2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Preview

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Chevrolet took the wraps off its newest performance pickup truck at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show in dramatic fashion Tuesday, revealing to a gaggle of journalists the reemergence of the ZR2 nameplate and quite possibly the most off-road capable vehicle in the Chevy portfolio: the Colorado ZR2.

Many might not remember the ZR2 off-road package offered by GM decades ago on the Chevy S-10 pickup or GMC S-10 Blazer SUV, but it was one of the first noteworthy off-road packages offered by a major manufacturer on a truck.

GM's resurrection of the ZR2 name puts it on steroids, making the new pickup platform a contender for the most capable factory off-roader around.

The ZR2 comes with a host of changes, not the least of which is an impressive new position-sensitive set of shock absorbers. The aluminum-cased Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve dampers use two spool valves (as opposed to conventional deflected discs) to deal with normal on- and off-road compression and rebound events, as well as the more harsh and high-speed impacts commonly experienced when doing serious desert running.

Exterior

Beyond the new shock technology, the ZR2 also offers a 2-inch taller suspension to better house the new 31-inch Goodyear Duratrac tires. The front suspension sits 3.5 inches wider to accommodate wider lower control arms. In the rear, spacers give the rear axle the same amount of extra track width.

Both front and rear bumpers are unique, each with specifically designed cutouts to deliver the maximum amount of approach and departure angle — offering as much as 30 degrees in front and 26 degrees in back. Designers eliminated the signature corner bumper steps because they decreased the trail worthiness of the mid-size pickup by several rock-scraping degrees.

The ZR2 also has more skid plating than any other Colorado and will benefit from adventure-oriented accessories such as a bed-mounted spare tire carrier and sturdy side-mounted rock rails, which make this capable trail beast into an even more competent and prepared rock climber. Additionally, the new ZR2 will be just one of two factory pickups available with front and rear electronic locking differentials (the other being the Ram 2500 Power Wagon) to provide incredible, true four-wheel drive.

Underneath

The transfer case also has been upgraded, offering both two-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, 4WD High and 4WD Low options. The transfer case has an added push-button Off-Road mode on the transfer case dial, which allows the driver to engage the rear locking differential in any one of those four traction settings as well as engage the front locking differential when in low range. Furthermore, the Off-Road mode changes many of the traction and stability control calibrations to allow for better tire grip on different types of surfaces (such as snow, mud and sand). The number of traction permutations with all these settings is mind-boggling.

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Engine choices for ZR2 are the 3.6-liter V-6 gas engine and the turbo-diesel 2.8-liter inline four-cylinder with more torque. It's worth noting — and not unexpected — that the ZR2 has a slightly lower tow rating at 5,000 pounds and a little less payload capability at 1,100 pounds than other equivalent Colorados.

Mini-Drive

Gary Klein, the ZR2's lead chassis engineer, took Cars.com Senior Consumer Affairs Editor Kelsey Mays for a ride on a rugged, makeshift test course complete with staggered 12-inch bumps; multiwave ruts and bumps; a moderate jump ramp; a 40-foot-high, 30-degree hill climb and corresponding descent; and two off-camber frame twisters.

"The drive was too short to gather any substantive impressions but those dampers sucked up the impacts incredibly well, more than I expected," Mays said. "Over the rapid succession of uneven bumps, the suspension quelled the bounce quite well. ... I kept bracing myself for the hard impacts and they never came ... and to prove what locking differentials can do, we pulled ourselves up a massively steep hill climb where only one front wheel had traction [the other three were on rollers]. True to its hardware, it clawed itself right up."

Pricing

The new Colorado ZR2 will go on sale later next summer as a 2017 model, with pricing announced closer to the pickup's on-sale date. Chevrolet says it will not limit production of the new ZR2 to special-edition status, making only a certain number of the vehicles per year. We're told GM is running the Wentzville, Mo., production facility in a way that allows it to build as many of the off-roaders as it likes.

Of course, final pricing will determine the success of this new Colorado. But if the look and parts list are any indication, this will get a lot of attention from both mid-size and half-ton buyers.

