The first official reveal at the 2016 LA Auto Show was not of an autonomous car, or even a green vehicle—it was of a ground-pounding old-school pickup truck, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.
The ZR2’s debut made for a surprising – but obvious from a profit standpoint – introduction. The Colorado itself has reignited the midsize truck segment, first with the truck itself, then with a segment-exclusive 2.8-litre diesel engine last year.
Now Chevy’s taken a page out of Toyota’s book and built an off-road-runner based on the platform. Called the ZR2, this variant is a real technological upgrade, not just a new decal package.
It will feature front and rear electronic locking differentials; an available gas or diesel engine; and the first off-road application of Ontario-based Multimatic’s Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSVTM) damper technology.
This last one cut its teeth in the Corvette and Camaro performance packages; now its unique shock technology goes off-road in the ZR2. This is a fully mechanical system, and initial reports suggest it’s unlike anything currently serving the off-road truck market.
When the truck roared onto the stage, it was obvious it was wider and featured a more aggressive stance than the standard Colorado. Up front the ZR2 also showed off a more aggressive grille and hood with a black insert.
Its front and rear bumpers are modified for better clearance, and it sports a functional body-side rock guard. Underneath, it has aluminum skid-plates and heavy-duty suspension and steering components, while a bed-mounted spare-tire carrier speaks to its desert-racer character.
The ZR2 frame is lifted and runs 17×8-inch aluminum wheels, in a pattern exclusive to the ZR2. Tires are 31-inch Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires. These offer good off-road traction while still delivering a decent on-road ride.
Driving those tires is probably the most sophisticated four-wheel drive system in this segment. The components include electronic-locking differentials front and rear and Chevrolet’s AutoTrac transfer case. With these parts, nine drive configurations are possible:
2WD; 2WD, locked rear differential ; auto 4WD; auto 4WD, locked rear differential; 4WD Hi, locked transfer case; 4WD Hi, locked transfer case and locked rear differential; 4WD Lo, locked transfer case; 4WD Lo, locked transfer case and locked rear differential ; 4WD Lo, locked transfer case, locked front and rear differentials
So while multiple drive modes are available to the driver, Chevy has also integrated the electronic lockers with the traction control, stability control, and hill-descent control to work together.
Also, an “Off-Road Mode” button combines the anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control to calibrate to different driving conditions automatically. The truck, while heavily leaning towards off-road performance, is still rated to tow up to 5,000 lbs and carry a payload of 1,100 lbs.
Looks like the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is finally going to have some competition. Or put another way, the mid-size off-road truck market finally gets another choice. These trucks will be coming to dealers in the early spring of 2017.