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2017 Chevrolet Colorado: What's It Like to Live With?

Is the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 the new king of midsize off-road pickups? We're going to find out over the next 12 months.

Chevrolet Colorado 2017

Introduction

What Did We Buy?
It wasn't that long ago that the midsize pickup segment barely had a pulse. In the past few years, however, it has gone from dormant to downright hot. And with so much interest in the newly invigorated segment, there's room for experimentation.

That willingness to try new things led to the development of the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. It's a dedicated off-road version of the standard Colorado that takes its capabilities to a whole new level.

Chevrolet actually had a ZR2 version of the S10 truck back in the 1990s, but even that wasn't as extreme as this new pickup. The Colorado ZR2 has a raised suspension with special dampers, bigger all-terrain tires, fender flares, special bodywork for improved approach and departure angles, and an electronically locking rear differential.

The new ZR2 isn't without competition, however. Toyota upped its game with the TRD Pro version of its Tacoma. And then there's the upcoming Ford Ranger, which will likely come in a similar "Raptor-lite" version. With that in mind, we figured it was worth seeing what the ZR2 brings to the segment by adding one to our long-term test fleet.

What Options Does It Have?
Although the ZR2 is available as an extended cab with a regular-size bed, we opted for the more popular crew-cab body style. It comes with a shorter bed, so the overall wheelbase is the same. There are two engines available: a standard 3.6-liter V6 and a turbocharged 2.8-liter, diesel-powered four-cylinder. Since the diesel is a unique option in the segment, we decided it was worth the extra $3,500.

After that, we were open to any options that trucks in our area might have. The result was the addition of a Bose audio system ($500), the Colorado's upgraded 8-inch touchscreen interface with navigation ($495), all-weather floor mats ($190), a dealer-installed keyless entry keypad ($155) and a black Chevy bowtie emblem ($155).

In all, the total MSRP of our Deepwood Green truck was $47,615. We found it listed at Rydell Chevrolet in Northridge, California, with a no-haggle price of $46,615, which is what we paid.

Why We Bought It
Trucks like the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 don't come around often. Most off-road packages from the factory are nothing more than a set of aftermarket shocks and some bigger tires. The ZR2 is a far more serious effort, one that will take a considerable number of miles to properly shake out. Having one in the long-term fleet will not only allow us to see what kind of terrain it can handle but also how it holds up after you get it back on the street.

No one wants a truck that reminds you of its compromises every time you go on a grocery run, so its daily driver capabilities will be an important part of the test as well. We're also eager to see how the new diesel engine performs in a wide variety of driving situations. Is it really the best choice for all-around mileage and usable torque? We're about to find out.

Follow our long-term road test blog for our latest thoughts and impressions of this 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purpose of evaluation.


Monthly Update for November 2017

by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor

Where Did We Drive It?
Our first full month with the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 was busy. We bought the ZR2 in October (so technically we've had it in the fleet for about seven weeks), and since then it's seen a lot of action both on- and off-road. That included a trip to Death Valley alongside our long-term Tacoma (more on that soon) plus all the regular commuting miles and a few freeway jaunts.

It's seen so much action, in fact, that the odometer has already clocked nearly 6,000 miles. We've been getting very familiar with the beefed-up ZR2's dimensions and learning firsthand what it's like driving such a dirt-friendly rig on a daily basis.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
With its big off-road tires and modified front end, our ZR2 takes a big fuel economy hit up front. The standard crew-cab Colorado with the 2.8-liter diesel engine and two-wheel drive is rated at 25 mpg combined (22 city/30 highway). Add four-wheel drive and ratings drop to 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway). The ZR2-diesel combo brings that EPA estimate down to 20 mpg combined (19 city/22 highway). So it's pretty surprising to see our current lifetime average exceeds the EPA's highway rating of 22 mpg. Let's hope it holds out.

Average lifetime mpg: 22.6
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best-fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 437.2 miles
Current odometer: 5,485 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
We added 2.5 gallons of diesel exhaust fluid to the Colorado's tank this month. It was our first addition of DEF.

Logbook Highlights
Performance
"In terms of power delivery, the diesel ZR2 is not a shrunken-down Raptor. This little diesel is almost, but not quite, overmatched by the ZR2 in unladen form when wheeling around on the freeway. I don't think I'd want any more weight/aero drag/rolling resistance for the Duramax to try to push around. That's not to say I don't like the Duramax. It's a pretty solid little engine, with a reasonably responsive turbo that puffs the torque up in short order and lacks the traditional diesel glackety-glack noise. Yeah, there's a bit of a pause when you initially dip the right pedal, but it's not nearly as offensive in this regard than, say, the diesel in the Jaguar F-Pace. I've driven the Duramax off-road in the standard Colorado and liked its manners at low speeds." — Jason Kavanagh, senior road test engineer

Comfort
"The ZR2 isn't built for commuting, but, man, it's good at it. Its compact exterior dimensions, relative to full-size trucks, mean you can navigate tight city streets without forcing other cars to move out of your way (although that can be fun, too). Its big tires and off-road shocks mean you can drive over curbing and speed bumps at full speed. Quickly driving over things you're not supposed to is dumb fun, but it also might affect something deeper. This kind of harmless civil disobedience is liberating when you're trapped by the uncaring rule of rush-hour bumper-to-bumper traffic. It gives you a semblance of freedom. I count three Ford Raptors in my neighborhood that I've never seen dirty. I suspect the owners of these trucks feel the same way, even if they don't realize it." — Carlos Lago, senior editor

"I did not venture beyond the urban paved roads of Los Angeles County but can still appreciate the fancy-pants dampers and suspension travel of this truck. Curbs, drainage dips, speed bumps don't even slow it down. It simply soaks it all up. The bump recovery in particular is great; there's no secondary motion at all. I'm dying to take this guy off-road." — Jason Kavanagh

