Cars

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2: A Baby Raptor from the Bow-Tie Brand?

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It’s inevitable that any new off-road-oriented pickup will be compared with Ford’s Raptor, the reigning king of road-legal desert runners. And so it is with the new Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, a fresh version of Chevy’s mid-size pickup that can go wherever it damn well pleases.

That ability starts with spool-valve shocks, a technology found on the last-generation Camaro Z/28, the Ford GT supercar, Formula 1 race cars (they were used in the championship-winning Red Bull cars), and other similarly weaponized machinery. Essentially, rather than use magnetorheological fluid or adjustable technology, a spool-valve setup uses precisely shaped internal openings to meter the flow of the fluid within the damper to allow engineers to fine-tune responses to various inputs, negating the need for the driver to worry about finding the right setting for a given situation. Supplied by Canadian suspension and racing wizards Multimatic—the same company that will assemble the Ford GT—the remote-reservoir spool-valve units installed in the ZR2 feature one valve internal to the shock itself and two additional valves in an ancillary chamber. Their use here marks the first production off-road application, and they replace the more conventional coil-over shocks that were installed in the ZR2 concept truck shown a couple of years back.

This Colorado’s chassis is further fortified with front and rear electronic locking differentials (activated via toggles on the lower portion of the center stack), a locking transfer case, cast-iron control arms, a 2.0-inch lift, and front and rear tracks that have been widened by 3.5 inches. The ZR2 also has hill-descent control and an off-road mode that tailors the transmission’s shift characteristics and the throttle mapping for more control when venturing off the beaten path. The standard-fitment rolling stock includes 31-inch Goodyear DuraTrac tires on ZR2-specific 17-inch wheels.

The ZR2 will be available with two powertrains, including a 3.6-liter V-6 that produces 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque and pairs with an eight-speed automatic. Chevrolet also will offer its 2.8-liter Duramax four-cylinder diesel, which churns out 369 lb-ft to go alongside 181 horsepower. The diesel is teamed with a six-speed automatic. Maximum towing for the ZR2 is 5000 pounds, and the bed can accommodate 1100 pounds of whatever you like. Speaking of the bed, a Trophy Truck–style in-bed spare-tire carrier will be available as an accessory; what owners lose in cargo-carrying capacity, they’ll gain in bad-assness, so that’s a wash in our opinion. Tubular rocker protectors will be standard, as will a front bumper with an integrated aluminum skid plate and tapered ends intended to increase the approach angle. The transfer case gets its own piece of armor as well.

Although the smaller ZR2 can’t match the Raptor’s ultimate ground clearance and suspension travel—meaning it’s technically not as capable—it’s intended to be more well-rounded than that beastly Ford, providing rock-crawling, desert-running, and daily-driver abilities in a tidier package. Of course, while the Raptor serves as the poster child for this sort of truck, the Colorado ZR2 will most directly compete with the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, which starts at almost $44K with an automatic transmission. Our intel suggests that the ZR2 is likely to start at roughly $40,000 when it arrives early next spring. We certainly look forward to sampling one in its native habitat.

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