Every once in a while, a truck comes along you can’t help but be thrilled about. The Ford Raptor is one of those trucks. The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is one of those trucks. But the truck we’ve been most excited about lately is the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. It’s the naughty, off-road, wild-child sibling to the standard Colorado pickup. It takes a truck that we already love and turns up the heat. Here are some things that have us sweating in anticipation.
The big news for the Chevy ZR2 is the fact that it utilizes multimatic dampers. This state-of-the-art suspension tech can be found on the last-gen Camaro Z/28, the new Ford GT supercar, several other LeMans-competing vehicles and even some Formula 1 race cars. As such, it’s pretty interesting to see the dynamic suspension spool valve dampening technology on a midsize pickup truck. In fact, it’s the first application of this technology on any off-road vehicle.
Powerful Duramax Turbodiesel
If you think of VW and cringe when you hear the word diesel, we have some news for you. The Chevrolet Colorado’s diesel engine is so good that you’ll forget about VW’s scandal. The big, Geman stain on the engine type’s reputation will take some time to fade, but the Colorado’s 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel four-cylinder should help convince people that diesels are awesome. The engine produces a hearty 181 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque while still allowing for impressive fuel economy. The standard Colorado with the Duramax engine can get 30 mpg on the highway, and we wouldn’t expect the ZR2 to be much different.
If you can’t get your head around a diesel engine beneath the hood, Chevy has another option. The Colorado ZR2 can be fitted with the new 3.6-liter V6, which makes 305 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque. However, you won’t get nearly the same gas mileage from the V6.
Front and Rear Electronic Locking Differentials
While many people compare the Colorado ZR2 to the Ford Raptor, they really shouldn’t. Yes, they’re both badass off-road pickups, but they’re not really in the same class. A closer competitor to the Chevy ZR2 is the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. When you compare that truck with the Chevy, a few things stand out. One thing is that the ZR2 has a locking rear differential and a locking front differential. The Tacoma only has a locking rear. That fact paired with some of the Chevy’s other impressive features means Toyota’s venerable Taco may need to up its game.
2.0-inch Lift Over the Standard Colorado
The standard Colorado is a fine truck, wonderful even. However, to become the off-road monster that the ZR2 is, the vehicle had to be raised up a bit to ensure those large tires would fit and the approach and departure angles were suitable for a real-deal off-road machine. Two measly inches may not seem like much to the layperson, but ask any enthusiast and that’s really quite a lot. It’s high enough to give the ZR2 legitimacy among the off-road community, but not so much that it makes the truck look like a stupid little monster truck.
Real-Deal 4x4 System
In an age of highly technologically advanced four-wheel drive systems, the Chevy Colorado ZR2’s 4x4 system is almost old-school. It’s got electronic locking differentials in the front and rear that are controlled by switches on the dash. There are nine different settings, but the thing is that you, the driver, have to know what to put the settings to. This means there’s not some computer doing all that for you. You can even turn off ABS at low speeds and kill the traction control altogether. For the do-it-yourself, hardcore off-roaders out there, this system is a godsend. Not everyone will love it, but the market that Chevy is targeting probably will.
Towing and Hauling Capability
In many trucks outfitted for off-road performance, towing is not a priority. Sure, most can still tow and haul a small amount of stuff, but the Colorado ZR2 offers surprising towing capacity for an off-road-focused midsize truck. With the ability to tow 5,000 lbs, you can still take your camper with you or pull a trailer packed with dirt bikes, jet skis or snowmobiles. Its payload is set at 1,100 lbs, meaning you can still haul a load of wood or dirt should you need. It’s an off-road truck for the person who still has things they need to do. Essentially, the ZR2 is a tool and a toy. You can work all day and then get off, find a good trail and play until bedtime.
Interested in midsize pickups? Check out these models we've driven.