What are the five key ingredients for making a unique and special off-road truck? Does the 2017 Chevy Colorado ZR2 check all the right boxes to be the desert runner and rock crawler straight out of the factory? These are all great questions and we try to answer all of them in this detailed look at the latest pickup truck from Chevrolet.
The five key ingredients are:
If you look at factory off-road vehicles under $55,000, the 2017 Colorado ZR2 joins a small company of the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Ram Power Wagon of trucks that have a front and rear locking differentials. Yes, other trucks like the 2017 Ford Raptor offer a Torsen front limited slip differential (LSD), but few trucks or SUVs have driver selectable front and rear lockers. Even fewer pickups allow the driver to keep the rear differential locked at high speeds. The ZR2 lets the rear diff to remain locked at high speeds in Off-Road driving mode. The ZR2 also allows for the rear locker to be engaged in 2WD, 4WD High, and (naturally) in 4WD Low. Yes, the ZR2 relies on an independent front suspension, but it’s fairly easy to say that it has a robust 4×4 system worthy of a great off-roader.
A true off-roader needs plentiful ground clearance, suspension articulation, and high-performance shock absorbers. The ZR2 is two inches higher off the ground than a Colorado Z71 and it has a 3.5 inches wider track, which was achieved by using unique suspension components and an extended rear axle. The truck has improved suspension articulation, and it uses DSSV spool valve shock absorbers from Multimatic that also offer Position Sensitive Damping (PSD). This damper technology is derived from Formula 1 racing cars, Chevy Camaro Z/28, and several exotic cars. I was able to go for a ride (not drive) in the truck, and the first impression of the suspension on Chevy’s course is a good one. At first glance, the truck appears to have the right suspension.
We have tested the GoodYear Duratrac tires on a long road trip from Detroit to Denver and Rocky Mountain snow and ice. The tire performed very well in all conditions, and it’s not very loud at highway speeds. ZR2’s tires are 31 inches in diameter. The ZR2 made a good choice for an off-road tire.
The ZR2 has a unique front-end design that looks aggressive and offers a much-improved approach angle. It has a functional front skid plate and side rock slider rails. The sculpted hood throws in a good deal of off-road attitude. The truck has a unique look to differentiate it from a Z71 or a TrailBoss.
The 2017 ZR2 uses a choice of two latest Chevy powertrains: 3.6L gas V6 or a 2.8L turbo-diesel I4. The V6 produces 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque, and the turbo-diesel churns out 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. These specifications are nothing to complain about, but they are exactly the same rating as in other Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks for 2017. Giving the ZR2 a small power increase would have boosted its bragging rights and put it over the top.
Is there a compromise with the ZR2? Yes, if you consider the towing and payload capacities. The 2017 ZR2 is rated at a maximum payload of 1,100 lbs and max. towing of 5,000 lbs. These are noticeable decreases from the Colorado Z71 with max payload of between 1,477 – 1,580 lbs, and max. towing of 7,000 – 7,600 lbs.
We do not yet have pricing for the ZR2, however you can expect it to be competitive with the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro.
Check out this detailed look at the 2017 Chevy Colorado ZR2.