Wednesday, November 30, 2022
News 2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Review: DSSV Are Magical Letters

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Review: DSSV Are Magical Letters

The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is part comfortable cruiser, part off-roading king

  • 2021 Colorado pricing starts at $29,298 in Canada, $26,395 in the US.

  • As tested ZR2 Crew Cab Short Box starts at $47,998 in Canada, $44,395 in the US.

  • For pure visual street cred, the ZR2 is tops.

If your experience with pickups dates back to the old trucks your grandad drove around the family farm in the mid-60s, it’s important to know that they’ve evolved. And, more than any other segment of four-wheeled vehicles, pickups have gone from single-purpose to masters of all trades. While some are more luxurious than others, few pickups are as comfortable cruising on the highway as they are in the middle of sand dunes as the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

The Chevy Colorado is a good average midsize pickup but the ZR2 package buckles it down, lifts it up, improves it, and makes it one of the most desirable trucks in its segment. Quite frankly, it needs to be seriously considered before anyone plonks down $45,000 for a Ford Ranger Lariat with the FX4 package. 

ZR2 is the better looking off-road-ready truck

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The 2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is the bees’ knees when it comes to a factory set up for an off-road-ready midsize truck. Yes, the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro is also well prepared for anything but the ZR2 has a secret weapon for mass-terrain conquering.

Before I divulge the secret that isn’t one, it’s important to share that the ZR2 is achingly cool to look at. The included Off-Road Appearance package, which throws in more off-road friendly front and rear bumpers and fascias along with flared out fenders to cover the wider track, gives the ZR2 the most visual attitude this side of a Ford Raptor and a Ram TRX.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The tester was delivered in full ZR2 Midnight Special Edition regalia (Black exterior colour, gloss-black 17-inch wheels, off-road lights, off-road sport bar). Normally, I would prefer Sand Dune or the new Crush colour but admittedly, the all-black ZR2 begs to given second and third glances.

The “look-at-me” styling on the outside of the Colorado ZR2 does not repeat inside the cabin. And frankly, it really doesn’t matter. With the exception of a few buttons (locking front and rear differentials) and stitched ZR2 logos in the front seat headrests, everything else is standard Colorado business. That includes an 8-inch touchscreen with Chevy Infotainment 3 Plus and a 4.2-inch driver info display.

ZR2 is the better driving off-road-ready truck

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Now, and I feel like I’m repeating myself, but the ZR2’s dominant position as the go-to, best-all-around midsize pickup is due in large part to the included and segment-exclusive Multimatic dynamic suspension spool valve (DSSV) dampers. These magic dampers are capable of handling city streets, on- and off-ramps as well as severe off-roading conditions. The dampers feature an extra chamber on the side and it’s these chambers along with the valves that enable the struts to work their magic. I sadly could not evaluate the ZR2’s off-road capabilities – I can only imagine how wide my smile would be given the opportunity.

The DSSV damping system makes the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 one of the most well-rounded and capable pickups, vehicles even, on the planet. I cannot picture an instance where the ZR2 would find itself out of sorts. Despite the large knobby tires, a tall ride height, high center of gravity, and leaf springs in the rear, the ZR2 is stable, steady, and surefooted. And bring on the snow, gravel, mountainsides, anything.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

Backing this up is the 3.6-litre V6 that produces 308 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. Bolted up to an 8-speed automatic transmission and a 2-speed transfer case, it dishes out decent throttle response especially when it gets close to 4,000 rpm. All things being equal, this is the right amount of power for the truck. Sure, the optional 4-cylinder Duramax diesel engine delivers considerably more torque but this time, I’m not so sure it’s worth the $4,000+ required (in Canada) to get it fitted.

ZR2 is the off-road-ready truck to get

At $47,998, the base Colorado ZR2 is perfect. My tester was equipped with the optional Cat-Back Performance Exhaust Upgrade ($1,775) which I think would be the only option I would select, other than one of the colours mentioned above ($495). The ZR2 Bison package is interesting however at $7,475, I’d rather shop for aftermarket options myself.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

The only real limit to the Colorado ZR2 is the smaller bed when the Crew Cab body is selected. On the other hand, the long box only comes with the Extended Cab body. The best of both worlds (Crew Cab long box) is not available as a ZR2.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 | Photo: Matt St-Pierre

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Matt St-Pierre
Trained as an Automotive Technician, Matt has two decades of automotive journalism under his belt. He’s done TV, radio, print and this thing called the internet. He’s an avid collector of many 4-wheeled things, all of them under 1,500 kg, holds a recently expired racing license and is a father of two. Life is beautiful. Send Matt an emai


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