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2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
by John Davis
Ever since Ford’s Raptor burst onto the high performance off-road truck scene, Chevrolet pickup fans have been waiting for a bowtie response. Well, it’s finally here. Although, rather than a beefed-up full-size Silverado, it’s a stocky version of their newer, mid-size Colorado; the 2017 ZR2.
Now, we’ve seen the ZR2 badge before of course; on S-10 pickups and Blazers, and even on the imported Chevrolet Tracker from the 1990’s. But ZR2 clearly has much more meaning adorning this new purpose-built rig.
Standard powertain is a 308-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, attached to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The Colorado’s base 2.5-liter I4 is not available here, but the 2.8-liter Duramax I4 turbo-diesel is; outputting 186-horsepower with a hefty 369 lb-ft. of torque. It comes with a 6-speed automatic. 4-wheel drive is, of course, standard for all.
We spent some time burning both gasoline and diesel in the dirt near Grand Junction, Colorado. We had plenty of fun with both trucks, even if they still left us wanting for even more power.
The list of ZR2 off-road goodies is a long one, including electronic locking differentials, off-road programming for Stabilitrak, and 31-inch Good Year Wrangler DuraTrac All-Terrain tires. The suspension gets a modest 2.0 inch lift; but the biggest deal of all here, is the Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve dampers, which are similar to those found in the Camaro Z/28. According to Chevrolet, this is the first application of such technology in an off-road truck.
And we can attest it allows the ZR2 to float over obstacles both big and small, as well as land softly after getting big air like a Trophy truck; having you feel fully in control the whole time.
Chevrolet went the sedate route as far as exterior styling, avoiding brotastic graphics. It just has minimal ZR2 lettering on the bed. But it’s certainly more than your typical Colorado; as hood, front end, and rear bumper are all new. The stance is noticeably wider too, with plenty of protection added underneath. Both crew and extended cabs are available, as are both short and long beds; a spray-in bedliner is standard.
Not much changes inside, which is a good thing. The Colorado’s upscale, highly functional, and quiet space is a nice place to spend time regardless of the road or lack of one. If you’re looking for something a little flashier to show off to your friends, you’ll have to add it on yourself.
While not exactly a direct competitor to the Raptor; as far as the total package goes, the ZR2’s “just right” size makes it a much more satisfying option for daily use, as well as easier to navigate in tight trails, though it certainly doesn’t have the Raptor’s monster motor under the hood.
For our complete on and off-road test of the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, be sure to catch MotorWeek episode #3649 that begins airing on August 11, 2017. For a listing of the public television stations that broadcast MotorWeek, go to motorweek.org and click the “About The Show” tab at the top. MotorWeek is also seen Tuesday evenings on the Velocity cable network.
The 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is truly a do-anything truck; from rock crawling, to bombing across desert 2-track, to hauling your toys, taking the family on adventures, and even getting you to work on time every day in comfort; all while feeling like some crazy one off, off-road Camaro.