The 2017 Colorado ZR2 looks dif­fer­ent but the real sur­prise is un­der­neath

It looks dif­fer­ent, but the real sur­prise is un­der­neath


You can credit the Ford F-150 Rap­tor for the grow­ing in­ter­est in off-road-ca­pa­ble pick­ups. The Chevro­let Colorado ZR2, ar­riv­ing now, is one of the lat­est mem­bers. The Toyota Ta­coma TRD Pro and Ram Rebel from Fiat Chrysler Au­to­mo­biles (FCA) also form part of this seg­ment.

The Rap­tor (neé SVT Rap­tor) comes with all the mod­i­fi­ca­tions needed to clam­ber over boul­ders, tackle deep ditches and con­quer knee-deep mud, muck and sand that would de­feat lesser haulers. The ZR2 will sim­i­larly ap­peal to pickup buy­ers for whom play­ing dirty is one of their favourite pas­times, as well as own­ers who just want to look, not act, the part.

To be clear, one look at the ZR2 trim level’s spec sheet is proof pos­i­tive that it’s no poser. The unique front and rear bumpers are de­signed to pro­vide ad­di­tional ground clear­ance. Alu­minum skid plates have been added to pro­tect the ra­di­a­tor, oil pan, sus­pen­sion and trans­fer case, while the grille and hood are exclusive to the ZR2.

Other dead give­aways as to the ZR2’s in­ten­tions in­clude func­tional off-road rocker-panel pro­tec­tion to pre­vent/ re­duce dam­age to the body from high-sid­ing in­ci­dents. There’s also 31-inch Goodyear off-road tires mounted on ZR2-spe­cific al­loy wheels. Com­pared with reg­u­lar four­wheel-drive Colorados, the dis­tance be­tween the front and rear axles has been in­creased by nine cen­time­tres and the ride height has been lifted by five cen­time­tres.

But it’s the Dy­namic Sus­pen­sions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers that re­ally separate the ZR2 from lesser Colorados. De­signed by Canada-based Mul­ti­matic (the same com­pany that builds the Ford GT su­per­car), the tech­nol­ogy for these shock ab­sorbers was orig­i­nally de­vel­oped for the 2014 Chevro­let Ca­maro Z/28. Now much mod­i­fied for off-road use, the DSSVs are de­signed to per­form in ev­ery­day driv­ing sit­u­a­tions as well as in ex­treme off-road con­di­tions where con­trolled shock com­pres­sion and re­bound rates are crit­i­cal. The DSSVs lit­er­ally place the ZR2 ahead of lesser pick­ups by leaps and bounds.

The cor­rect off-road equip­ment ex­tends to the spe­cial four­wheel-drive sys­tem with nine dif­fer­ent con­trol set­tings. They vary from rear-wheel-drive only for nor­mal high­way driv­ing, to low-range four-wheel-drive where both the front and rear dif­fer­en­tials plus the trans­fer case are “locked” to aid lowspeed trac­tion and con­trol.

Both the ex­tended-cab longbed and the crew-cab short-bed (74 and 62 inches, re­spec­tively) ZR2s come with a 3.6-litre V-6 that puts out 308 horse­power and 275 pound-feet of torque. A 2.8-litre four-cylin­der turbo-diesel that makes 186 horse­power and 369 pound-feet of torque is also avail­able.

The V-6 op­er­ates through an eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, while the turbo-diesel uses a six-speed au­to­matic.

Of­fi­cial fuel-con­sump­tion fig­ures peg the ZR2 V-6 at 14.7 l/100 km in the city and 13.0 on the high­way. The turbo-diesel is rated at 12.4/10.7.

The ZR2 can take up to 1,100 pounds (500 kilo­grams) of pay­load or pull up to 5,000 pounds (2,270 kilo­grams). A trai­ler­ing pack­age is stan­dard.

The base ex­tended-cab ZR2 re­tails for $44,850, in­clud­ing ship­ping. Along with an ex­ten­sive list of spe­cial­ized hard­ware, you get leather-cov­ered seats (heated and power-ad­justable in front), six-speaker au­dio sys­tem and nav­i­ga­tion, rear-slid­ing win­dow, re­mote ve­hi­cle start, lock­ing tail­gate and a spray-on bed liner.

Be­yond the two cab con­fig­u­ra­tions and the turbo-diesel en­gine, the min­i­mal op­tions list in­cludes a seven-speaker Bose au­dio sys­tem, dealer-in­stalled bed-mounted spare-tire car­rier and a black vinyl floor that can be sub­sti­tuted for car­pet­ing at no ad­di­tional cost or dis­count.

If his­tory and habit are any­thing to go by, many Colorado ZR2 mod­els won’t step too far into the tall grass or blast through desert sands. But when used as Chevro­let has in­tended, pi­lot­ing the ZR2 could be one of the more vis­cer­ally en­ter­tain­ing and re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ences on any sur­face of the planet.


This will likely be a rare scene for even the most out­doorsy ZR2 cus­tomers, but all the hard­ware is there to do it.The truck comes in ex­tended- and four-door crew-cab mod­els.


The ZR2 is in­tended for off-road use, but still comes with leather-cov­ered seats and re­mote start.The up­graded seven-speaker Bose au­dio sys­tem is one of the few op­tions.


Mul­ti­matic’s DSSV — Dy­namic Sus­pen­sions Spool Valve — shock ab­sorbers are adapted from the com­pany’s rac­ing ef­forts. The de­sign is touted as less sus­cep­ti­ble to wear than con­ven­tional shocks while pro­vid­ing spe­cific damp­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics in dif­fer­ent ar­eas of sus­pen­sion travel. They were first used by Chevro­let for the Ca­maro Z/28.

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