"The suspension on our new ZR2 is much more comfortable than the Tacoma's. It's still not as comfortable as the Ridgeline, but seeing as the ZR2 and the Tacoma are off-road types, being as comfortable as it is gives the ZR2 an advantage when driving around town." — Rex Tokeshi-Torres, vehicle testing technician

Interior
"Getting into our ZR2 is a bit tough for me. I'm 5-foot-8, and it takes a high leg stretch to step inside. There's a grab handle on the passenger side but not on the driver's. A running board would likely solve the issue, but I suspect this would interfere with its off-road capability. This would explain why they are not offered as an accessory. My 6-foot colleague had a tough time getting in, too." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor

"The hood scoop on our ZR2 looks tough from the outside, but when you're driving it comes up high and gets in the way of visibility. The front right of the vehicle feels like a big blind spot. I wish we had a 360-degree camera or front-facing sensors to detect objects you might run into." — Ron Montoya

Miscellaneous
"I had a no-start/hard-start/stalling episode with the Colorado. It was the first start of the day, about 55 degrees outside in Corvallis, Oregon. The truck cranked and cranked for about 5 seconds continuously without catching. I gave it another try about 10 seconds later. Same result. On the third attempt, it started after a few seconds of cranking but ran roughly and then stalled. For the fourth attempt I decided to give it a bit of accelerator input if/when it caught. This time it continued running, although idle speed was uneven with a fixed accelerator input. I let it run this way for about 10 seconds then eased out of the accelerator. It continued idling with the same slight surging. Once I put the transmission into Drive, it settled into normalcy. No other running issues were observed before or since. No lights came on in the instrument cluster at any point either." — Jason Kavanagh

"I'd like to apologize to everyone I blinded a few nights ago while driving home in the ZR2. This thing sits up just that much higher than a standard Colorado and I don't think Chevrolet adjusted the headlights to compensate. I don't remember our old LT Colorado having this same issue, but every time I pulled up behind a standard car in the ZR2, my headlights hit their outside rearview mirrors and lit up the whole inside of the car. I hate being that guy in the truck. Sorry about that." — Kurt Niebuhr, photo editor


Monthly Update for December 2017

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

Where Did We Drive It?
We added another 1,951 miles to our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 this month, and a good chunk of it came from a road trip I took to drive a Jeep. The all-new 2018 Jeep Wrangler was introduced just outside of Tucson, Arizona, and I decided to drive instead of fly. I'll always make that call if the destination is within 500 miles or so. I'd rather deal with mpg than TSA. To get in the spirit of the whole off-road thing, I selected the ZR2.

I took the long way, so the trip represented about 1,100 miles of this month's total accumulation. The remainder came from errand-running and local driving during the holidays. The end result is a decent mix of driving, skewing a bit toward highway.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
The Tucson trip's highway mileage was far from a best-case scenario. At one point during the trip, I added a 30-mile off-road detour, and most of the day I fought a fairly substantial headwind. The air was mostly still on the return trip two days later, at least. Including the wind and the off-road detour, the ZR2 averaged 22.6 mpg over the entire trip, which compares very favorably to its highway rating of 22 mpg.

I didn't beat the ZR2's best-tank mark of 25.7 mpg, but I have a hard time taking that mark seriously because that was a short run of 121 miles that probably had a downward-trending elevation profile. On this trip's second tank, I set a new best-range mark of 453 miles, with the ZR2 averaging 23.3 mpg over that distance. The final tank of 24.4 mpg spanned the final 214 miles before I filled up at home to formally end the trip. The overall of 22.6 mpg is lower than these two impressive results because the first tank's headwind and off-roading resulted in a 21.1 mpg initial tank that dragged the average down.

To the surprise of no one, the errand-running and local driving suppressed the month's average below that of the road trip. The end result is an overall December fuel economy average of 21.2 mpg, and the truck's lifetime average over 7,772 miles now stands at 21.1 mpg. Both numbers are quite impressive when compared to the ZR2 diesel's EPA combined rating of 20 mpg.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.1
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 453.1 miles
Current odometer: 7,772 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
Several notable things happened during December, three of them routine, one of them unexpected.

The unplanned event happened during the off-road portion of the drive to Arizona. I made my way up a narrow canyon and got out for a hike. When I got back to the truck, I scrolled through the menus and glanced at the tire pressure monitoring system readout, something I do quite often, especially if I'm off-road. The warning light wasn't on, but the left rear tire was 4 pounds lower than its companions. All four had been the same before I climbed out of the truck for my hike.

I kept an eye on it as I drove back onto the highway, but the number continued to creep down. The warning lamp finally came as I was driving into Laughlin, Nevada. After digging up some quarters for a gas station's coin-operated compressor, I added air and pressed on. The leak continued, of course, but it also picked up speed. Sixty miles later, the pressure dropped enough to trigger the warning once again. I pulled into a roadside turnout and installed the spare tire. It's a full-size spare that's mounted on a matching alloy wheel, so I was good to go until I found time to have the flat fixed.

I took the truck to America's Tire when I got home, and no one could conclusively determine what caused the leak. A technician dunked the tire in a tank, and we could plainly see that the bubbles were coming from a point deep between the tread blocks. We could see a small entry wound, too, but nothing in the hole itself, and we could see no obvious tear in the inner liner. He applied a patch directly under the entry wound and the tire was soon good to go.

At this point it made sense to tackle the first routine maintenance item: Rotate the tires.

Cost: $0. That's right, America's Tire does flat repairs and routine rotations for free. This location did, at least.

The diesel exhaust fuel (DEF) indicator had looked fine throughout the trip, but as I got close to home the warning light came on and started counting down the mileage remaining. I took action when it got down to 200 miles. You may remember that Jay added some just recently, but he was in the middle of a long road trip and only added a single 2.5-gallon jug. He didn't fill the tank.