We have to give GM credit for keeping the actual look of the truck close to the look of the concept we saw at the 2014 L.A. auto show. At the time, we had hoped GM wouldn't change a thing, but moving away from King Shocks to the new DSSV technology could turn out to be the best thing that has happened to the mid-size pickup. We hope to be driving this truck in the first few months of 2017, so stay tuned.

Cars.com photos by Evan Sears

 

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Comments

Almost looks like a colorado in baja style, cool truck!

FORD BRONCO and RANGER will be back to rule.

GM engineers lack credible knowledge about off-roading, so I would not look into this truck with anything but suspicion.

The proper term is approach angles, break-over angles and departure angles, things that I have seen mentioned in Toyota truck brochures in the past. Looks like GM is still light years away from getting respect in the off-road community, something Toyota has in their bag for decades!

Toyota Tacoma had a locking diff back in 1995, bravo GM, way to join the party in 2017...

Skid plates? Wow Tacoma's have had them for decades...

31" tires? Tacoma's have had them for quite some time...

Looks like the TRD Pro will win another off-road test!

Toyota Tacoma had a locking diff back in 1995, bravo GM, way to join the party in 2017...

Skid plates? Wow Tacoma's have had them for decades...

31" tires? Tacoma's have had them for quite some time...

Looks like the TRD Pro will win another off-road test!

Yeah this is not good for GM, it just shows again how far behind they are in every category, thanks GM for again making sure I wont buy one.

Great package. The Z71 is already a capable off roader for what most of the buyers will do with it. This one looks like a great package. I just wished it would have a special engine. The 5.3 V8 or is it too heavy ? A turbo V6, from Buick or Cadillac ? The TRD Pro would also need a bigger engine especially since the 3.5 V6 is a real cow... but anyway I'm excited to see these two go head to head !

GM needs to partner with Ford, this way GM can build a Truck actually worth off-roading. Ford, help GM.

Got to love these GM haters- most of them are Ford fans. Where is your Ranger? Let alone one that's off road worthy? Ignorance must be bliss- keep living in your fantasy land where ford is #1 no matter how shitty their design is.

It has lockers FRONT and rear! The Tacoma TRD Pro doesn't. Game, set and match.

TRD Pro's aren't much different that a Z71 package (all show). This really is a great package for a true off-roader.
GM trucks have had G80 auto-locker rear diffs for a long time....this is differnt. These are front and rear E-lockers. I'm not sure if the TRD Pros have them or not.....and everyone is laughing at the bulky DSSV shocks, but if you read up on the technology, its pretty amazing what the capabilities are.

I really think GM hit a home run here....especially since they used the Colorado and are offering the baby Duramax. It fills a big void in the market.....instead of trying to compete with the raptor or power wagon. Way to go GM!

REALLY looking forward to a head to head comparison with Tacaom TRD Pro and maybe a Nissan Frontier with off road package?

Ford fanbois sure are gonna be mad when a Colorado blows their Ford craptor doors off in the woods HAHAHA!

@Oxi

Cannot wait for a comparison. The Tacoma pro has weak tires, lesser suspension and less front end traction and approach angles.

Where are the off road tires? Why the tiny shocks and no front locker?

The ZR2 come out in 1994 and had a locking differential (G80) so...

The Colorado/Canyon have a diesel, Tacoma still has only gaspot that gets horrible fuel economy compared to the 2.8L Duramax diesel in these mid sizers. Low RPM grunt from a diesel, perfect off-road powertrain.

@Oxi

This ZR2 comes standard with MODERN brakes! TRD Pro? Rear brakes off an old 1800's mining cart.

Plus real off-road tires, strong control arms, a locking diff up front (the Z71 has had a rear gov lock since the truck came out), a stronger (non-rust rotting frame), differentials that don't whine after a few thousand miles:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3MnEdMSS-I

I see the bandwagon boys are here...

Toyota Tacoma's have been built for serious off-roading since 1995, it is now 2016 and they think GM can come out and score a win, just because it has front lock diff option?

