Today’s question on AskTFL is one we have received many times before, though in this case it pertains to one single truck.
Reader Kenneth is struggling with the age old truck question: gasoline or diesel? But in his case, Kenneth has already decided on the truck he wants, the Chevy Colorado ZR2, probably the Bison.
So first, let’s break down the engine choices. Chevy offers a 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbodiesel that makes 186 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, or a 3.6-liter gasoline-powered V6 producing 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque.
The power numbers are different in the exact way you’d expect: the diesel makes more torque and the gas engine makes more horsepower. That, along with different peak power areas, will result in different driving characteristics.
The 2.8-liter diesel makes peak horsepower at 3400 rpm and peak torque at 2000 rpm, while the gas engine makes peak horsepower at 6800 rpm and peak torque at 4000 rpm. That means that the gas engine will be much more rev happy, climbing high into the rev range to access its power.
Which engine you go for comes down to personal preference, and whether you prefer the high revving nature of a gas engine or the low revving torque-laden nature of a diesel.
In our opinion, the ZR2 is much better with the gas engine. Though the torque and low-end can help overcome obstacles a little better in slow speed situations, the ZR2 loves to hustle down wide open trails at high speeds, and that’s where the 3.6-liter shines. It likes to rev up and moves the truck with some fairly urgent feeling power. Going diesel makes the truck feel sluggish when you call for speed, and that is not the feeling you want in the ZR2. Plus the diesel is heavier, resulting in a little more weight to haul around the trails.
Fuel economy is also a consideration when comparing engines. Opting for the gas powerplant brings ratings of 16 mpg city, 18 highway and 17 mpg combined. Going for the diesel brings that down to 18 city, 22 mpg highway and 19 mpg combined.
With all that information, Kenneth should be able to make an informed decision. Luckily for him, whether you get a ZR2 Bison with gas or diesel, the truck is capable and fun.
And don’t miss our recent comparison between the Bison and the Tacoma TRD Pro.