The ZR2 diesel's DEF tank is rated at 5.3 gallons. The warning was getting insistent, so I figured I could add two standard 2.5-gallon jugs of the stuff rather than one. Yes, I know that DEF at the pump is a thing, but not here in the suburbs of Orange County.

But my plan hit a snag. The tank was full after I added 4.5 gallons. The jug with the remaining half-gallon is still here under my desk.

I hate this. Either make the tank big enough for two standard jugs when the light comes on, or adjust the timing of the warning light so there's room for 5 gallons when the warning gets to a certain point. Add a physical gauge while you're at it, too.

Cost: $26.94

The final item was an oil change. The oil life monitoring system had been counting down during the trip, and when I got home the oil life was down to 2 percent. At first I figured I'd have the dealer do it, so I wheeled into the closest one. But this was midmorning on a Saturday. I didn't have an appointment.

I was ignored by the service writers at Selman Chevrolet for a good 10 minutes, so I left and went to Guaranty Chevrolet, which was on my way home anyway. The service writer acknowledged me and said he'd be with me in five minutes, but he was working alone and had three cars in the appointment line. Five minutes turned into 15, so I wandered into the adjacent parts department and bought an oil filter.

My plan hit a snag when I went to buy 5W-30 motor oil. The ZR2 diesel takes a special kind. The GM Dexos1 standard is commonly met by a wide range of oils made by many companies. But the ZR2 Duramax diesel requires Dexos2, which I could not find at the first three auto parts stores I wandered into. This was complicated by the fact that Dexos1 Gen 2 exists, and this variant even has a little "2" at the bottom corner of the green Dexos logo. But that's not Dexos2. The Dexos2 logo is blue, not green.

Dexos2 is essentially the same special synthetic oil formulation that Volkswagen TDI diesel vehicles need. It contains different ingredients that help protect the diesel emissions system components. None of the people working the counters at the auto parts store knew any of this. They thought I was nuts. I eventually found a list of Dexos2 oils on the Dexos website while I stood hunched over my phone in one of the stores. Many oils on the list were European brands I've never seen, but there were some familiar names. Mobil 1 was one of them, but it had to be a specific formulation called "ESP Formula — Emission System Protection."

Then at a nearby Pep Boys, I found some, but only 4 quarts (liters, actually; another clue that Mobil 1 ESP is probably more common in Europe). The Dexos2 logo was absent, but the oil formulation name matched the Dexos2 online product list and the label on the back spelled out Dexos2 in text. The guy looked up the SKU and found more of it at another Pep Boys closer to my home. I went there to buy the last two, but the Dexos reference was absent from those labels. Turns out the production date stamped on the bottles predated the Dexos2 standard itself. Apparently the oil at this second Pep Boys (a service center, not a retail store) had been sitting on the shelf a long time. But the same VW and Audi TDI references were there, and the ESP label and the SKU matched the 4 quarts I'd bought at the previous store. I went ahead and bought them.

The oil change itself was the easiest one I've ever done. The ZR2's tall stance meant that there was no need to jack it up. The skid plate has a permanent access hole for the drain plug. The drain plug washer is a permanently installed O-ring that does not need replacement. And the oil filter is a cartridge-style affair that goes in from the top without the need for a special wrench. Once I'd gathered my tools, the whole thing was done in 20 minutes.

The search for oil had taken time, of course. But if I owned one of these, I'd avoid that problem by purchasing through Amazon and having it shipped to my house. Same goes for the filter. I'd probably save money this way, too, since the oil and filter are expensive. At least the service interval is 7,500 miles.

Cost: $109.70 total ($24.43 for the filter, $85.27 for the oil — $13.19 per liter before tax)

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"The amount of torque on tap is impressive. It's not so much about speed; it's about effortlessness. It never takes much throttle to get this truck rolling, no matter what the terrain." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

"I had to deal with strong winds for hours, but the ZR2 wasn't pushed around at all. It maintained a straight path without much countersteering on my part, even during big gusts." — DE

Comfort
"The ZR2 glides over most road imperfections like they're not even there. You'd think that a burly off-road machine would ride like a pogo stick, but this suspension is calm and settled in most situations. Poise isn't a word you'd expect to use with a truck like this, but it sums it up nicely." — DE

Technology
"The MyLink system in our 2017 ZR2 is much less laggy than the 2014 Colorado we had when this truck was launched. And I find Apple CarPlay — something the older MyLink system didn't support — to be so convenient that I'm a lot more receptive to the idea of Apple Maps, the one that CarPlay supports. Do I wish CarPlay supported Google Maps, too? Sure. But I'm not holding my breath for the day when Apple and Google become best friends." — DE

Utility
"The folding rear seat in the crew-cab Colorado isn't nearly as smartly designed as the one in the Tacoma. Toyota's design offers up a flatter load floor that's also lower and easier to load. Here you get something that looks like a teetering pile of couch cushions." — DE

Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing @ 7,772 miles

Monthly Update for January 2018

by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor

Where Did We Drive It?
The 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 has only been in our fleet a few months, but it's seen off-road action in nearly every month that's passed. It begs to be driven where the pavement ends, and when you get it there, it takes on a much more entertaining character. This month, our ZR2 did all the regular commuting duties along with a few freeway journeys. I took it upon myself to cover the truck in mud and climb up a few questionable hillsides.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
In the three months we've been driving the diesel-powered ZR2, it's beaten the highway mpg rating 10 times. On 10 separate occasions it's crested 22 mpg with no extra-special circumstances to get it there and no specific mindfulness about babying the throttle. While 22 mpg isn't exactly stellar, it's almost certainly a better number than we'd be getting with the V6-ZR2 combo, which is rated at 17 mpg combined (16 city/18 highway).

For comparison, our long-term 2015 Colorado with the Z71 package and the V6 averaged 18.3 mpg over 20,000 miles.

