Even Nature is Impressed by the Colorado ZR2

Chevrolet might’ve just conquered nature.

It’s a bold statement, but the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is a bold truck. First introduced as a concept back in 2014 at the Los Angeles Car Show, a mere two years later it’s a reality: the maneuverability of a mid-sized truck with the heart of a sports car and soul of an off-road truck. The ZR2 takes you from rugged desert driving, crawling over rocks, climbing up steep inclines or splashing through rivers like you’re the professional driver on a closed course in a commercial, to your job that’s just off the smooth freeway ramp.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

The truck has a tapered front bumper, designed to fit through tight spaces, like trees, a feature many other off-roading trucks will no doubt envy and possibly soon emulate. An aluminum skid plate makes sure you never have to worry about your radiator or engine oil pan and the all-important transfer case is protected by its own guard, so you can focus on crawling over any obstacle in your path! You don’t even need to worry about the paint job: Tubal rockers protect the body. If, for some strange reason, you find yourself not loving the scuffs and scratches on your rockers, evidence of your off-the-road adventures, simply swap them out for new ones.

ZR2’s electronic-locking differentials are some of the best in class, with front and rear options. Locking differentials allow the tires to spin in tandem providing you with more traction in traction-less situations. You have nine, count ‘em, nine different configurations with the ZR2: you’ve got your 2WD, 2WD with locked rear differential, Auto 4WD, or Auto 4WD with locked rear differential, you’ve got 4WD Hi, locked differential case, it goes on. The traction control switch plus the “Off-Road button,” which you’ll be daydreaming about pushing all week long, allows you to create the perfect, specific conditions for wherever you’re driving. Point is, you have an insane amount of control for how you drive this baby.

2017 colorado ZR2

The 31” Duratrac tires, wrapped around 17”x8” aluminum wheels, are only part of what gives the ZR2 its amazing ground clearance: the suspension is lifted a full two inches higher than its relative, the Colorado Z71. So now, when you see something you want to drive over and say “Hey, watch this,” it’s probably going to work out for you, and the truck.

It comes as both gas or diesel options: the 3.6L V-6 plus the Hydra-Matic 8L45 8-speed automatic transmission (308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque) and the Duramax diesel engine, giving you 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. Both offer a towing capacity of 5,000 pounds– you could pull snow mobiles or dirt bikes with this truck, but you might find you don’t need them once you’ve got the ZR2. It has a payload of 1,100 pounds so you’ll possibly have to start a game called “What can’t this truck haul?” Shockingly, however, all this power, all this agility, all this functionality, is packed into a truck that is 500 pounds lighter than comparable full-sized off-road trucks.

interior of 2017 colorado zr2

But let’s get to what’s ridiculously cool about this truck: it incorporates Multimatic Inc.’s Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers. Before being enlarged and tailored to the ZR2, DSSV dampers were only seen on the likes of Formula One cars. Chevrolet started using them in 2014 in their Camaro Z/28, but the Colorado ZR2 is the first off-road vehicle ever to use them. “A traditional, deflected-disc damper only offers two force-velocity curves for tuning,” Mark Dickens, executive director of Performance Variants, Performance Parts and Motorsports Engineering says. “The ZR2 dampers offer six tuning curves for the front, four at the rear. For the driver, this translates to greater confidence and control in a wider range of driving experiences.”

multimatic dampers on colorado zr2

If you want to see what this bad boy can do, check out the video above of a test track Chevrolet built in downtown Los Angeles during the 2016 car show. Take it from us, that incline is insanely steep. And despite all the rocking rolling that course offered, the ride was so smooth it was like being in a luxury car.

We’ll be damned if you can find a place the Colorado ZR2 can’t handle. Mud splatters and a nice coating of dust have never looked this cool in the office parking lot.

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