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.