2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Preview

Joseph Dobrian | Nov 16, 2016
  • New, updated off-road technology
  • Wider track and lifted suspension, compared with standard Colorado
  • Class-exclusive front and rear electronic locking differentials
  • Functional rockers offer better performance over rocks and obstacles
  • Modified bumpers provide improved off-road clearance


2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 side profile photo


The 2017 Colorado ZR2 is a version of Chevrolet’s midsize pickup truck that offers what the automaker promises is dramatically improved off-road capabilities. Chevy says the new ZR2 Colorado combines nimbleness and maneuverability with a host of new off-road features and updated technology. It has a wider track and higher suspension than the standard Colorado, and offers an optional diesel engine. It also features the first off-road application of Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSVTM) damper technology. Chevrolet is positioning the new Colorado ZR2 as a combined rock-crawler or desert-runner, work truck, or everyday driver.

Exterior Features

Compared with a Colorado Z71, the ZR2 has a more aggressive side profile, with a 2-inch-higher suspension for greater ground clearance. The front bumper of the ZR2 has tapered ends, to increase tire clearance when approaching obstacles. The bumper also features a thick aluminum skid plate to protect the radiator and engine oil pan. An additional shield protects the transfer case. The grille and hood, which feature a black insert, present a somewhat more aggressive look than the standard Colorado. A bed-mounted spare tire carrier, which adds a rugged look to the ZR2, is optional.

Standard exterior equipment includes steel-tube, functional rocker protectors, which Chevrolet says are strong enough to protect the body side while dragging the truck against a rock face.


2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 interior photo Interior FeaturesThe Chevrolet Colorado’s interior has received a long list of updates over the past couple of years, including user-friendly media systems. A bold, upright instrument panel with large controls and a center console with a floor-mounted shifter is similar to those found in midsize cars and crossover vehicles. Seats offer improved back support. Standard interior upholstery combines leatherette and cloth; upgraded seating is optional. A power-adjustable driver’s seat is standard. Various storage areas and cargo management systems are standard.

Optional Features

Based on the preliminary information, options will include a navigation system, upgraded Bose audio system, tonneau cover, tailgate liner, spray-on or drop-in bedliner, rubber bed mat, and many other accessories. Various safety and convenience packages are available.

Under the Hood

Chevrolet reports that the ZR2 will share its powertrains with the 2017 Colorado, and it will be the only extreme production off-road truck to offer the choice of gas or diesel engines. The all-new 3.6-liter V-6 engine is matched with an 8-speed automatic transmission. This engine cranks out 308 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. The optional class-exclusive Duramax diesel engine makes 181 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. Maximum towing capacity is 5,000 lbs., properly equipped, and maximum payload is 1,100 lbs.

With class-exclusive, electronic-locking differentials front and rear and Chevrolet’s AutoTrac transfer case, the ZR2 offers nine drive configurations: 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.



2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 front suspension photo The front and rear track has been widened by 3.5 inches compared with the Colorado Z71, with new cast-iron control arms for greater durability in off-road situations. Chevrolet says the ZR2 offers greater wheel travel and stability while traversing steep grades. The ZR2 also features 17x8-in. aluminum wheels, matched with 31-in. Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires.In government crash tests, the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado received an overall rating of 4 (out of 5) stars, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Standard safety features include a full complement of air bags, anti-lock brakes, and rear-vision camera. Many other safety features, such as collision alert and lane-departure warning, are available.


The 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 represents the first application of Multimatic DSSV damper technology to an off-road vehicle. Compared with deflected-disk valving (common on most dampers), the ZR2 employs spool valves that offer increased precision along with enhanced ride and handling performance both on- and off-road, according to Chevrolet. The Colorado ZR2’s DSSV dampers are position-sensitive, with aluminum bodies that each house two spool valves to provide both compression and rebound damping optimized for everyday driving. During extreme off-road use, a third, piston-mounted spool valve delivers additional uniquely tuned compression damping. The front dampers also employ a separate rebound valve, which comes into play when the suspension approaches full extension.

The integrated electronic lockers interact with the traction control, stability control, and hill-descent control. In addition, a new “Off-Road Mode” button, in combination with the traction control switch, allows the anti-lock brakes, traction control, and stability control calibrations to be tailored to different driving conditions. Off-road Mode also alters the throttle progression and shifts calibrations to provide better control and responsiveness.

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