• 2017 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Off-Roader: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know [Video]

    2017 chevy colorado zr2
    2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

    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:

    4×4 System

    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.

    Aggressive/Unique Look

    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.

    Aggressive Power

    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.

    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov
    Andre Smirnov is an Automotive Enthusiast, Producer, Reviewer, Videographer, Writer, Software Engineer, Husband, Father, and Friend.

    25 thoughts on “2017 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Off-Roader: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know [Video]

    1. To bad there is not a winch option, every off-road truck should have a winch option right of the dealer.When you pay that sort of money.

      1. Yea, a winch would have been awesome! Perhaps, it will eventually be an accessory or aftermarket.


        1. I agree, and it would be nice as I said before if they had a spot under the seat with the tire jack where you store a removable winch that hooks up to the class 4 hitch receiver. Put a receiver in the front bumper as well. This way the winch stays dry and clean all the time and you can even hook it to a passing truck. Sometimes the front of the truck is buried like on the Power Wagon and you have to dig for the winch which is not practical. I would like to see a winch option stored under the seat and when you need it, then it comes out. Use it on the back of the truck or the front. And make it an option. Instead of tow hooks just put a class 4 receiver hitch in the front bumper but don’t let it limit the approach angle. Again this would be nice to push trailers around as well to have a hitch in the front when you need to park a trailer; it makes it easy.

    2. I like how you guys are explaining the 4×4. There are so many different set ups and limitations on these trucks. Good info

      1. Is the 4×4 speed limited? You get to lock the rear wheels at speed but what about the front wheels. Do the front wheels stay engaged at any speed?

        1. The front locker can only be engaged in 4-Lo at crawling speeds. The rear locker is the one that can be locked at high speeds.


          1. Andre, I understand the front lockers are not engaged at speed but what about any 4×4 capability at high speeds? Is any 4×4; even one wheel in the front engaged at high speeds or is it just the rear wheels at high speeds?

            1. Thomas, I have never seen a part-time 4×4 transfer case (like this truck has) which “disables” 4×4 at high speeds. I drove my uncle’s old 2000 S-10 ZR2 5-speed at 65mph in 4×4 High, no issues. I drive my Super Duty trucks at interstate speeds, no issues. I’m sure this truck can be in 4×4 High at any speed.

            2. I guess it was the Canyon Denali that kicks out at higher speed. But that’s not everything I wanted to know. Lol. I still don’t know for sure and how much does it weigh

            3. GM’s 4×4 system doesn’t kick out at high speeds. The G80 gov-locker will unlock at speeds greater than 35 mph but the truck won’t leave 4-hi. The ZR2 doesn’t use a gov-locker though.

    3. Sadly I fear that this will be a limited production item & we will see dealers adjusting pricing for market value determined by status areas of the country.
      The demand will far exceed the limited supply & it will be years before this item will be competitively priced & available.
      For sure it’s a game changer in the mid size pickup market & if it develops that it has usable low end power & a smooth shifting transmission it might even slice into the Tacoma market share.
      If this item can hit the floor with no initial serious issues or recalls it will be an instant success & purchasers will be on a waiting list regardless of MSRP markups.

    4. You could get the old colorado/canyon with the 5.3, why not offer it as the “upgrade” to the 3.6 V6? I’m sure it could fit with little modification, obviously you are getting an off road worthy truck, but I agree that you need a Power boost to go along with it..the diesel option while nice for the occasional rock crawl will be less suited for the majority of situations that this truck finds itself in.. lets be honest.. where do you find raptors and hummers?? sparkly clean in walmart parking lots…This truck needs a HO option… if nothing else the twin turbo LFX that the Caddy uses…

      1. Or at the very least, the new DI 4.3 V6 used in the Silverado/Sierra. Better torque curve than the 3.6 which is always a nice thing.

    5. Andre I am seriously considering this truck. Seems like a good all around truck and I live up the Rocky Mountains. Question: does the ZR2 come in a longer bed? I suspect that will mess with the departure angle. Any thoughts?

      1. It will come in either the extended cab and long bed or the crew cab and short bed.

        The overall length is the same.

      2. Correct, no crew cab ZR2 with the long bed option. There could be many reasons for this: worse breakover/departure angles, production limitations, and max payload concern.

    6. If I wanted a midsized truck I would definitely buy one of these. If they offered a full sized version and I could afford it I would I’d buy it. So come on GM build a full size with the 6.2L V8 and 10 speed tranny.

    7. Did you learn anything about the gear ratios? Higher ratios can offset the addition losses of the taller, wider, & heavier rig?

    8. For those still wondering about the drop in tow and payload ratings, here’s what Chevrolet had to say when asked:

      “We asked Chevrolet why 2,000 pounds had to be cut back from the 2017 Colorado ZR2’s towing rating, and the answer simply lies in the revised chassis design.

      The 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 features a two-inch higher lift, three and a half inch higher track, and both cause towing ratings to slip. The other portions of the 5,000-pound towing puzzle are the redesigned spring and damper rates. While the regular Colorado can handle the extra weight in the rear, the Colorado ZR2 focuses more on its rock crawling capabilities rather than what’s on its tow hook at the rear.

      And, let’s be honest, who’s going to be towing 5,000 pounds while off-roading this beast? We’d rather focus on getting the Colorado ZR2 muddy without the burden of towing.”

      Read more: http://gmauthority.com/blog/2016/11/why-the-2017-chevrolet-colorado-zr2s-tow-rating-fell-by-2000-pounds/#ixzz4QwOJauu8

    9. After reading this I am completely satisfied with my 2016 CC SB Z71 diesel. This truck will more than likely be close to 50K. I can do minor modifications and still be way under that number,and have what I need in a truck.

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