• Chevy Colorado ZR2 vs Jeep vs Cliffhanger 2.0: Our Toughest Off-Road Test (Video)

    2018 chevy colorado zr2 pickup truck cliffhanger off-road test review
    Chevy Colorado ZR2 on our toughest off-road test

    It’s time to get the new Chevy Colorado ZR2 on a proper Colorado Rocky Mountain trail. Huge thanks to Chris Laney for bringing his ZR2 all the way from Phoenix, Arizona to test it on the Cliffhanger 2.0 trail.

    The ZR2 is purpose-built off-road pickup truck. It’s got the hardware to backup its tougher looks. This particular truck is powered by the 3.6L V6 with 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, although a 2.8L turbo-diesel I4 is also available for an additional $3,500. The power is to a proper 4×4 system with low range transfer case and front/rear lockers via an 8-speed automatic transmission. The ZR2 has more ground clearance and a much better approach angle than any other Chevy Colorado currently available. It is the only midsize pickup truck with front and rear locking differentials. The 31-inch Goodyear Duratrac tires put the power down.

    The Cliffhanger 2.0 is a very steep and rocky trails that goes up to nearly 10,000 feet of elevation. There are some section that are 20 degrees steep or more. The two main challenges of this trail are large and loose rocks, and a ledge we call the “Razor Bend”. Loose dirt and rocks require as much traction as possible. Thankfully, the ZR2 has front and rear lockers and low-range to help all tires grip at a slow and steady pace. The Duratrac tires provide the needed bite, and they are also tough enough to handle the Razor Bend (as you can see in the video).

    We have taken all other off-road pickup trucks on this trail, including the 2017 Ram Power Wagon and the 2017 Ford Raptor. Also, it’s worth checking out how 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro handled the same trail about a year prior.


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

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    95 thoughts on “Chevy Colorado ZR2 vs Jeep vs Cliffhanger 2.0: Our Toughest Off-Road Test (Video)

    1. Thank you Chris for showing what the ZR2,can really do.Outstanding!!

      Nathan,a Roman shirt…..seriously? LMAO.

      Great video,that looked liked lots of fun,thanks.

      1. I get to agree with you Lohchief, I will double down. Not often that this will happen, so I will take on your full written post here and agree.

    2. Great video guys!

      The ZR2 is a specialized vehicle that can still be a daily driver and be comfortable. Too many try and compare it to the Raptor, which is a completely different vehicle aimed at a different type of off-road driving. The Raptor is more for desert sand hills, jumping, etc whereas the ZR2 is clearly meant for slower off-road ditch banging, backcountry and rock climbing, etc like in this video. Both are great trucks, just aimed at different off-road situations.

      1. No, the ZR2 is also a fast desert runner. The shocks are particularly good at adapting to high speed. In fact, they are better high speed shocks than the Raptors’.

        Independent testers like M.T. have proven that the Raptor is not good at high speed running, particularly in the rear suspension dynamics. The rear of the Raptor dances around and does not keep good traction. Sloppy engineering.

        If you don’t believe me, go look it up yourself.

        Furthermore, the RAM PowerWagon was also proven to be better at high speed running. It was far more stable and competent than the Raptor..

        I know, I know, it is difficult for you weak minded to believe all this because you see a pretty face of sheet metal on a shiny paint job and have the wool pulled over your brains. But what’s new. You keep making untrue comments about the Raptor, and will never get it.

          1. Oh yeah. You are speaking out of ignorance. Go look at the independent tests done for thousands of miles on a variety of surfaces. Don” take my words for it. Certainly don’t take your thoughts out of thin air for it.

            1. P.U. is for people who avoid the issues and avoid the truth and arguing for it by just saying hateful things. P.U. is also for people who do not stick up for the truth.
              Haters and trolls are those who do not know the truth or those who asset untruths for whatever reason.

              So, who will contest the truth about he Raptor? And engage in the real issues?

            2. Bro, the Raptor won 4 wheeler of the year by an actual 4 wheeler magazine. Who cares about motortrend that is a car magazine.

            3. Bro, the Raptor won 4 wheeler of the year by an actual 4 wheeler magazine. Who cares about motor trend, a car magazine.

            4. M.T. has been testing off-road vehicles many decades before 4-wheeler magazine. M.T. is the most sophisticated tester of off road vehicles in the business.

              By putting 4 Wheeler magazine over M.T., you are revealing your ignorance of automotive journalism. And Motor Trend includes Truck Trend, by the way.

            5. Oh, you should know that 4 wheeler mag only did a 1000 mile test in cushy southern California, while M.T. did their test over 2600 miles across Canada’s harshest conditions.

