Update: Towing is rated at 5,000lbs for the ZR2 Off-Road and not 7,600lbs. The standard Colorado with the 2.8-liter Duramax is rated at 7,600lbs.
The concept behind having a big off-roader make sense – add a lift kit, some big tires, and some skid plates and viola, you’re off-road ready. However, sitting at a car show in North Scottsdale, parked between a couple of lifted trucks that look like they never saw a day of dirt in their life, the owners wondered over to our mud covered Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and pondered if everything on it was stock or aftermarket. After a few minutes of explaining some specs and a couple laughs later, I revealed the price of the Colorado ZR2. You see, we think $51,000 for a moderately equipped truck is expensive – but as these guys explained the 10’s of thousands of dollars they put into there’s, maybe our $51k price tag isn’t as bad as we thought – and everything comes with a factory warranty.
The idea of the Colorado ZR2 is a brilliant one – offering a form of off-road ready adventure without the fuss of having to upgrade it ourselves. An added bonus is that Chevrolet’s engineering team has also then engineered it to perform well with two locking differentials, a 2-inch lift, upgraded suspension, downhill crawl assist and a whole host of other modified performance to make this thing do just about anything.
The Colorado ZR2 already is a handsome brute with all of its beefier, off-road upgrades – adding in the Dusk Edition that was fitted to ours came with $3500 price tag and some badass features that took the Colorado ZR2 to the level it needed to be at with 17-inch chunkier wheels, off-road light kit and roof bar. For an additional $500, the bed of the truck received a full size spare mount that takes away from any usefulness out of the bed.
Power generally comes from the standard 308-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 found in the normal Colorado’s. In this case, our sampler ZR2 came with a $3500 upcharge for the 2.8-liter Turbo-Diesel four-cylinder. Seeing that diesel are all about torque, its 369lb-ft of it sounds like a lot. But it isn’t. The Duramax Diesel found under the hood makes no claims to a quiet, refined engine – unlike others on the market. It sounds just as rough as any farm equipment and accelerates as such. Taking just over 9-seconds to sixty, this ZR2 is slow, no doubt – no thanks to its Hydra-Matic 6L50 six-speed automatic.
So then one would think towing, right? At 5000lbs, the diesel tows exactly the same as the V-6. So then it comes down to the off-road portion – torque and momentum is usually what’s more important, and with the torque from the diesel, that’s exactly what we needed… until we found ourselves stuck in a rut – literally. Though, we won’t hold that against the Colorado – it was trying to pull an SUV out of the mud that weighed more than itself. On our back desert roads however, the Diesel proved itself capable – pulling itself up steep rocking hills and thick sand while at the same time dealing with the stress of our Arizona desert heat as it reached over 120-degrees. This is where the diesel starts to show its case, despite its lack in performance, it makes up in durability.
Despite averaging 18 mpg over the course of 700 miles, the diesel doesn’t use much fuel when it comes to off-roading. Whether sitting in mud three-feet deep for 3-hours with the a/c on or rock crawling through the desert for 5-hours, it always seemed we never used a drop of fuel.
Surprisingly, the Colorado ZR2 is half way decent to drive. Getting in and out is a pain in the butt, but driving is as comfortable as any other truck. The suspension holds a comfortable balance and quiet road mannerisms. There is limited howling from the tires at high rates of speed. And despite the steering being numb, it carried a nice heavy weighted feel to its demeanor with superior body control.
It is even more of a joy to drive off the pavement – it copes extremely well with washboard roads and doesn’t send any harsh feedback through cabin when it hits large holes. A lot of ground can be covered without feeling any discomfort. Unless you’re the rear passenger, than our condolences.
The ZR2 offers all the same premium comforts that one would find in the Colorado Z71. The seats are leather, heated and power adjustable – large touch screen interface with Android Auto & Apple Car Play connectivity – even a backup camera that features Active Tow to help aligning up with a trailer. It also offers the same cheaper quality feel as a standard Colorado. The interior rattles, there is hard plastics everywhere, storage is limited, and the wireless charging didn’t work with our iPhones.
With an off-road mode, an auto four-wheel drive mode and the standard four-high and four-low, if someone doesn’t quite know what they’re doing, leaving it in automatic four-wheel drive and one would never have to worry about anything again. Tackling two different scenarios, the Colorado did everything we asked of it too and then some. Depending on one’s level of off-roading and more daily driving, the diesel may be worth ditching and spending the $3500 on something cooler like a front guard bar with more lights or chunkier off-road tires.
|2018 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2:||$42,000|
|As Tested (including Options & Destination):||$51,030|
|2.8-liter Turbocharged Four-Cylinder Diesel – 186-Horsepower, 369lb-ft torque, 6-Speed Automatic Transmission – 0-60MPH: ±10.0 seconds|
|EPA MPG: 19/22 (City/Highway) – SSB Average: 18.3 MPG’s – Fuel Range: ±420 Miles|