How tough is the all-new 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2? Chevrolet thinks this new factory off-roader should be tough enough to take on some of the toughest off-road racing trails in the world. They invited a group of journalists to drive the new truck on the official “Vegas to Reno” off-road race trail that is managed and organized by the Best in the Desert Association.
“Vegas to Reno” is an annual race that usually spans over 500 miles of some of the most beautiful, rough, and variable terrain between Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada. This route goes over dirt, silt, rocks, sand, creek beds, dry lake beds, mountain passes, and valley crossings. This route would take about 7-8 hours for a fully customized “Trophy Truck” to complete.
Chad Hall Racing team collaborates with the Chevrolet Performance team to field a production-based Chevy Colorado ZR2 and Chevy Silverado ZR2 racing trucks in the series. These trucks could take upwards of 14 hours to complete the “Vegas to Reno” route at racing speeds. It’s not just the rough natural terrain that slows them down, it’s the torn-up course that is left by the trophy trucks that go before them.
Chevrolet gave us around three days to complete the same route that was made shorter by snowed-under mountain passes, flooded areas, and other logistical challenges. In the end, we completed 350 miles of grueling off-road terrain after two and a half days (15+ hours) of off-road driving.
This was a convoy of twelve trucks. Chad Hall’s race-prepped Chevy Colorado ZR2 was our leader. There were ten journalist factory trucks and a support “sweeper” truck in the back.
2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2
Did all of the ZR2 make the entire trip? Yes, with a small caveat. One of the ZR2s was pulled from the journey after its driver straddled a sizeable rock (during Day 2) and damaged a rear axle mount. One spare truck was brought in to replace it. All trucks completed the entire route after a few flat tires were taken care of.
Getting through these 350 miles of unforgiving terrain without a flat (damaged) tire is a feat in itself. I am proud to say that my truck did it without suffering tire damage or any other vehicle problems.
The new 2023 Colorado ZR2 is a much-improved truck over its previous generation. Chevrolet learned many lessons after successfully completing over 38 off-road races. The new ZR2 has more ground clearance than before. It has larger tires (33s) than before. It has a redesigned rear frame section in order to place the rear shocks on the outside of the frame and tucked out of the way. It has the latest DSSV spool-valve dampers by Multimatic, and front/rear locking differentials.
Power comes from a high-output 2.7-liter turbo-4 with 310 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic and a two-speed transfer case with an Auto/AWD mode.
Yea, this ZR2 is an impressive new off-road midsize pickup truck that is the new benchmark for the segment. Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator, Nissan Frontier, and all others must take notice of this. The 2023 Colorado ZR2 starts at around $48,000, while the optioned Desert Boss version can reach the $60,000 mark.
The 2023 Colorado ZR2 is in production now and it will begin shipping to customers very soon.