              But I’m sure you didn’t know that. You just talk without knowing, and TRUTH is not what you value.

              You are an emotional thinker that has not grown up yet to become a man.

            6. Yea, your full of it. Stick to your car magazines. The Raptor has been winning shoot outs with virtually most reviewers including here at TFL and your home putc.

            7. That test came down to tire traction on wet roads. And though nearly all automotive magazines are owned by the same parent company, the fourwheeler crew is the authority on off-pavement performance

            8. You are so stubborn. Show me a side by side “high speed desert running” test between the PW and the Raptor. You are delusional to think the 100.00 shocks on the PW would not melt down in less than an hour.

            9. I present evidence, and they present no evidence. They are emotional thinkers. Look out for that type. Fact is,, M.T. did the authoritative test over 2600 miles with far more variety than 4 wheeler, who is the “self appointed” authority doing short “shoot outs”

              Just goes to show ya how dumb people are.

            10. Or the fact someone searches high and low for the only article to support their agenda. Even if the article is written by people that reviews cars.

            11. Scott, even in rock crawling where the Raptor is not advertised to even do competed exceptionally well over the power wagon. There hasn’t been a place in a direct comparison that the power wagon was able to do that the Raptor could not.

            12. I searched high and low to find a favorable review of the PowerWagon and ZR2?

              Its MotorTrend/TruckTrend. Every heard of it? Its the longest running and most sophisticated and most trusted auto reviewer since 1949!!!!!

              All these other guys are wanna bees. Obviously, by how shallowly they did their reviews, and how detailed and long Motor Trend/Truck Trend did their 2600 mile review over far more difficult conditions.

              You commenters on this site just speak out of your rear ends with no basis of truth. See what I mean?

              Again, you guys just think emotionally like children looking at a Tonka toy.

              The more you talk , the more you reveal yourselves.

              And we all know half of you are paid by Ford, by your own admition when pressed.

            13. So to sum up bro, he searched high and low to find a single review to go with his agenda. At least he read a ton of reviews that didn’t meet his criteria.

        1. Rambors Bro – – –

          RB: “Furthermore, the RAM PowerWagon was also proven to be better at high speed running. It was far more stable and competent than the Raptor..”

          Here is a little video in which someone “harvested” the two manufacturer’s “intro people” and performance clips through desert sand-running and rock-crawling:

          I’m certainly no expert at evaluating these things, but it does appear that the Raptor is “better” at VERY high speed running over dunes and undulations, like those found in the Baja 1000 race, … and that’s about all. The “snow” part of that clip shows this too.
          The Power Wagon (PW) seemed to do “better” at moderate desert sand-running, on less undulating terrain (more “stable” and sure-footed, as you noted), but it also does desert rock crawling and winching.

          So, to extract: whenever there is a loose particulate substrate (sand or snow), over undulating terrain to be traversed at very high speeds, — and requiring large wheel travel** — the Raptor may excel.

          So, the Raptor seems more specialized to RACING; the Power Wagon seems more generalized to MULTI-TASKING. So, “better” may be more a matter of what you want to use your truck for., and wether that “want” is more single-purpose or multi-purpose.

          ** this is NOT the same as articulation, RTI. The PW has been shown to have a larger RTI with its sway-bars disconnected.


          1. This is what I dont get. PW fans get so pissed about the Raptor, when no one is claiming the raptor is the all-encompassing best off-roader ever. Its very good at many things and great at high speed desert running. The powerwagon is also very good at many things and great at rock crawling.

            Why is there always this argument?

        1. They probably disabled the front locker in 4High for a good reason. Engaging the locker in 4H could result in damage.

        1. For everyday on road driving the Tacomas A-Trac front and back might outperform the 4×4 in the ZR2. I think under high gear normal driving in snow or higher speed off road the ZR2 would have a loose wheel up front with no traction?

          1. Am I the only one that thinks of this sht. Is everyone else just dumbfounded by the 4 wheel lock? What if I want to run through mud or deep snow and mash the pedal down. You cant put the ZR2 in low gear without risking blowing the truck up. So the ZR2 has to use high gear where it has a loose wheel up front, whereas the Tacoma actually in reality has the better 4×4 with no loose wheel up front and they both have lockers in the rear at high speed. Where is Drifter64? Thats the only guy that knows these systems well. Should have copied his post into a Word document from a few months back where he explained all of this.

            1. Drifter64 is in the house!

              You are right Rambro the ZR2 and only allows front locker in low. In high you have a loose front wheel so only 3wd plus traction control.

              Toyota’s atrac keeps traction control active in low range and they call it crawl control with I believe 5 pre-set speeds.

              Toyota’s and Jeep’s problem is they don’t allow any lockers to work in high range – wtf!

