At the heart of the new 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 off-road trim level, which is debuting at the 2016 Los Angeles Auto Show, is a set of shock absorbers like nothing we've seen before. They're Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve dampers from Multimatic, and they use a set of unique, proprietary fluctuating orifices to flow fluid through the shock tubes to better control both soft and harsh compressions and rebounds.
These dampers, have never been used on a production pickup truck before; however, they have been used on the popular and hard-charging Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.
The DSSV technology was born and tested in the racing world, for races such as Formula One, Indy Lights and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Additionally, this same type of shock is standard factory equipment on supercars such as the Ford GT, the Aston Martin One-77 and the Mercedes-AMG GT.
But now Multimatic is expanding the dampers' usage envelope to include desert racers and off-road competitors. And that's when the company spoke to GM.
The Colorado ZR2 Concept was shown at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show to rave reviews but also to a lot of doubt as to whether GM would or could bring it to market. Automotive journalists also wondered if it could really compete with the likes of the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro — which at the time offered big wheels and tires, high-performance Bilstein shocks, tons of skid plating and unique spring tuning. Now, of course, the next-generation Tacoma TRD Pro has Fox shocks, an impressive Multi-Terrain Select system and computer-controlled Crawl Control technology.
GM does have a fast-acting magnetic-ride shock absorber system it uses in select GMC Sierra 1500 pickups and full-size SUVs, but we're told that system is susceptible to overheating when punished in endurance off-road situations. The system's electronics also make it a little more complex and expensive than what GM wanted for the Colorado.
The new DSSV in the Colorado ZR2 employs a passive system — there are no settings or electronic sensors necessary to read adjustments — that can adjust fluid rates based on real-time inputs. Different spool valves (there are three) are engaged depending on what kind of inputs are being delivered to the shock absorbers. Driving around town engages a certain range of shock travel; running down a dry wash or crawling over rocks in low-range engages a longer range of travel; and running flat out in a desert race will put all the systems at peak performance.
This type of position-sensitive damper demonstrates how these new shocks can offer better on-road performance as well as handle harsh mid-range and extreme inputs such as hitting a tree stump or dropping a wheel into a pothole.
DSSV shocks feature a remote fluid chamber to help with cooling the fluid during enthusiastic runs through the desert or super-heated flogs on the track, and they are reported to be much lighter than conventional shock absorbers. Likewise, they offer greater stiffness and rigidity strength to the chassis, potentially leading to enhanced steering and handling. GM believes using the DSSV system in this popular mid-size player will make it a better on- and off-roader, reducing the amount of trade-off most off-road enthusiasts tolerate when checking the premium 4x4 option box.
Pricing for the DSSV dampers has not been released, but we'd expect the Colorado ZR2 to be the highest trim offered for the Colorado. We'll have more to pass along once we get behind the wheel of a Colorado ZR2. Check out our ZR2 preview coming soon.