Colorado ZR2 a capable off-road pickup

BY Michel Deslauriers. Nov 30 18:39 pm

If you spend most of your weekends outside, hitting the trails and having fun going where very few vehicles can physically reach, then you probably already own some sort of off-road vehicle. An ATV or a dirt bike, perhaps, but also a Jeep Wrangler, a Toyota FJ Cruiser or a Nissan XTerra.

Have you thought about a pickup truck? Not one solely capable of towing the trailer on which you carry your recreation vehicle around, but a pickup with true off-road capabilities. There are actually a few on the market, such as the Ford F-150 Raptor, the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon. However, these are way too big for the average trail in the woods.

Among the smaller trucks, there’s the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, as well as the new-for-2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. And it’s yet to be officially confirmed, but a pickup version of the all-new Jeep Wrangler JL should eventually appear.

While the Tacoma TRD Pro looks like the adventurous type, the Colorado ZR2 clearly shows off its all-terrain prowess with a two-inch suspension lift, minimalist front bumper and optional bed-mounted, full-size spare tire carrier. Fender flares were necessary to house the 3.5-inch front and rear track increase compared to a run-of-the-mill Colorado. The black hood bulge is purely visual, but the extra under-body plating is extremely useful to protect the mechanicals from damage.

The 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2’s standard powertrain is a 3.6-litre V-6 that develops 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of tourque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. However, the 2.8-litre, turbo-diesel four-cylinder engine is also available, managed by a six-speed automatic. The diesel mill is a feature the Toyota doesn’t offer, and helps cut costs at the pump.

The ZR2 with the V-6 is rated at combined city/highway average of 14.1 L/100 km, or about two litres more than with a regular Colorado, while the 2.8-litre engine is rated at 11.7. However, the ZR2’s diesel mill is rather noisy and lacks refinement, and it costs about $4,000 more than the V-6. We’ll stick with the latter, and that’s the engine we chose during AJAC’s annual Testfest event, which took place at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) in Bowmanville, Ont.

Near CTMP, there are some “unassumed” roads — more like snowmobile trails — that are perfect for evaluating certain capabilities of off-road vehicles. The trail is filled with muddy ruts, bumps and rocks, on which many vehicles would either get stuck or damaged. However, it was a walk in the park for the ZR2, which barely got bogged down by its mudbath.

Thank the Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers — created by Canadian company Multimatic — the 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires and the generous ground clearance, but especially the dampers that allowed the suspension to adapt to the surface without sending harsh jolts through the cockpit. On the open road, the ZR2’s ride is smoother than the TRD Pro’s or the Wrangler’s.

The ZR2 obviously benefits from a four-wheel drive system with low range, but also front and rear locking differentials. Throttle input isn’t too sensitive, making rock climbing much easier. Oh, and the Colorado’s trailering package is standard on the ZR2, which can tow up to 5,000 pounds (2,268 kg), although the Tacoma TRD Pro can pull up to 6,400 pounds (2,903 kg).

Uplevel versions of the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado, including the ZR2, can be equipped with a remote engine starter, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a rear-view camera. A Chevrolet MyLink infotainment system, with eight-inch touchscreen is included, as is a 4G LTE on-board Wi-Fi hotspot (subscription required). Navigation and a seven-speaker Bose stereo are optional. The MyLink interface is very easy to use, thanks to its simple menu and button layout.

As usual in Chevrolet products, interior assembly is generally good, but the choice of materials isn’t always up to par with what most competitors offer. Shiny and grainy plastics adorn lower sections of the dashboard, and certain portions of the seating surfaces have the look and feel of vinyl instead of leather — or even simulated leather.

Pricing for the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 starts at $44,540 before freight and delivery charges, but that’s for the extended-cab version, which offers very little rear-seat room, but a longer bed. The ZR2 Crew Cab is listed at $45,840. In comparison, the Tacoma TRD Pro starts at $50,100, but if you want an automatic transmission — the ZR2 doesn’t offer a manual gearbox — the Toyota’s price climbs to more than $53,000.

So, TRD Pro or ZR2? They’re both extremely capable pickups, but it depends on what you prefer doing when you’re off-roading. For slower, rock-hopping exercises, the Tacoma possesses more electronic features such as crawl control and multi-terrain select. But if a faster-paced, trail-blazing adventure is more up your alley, the ZR2’s impressive suspension and ground clearance should be a better choice.

— LC Media

More News

DEALER OF THE WEEK

BY . Jan 19 04:00 am

Sales Rep: Michael Downs

Dealership: Birchwood Kia West

No. of Years: Six months

Favourite...

Sporty sedan adds Sting to Kia's 2018 lineup

BY Myron Love  . Jan 19 04:00 am

Kia dealers have something new to offer in 2018.

Kia’s new Stinger, which debuted here in late December, is the manufacturer’s first entry in the performance vehicle category, says Birchwood Kia West sales rep Michael Downs.

“The Stinger is a fastback...

Ford Ranger re-emerges for 2019

BY Kelly Taylor. Jan 19 04:00 am

DETROIT — Better late than never, or better than ever?

This week, Ford took the wraps off the 2019 Ranger, its compact pickup truck that’s been available globally for years and hinted at for North America at every opportunity. Ford is hoping Ranger’s array...

Big Three keep on truckin' in Detroit

BY Willy Williamson Willy's Garage. Jan 19 04:00 am

DETROIT— Despite predictions electric and autonomous vehicles would dominate this year’s North American International Auto Show, if the buzz around the show was any indication, it was a trio of trucks from Detroit’s Big Three auto manufacturers, General Motors,...

Birchwood Group expands new car sales footprint

BY Myron Love . Jan 12 04:00 am

Hot on the heels of its acquisition of Steinbach Dodge Chrysler on Dec. 1, Birchwood Automotive Group has struck another deal to increase its footprint beyond Winnipeg.

Birchwood president Steve Chipman reports that on Jan. 1, Winnipeg’s largest auto group signed...

Dealer of the week

BY . Jan 12 04:00 am

Sales Rep: Matthew Russo

Dealership: Birchwood Chevrolet Buick GMC

No. of Years: Six months

Favourite Model: 2018 Chevrolet Equinox

Why: “I like the look of the Equinox,...