Average lifetime mpg: 21
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 453.1 miles
Current odometer: 9,144 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
None.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"The Colorado is hilariously good off-road. It feels jubilant and light-footed over bumps and hills, and even the biggest obstacles don't stand a chance. This ZR2 feels like a less stressful version of the F-150 Raptor. They're in different classes, sure, but where the Raptor is brutish and large, the ZR2 feels relatively nimble and brisk. With the recent announcement of a Ranger Raptor, this segment is about to get a big infusion of fun and healthy competition. I can't wait." — Travis Langness, automotive editor

"I am not a fan of this diesel powertrain for a lot of reasons. It doesn't offer much more range than the V6 (21 miles, per EPA estimates). The six-speed transmission is a HUGE step down from the V6's eight-speed. The diesel is sluggish, slushy and slow, and with the ZR2 package, there's no towing benefit over the V6; they're both capped at 5,000 pounds. It also costs almost $3,500 more. As far as I'm concerned, it's the worst option you can put on this truck." — Will Kaufman, associate staff writer

Comfort
"Went for a bit of a drive with my wife in our lifted Colorado and each of us had different ingress/egress issues. She really had to hoist herself up, and basically jumped out of the truck every time she got out. I could deal with the high step-up, but because I like to sit high in trucks and have the seat set a little higher, I also had to duck to fit myself under the door. I'm 6 feet tall and she's ... shorter. Both of us have issues with the ZR2." — Will Kaufman

Miscellaneous
"Maybe it's our gray-on-gray color combo, maybe it's the dated plastics, or maybe it's just the simple no-frills nature of this particular truck, but our ZR2 just doesn't feel special. If I were buying one, I'd at least opt for a different exterior color so that this drab gray interior would have some contrast on the outside. Strangely, in a local parking lot, I found our ZR2's twin, another ZR2, also with the diesel powertrain, and it also failed to stand out. Even parked next to each other, the two trucks seemed so bland. That shouldn't be the case with a truck this capable." — Travis Langness



Monthly Update for February 2018

by Travis Langness, Automotive Editor

Where Did We Drive It?
For such an abundantly capable off-road rig, we enjoy driving our long-term 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 on the highway quite a bit. February wasn't its most mileage-heavy month, but the ZR2 did clock more than 1,000 miles, primarily on the open road. We're fond of how it smooths out road imperfections and remains relatively silent over most surfaces despite its knobby tires. The tall tire sidewalls seem to help in the city, too, with no pothole or speed bump too large to go crashing over at speed.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We're settling into a nice pattern with the diesel-powered ZR2, doing very well on fuel economy about midway through our yearlong test. The excellent ride quality means that we take it on freeway trips quite a bit, and we haven't towed much with the Colorado yet, which is helping keep the numbers high. We're beating the EPA estimate for the diesel-ZR2 combo and range is excellent, too, with a significant number of fill-ups seeing the other side of a 400-mile trip odometer reading.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.1
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 453.1 miles
Current odometer: 10,313 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
None.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"I agree with co-worker Will Kaufman's comment from last month: Getting the optional diesel engine in the Colorado makes little sense. It's slow, costs a lot of money and returns only slightly better fuel economy. According to the EPA's fueleconomy.gov site, the diesel's annual fuel costs are a bit more than the V6's.

"I was thinking that the diesel would be superior in off-road situations, with greater low rpm grunt that would be beneficial for crawling over rocks. But then I reread our First Drive and noticed that the diesel's six-speed transmission reduces its overall crawl ratio compared to the V6 and eight-speed auto. So, that's a wash. But I dig this engine anyway. The rattly engine sound and low-revving nature impart the Colorado with a big-rig vibe. There's some extra personality to it, and I like that." — Brent Romans, senior editor

Comfort
"I'm really impressed with the Colorado's front seat heaters, of all things. They warm up quickly and are appropriately hot on their highest setting. I also appreciate the ability to specify whether you want the entire seat heated or just the seatback. I've driven a few newer Buicks and Chevrolets that only have a general seat heater setting, so don't be surprised if the seatback-only function disappears in the near future." — Cameron Rogers, staff writer

"I'm quite pleased with the overall comfort of our Colorado for long-distance drives. You might think those knobby off-road tires would make a racket, but they don't. Louder? Yes, but far from annoying. The ZR2's special suspension rides pretty smoothly, too, all things considered. I've also found the driver's seat is comfortable for hours at a time. No problems doing long drives." — Brent Romans

Technology & Audio
"None of us have written anything about the Colorado's touchscreen infotainment system yet. In a way, that's a good thing. When Chevy's MyLink system first came out, it was largely panned for being slow and annoying to use. The latest system is solid, though. The graphics still look a little dated, but it's easy to find what you want through the menus. Response times are sufficiently quick. Having Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is nice, too." — Brent Romans

Interior
"I'll second my co-workers' comments about getting in and out of our Colorado ZR2 — it's not the easiest. Granted, this isn't going to be a primary concern if you're buying a ZR2. But it would help if Chevy added an overhead grab handle so you can lift yourself up. There's not one on the driver's side. There's a handle on the front passenger side, but it's on the front roof pillar instead of being overhead. It's more to hang onto when the truck is bouncing around." — Brent Romans  

Miscellaneous
"Our Colorado ZR2 would be just fine for somebody placed in the Witness Protection Program. People go nuts over Ford Raptors, but so far my impression is that our ZR2 is invisible to the general motoring populace. It's got bucket loads of off-road capability, but you wouldn't know it from the mild styling enhancements. I happen to like the sleeper aspect to this truck, but I could also see this as a turnoff for a lot of other truck and Jeep buyers." — Brent Romans


Monthly Update for April 2018

by Calvin Kim, Road Test Engineer

Where Did We Drive It?
Our long-term 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is a good multipurpose vehicle: It's been used for off-roading, city commuting and, in April, long-distance touring. Diesel engines like this sort of thing, so it was a good chance to hunker into the driver's seat and really stretch the ZR2's legs as editor Dan Frio drove up to Reno, Nevada, and back. How are the trick shocks on long highway stints? Any issues with the infotainment system? How is the road noise with those knobby tires?