C'mon, I have been off-roading with my old school 1986 Toyota and 35's, very low tech with a crab engine and she embarrassed much bigger and more powerful full-size trucks off-road!

My old 1986 Toyota pickup would kill this Colorado off-road with old technology of hardly anything!

Why are 31" tires an upgrade? don't most trucks have at least 31" standard??

Before everyone starts boasting how great all this technology is...lets wait for this new ZR-2 to actually prove itself...

I can see these DSSV shocks going one of two ways...Replaced by the owner with real shocks, (FOX, ICON, KING, etc) or crapping out on the trail (or mall parking lot)

There is a reason no other OEM puts a factory front locker on IFS trucks....there's gonna be a lot of idiots (not knowing what they are doing) breaking CV's and then complaining to GM about it. Just the way it is.

I drive a Ford Expedition and a Jeep Wrangler. When people poo-poo things like this, it makes you sound silly. This truck is pretty much amazing. I'd get the Duramax and tune it up to 250 hp and 450lb-ft of torque for another grand and giggle all day long.

After I bought my 2016 Tacoma SR 4x4, I swapped tires from factory to BFG A/T KO2's and they are 32" tires with no mods.

So I have better approach, break-over and departure angles than this Colorado!

Shocking!

Oxi is starting to sound like all the polls/Hillary supporters a few weeks ago. So sure and confident... its almost cute.

The Colorado ZR2 is on a completely different level than any of the warmed over 20year old "tech" that Toyota offers.

My 1986 Toyota with 35's had nothing advanced in terms of technology, crank the front T-bars, add a leafs in the rear and Rancho shocks, open diffs and she off-roadbed like a champ, embarrassing much larger full-size trucks with my small curbed 4-cylinder 22R...

Low tech handles water and mud much better than high tech!

Stupid auto spell check stinks!

off-roaded

carbed...

They haven't even tested it yet in the real world and people are already acting like it's the best thing since sliced bread, that it'll blow the doors off everything else...good grief. Lol

Now this is a real truck. Only GM could build a real off road truck like this. It will put the Raptor, Power Wagon, Toyota, Nissan all to shame. This truck will even out tow and out haul all of those trucks. Only real men drive chevy. Like a rock and then jump right over it like a man, Chevy.

"Now this is a real truck. Only GM could build a real off road truck like this. It will put the Raptor, Power Wagon, Toyota, Nissan all to shame."


The Raptor from 2013 holds it's resale Value Better then this junk that will roll out of the assembly line in 3 years.

Nice try!!

Everyone please calm down. It looks like GM did a nice job on this truck. Lets wait for the price and road test before we build it up or trash it!

They haven't even tested it yet in the real world and people are already acting like it's the best thing since sliced bread, that it'll blow the doors off everything else...good grief. Lol


Posted by: Gasser V8 | Nov 17, 2016 11:43:47 AM

99% of the idiots on here do nothing but bench race. Love how they know more than the engineers do. lol It's good for a laugh.

To those bolts who think GM can't build a 4x4 vehicle, may I suggest you go on YouTube and type in the word Hummer, H2 H3 Alpha. Enough said!

I already went to the Chevy website and signed up for updates on this truck! This is the most excited I have been... well... Ever for a vehicle.
I am getting one for sure. I have been test driving them already. My old 2005 Colorado currently has 206,000 miles and has been so reliable on my 95miles worth of commute every day. Not to mention handy and easy to park compared to the soil eradication long bed I had.
I have had Toyotas, Nissan, Chevy, and Ford's. Chevy and Ford's have been the best buys and most reliable for me. The old 2006 Frontier I bought new was soooo bad. However, it was a new platform back then.

I love it pound for pound. its a winner and good looking

I love it pound for pound. it a great American. truck good looking and I like the way the suspension look very good

My daily driver is a 98 s10 zr2. I was planning on finding a used H3T Alpha to replace it, not anymore. Speaking as someone who has spent a lot of time offroad with an 18 year old s10 zr2, this looks to be a worthy successor. At least on paper.

Can't get over the cheap interior



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