              Ford, and GM at least let you lock the rear diff in high range, but they disable their front traction control in low range.

              Stupid and confusing to say the least!

            2. So is the Tacoma driving on two loose wheels one front and back. Which truck in high gear has more traction to gun sling it through the mud in high gear, I guess is my question. The ZR2 or the Off road Tacoma/Pro

            3. In high range the ZR2 or any Ford with rear locker or GM with rear Gov lock will at least have 3wd plus traction control so more traction!

              Toyota’s, Jeep’s, and Ram power wagon in High range – no lockers work so you only have 2wd plus traction control (one front, one rear)

              Traction control cuts throttle so trying to get a run at something and then have the electronic throttle cut power is useless – it sucks!

              It works ok as intended for the daily driver on snow or ice, but in deep loose stuff or steep climbs where you need momentum it’s worthless

            4. Thanks Drifter, thats good information. The ZR2 has two advantages here then, in low and high gear. I guess the only truck with essentially a 4 wheel lock up if you want to climb a sand dune or gun sling it in the mud in high gear would be the Raptor with the torsen diff up front and the rear locker. The Bollinger B1 will be an interesting system to figure out once more info becomes available. There is only two motors so not sure how they send power to all four wheels, wonder if it will be the same set up as Tesla.

            5. If Bollinger does indeed only have two motors – one front one rear then it’s got to have a differential.

              The differentials will either be open and or lockable if they are going to have true 4wd.

              They could be claiming 4wd by using traction control on the slipping wheels, but without lockers it’s the same old problem?

      1. Very good catch.I’m glad they are using braided stainless,but they need to reroute the line. A safety check on all four wouldn’t be out of line ;}>

    3. Cool video….Jeep looks great and with a few more mods will really be spot on.

      New ZR2 is a very impressive off roader in general. For the $$ it offers a lot of performance in a more managable size truck.

      1. The 2.7 burns oil. Ask anyone who has experience with them. Better gas mileage, but worse “oil mileage”.
        Dare we call the 2.7 an “oil burner”?.

          1. Nice dodging of the issue. And in which world does the 2.7 “smoke” the 6.2 chevy? You have to be smoking something to say that, like the smoke from your 2.7.

            1. Yeah well I could say thw GM 6.2l is a cam eater because Ive personally seen two engines need to be replaced from this. Do I condemn every 6.2l because Ive seen issues with several, no. Quit being a hater. If you’ve personally had a bad experience with a 2.7 than that’s too bad bit it doesn’t mean they are all bad. It’s quite possible that there are morw 2.7l engines out there now than 6.2 or mat be soon.

            2. Who does that? Are people buying them because their 6.2’s are out of warranty and the engine eats the cam so they install a crate motor? If I was doing a build a 6.2l would be a long ways down the list of engine choices but so would a 2.7. So think your point here is pretty ridiculous

            3. And if they are building a crate motor their is probably a good chance they removed VVT and are running a custom cam and this isnt an issue.

              Ignorance is blis though. Pete loves to bash the ecoboosts, meanwhile, they have been out plenty long enough that if their were serious issues people would have stopped buying them(and rebuying them). But oh look, Fords are selling like crazy with the Ecoboosts being the majority.

            4. So you’re claiming the new LT1 is a “cam eater”? Got any evidence of that.

              I’ve never seen a report of a LT1 6.2 Silverado 1500 with one let alone 2 cam bearing failures. On the other hand, there sure are a ton of 3.5 Ecoboosts with stretched timing chains, blown turbos, thrown rods, BOV failures, internal water pump failures, unresolved misfire issues, etc. The 2.7 will almost certainly have stretched timing chains as Ford continues to use the cheaper, wear
              -prone inverted tooth design. There are an awful lot of 2.7EB F-150’s with massive oil consumption or oil pressure loss during hard acceleration. Word on the forums is, the heads either have defects or develop cracks.

              Then again, between Ford and GM, they make millions of these engines. A small percentage will have issues.

        1. OK, Pete. Ask me. I own a 2.7L EcoBoost engine, and have the experience to answer that question. Here is my answer: “BULLSHIT!”

    4. Weird, I have been playing around with the 2018 F150 and this guy just got out of his. The F150 has a rougher ride than the Ram. I would get into the Rebel but it’s suspension is too stiff. The regular Ram has the best on road suspension for comfort and handling.