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Long highway drives at nearly constant speed are great for diesel engines, and the ZR2's oil-burner is no different. In April, our ZR2 covered 2,068 miles and achieved an average of 24.2 mpg, making it the second-best monthly average (after the first month's initial break-in miles).

Average lifetime mpg: 21.5
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 453.1 miles
Current odometer: 12,950 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
While our ZR2 has been issue-free, Staff Writer Dan Frio did have an observation about the way diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) level, a critical consumable fluid used in the emissions system, is displayed to the driver.

Logbook Highlights

Maintenance
"Before leaving on a round-trip road trip from Orange County to Reno, I checked the onboard DEF level. A bit unhelpfully, the display read something like 'DEF Level OK.' No indication of how many miles might stand between 'OK' and 'Not OK.'

"At some point in the journey, the display showed a '25 Percent Remaining' notice. That was a bit more helpful. Then finally, a notification popped up that DEF would need replenishment after 998 miles. At least I knew it was something I could take care after I got home, and not during a gas stop in Barstow. A few days later, I added 2.5 gallons of DEF, to which the display responded, 'DEF Level OK.' " — Dan Frio, staff writer

Performance
"Definitely a 'plan-for-pass' truck, this one. Drove a long stretch of two-lane on U.S. 395, a highway that cuts north through California's Mojave Desert before skirting the eastern edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range (and on into Nevada and ultimately Canada). Much of the Mojave stretch is undulating two-lane, and when you get stuck behind a commercial semi and the two or three timid leeches behind it, well, you can kiss good-bye the idea of making good time to your destination. So when the lane-divider line turns to dashes and you have some space to make a pass, you need a good burst of juice to start moving up the line. And the Colorado just doesn't have it.

"There's just not enough top-end acceleration for quick leapfrogging, and you're forced to drop it into third gear, which the engine just really does not like. You need a lot of distance between you and the headlights of that oncoming car, and a lot of patience to work your way up the convoy. The Colorado forces you to dial back your driving attitude, or it should anyway. While it's nice to have that low-end grunt on a trail, on top of a boulder, or in a parking lot, the lack of top-end thrust can be a liability out on remote highways." — Dan Frio

Interior
"Will this madness never cease? Chrome belongs outside the car, not inside. And never on the steering wheel. The Colorado shines on in the late morning sun." — Dan Frio

Comfort
"During an eight-hour highway drive, I was surprised at the muted tire noise. I thought those chunky tread blocks would announce themselves throughout the drive, but it was actually a persistent wind whistle over the windshield that was more noticeable. The clackety Duramax soundscape is actually quite soothing, the sound of a modern diesel doing its fuel-efficient work without excessive vibration or other vocal boasting. Too many diesels announce themselves with volume and bluster (I'm looking at you, neighbor guy, with the ridiculously loud Ford Power Stroke that I more often see dropping off the kids at school than pulling your dusty fifth-wheel). I like that the ZR2 keeps it as subtle as it can." — Dan Frio

Technology-Audio
"Experienced severe road-trip buzzkill when the ZR2's MyLink infotainment went into meltdown shortly after setting out on our journey. We were cooking down the highway when my rear-seat passenger plugged in her phone to the rear USB port. She only wanted to charge it, but it showed up as an iPod device in MyLink just the same. That would've been fine, except that it then somehow downgraded my phone — the primary audio device — to some sort of ex-significant-other status. It wouldn't play anything from my library via Bluetooth, and it wouldn't launch Apple CarPlay at all. Nor would it play anything from her device's library. It showed up as an available device but just wouldn't play anything.

"And while it did see my phone as a USB device, when I pressed the Play icon, music streamed out of my phone's speaker. No amount of rebooting phones, power-cycling MyLink, or cable-swapping did anything. I even pulled off the highway and ignition-cycled the truck. Nothing. We couldn't listen to any of our device music and were limited to satellite radio.

"I could only speculate that it was stuck in some bad processing loop and needed time to untangle itself. There seemed to be some validity to the theory when the system — MyLink, CarPlay and all — came back online again after a lengthy gas stop. There was again a minor freakout when said passenger later plugged in her phone. While I could regain playback through Bluetooth, the USB and CarPlay functions again disappeared. This was some weak-sauce performance from what seems like should be pretty elementary software protocol. Don't leave the driver stranded without preferred tunes!" — Dan Frio

Miscellaneous
"Pickups may not be everyone's idea of an ideal road-trip conveyance, but I'm not one of those people. I love them. You won't get great fuel economy like you might in a sedan. You won't get the convenience of an SUV; grabbing something from a bag stashed behind the third row isn't an option. And anything you pack in the bed of the truck is at the mercy of weather.

"But there's something, however misplaced, about heading out onto the open road with the feeling of solidity and security of a pickup. Even a midsizer like the Colorado. On my recent drive to northern Nevada, I stashed a few duffels, a box and a guitar case in the truck bed. Nothing major, and certainly nothing that required a pickup. Our long-term CX-5 or Camry could've handled the same.

"But an empty pickup bed offers possibility. I once crossed the country, from California to Georgia, in an Isuzu pickup. My companion ended up adopting a stray dog along the way. Lodging wasn't as dog-friendly then, so we spent a couple of nights under the stars in the bed of the truck. You won't get that in a Highlander.

"For this easy trip, I liked the Colorado's ride height and expansive view of the road. I liked the availability of four-wheel drive and the Colorado's chunky tires; early spring in Reno-Tahoe can be slick and slippery. I liked the truck's overall comfort. The cabin is relatively quiet and the ride is firm and stable, even with an essentially empty bed (our modest haul couldn't have amounted to more than about 150 pounds). The Colorado diesel's range and mpg are icing on the road-trip credentials; I averaged 437 miles of range and 22.8 mpg after about 1,200 miles of driving." — Dan Frio


Monthly Update for May 2018

by Travis Langness, Staff Writer

Where Did We Drive It?
In one of its busiest months to date, our long-term 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 drove through four states, traveled through three national parks, visited two national monuments, and did several hundred miles of real honest-to-goodness off-roading. We also set a new range record and finally engineered a high-tech fix for the shiny chrome interior bits that flash sunlight in our eyes on a daily basis.

