Suspension key to Chevy Colorado ZR2

The Chevy Colorado ZR2 is in offroad territory. (Bud Wells photos)

I climbed back into the newest offering of the Chevy Colorado ZR2 offroad pickup, this time assessing it with the 3.6-liter V-6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission.

The ZR2 package, with its wider track, shortened overhangs for improved approach and departure angles and added offroad enhancements, earns the Colorado the reputation of a smaller version of the Ford Raptor.

The Colorado ZR2 Bison was tested in 2021 with turbodiesel.

A year ago, I drove the ZR2 Bison powered by the turbocharged 2.8-liter, 4-cylinder, Duramax diesel. Comparing the two, the 3.6 V-6 is of 308 horsepower/275 torque; the 2.8 turbodiesel is 186 hp and stout in torque with 369 lb.-ft.

It is a four-door crew cab; other configurations are an extended cab and choice of short or long box. It has nice, leather seats, with Bluetooth audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capable. The rear seating is slightly cramped for legroom.

Accessing the comfortable interior requires a 2-foot-high step-in, somewhat inconvenient, but running boards or step rails would deny the truck some offroad capabilities.

The responsiveness in ZR2’s advanced suspension, with Multimatic DSSV dampers, is impressive, whether jouncing around offroad or rounding a curve at 70 miles per hour on the highway. It rides on Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac 265/65R17 tires. Gauge availability includes an inclinometer for awareness of pitch/roll degrees of the 4X4, as well as slope of the terrain.

When not offroading, the ZR2 is very carlike in steering and ride quality. And while the turbodiesel with its torque superiority is an offroad champ, the 3.6 V-6 is more ideal for everyday highway travel.

Late one afternoon, we drove the Chevy to the levee of Strasburg, then joined Mike and Hannah McKenner and Bill and Kathy Allen for a performance of “Cinderella” by the Strasburg Elementary Singers, including two great-granddaughters Ava and Bailey McKenner. These were 4th and 5th graders, and residents from Strasburg filled the school auditorium at nearby Bennett, where the musical was staged.

With the curb weight of 4,900 pounds and all the normal 4X4 equipment, plus the ZR2 packages, the EPA estimate is a low 16/18 miles per gallon; my overall average was 16.8.

The Chevy was finished in a pleasant bright blue metallic finish; when my replacement, the 2022 Ford Maverick pickup, was delivered, its velocity blue metallic was near identical.

Sticker price of $45,865 includes transfer case shield, remote vehicle start, the ZR2 appearance package, spray-on bedliner, EZ lift and lower tailgate, Stabilitrak stability control system with traction control.

The Chevrolet Colorado and its counterpart, the GMC Canyon, are midsize pickup trucks; they were introduced in 2004 to replace the Chevy S-10 and GMC S-15/Sonoma. They’re built in Wentzville, Mo.