      Every time I get back into my Tacoma, I prefer it over any new truck for its size and agility. I like the sound of this suspension on the ZR2, it sounds better than the Tacoma and it has off road chops, hate the low hanging shocks though. Also no one ever mentions the fact you can get a factory installed exhaust that adds 10 HP to this truck. How come Chris opted out of that? Sure would like to hear the sound of that exhaust option. I also hate that there is no push button start on the ZR2 and I hate GM’s old interior but I might still buy this over a Tacoma as it has better incentives and is a lot cheaper than a Pro and I can at least get 318HP from this truck and it offers a better ride, but the seats are nicer in the Tacoma for me. Neither truck is available for me to drive however. I have to travel 250 miles to test drive one, same for the Pro but what is really outstanding about GM here is that the dealers in Ontario are not putting huge mark-ups on these trucks and GM is offering discounts and low financing compared to Toyota with their TRD Pro lineup and compared to high mark ups and high interest at Ford for their Raptor.

      1. You will be stuck with those low hanging shocks Rambro. I like the fact that GM gave its all on this truck but do not like the fact that it is close to an unmoddable truck. What you have is what you get.

        The Taco can get plenty more clearance from upgrading the tires without cutting. I’ll take the CRAWL, called a gimmick by some old timers, over a front locker. For the average person CRAWL will benefit you more but that front locker would be good for your rock crawlers, of which I am not one. I do applaud GM for putting the front locker on because they have a simpler system that needed it. If you are buying a factory truck and you want to leave it stock this is a very good choice. I drove it and can’t get past the interior and thought the front seats were awful. This will be a “to each his own” kind of truck. I couldn’t fault someone for buying it or passing on it. The same could be said for the Taco and any other vehicle.

        I’m glad we have choices and look forward to seeing what Jeep has conjured up! Oh, and I hope Ford brings an off-road worthy Ranger too. Peace.

        1. Moondog I tried a 2018 F150 with the 3.5EB 10 speed. I don’t like the ride and the windshield wipers are too high. My friend can see road both under and over the windshield wipers, it is rather ridiculous. The 3:73 gear set is basically a work truck, you cannot get the 3:73 with the 301A or 302A upgrade packages. You are also getting a bare bones F150 at a comparable price to a loaded Tacoma, so the F150 with the same options as a Tacoma even with the massive discounts is still a lot more money. I can’t get past midsize, I think I am staying with midsize. I think I have to try the ZR2, but I agree the seats are terrible and the interior is old and I don’t like it period and there is no push button start. But its ride might make up for that. I hear it is softer than the Tacoma and to me that is a big sale point and the extra power is another big advantage but it is heavier so the 0-60 may be the same. But a regular Tacoma still offers what the ZR2 offers for off road chops so I could go that route as well, but the ZR2 is a lot cheaper than the Pro with better financing than the Pro lineup at Toyota.

          1. The 3.73’s are only available with the HD Payload package which basically gives you the payload of an F250 diesel. Very few people order HD Payload trucks, I literally see more Ferraris than HD Payload F150’s. Its a very different truck than the regular F150 with heavier springs, thicker frame rails, and different axle.

            If I had a 10 speed F150 I wouldnt care about 3.73’s. Even my 2014 6 speed F150 doesnt really need them.

          2. Rambro, I didn’t find the Chevy’s ride to be anywhere near as soft as my TRD OR. I also think the Pro ride is softer than the ZR2. Every time my wife gets in my Taco she says she wishes her Yukon had push button start. I never thought it was a big deal until I got it and now I love it. I hope GM gives the twins a worth interior because the interior on that ZR2 is awful.

            1. So from what I’m hearing and seeing from review sites is that the ZR2s shocks are still firm when driving on pavement (intended for handling) which is why it might not seem as smooth as the Taco. However it absorbs impact and rough terrain better than the Taco’s shocks. Haven’t driven either personally but this is what almost every in depth review has said.
              Gonna have to agree with your wife I wish I had a push button start on my Canyon. Feel like GM really dropped the ball on that I hate having a regular key fob that bounces around when going over any bump. At least I have remote start so can’t complain there.

            2. I haven’t had the ZR2 off road but I thought it was firmer. I also do not like how low the meat of those shocks hang down. I prefer the CRAWL to a front locker (if I had to choose) for most people. The front locker is good for the rock crawlers for sure but I’ve seen CRAWL do some things that it just shouldn’t do. Then again, it’s like cheating. :). Some of the old timers knock it saying you can do the same thing if you know how to drive off road but I’ve seen it do things over 90% of people cannot do. Then again if the Taco had front lockers (I admit I’d take them) Taco owners would be bragging about it too.