The ZR2's first big road trip was to southern Utah, a trip that added about 1,400 miles to the odometer and passed through California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The second trip was up the central corridor of California where the ZR2 played support vehicle for an upcoming off-road comparison test. All said and done, we added more than 2,000 miles to the odometer in May.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Two long road trips increased the ZR2's lifetime fuel economy, but lots of off-roading brought it right back down, slightly below April's average. The lifetime average, however, is still at a more-than-respectable 21.4 mpg (0.1 mpg lower than April), which is 1.4 mpg higher than the EPA's combined estimate for the diesel ZR2.

We also squeezed our longest range to date out of the ZR2: 513.3 miles. It could have gone farther but would have required a very light foot to get it there. That one tank used 20.885 gallons of diesel, which is just shy of a full tank (21 gallons is the diesel ZR2's maximum fuel capacity). From Los Angeles to southern Utah, a journey of nearly all highway miles and with a significant increase in elevation, the ZR2 got 24.6 mpg, much higher than its EPA estimate of 22 mpg highway.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.4
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 15,227 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
On one of the off-road side trips in Utah, the ZR2 took some damage to a tire. It was a slow leak but needed to be fixed before the truck could get back on the road. Luckily, the local shop in Bryce Canyon had a spare. We removed the matching full-size spare located under the bed, then replaced the spare with the new tire. Labor plus the cost of the tire and resetting the tire pressure monitors cost us $206.

We also added exactly 3.9 gallons of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) at a truck stop at a cost of $10.78. Our DEF usage during ownership of the truck is 10.9 gallons at 14,922 miles, equaling out to 1,370 miles per gallon of DEF, or about 11 gallons every 15,000 miles.

To put that in perspective, our long-term Ram 1500 EcoDiesel averaged 1,050 DEF mpg after 49,156 miles.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"I've driven thousands of miles in the ZR2 and I always come away with the same impression: There's no way I'd buy it with the diesel. Yes, I was just able to squeeze 500-plus miles of range out of it with a light foot, but I'd much rather fill this thing up every 350-400 miles in exchange for a V6 that has some guts. Passing on the highway is comically slow and in-town drivability suffers, too. Given the chance, I'd probably buy one of these as a roller (no engine) and throw a crate motor in there. Any Chevy LS V8 would turn this into a laugh riot of a vehicle and something I'd want to drive way more often." — Travis Langness, staff writer

"This was my first time driving the ZR2, so I'm sure what I'd say about how slow and unresponsive the throttle is, and its bouncy road ride, has been said 1,000 times before. But I did get to drive it approximately 50 miles off-road and the thing was a beast. It handled everything so easily that rocky hills and steep entrance/departure angles are nothing to worry about. I really found an appreciation for this vehicle and its capabilities, which muted previous complaints by detractors. But I don't live with it 24/7 where those complaints would creep back into my consciousness." — Scott Jacobs, senior manager photography

"It's hard not to feel invincible when you're driving the ZR2 off-road. It's so effortless when it comes to navigating tight trails and rocky climbs, it almost feels like you're cheating. And out on open dirt roads, it feels even better. Get this thing up to 60 mph on a washboard surface and it just floats. It'll go for hours like that, even in the heat of the desert. No fuss, no muss, no exploding shocks." — Travis Langness

Cargo Space
"The rear seat is a big impediment to cargo space in the ZR2. It doesn't flip up easily, and when it does, it gets in the way of large items. So when you want somewhere to store your valuables while you're camping out on public land, you better take them out of your large camping bins. That's what I had to do for five days in the southern Utah desert and it was a bit annoying. Next time I guess I'll bring a smaller tote for all that stuff. If I was an owner, though, I'd just buy a tonneau cover or a bed cap." — Travis Langness

Interior
"I found a fix to the shiny-steering-wheel-chrome problem: tape. I haven't found a Sharpie yet, but this temporary workaround is definitely keeping me glare-free for now. Let's see how long other staffers leave this thing on." — Travis Langness


Monthly Update for June 2018

Where Did We Drive It?
June was a month of variety for our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. We drove to Disneyland, one hour in each direction on the freeway. The truck spent an afternoon as a sawhorse. On one particular night, though, it wasn't even good enough for the dog to ride in. It sat parked for four days in a dealership service center.

Thankfully, it spent the end of the month in its element as a support vehicle for an off-road comparison test in the Inyo National Forest. It was an eventful month.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
With more than 16,000 miles on the odometer, our Colorado ZR2 might have found its fuel-economy happy place. We drove 1,377 miles in June and added 3.9 gallons of diesel exhaust fluid, but the truck didn't seem to notice. Despite the mileage accumulation, none of the following mpg markers budged from the previous month.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.4
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 16,604 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep

We dropped off our Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 for maintenance at Martin Cadillac on a Thursday. It wasn't ready for pickup until Monday. What took so long? It was due for its 15,000-mile service, which included an oil and oil filter change, tire rotation and safety inspections. There were also three open recalls:

17466 — Reprogram the instrument cluster to remedy a timing-belt warning message
17337 — Reprogram the engine control module to fix a diesel particulate matter sensor error
17345 — Inspect the shock absorbers for fractures (ours were OK)

Chevy Complete Care is good for two years or 24,000 miles of free maintenance, so the only cost this time was four days out of service.

