But that's where the similarities end. The Colorado's sporty styling and less-thirsty engine lineup are aimed at outdoorsy families as well as carpenters, electricians and other trade workers who need utility but can do without the full towing and hauling capabilities of a full-sized pickup.
The Colorado's debut in showrooms next fall will mark a rare divergence in truck strategy among the Detroit 3. Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group a few years ago phased out their smaller pickups -- the Ford Ranger and Dodge Dakota -- amid a long, steady decline in demand.
U.S. sales of smaller pickups withered to just 264,197 units last year, from more than 1 million in 2000, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Only the Toyota Tacoma -- which accounted for 70 percent of the segment's sales so far this year -- and the Nissan Frontier remain as significant players.
"There wasn't a lot of choice," Alan Batey, senior vice president of global Chevrolet, told reporters last week during a media briefing for the Colorado. "We do believe that a pickup truck that's really, really good looking is going to attract a lot of people."
Batey expects the Colorado to poach customers from the Tacoma while appealing to some crossover and sedan drivers. But winning over Ford F-150 and Ram pickup customers would be true validation of GM's gamble on sticking with a smaller pickup, he said.
"We need to conquest with this truck from some of our competitors who only have full-sized, because they don't have a mid-sized to offer their customers," Batey said. "Ford and Chrysler, we're going to go after both of them."
GM isn't just placing a big bet on the segment with the Colorado. The GMC Canyon pickup -- a companion to the Colorado -- is expected to be introduced at the Detroit auto show in January and hit showrooms next fall.
The Colorado rides on GM's global mid-sized truck architecture, launched in 2011 with the Colorado pickup that GM sells in Thailand. The body-on-frame, rwd platform was upgraded for the United States -- it is 40 percent lighter than the global truck.
The crew cab version of the Colorado, compared with a crew cab Silverado, is 900 pounds lighter, 16 inches shorter, 5 inches narrower and 3 inches lower.
The Colorado's base 2.5-liter, four-cylinder will produce an estimated 193 hp and 184 pounds-feet of torque. It will also come with an optional 3.6-liter V-6 that makes 302 hp and 270 pounds-feet of torque.
Both engines will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission.
GM said payload capacity and towing capability should be best in the segment. The truck's projected towing rating of more than 6,700 pounds is enough "to throw a weekend's worth of camping gear in the bed and tow a boat," GM said in a statement.
GM also will offer a 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel, which has been in use on the global Colorado since its launch. The diesel will be introduced for the 2016 model year, about one year after the Colorado's initial launch.
Batey said he expects the diesel to account for roughly 10 percent of sales, while the remaining volume likely will be split roughly equally between the base 2.5-liter and the 3.6-liter V-6.
EPA fuel ratings won't be ready until closer to the launch. Jeff Luke, executive chief engineer for GM trucks, said the automaker expects the Colorado to be the most fuel efficient in the segment. The two-wheel-drive Tacoma with a 2.7-liter engine and a five-speed manual is rated at 21 mpg city/25 highway. The 2wd Frontier King Cab with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder and a five-speed manual is rated 19 mpg city/23 highway.
The Colorado comes in three trims: WT, LT and Z71, an "off-road inspired" model that features larger, 17-inch aluminum wheels, projector headlamps and other touches. All models come in either 2wd or 4wd.
The Colorado's exterior styling is sporty and modern, with a raked windshield and taller bedsides. It will come in three configurations: crew cab with either a 5- or 6-foot bed, and an extended cab model with a 6-foot bed.
Ken Parkinson, executive director of Chevrolet design, said stylists wanted to give the Colorado a "more youthful, more athletic look" while still reflecting the capability of the Silverado, which was redesigned for the 2014 model year.
"It has that capable look, like there's no question that it can make it to wherever these active-lifestyle customers want to go," Parkinson told Automotive News. "It looks great next to the new Silverado, yet it's very different."
Inside, the layout mimics that of the '14 Silverado, including an eight-inch color MyLink screen on the LT and Z71 models, with large knobs to complement the touch screen functionality.
GM engineers used some of the same noise-reducing tricks with the Colorado's cabin that they used on the Silverado, including triple-sealed doors.
Price spread needed
GM won't release pricing until closer to the launch. A decent price spread between the Colorado and Silverado is "incredibly important" to keep the vehicles distinct in the showroom, said Maria Rohrer, marketing director for Chevy trucks.
Rohrer said GM consumer research shows that "there has to be a spread of $5,000 to $6,000 between the mid-sized and the full-sized, base to base. Otherwise, the gap becomes too close, and customers might walk up to a full."
The sticker for a base Silverado 1500 double cab is $30,695, including shipping. That implies a starting price in the mid-$20,000s for a base Colorado -- an extended cab model with the base 2.5-liter, if GM chooses to adopt that $5,000 to $6,000 separation.
There is an $8,180 spread between the base Tacoma and the full-sized Toyota Tundra, which has a base sticker price of $26,915, including shipping.
IHS Automotive analyst Stephanie Brinley said the Colorado could appeal to owners of both full-sized trucks and mid-sized crossovers if it offers significantly better fuel economy at a lower price.
"At the product level, it looks like they've delivered what could be a fantastic truck," she said. "But we don't know the pricing or the fuel economy, which will help determine sales volume and profitability."
She added that past efforts to lure crossover or SUV customers to a "lifestyle" pickup truck -- the Subaru Baja, Honda Ridgeline and Explorer Sport pickup -- have stumbled.
"The Colorado is more capable than those trucks," she said. "Maybe it will work better."
Batey wouldn't disclose GM's sales target for the Colorado, saying only that he believes volume will be better than that of the previous-generation Colorado.
U.S. sales of the Colorado totaled 36,840 in 2012, down from a peak of 128,359 in 2005.
IHS forecasts 60,346 Colorado sales in 2015, the new generation's first full year on the market. LMC Automotive projects 50,017 Colorado sales that year.