              I guess I prefer the Taco because it has always worked so well for me but I am glad that GM has invested so heavily into the midsize market. They earned the sales they got and the ZR2 is a good truck. I must say that I hate the GM key fob with a passion. That may be the silliest cost saving measure I’ve seen from them. Even if they spent an extra dollar or two for a better fob it would be far better. Now that I have keyless entry I will never buy another vehicle for my personal use that doesn’t have it. It is great. Peace. 🙂

            3. Moondog push button start is a big sale point for me as well. The 4 wheel lock is gimmicky. I do not want to wait for lights to stop flashing and have to put it in low gear and then have to take it out of low gear and wait for lights again. I tried this with a rented Rubicon and a test drive with the Power Wagon twice and everytime it was a pain in the ass and even when done right it takes too long to get it in and then to get it out. I would prefer AWD like the Raptor or the Ridgeline and at least the Tacoma has A-Trac front and back to hop into or out of a situation without having to stop and wait for blinking lights.

              But I like the that the ZR2 has the ability to turn on wet pavement in 4Hi where the Tacoma will bind in its 4×4 system. If you say the Pro is a bit softer up front then I would likely prefer that ride. Problem is there is only one known available Pro in Ontario to try and my dealer cant get one. The only one he was allowed to have was sold to the owners son. There is about 10-15 ZR2’s available ready for purchase. So even if I prefer a Pro Tacoma there is none available in the next month or two so I may have to settle for a ZR2 just for that reason alone. You can check the net to verify what I am saying. I cant find a Pro for sale in Ontario. There is one but the dealer is gauging and selling it for over 55,000 dollars Canadian and its red, I don’t want red. The MSRP is 53,000 to start and the ZR2 is 46,000 to start and at 0% financing. Toyota wants 4.9% financing on 53,000 plus dealer mark-ups.

            4. “So from what I’m hearing and seeing from review sites is that the ZR2s shocks are still firm when driving on pavement (intended for handling) which is why it might not seem as smooth as the Taco. However it absorbs impact and rough terrain better than the Taco’s shocks. Haven’t driven either personally but this is what almost every in depth review has said.
              Gonna have to agree with your wife I wish I had a push button start on my Canyon. Feel like GM really dropped the ball on that I hate having a regular key fob that bounces around when going over any bump. At least I have remote start so can’t complain there.”

              The ZR2’s shocks have position sensitive spool valves. On road, they’re very smooth, but they also do great off-road. Bumps are absorbed without feeling too stiff or too loose and bouncy. Most conventional monotube shim-valve shocks have to compromise between high and low velocity dampening. Multimatic also claims their spool valve shocks are less sensitive to heat (oil viscosity).


              The Multimatic DSSV shocks are really interesting.

    5. I think this brings up a question of availability. I don’t know who’s really behind the keyboards on this site but we all wanna make trucks better, right? Maybe some ‘real engineers’ will take note of the locking front axle. Why can’t it be available on a half ton and up? It’s like an 8 foot bed, a lot of us would pay a little extra for it when we go to our back 40s.

      1. If we’re gonna get technical, the Powerwagon has it. Shame the Raptor doesn’t, but I have a feeling it would be used improperly and someone would understeer into a brick wall. So for that reason they stuck with a Torsen

        1. A locker is not going to handle as well at elevated speeds. I’d rather not be trying to drag my outside tire through a corner at 50 mph in a raptor with a locker.

          1. Exactly, front lockers are for slippery low speed terrain and relatively straight sections of crawling. They aren’t for tight maneuvering

            1. They are for rock crawlers and I’m not doing that to my $40K truck. Not happening. I’d like for some of these people to get in deep with the CRAWL, not just a casual try, and let me know if they have seen a thing better. It really is that good and I really do prefer it for my use. I do think Toyota should offer better tire options from the factory. My GY Wrangler Adventures with Kevlar are great on road and for minor off road usage but there should be an option for a Duratrac.

            2. CRAWL with a Torsen would also be epic. Torsen will do most of the heavy lifting but if you get in a scenario where you lift a tire or are on super slick terrain, you can have crawl transfer the torque across the axle via the torsen much easier.

            3. Agreed Jay S. The people that knock CRAWL clearly do not understand it. I knocked it at first because I think or thought I could do anything off-road it could do. I’m not so sure of that now because of the human factor. I’m simply not patient enough to but the computer does not lack that human emotion. It will diligently work until it gets you out. Duratracs on the Tacoma and it beats anything not named Rubicon. There is a picture on TW of a guy pulling out a Rubicon in some deep mud using his CRAWL. The CRAWL in the Taco beat the less experienced Rubicon driver.

    6. Kudos & many thanks to Chris Laney for making this review possible & TFL Truck for the video. I’m very impressed with the capability & versatility of the ZR2 & I have to believe it is the most all around capable of the current crop of mid size trucks. I test drove a 2017 Z71 with the 8 speed & impressed by it’s performance as well as it’s all wheel drive mode which will make it a super winter vehicle here in Durango. Toyota has it’s work cut out for them.

