Chevrolet Reveals Off-Road-Happy Colorado ZR2 in Gasoline, Diesel Versions

Think of it as a baby F-150 Raptor…made by the other guys.

The Drive / Will Sabel Courtney

Depending on how you look at it, it’s either a credit or a detriment to Chevrolet that the new Colorado ZR2’s clearest analogue is the Ford F-150 Raptor. On the one hand, GM employees up and down the ranks probably aren’t too happy about having their off-road-primed compact truck constantly mentioned in the same breath as the Blue Oval. On the other hand, though, calling the Colorado ZR2 a shrunken-down Raptor is about the highest complement the automotive world can pay a pickup.

The new Colorado ZR2 comes packed with off-road-ready features, but chief among them—at least in Chevrolet’s eyes, considering the carmaker gave it top billing in the press release—are the truck’s Multimatic dynamic dampers, which adapt the same suspension technology used on the old Camaro Z/28 for off-road use. Putting it simply, the dampers are designed to provide all the capability needed for rock-crawling or trail-bashing without sacrificing on-road usability, by offering three separate spool valves—one of which only comes into play while off-roading.  (We anxiously await the chance to put those claims to the test.)

Power comes from either of the 2017 Colorado’s upper-tier engines: the new-for-2017 3.6-liter V6 that makes 308 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque, and the Duramax turbodiesel four-cylinder that spits out 181 hp and a juicy 389 lb.-ft. Both engines send their grunt through an eight-speed automatic to a four-wheel-drive system that offers a sum total of nine different modes, when you factor in the four modes (2WD, Auto 4WD, 4HI, and 4LO) and the front and rear locking differentials that come standard. There’s even an Off-Road button that primes everything from the ABS system to the traction and stability control to work in harmony with the 4WD system, to maximize capability.  

The Colorado ZR2 looks every bit the part of trail-conquering monster, too. A two-inch suspension hike adds both clearance and presence, while the tapered bumpers look peeled straight off a Baja racer. Both the front and rear track have been widened by three and a half inches, while 17-inch wheels come clad in 31-inch off-road-spec rubber. And for those who need that extra bit of badassery, Chevy will even offer a spare tire carrier mounted in the bed, just as the concept version had.

In fact, the Colorado ZR2 is pretty faithful to the concept vehicle in quite a few ways. Like that truck, it has the specs to back up its bold claims, and that’s not even counting the work GM has put in since then. Chevrolet swears the truck’s lengthy, hard-hitting develop—which included stints at the company’s Yuma, Arizona testing grounds, the Rubicon Trail, and one informal battle with the Tail of the Dragon—has resulted in a pickup that’s every bit able to throw down off-road. We can’t wait to find out for ourselves.