Video: 2023 Chevy Colorado Z71 vs. Trail Boss: How MUCH Off-Road Truck Do You Really Need?

These two are both capable rigs, but take slightly different approaches depending on what you want

(Image: TFL Studios)

Andre is diving into the details of the brand-new 2023 Chevy Colorado!

Chevrolet invited Andre out to California to get some more hands-on time with this latest-generation Colorado — with driving impressions coming up at the end of this week. Before that, though, he’s taking a look at two of the truck’s three off-road focused trims: the Z71 and the Trail Boss. While neither bring as much hardcore kit to the equation as the full-on ZR2, they also don’t pack the same nearly-$50,000 price tag. But if you’re shopping on the more affordable side of the Colorado’s off-road offerings, which one do you really need? That’s what Andre aims to cover in this comparison video.

The 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 and Trail Boss are two of the third-generation truck’s five available trim levels. The Trail Boss is the more affordable to start, coming in at $38,495. The Z71 trim is a step up on price, kicking off at $41,395.

So, what are the differences between the two?

Trail Boss vs. Z71: Standard Equipment

For a relatively small price delta, you’d reasonably think there aren’t too many differences between the two sub-ZR2 trucks in the Colorado’s lineup. As you start reading through the standard equipment, that does indeed seem to be the case. For instance, both trims pack the same-spec 2.7-liter engine with 310 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. All Colorados pack the same displacement gas engine this time around, though the lesser trucks (WT and LT) only get 237 horsepower with in base tune, while the ZR2 gets more torque than any other Colorado (at least as standard fare), at 430 lb-ft.

Depending the trim, you get a differently tuned 8-speed automatic transmission, though there’s no difference between any of the off-road trims on that front either. Both Z71 and Trail Boss share the same 1,587-pound maximum payload figure and 7,700-pound towing capacity, and both come standard with 17- and 18-inch wheel options. That said, you can get 20-inch wheels on the Z71 if you want.

The differences come down to specific equipment between the Z71 and Trail Boss. The immediately noticeable difference with the Trail Boss is a 2-inch factory lift, which offers up more ground clearance; improves approach, breakover and departure angles and also widens the track by 3 inches (nearly matching the ZR2). Compared to the Z71’s 8.9 inches of ground clearance, the Trail Boss offers 9.5 inches. While both trucks can pretty much get the same-sized wheels, the Trail Boss we’re looking at does run more aggressive Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires, instead of Bridgestone Dueler A/Ts.

On the tech front, the Z71 comes standard with LED headlights, daytime running lights and fog lamps. The Trail Boss, being the cheaper option, comes with halogen lights all around. The Trail Boss also gets black plastic door handles and bumper pieces, while the Z71 gets color-coded elements. The Z71 further gets standard cruise control (it’s an option on the Trail Boss), a 120-volt power outlet in the bed and inside the truck. A manual-sliding rear window and rear window defogger come standard on the Z71, while you have to get both features through an options package for the Trail Boss.

Which features do you need?

If you’re strictly looking for an off-road truck, the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss brings the extra off-road gear over the Z71. However, the Z71 brings more interior features to the table as standard equipment. Mind you, both trucks have a wide range of available options to bring them closer to what you want, with a better-equipped Trail Boss running into the mid-$40,000 range. The Z71, using the same approach, can land a bit closer to $50,000.

Check out more details in the full comparison below. Check out more including driving impressions coming soon to TFLoffroad and TFLtruck!