      1. Off topic,so what else is new,lol,do you guys still have the steam train that runs up to Silverton? I haven’t been up that way since the 70’s. Is the ready mix plant still near the RR?

    7. seemed like the ZR2 performed the best IMHO. Looking forward to when it goes up against a Rubicon next month!

      1. Agreed it looked way more composed than the Jeep and a lot of other vehicles that have gone up it. It really is the lack of lockers that kill that Jeep. It just struggles to maintain traction even with the beefier tires and lift. I’m hoping they get a diesel next time when it competes with the Rubicon. The extra torque seems like it’d be welcome on this trail.

        1. Yup,
          This comparison of the ZR2 vs lifted Jeep is a perfect example of Lockers vs Traction Control.

          With the Jeep and its Traction control you can really see the wheels slipping all over the place and the traction control trying to stop them, but not too effectively!

          With the ZR2 and everything locked its piece of cake and smooth, controlled, all 4 wheels pulling at the same speed and time!

          The Traction control Jeep would do even worse if momentum was needed then the traction control cuts throttle/power if too much wheel spin occurs!

          Sad thing is that Jeeps Traction control in low range is one of the most aggressive at putting brakes to the spinning wheels and much better than just about anything else out there except Toyota’s crawl control.

          However, as this comparison clearly shows traction control is pathetic compared to real lockers!

          The harder the trail or demand for traction becomes the more obvious it is!

          1. Over the hardest part of the trail I wish the Colorado would have taken the same line as the Jeep. It looked like Roman took the hardest part of the turn with the most rocks while the Colorado took the outside. I could be incorrect about that but it sure looked that way to me.

    8. Great results and many thanks to the fella, not afraid to use his Colorado and provide his truck for this test. Colorado was most confident right after the Power Wagon so far.
      It would be my choice, if I could live with midsize truck. The capability level is set to high by this GM and Jeep will need to step up with their midsize truck. I can’t wait for the next Clifhanger battles.
      Thank you TFL for doing this short , but informative and demanding test.

      1. Agree’d. Very cool factory truck. I do wish you could fit a bigger tire without trimming a lot. The stock tires lock funny on the truck but I dont know that you can stuff more in there.

    9. TFL Team – – – (and Chris Laney – Thanks)

      This was an excellent example of a “representative comparison”.

      It was not really about Jeep Wrangler vs Colorado ZR2 at all. It was about each of those two being a representative of a certain approach to traction technology.

      In the case of the former, a “traction control” method, common on many vehicles nowadays, uses the computer-controlled ABS system to engage brakes on a spinning wheel. It’s cheap; easily done, requires no added hardware, and…well, it sort of works, but is slow to engage and does so often only partially.

      In the case of the latter, the locked differential removes “differentiation”, and wheels rotate at the same rate regardless of the vehicle turning in a circle, forming a simulated tractor-like “bar axle”, even though it is done with IFS. (The Power Wagon, with its locking solid axles, may have been a closer, more direct comparison to the Jeep with its solid but “open”/traction controlled axles.)

      There are some other traction technologies that I would like to see tested by this “representative comparison” method:
      1) LSD’s (clutch-based limited slip differentials);
      2) Torsen® (worm-&-pinion gear based differentials).

      I know this may have to be built artificially, but if you had five (5) vehicles, each with one of the traction technologies** in both axles, and ran them up Cliffhanger 2.0 on the same day, then that would settle which is better, and by how much. Maybe timing the runs up that hill may help with the “how much”? [The reason for the “how much” is that while lockers are thought to be the “best”, how far behind are the Torsen and LSD’s in real life?]

      ** To recap, they are:
      1) Pure Open diff’s (no ABS “traction control”);
      2) Open diff’s (with ABS “traction control”);
      3) LSD’s (described above);
      4) Torsen (described above);
      5) Locking Diff’s


      1. LSD’s and Torsen diffs are great at drivability and on Traction surfaces that are similar like asphalt at you are a drag racer that needs both wheels to spin.

        Put one wheel in the air or one wheel on ice, or one wheel on loose gravel and the other with traction they are worthless!

        Really not anything more effective than traction control except the throttle is not being cut when you spin.

        LSD’s also wear out the clutches every time you drive!

        You don’t need a timed hill climb – that just becomes driver skill and practice.

        Just use a floor jack in you driveway. Put one axle wheel in the aur from the rear axle now try and drive forward just using the traction from the other wheel?

        Open diff no drive whatsoever.

        LSD will start to move if its tight and new!

        Torsen will sit there and do nothing except make a strange noise because traction bias is so different!

