Colorado ZR2: Trophy Truck and Overland Enthusiasts welcome.

(Images courtesy of Chevrolet’s press site)

Last night in L.A., Chevrolet introduced the highly anticipated ZR2 variant of the midsize Colorado pickup for the 2016 L.A. International Auto Show. The ZR2 is anything but a typical trim level that would consist of superficial modifications over the standard vehicle.

As where Toyota went relatively conservative with off the shelf parts of modest tuning to create the Tacoma TRD-Pro, Chevrolet went the more expensive and passionate route, creating and tuning bespoke parts to deliver an authentic “go anywhere”, and do most of everything well performance pickup truck.
There isn’t one aspect of the ZR2’s componentry that doesn’t serve a functional purpose. Take for instance the DSSV (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) dampers by Multimatic (yes, that’s the same company that’s building the new GT for Ford. A company of motorsports renown on a global basis).

These are the same dampers that can be found on the 5th generation Camaro Z/28, a hardcore performance car with a one-track mind (pun fully intended) on being the ultimate closed circuit thrill machine. The innards of these dampers have various stages of tuning (six to be exact, versus the typical two stages approach for most dampers) to accommodate a wide range of use, from on-pavement to off-pavement driving. No electronic gimmickry here to provide drivers with the desired driving experience. Just advanced and well thought out engineering derived from the rigors of competitive motorsports applied to a genre of vehicle previously uncoupled with this type of damper technology. This is a huge relief for enthusiasts that long for a basic “man and machine”, more analog type of driving experience. A “win” for your Trophy Truck and/ or overland bound, “rig” enthusiast that also plans to use their truck as a daily driver.

Trick dampers aside, the ZR2 employs a host of other off-road specific upgrades, straight “out of the box” from the factory:

• Front and rear custom designed bumpers to allow greater approach and departure angles for hardcore off pavement journeys.
• Rock rails to protect the rocker panels from trail damage.
• 31-inch tires to accommodate the additional 2-inches of lift the ZR2 has over the standard Colorado.
• Front and rear electronic lockers to assist getting through deeply rutted terrain and other challenging types of topography.
• 3.5-inch wider track over your standard issue Colorado for greater maneuverability off pavement.
• New cast iron control arms that are ready to cope with the abuse associated with off-roading.
• Optional accessory bed mounted, Trophy Truck style spare tire carrier.

Chevrolet product planners were also thoughtful enough to give customers the option of choosing between GM’s stalwart 3.6L V6, with 308 hp and 275 lb ft of torque, or the 2.8L Duramax Turbo Diesel 4 cylinder with 181hp and 369 lb ft torque (!!!), mated to 8 and 6 speed automatics, respectively. There’s simply too much overall “awesome” to lament over the lack of a manual transmission option on the ZR2.

While pricing hasn’t been announced as of yet, it can be expected that whatever Chevrolet will be asking for this new specialty pickup, it won’t be anywhere near what the Blue Oval is commanding for the second-generation Raptor, which starts north of $52k before the inevitable dealer mark-ups. Many will compare the Raptor and ZR2, but besides being in two different size classes, the Raptor is more Trophy Truck than anything else. With width that isn’t trail friendly and a suspension biased towards high-speed desert racing, the Raptor’s capability is a bit more narrow than the ZR2. The Chevy has been designed as such that it can do the desert runs but tackle the demands of overlanding with the fuel range to do so (in diesel form, of course). Regardless of which one is your favorite, both truck and adventure enthusiasts can rejoice that these options exist on the market, ready to accommodate their respective interests and lifestyles. The Chevy Colorado ZR2 will also be available in extended and crew cab configurations when it goes on sale in Spring of ’17.


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