the Ford Ranger is still ahead in overall terms, the developments have gained the Chevy significant ground to narrow the gap and bring it right into the thick of the pick-up mix. Whether the badge is good enough to sway buyers into taking that step is another matter altogether.

Compare the specifications of all the Chevrolet Colorado variants at CarBase.my

GALLERY: Chevrolet Colorado 2.8 High Country

GALLERY: 2016 Chevrolet Colorado 2.5L LTZ