        Traction control will start to move and the better systems like Jeep, Toyota, Landrover will allow very little wheelspin!

        However, put just a 2×4 in front of one front tire and none of them will continue to move the vehicle forward! Computer will now sense too much wheelspin and cut throttle/power. It also does this to not overheat the braking system.

        Just one real locker will continue to move vehicles forward until the limit of traction is reached at that tire!

        No Substitute!

        Lockers just don’t work well with steering or tight corners and high speed. They try to push and keep the vehicles going straight. They also bind up if your on high traction surfaces and are licked when you don’t need them.

        In other words they need driver intervention and experience to use! Something that is severely lacking in most drivers these days! The new Traction control, crawl control, terrain mode systems are catering to this inexperienced driver!

        When this new driver gets to a real obstacle and ends up where he should never be, with his fancy dancy sytem that can’t cope he’s SOL!

        This is why any vehicle that offers real mechanical lockers needs to be praised!

        Just the addition of one rear locker makes all the difference in the world – especially if you can use it in 2wd and high range when needed!!!

        Front & Rear lockers – Jeep Rubicon, Power Wagon, ZR2

        Rear lockers – Ford F150, Raptor, F250, F350, Nissan Titan, Frontier, Xterra, Landrovers, Toyota Tacoma, and GM govlocks.

        The Raptor may be able to claim the most traction in High range as it allows a rear locker and a front Torsen diff in High 4wd that is more traction than anyone else allows in high!

        That’s about it. I may have missed a few rear locker vehicles, but its so sad that many are being sold and misunderstood these days with marketing that they are off-road vehicles and in reality they really aren’t!

        1. Drifter the Raptors system is superior to the 4 wheel lock in my opinion. Most of the time the Power Wagon, Rubicon and ZR2 are going to be 3WD vehicles on the road. Getting them into 4 lock is a pain in the ass and getting them out is another pain in the ass and then you need to get into and out of 4 low which is another pain in the ass. So purely subjective regardless of the little help you might get from a 4 wheel lock, a good AWD like the Raptor is a far superior choice for me and is so much easier to use and so much more available then then trying to use 4 wheel locks.

          So when we say which one is better; is purely subjective as to whether you need a 4 wheel lock that locks you into 4 low.

          1. The Raptor’s Torsen has major issues. Especially combined with Ford’s weak and problematic vacuum actuated IWE front hubs. The plastic gears in the hubs are constantly grinding up or popping. Swing by some of the Raptor forums and see how much they like the IWE’s and Torsen combo.

        2. Drifter64 – – –

          I am quite familiar with the anecdotal pros and cons of each type of enhanced traction technology. I’m sure many readers here have experienced one or more of them. I certainly have.

          We all have generalities to offer and subjective tales to tell. I can tie you up with OR BS that goes on for an hour over a good glass of Bushmill’s “Black Bush” (^_^). Hmmm…. now that this came up, what did you say your address was? Got a case…:)

          But I am not interested in anecdotes. What I am interested in is ONE clean experiment that tests all 5 traction systems:
          1) On the same demanding course (Cliffhanger 2.0);
          2) At the same time/day;
          3) Under the same weather conditions;
          4) With the same driver.

          And yes, the TFLT team can have cameras all over the place so we can actually see what is failing and what is not.
          But more than that: I want data. I want measurements. I want numbers*. Capisce?
          And one way (just one) to get at least some minimal quantitative evaluation is to Time the Ascent**. We used to do this all the time.
          So, assign a controlled speed of, say, 3 MPH to go up that hill (and no greater) and get a TIME number if all were smooth (estimate). Then the time OVER that number is approximately proportional to the loss of traction by each of the 5 traction systems, all else equal.
          This would be similar to Andre assigning 8 minutes as the ideal time to do the Ike Gauntlet.
          Another measure could be the G-forces recorded by placing an accelerometer on the front seat, to measure rear and forward (not up and down) lurching. As a vehicle loses and then regains traction, that records as a spike on the plot. A smoothly ascending vehicle would be relatively undisturbed and “stable”, with a minimal number of spikes recorded, and of a lower intensity.

          * Lord Kelvin once said: “Unless you can measure something, your knowledge is meager indeed.”
          ** For example, the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb does exactly that.


          1. Whew that sounds like hours of work and planning even before you get to the trail!

            I could show you the difference in all 5 systems in about 30min in my driveway! I just need a floor jack, a 2×4, and a phone to video.

            Oh and I need an old school 4×4 with a LSD, a Toyota Tacoma with crawl control, a Ram HD with a Torsen Diff, a Ram power wagon or Jeep Rubicon (same systems), a ZR2 to keep the GM guys happy, and a Ford Raptor!