Logbook Highlights

Interior

"My wife, daughter and I decided to go to Lazy Dog cafe for dinner, and they welcome pets on their patio with water and a separate menu. I went to load our black Lab, Rosella, into the ZR2, but I'd forgotten how badly its rear-seat folding scheme works. The 60/40-split seat bottoms do flip up, but the floor beneath is taken up by a fixed seat foundation that's nowhere near flat enough for a dog to lie down upon. Rosella gave it two paws down. We took another vehicle instead." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

Cargo Space

"I forget how convenient a tailgate can be. I used the Colorado's as an impromptu work bench for a half-hour yesterday and it did everything I needed. The strategic cutouts were probably enough to keep my tools and fasteners from rolling away by themselves. But add the grippy surface of the spray-in bedliner and my things weren't going anywhere." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

Comfort
"Although the ZR2 may be fun for adults to ride in, that may not be the case for wee ones. I drove my 4-year-old niece and her mom to Disneyland for the day in the Colorado. And neither appreciated the truck's height and busy-ness on the road. (Note: Both usually ride around in an X5.) Every lane change and turn during the 50-minute drive from L.A. to Anaheim was met with a whine of complaint from the tiny backseat driver. When we finally arrived at the parking lot, Astrid loudly voiced how happy she was that the ride was over. This from a girl who loves Big Thunder Mountain Railroad." — Caroline Pardilla, senior copy editor

Miscellaneous
"For $46,000-plus, I really expected better headlights." — Kurt Niebuhr, road test editor


Monthly Update for July 2018

by Will Kaufman, Staff Writer

Where Did We Drive It?
After getting to do all sorts of stuff in June, our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 didn't tackle anything more onerous than a speed bump in July. As a nice change of pace, this month the ZR2 also received a little love as a daily driver (hey, we can take a break from complaining about the ride quality for a few weeks). Of course, there are always some issues for us to ... reflect on.

You'll get that when you read the comments.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We drove our ZR2 1,360 miles in July and averaged 19.5 mpg, making it the second-worst month for fuel economy on record. That's what happens when you don't get out to the mountains and instead spend all your time stuck in traffic.

Still, the diesel engine seems to have no trouble operating right in its EPA range, which is more than we can say for a lot of other vehicles.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.2
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 17,785 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
None.

Logbook Highlights

Technology

"I've noticed something in vehicles with Apple CarPlay — they often forget they have it. This morning, I plugged in my phone, and the Chevy MyLink didn't recognize it. I tried plugging it back in, and CarPlay still didn't come up. I even turned off the car and tried plugging in my phone a minute later. Nothing. It had worked flawlessly all weekend. I'm not sure if the issue here is with my phone or the infotainment system." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor

Interior

"I always catch it in my peripheral vision, but the reflection of the infotainment screen in the rear window never fails to get my attention. I don't know what the fix would be on Chevy's end. Maybe angling the screen toward the driver would be the best course of action, but if it's not one annoying reflection in this thing, it's another." — Kurt Niebuhr, road test editor

"$46K and you don't get a power-operated sliding rear window." — Kurt Niebuhr

Miscellaneous
"The Jeep Wrangler has its charms (like a removable roof to let all the smells in), but if I wanted an off-road-ready vehicle that I was going to drive on the road regularly, I'd take the Colorado ZR2 over the Wrangler. The Wrangler has that exhausting 'never stop steering even when you're going in a straight line' thing going on, and I can't get comfortable in its seats. The ZR2 isn't perfect (and I would definitely get the V6 instead of the diesel), but I'll take its seats and better on-road steering any day. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go prepare myself for getting shouted at by all my co-workers about why I'm wrong." — Will Kaufman, staff writer

"I love driving these midsize pickups since they're not much bigger than an SUV. I'd much rather have a truck this size as my daily driver than a full-size pickup. There's no need to take up two compact parking spaces or park at the back of the lot as I would in our F-150, for example." — Ron Montoya


Monthly Update for August 2018

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

Where Did We Drive It?
We drove our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 some 1,306 miles in August, a figure that brings its odometer up to 19,091 miles overall. With just one month left of service, the Chevrolet ZR2 looks set to reach our typical 20,000-mile target in the allotted 12 months.

Those August miles were fairly evenly split between commuting, home-improvement store runs and a weekend camping trip to Sequoia National Park. August had it all, in other words: arterial city streets, urban freeways, interstates, winding mountain roads, traffic, wide-open spaces, grades and a smattering of altitude. And heat. August was sweltering around here.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Taken together, the Colorado averaged 20.5 mpg in August, which is just a smidge better than its EPA combined rating of 20 mpg. But it was also a month of extremes. One tank came in at 15.3 mpg, which is the worst this truck has ever produced. The tank right after it, which was dominated by freeway cruising back and forth to the national park, was 25 mpg. That's the second-best tank the ZR2 has ever managed, and it beats the truck's 22 mpg EPA highway rating by 3 mpg.

The back-to-back nature of these extremes led to suspicion that our math was off or that we'd made a record-keeping error, but it all checks out. It's not a case of underfilling, because for that to be true the first tank would be high and the second tank low. Different drivers and different driving environments constitute the best theory I can come up with.

The larger point is that our ZR2's lifetime average of 21.2 mpg remains unchanged, which is impressive. The ZR2's EPA combined rating is 20 mpg, and we're comfortably surpassing that after 19,000-odd miles. It must be the diesel engine. We've seen the same tendency with the various VW TDI diesel long-term cars we've had (may they rest in peace), as well as the long-term 2014 Ram 1500 EcoDiesel we drove for 50,000 miles.

Abundant drive-away torque (coupled, perhaps, with a relative lack of power higher up in the powerband) must be what it takes to replicate EPA dyno test results in the real world. This theory dovetails nicely with our experience with electric vehicles, which in most cases have shown themselves to be capable of meeting or exceeding their stated range and consumption ratings, too.

