The two most prominent names in the off-road trucks segment right now are Ford’s already legendary Raptor and Ram’s newest muscle car pickup, the TRX.
However, both of those machines are over-the-top, high-dollar “supercars for the trail,” which are beyond the reach of the average buyer. Some enthusiasts will notice that GM has nothing to fight those superb off-road dedicated trucks from Ford and Ram, but we beg to differ. There is a very competent off-road truck from General Motors but not as flashy, powerful, big, and expensive as the rest.
Introduced in late 2016 as a 2017 model, the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is maybe the best real-life off-road and overland truck for people looking for affordable transportation, which can be used as a daily commuter as well as a weekend warrior. That is why it is worth considering it if you are in the market for such a vehicle. So, here is our take on 2021 Colorado ZR2.
What is the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2?
The Colorado ZR2 is a top-of-the-line mid-size truck dedicated to off-road use. This means that the ZR2 is smaller than Raptor and TRX, which are full-size offerings.
However, this does not mean that the Colorado is less capable when the pavement stops since it is well-equipped with proper all-terrain goodies. Its compact dimensions, sturdy construction, and well-rounded package make it highly usable off-road.
The Colorado ZR2 comes in two forms, with a long and short truck bed and two engines’ choice.
Colorado ZR2 Engines and Transmission
Under the hood of Colorado ZR2, buyers will find a standard, modern 3.6-liter, gasoline V6 unit with direct injection and more than sufficient power output. With 308 hp and 275 lb-ft of torque, this V6 provides effortless cruising and power throughout the rev range. The torque figure really shines when the ZR2 hits the trails, and with the help of an 8-speed automatic and 3.43:1 rear end ratio, it can pull and tow with authority.
However, for those looking for even more torque and for customers who will get their Colorado ZR2s to work really hard, Chevrolet prepared a diesel engine option.
The Duramax 2.8-liter diesel delivers only 186 hp but an enormous 369 lb-ft of torque, which equals best-in-class tow ratings. This means that the ZR2 equipped with the oil-burning Duramax four-cylinder diesel can to up to 5,000 pounds and carry up to 1,357 pounds. This engine is mated to the 8-speed automatic, as well.
Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Off-Road Equipment
But the real difference between ZR2 and the rest of the Colorado line up (and its competitors) is its equipment.
For starters, every Colorado ZR2 has higher ground clearance than the regular model to the tune of 41 to 44 mm. This allows the modified suspension more travel, better control on the trail and helps the ZR2 climb higher obstacles. It also has better approach and departure angles and the higher ride allows it to go through deeper water.
Standard equipment includes a four-wheel-drive with Autotrac transfer case, skid plates, tubular rocker protection, 16 and 17-inch wheels with all-terrain tires, stiffened suspension components, off-road shocks with reservoirs, and front and rear wheel flares for an aggressive stance and tough appearance.
The hardware list is impressive, but Chevrolet equipped Colorado ZR2 with various electronic toys as well, including stability systems, HDC, and driving modes to help owners gain more confidence when tackling challenging terrain.
However, the available equipment list will not end on the manufacturer’s site. Chevy dealers will offer prospective customers far more in terms of components like bigger wheels, winches, tougher undercarriage protection, various lift kits, and so on. The already capable ZR2 can be transformed into proper, Raptor chasing, off-road beast by installing the right parts.
Colorado ZR2 Interior
Even though every Colorado ZR2 is equipped with a modern infotainment system, automatic transmission, and cruise control, demanding buyers can get even higher interior trim optioning for leather seats and other luxury items.
However, despite all that, magazine testers report that the quality of interior materials, design, and layout feels outdated and at least a generation older than on the comparable trucks.
Even though the interior appointments are very important since you will spend most of the time sitting behind the wheel, we feel that the interior design is secondary for the person who will buy this truck for its off-road and overlanding capabilities.
2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Prices
The base price of 2020/21 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is $41,000 MSRP and can go close to $50,000 if you opt for a diesel engine and/or Bison package or some special edition with a unique paint job and few cosmetic details.
Even though the $40,000 sum is a significant amount of money, we feel that it is the right price for a very usable, dependable, and a capable off-road vehicle that can compete with much larger and more expensive models.
The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is very similarly priced as the 2020/21 Jeep Gladiator and aims at the same buyer type. Just like the Jeep, Colorado ZR2 is a thoroughly usable everyday car and perfect weekend off-road tool, and its practicality and capability make it worth the asking price.