            Your right it would be fun to watch but easy to predict.

            In low range nothing will beat the vehicles locked front and rear!

            In high range nothing will beat the Raptor because you can lock the rear like the ZR2, but you’ve got a Torsen diff up front that happens to react very well to traction control changing the traction bias problem for it!

            Toyota’s crawl control is nothing more than a fancy word for traction control that continues to work in low range with the rear locker on!

            Everyone else disables their traction control when you switch on the rear locker – stupid and confusing!

            Traction control should stay on regardless unless the driver knows he wants to push the button and turn it off for momentum and wheel speed!!!

            1. My 2014 F150 does not disengage the front TCS when the rear is locked. I have experienced it many times trying to climb my cousins driveway in the winter.

            2. It is pretty irritating though, and tends to slow the truck down instead of just improve traction, so I usually turn it off once I feel it engage.

            3. Drifter64 – – –

              D64: “Whew that sounds like hours of work and planning even before you get to the trail!”

              Good experimental work takes planning and effort, but it’s not as bad as you may think. One good test like this could settle a lot of issues, and the TFLT Team would have done it first!

              D64: “I could show you the difference in all 5 systems in about 30min in my driveway! I just need a floor jack, a 2Ă—4, and a phone to video.
              Oh and I need an old school 4Ă—4 with a LSD, a Toyota Tacoma with crawl control, a Ram HD with a Torsen Diff, a Ram power wagon or Jeep Rubicon (same systems), a ZR2 to keep the GM guys happy, and a Ford Raptor!”

              Great! Now notify TFLT that you want to get all those vehicles to Denver to take them up “Cliffhanger 2.0” (^_^). I’m sure Andre would not say, “no”. And by the way, I need NUMBERS: this is not a ranking analysis or a pass/fail test! You may not understand completely: it doesn’t matter that the locker vehicles may come in with the least struggle to the top, as we suspect; it DOES matters by HOW MUCH they might do that! And, hence, are they “worth it” for the other problems they may create? This experiment may reveal some shocking results in real-world OR driving!

              D64: “Your right it would be fun to watch but easy to predict.”

              Absolutely! Like watching and cheering the underdog team in a football game, going down the field for the big score, facing all odds, and coming out on top: David and Goliath all over again. That’s why we need the NUMBERS!


            4. Incorrect on the CRAWL but nice try. All I can say is I have wheeled hard for over 25 years and CRAWL in the right hands is amazing.

            5. CRAWL is neat but a pointless system. Guys buy off-road trucks because they enjoy driving them over or through difficult terrain. There’s no enjoyment in hitting the trails and turning on the auto-pilot.

    10. Chevy Colorado ZR2 tire pressure is too far down you’re hitting rocks too much maybe 30 psi or stock psi better ground Clarence next time

      1. The DuraTracs have weak sidewalls. They’re good for factory tires, but once they wear out, get rid of them. Or even better, sell them as new take-offs and replace them with a more durable tire.

    11. Yeah getting the powerwagon into 4lo sure is tough. Slow down to barely rolling, throw it into neutral and drop the floor shifter into 4lo. Really tough. Lock both diffs up and you’re rocking.

      1. Ya sure except when the light keeps blinking when your not in an ideal situation. When I purposely got the Rubicon stuck I could not get the front locker to come on. Only after a lot of struggling would it lock, then it would not unlock and wheel spin coming out of the rut was limited to low gear. The Raptors system could sling mud or sand and push itself free. Sometimes you need wheel spin especially when climbing sand hills. The salesman also could not get the powerwagon into 4 wheel lock without a struggle. Not something I want to play with when I am late for work at 5 am with drifted snow on my street. I will take AWD all day any day.

        1. I think this is because they use elockers. They require a certain amount of rotation to engage. This is one of the advantages of the ARB air lockers.

          1. The Real Jay S – – –

            Wow! You beat me to it. Was going the say the identical thing. If you read “JP” Magazine and look at the letters, air lockers (despite on-board tank and compressor) seem “air tight” (pardon the pun). They are rather intensely FORCED to engage and disengage, under a variety of conditions, including extreme cold.

            So Rambro’s observations are right, for what he had available to test. The wheel spinning thing for sand is a good point, but not for wet snow or mud: all you do is dig deeper (IME), unless you’re talking “flotation wheeling”!


    12. Why do you need a dsl ? This 3.6l did pretty good up the MTN with out any complaints. So spending 3500$ extra to go 4 Wheeling is not necessary. Chris understood this and save the money for the trip to co. Since no one talked about the engine in the blogs.

      Front locker shows it’s true colors when you don’t have them.

      Bullwinkle attacks people ? Who knew?

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