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Ultimate Diesel Builder's Guide - - Contents -

Torque or sus­pen­sion? Se­ri­ous off-road­ers have been ask­ing them­selves this ques­tion since the days of the cov­ered wagon and have been im­prov­ing both ar­eas through af­ter­mar­ket per­for­mance items for just about as long. Ford’s spe­cialty per­for­mance off-road truck, the SVT Rap­tor, is now in its sec­ond gen­er­a­tion. Gen­eral Mo­tors fans have long hoped for a Gm-branded of­froad per­for­mance truck of their own, and Chevy has fi­nally de­liv­ered with the 2017 Chevro­let Colorado ZR2 pickup. To make things even bet­ter, the ZR2 can be had with the ven­er­a­ble 2.8L Duramax diesel en­gine un­der its bulging hood.

If we were scratch-build­ing an off-road truck, we’d choose a diesel en­gine and equip the chas­sis with a sturdy sus­pen­sion, an in­te­rior filled with 2017 must-haves, and of course try to keep the price rea­son­able. That’s what Chevro­let has done with the Colorado ZR2, a truck that looks de­signed to push Ford’s Rap­tor, and priced at $40,995 in­clud­ing de­liv­ery (adding in an­other $3,500 for the Duramax op­tion) and you will be ready to rock—or hit the rocks! Yep, leather seats are stan­dard with this truck.

Start­ing with the Colorado mid-sized pickup, Chevro­let en­gi­neers widened the track by 3.5 inches (88.9 mm) and lifted the sus­pen­sion 2 inches (50.8 mm), both crit­i­cal to en­hanc­ing off-road prow­ess. Then the not-so-se­cret sauces were added: class-ex­clu­sive elec­tron­i­cally lock­ing front and rear dif­fer­en­tials, steel tube rock rails, bumpers at the front and rear mod­i­fied for clear­ance, cast-iron con­trol arms for

ro­bust­ness, an alu­minum skid plate to pro­tect the oil pan and ra­di­a­tor, Au­to­trac trans­fer case with its own shield, a 3.42:1 axle ra­tio, and 31inch Goodyear Wran­gler Du­ra­trac off-road tires on 17x8-inch alu­minum wheels. The fi­nal touch was ex­clu­sive Mul­ti­matic DSSV dampers on all four cor­ners to give the truck se­ri­ous off road han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Mul­ti­matic’s Dy­namic Sus­pen­sions Spool Valve dampers, a.k.a. shocks, are fit­ted to Red Bull Rac­ing For­mula 1 cars, Ford’s GT race car, As­ton Mar­tin’s Vul­can su­per­car, and in fact many rac­ing ve­hi­cles in­clud­ing Indy Lights and Fer­rari 458 Chal­lenge cars. An­other car with DSSV dampers is Chevro­let’s “ul­ti­mate track car,” the Z/28 Ca­maro. It is the first large-scale pro­duc­tion car to use them. Where most dampers rely on ori­fices in the pis­ton with shims to con­trol rate of flow for the en­closed hy­draulic fluid, Mul­ti­matic’s DSSV dampers use spool valves that open and close at a rate that de­pends on speed of the damper shaft. Each valve is cre­ated with vari­able tun­ing, for in­stance soft for high­way or firm for off-road bumps.

It wasn’t enough that the dampers would be sen­si­tive to pis­ton ve­loc­ity, for off-road­ing the spool valves needed to be sen­si­tive to po­si­tion—for in­stance at full ex­ten­sion with all four wheels in the air. An­other game-chang­ing fea­ture is that spool valves are less sen­si­tive to fluid vis­cos­ity, which typ­i­cally thins dur­ing heavy use (such as off-road­ing).

“A tra­di­tional, de­flected-disc damper only of­fers two force-ve­loc­ity curves for tun­ing,” says Mark Dick­ens, Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor of Per­for­mance Vari­ants, Per­for­mance Parts and Mo­tor­sports Engi­neer­ing for Chevro­let. Ac­cord­ing to Dick­ens, the ZR2 Mul­ti­matic DSSV dampers “of­fer six tun­ing curves for the front, four at the rear. For the driver, this trans­lates to greater con­fi­dence and con­trol in a wider range of driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ences.”

Ma­jor ZR2 op­tions are the 2.8-liter Duramax tur­bod­iesel (186 hp/369 lb-ft) paired with GM’S 6-speed au­to­matic. (We tested a Z71 Colorado 4WD with the same en­gine in the April/may 2016 is­sue of Ul­ti­mate Diesel Builder’s Guide.— Ed.) You can delete the cabin car­pet­ing in fa­vor of black vinyl, and we think many of you will. The dealer can in­stall a bed-mounted spare tire car­rier, and you can also se­lect the op­tional up­graded 7-speaker Bose au­dio sys­tem.

Size mat­ters, and Chevy will of­fer crew cab ZR2S and ex­tended cab ZR2S, the crew cab with a shorter bed than the ex­tended cab, which keeps over­all length rea­son­able at just un­der 213 inches.

The more you look at the ZR2 spec­i­fi­ca­tions and what’s in­cluded as stan­dard equip­ment, the more im­pres­sive it is, and for an off-road ve­hi­cle there’s a lot of lux­ury in­cluded. Like heated front driver and pas­sen­ger seats, wire­less phone charg­ing, au­to­matic cruise con­trol, a suite of mod­ern telem­at­ics in­clud­ing stan­dard six-speaker au­dio with Mylink Ra­dio with Nav­i­ga­tion in an 8-inch touch­screen and both Ap­ple Carplay and An­droid Auto, plus voice ac­ti­va­tion and Blue­tooth stream­ing. On­star 4G LTE builds in Wi-fi ca­pa­bil­ity.

For the en­try price you’ll get re­mote start, four-way power seats (the driver’s seat with lum­bar con­trol), sprayed-on bed­liner, a tow-haul mode for the trans­mis­sion and in­te­grated trailer brake con­trol, and stan­dard trai­ler­ing pack­age with a hitch and 7-pin con­nec­tor.

But what re­ally nails its per­for­mance cre­den­tials is this: You can only get a ZR2 with four­wheel drive. To­gether with the lock­ing trans­fer case and lock­able front AND rear dif­fer­en­tials, there are nine drive modes from high­way cruis­ing 2WD to rock crawl­ing 4WD low with locked trans­fer case and locked front and rear dif­fer­en­tials. Now that’s off-road­ing. For more de­tails and in­for­ma­tion visit chevro­let.com, or bet­ter yet visit your lo­cal dealer and take a test drive for your­self. Just be sure to tell them that you read about it here in Ul­ti­mate Diesel Builder’s

Guide. UDBG

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