Colorado Dreamin’: Chevrolet Unveils Off-Road ZR2 Diesel Concept
It may be a sign of things to come or simply a blueprint for creating a rugged off-road package, but Chevrolet introduced a very cool ZR2 Colorado diesel-powered concept truck yesterday afternoon at the LA Auto Show. Although we posted a news item of the ZR2 Concept yesterday when it first launched, we were given a closer look at the truck after Chevy’s press conference and were enlightened on the truck’s background and its design.
As we noted in our First Drive of the Chevrolet Colorado a few months back there’s a lot of things to like about the new Colorado, but the Z71 “off-road package” leaves much to be desired for the off-road enthusiast (and that’s putting it nicely). The ZR2, however, gets it right. The ZR2 Colorado is highlighted by a number of functional features, such as a slightly wider stance than the production Z71 (4 inches, to be exact), seriously improved approach and departure angles thanks to custom front and rear bumpers, a two-inch lift for added clearance, integrated skid plates for underbody protection and rocker rails for side protection, and remote-reservoir coilover King shocks up front with piggyback King shocks in the rear.
We had the chance to chat with Ken Parkinson, Executive Director of Design for Chevrolet Trucks and Global Architecture, who worked on the original Colorado design and also oversaw the ZR2’s construction. He was filled us in on some of the motivation behind the truck and why Chevy decided to build it.
“The main idea was just to do something really awesome,” Parkinson said. “As part of the team that worked on the original production Colorado, we knew there were so many opportunities with this truck to personalize it and do something really exciting with it.”
Parkinson noted the ZR2 is something they’ve been working on for quite some. Even after the Colorado was finished, he and his team were looking at ways to take the truck to the next level and ZR2 is the culmination of those ideas.
“The guys that buy these trucks they don’t just stop with the trucks that they buy at the dealership; they keep building on it and they make something that’s really their own,” he said. “So we thought we would create an image of something that shows some of what the possibilities could be, and maybe look at some of the things we might do in the future. And we’re going to be listening to see how people respond and the kind of feedback we get.”
What’s impressive about the ZR2, and what might show how serious Chevy is potentially building it, is that it’s no “pie in the sky” truck with no realistic application – this truck thoughtfully blends features and performance into a realistic truck package. The King shocks will no doubt provide impressive trail performance for the ZR2, but the shock upgrades are also complemented with a necessary 2-inch lift and larger 32-inch Goodyear Wrangler (275/65/18) tires to provide the added ground clearance this truck needs (our only gripe might be to open up the wheel wells just a little more to avoid rubbing). The custom bumpers show foresight about improving approach and departure angles on the truck as well. Out back, Chevrolet uses its GearOn system to house a Hi-Lift jack for off-road recovery, while a full-sized spare sits securely inside the truck bed should a rock take out one of the tires.
Although it is a concept vehicle, the fact that the ZR2 is powered by a diesel motor is no concept at all – that is a reality coming to the Colorado next year. Chevrolet wisely highlighted its 2.8-liter Duramax motor in the ZR2 Concept, a motor that will be available in the 2016 Colorados hitting dealership in late 2015. We’ve had very little detail on the small Duramax up to this point, but Chevrolet did unveil some performance figures on the motor at the press conference, estimating its horsepower to be 180 and its torque to be a class-leading 365 lb.-ft. We can still only guess about its fuel economy, but Chevy went as far to say it will be class-leading, so we can assume that means better than the 27 mpg highway rating on the four-cylinder motor. Executive Vice President of Global Product Development Mark Reuss also noted that the motor will provide a towing capacity greater than the 7,000-pound capability available on the current V6 Colorado engine.
After the press conference, Chevrolet representatives certainly asked a lot of questions to the journalists on hand at the LA Convention Center. The team clearly is gauging feedback on the truck, wanting to know what they did right and what we don’t like. Overall, there’s not much to gripe about on the ZR2. We think it’s a very cool truck, and one that would truly offer the off-road enthusiast something to consider. It may not be out of the realm of possibilities to see this at a Chevy dealer in the future, but for now it’s just Colorado Dreamin’. We’re certainly keeping our fingers crossed.