Electric motors have a similar torque profile: lots of it down low (they all peak at 0 rpm, in fact), but they don't thrill a driver with a continuing rush of power at higher speeds. Tesla is the exception, but it also fits the theory. Its cars aren't as good as other EVs at meeting and beating range and consumption estimates.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.2
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 19,091 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
We didn't need to add any diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) this month. The last fill came in late May at 14,922 miles, which was 4,169 miles ago. The tank holds 5 gallons, and our approximate consumption rate is around 1,100 miles per gallon. So the light should come on next month at nearly the same time the odometer ticks past 20,000 miles.

An infotainment system software update became available this month, and we were able to do it at home using the onboard 4G LTE Wi-Fi connection. The process isn't as automatic as Telsa's over-the-air update strategy — you have to trigger it manually and monitor progress — but at least no dealer visit was involved.

Road test engineer Calvin Kim had this to say about the process:

"With over-the-air updates an inevitability, the whole idea of manually updating software will become quaint. But until then, in order to ensure our ZR2's infotainment system works well, the updates are manual. At least it's fairly easy enough thanks to its onboard LTE modem."

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"Can I tell you how much I love this diesel engine? Forget horsepower; torque is king. It doesn't take a big whack of throttle to get this sled rolling, and once up to speed it gives off a feeling of effortless momentum." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

Comfort
"The ZR2 amazes me with its ride comfort every time I drive it. It looks big, burly and badass, but the ride is smooth and serene. As for speed humps and speed bumps, they barely feel like anything." — Dan Edmunds

Technology
"I have become dependent on how easy Apple CarPlay makes it to connect to Bluetooth. I don't think I could ever go back to regular Bluetooth pairing again. But I do have a few gripes. There isn't a good place for my phone, and the USB port is hidden nearly out of sight in a dark corner. Ram and Jeep products have added illumination around the port to aid connection in low light, and that's something that the Colorado could really use." — Dan Edmunds

"The inductive phone charging pad is in a good location so long as you're not heavy on the brake pedal. But it's simply not wide enough for modern phones." — Calvin Kim, road test engineer

Cargo Space
"I went to Home Depot to buy 16 bags of gravel. At 40 pounds apiece, that adds up to 640 pounds. My wife and daughter accompanied me and, between the three of us, we weigh 420 pounds. Add gravel and passengers, and you get 1,060 pounds.

"What's the ZR2's payload? It's just 1,110 pounds because its dedicated off-road suspension is optimized for long-travel compliance, not payload. Hauling ass, not gravel, if you will. The moral of the story: We were just a single 40-pound sack away from maxing out the ZR2. And, yes, people are payload." — Dan Edmunds

"The corner steps built into the ends of the Colorado and the Silverado are really useful, but the ZR2 doesn't have them in order to maximize off-road departure clearance. I get it, but the ZR2's jacked-up suspension produces a much higher bed and tailgate lip than a standard Colorado. Climbing in to deal with the bags of gravel wasn't easy. It's another example of how the ZR2 isn't the payload monster in the Colorado lineup." — Dan Edmunds


Monthly Update for September 2018

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

Where Did We Drive It?
That sound you hear is the Edmunds staff applauding because our long-term 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 hit its 20,000-mile target last month. Not only that, but the end of September also marked a full year of ownership. Usually these milestones would mean it's time to say goodbye, but we own this one outright. We're free to keep it as long as we want.

Our ZR2 is not going anywhere just yet because it's still a popular choice. And it's not as if everyone is off-roading all the time either. It's certainly being used for that, but it's also comfortable enough to get picked for road trips that any car, truck or SUV could handle. September's tally of 2,110 miles is a prime example of that.

The Colorado spent more than a week in the hands of our remote operative in California's Central Valley, which means he drove it more than 400 miles on a there-and-back road trip, plus a like number of miles of local commuting and errand-running. Another staffer took it to a remote undisclosed location in Kern County to maintain a duck blind, while a third drove it north to Monterey, California, to attend the Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Laguna Seca Raceway. Others may have even driven it to work and back in between.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Yes, more than half of this month's 2,110 miles were highway miles, but it must be said that the drivers involved are not feather-footed. They're the sort who are, shall we say, eager to get where they're going, if you catch my drift. And the number of city miles they drove was not negligible either.

I'm pointing this out because September's average fuel economy worked out to 22.1 mpg. That's pretty remarkable considering the truck's EPA highway rating is 22 mpg. The EPA combined number, the figure we usually measure ourselves against, is 20 mpg. September's result also nudged our lifetime average up 0.1 mpg from July.

As I said last month, there's something about diesels that makes it much easier to hit their numbers than gasoline-powered machines. We see it all the time.

If you find yourself shaking your head and thinking that a 22 mpg highway rating isn't that great for a midsize diesel pickup, remember that this is the ZR2 we're talking about. It stands quite a bit taller and is significantly wider than a regular Colorado. Its front end has been almost comically pruned back to enable more off-road clearance. And don't forget about those knobby tires, which are also quite wide.

It would be a gross understatement, in other words, to say that a regular diesel Colorado has better aerodynamics. The difference in the frontal area and total drag is absolutely massive. A comparative look at the Colorado's EPA highway ratings bear this out: A non-ZR2 4x4 diesel is good for 28 mpg (plus 5 mpg/27 percent) and the Colorado 4x2 diesel is rated at 30 mpg (plus 8 mpg/36 percent).

But aerodynamics don't play nearly as big a role at lower city speeds, so the ZR2's 19 mpg city rating rises to just 20 mpg for the regular 4x4 Colorado diesel. A 4x2 diesel Colorado does a little better at 22 mpg, which is in line with the usual 1-2 mpg improvement that comes when you subtract the weight and mechanical drag of a 4x4 system.

Average mpg this month: 22.1
Average lifetime mpg: 21.1
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best-fill mpg: 25.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 21,201 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
As predicted in the last update, our ZR2 Duramax diesel asked for some diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) just after the odometer rolled past 20,000 miles. I'm not sure precisely when the light came on, but Brent's logbook entry says he added 2.5 gallons of the stuff at 20,073 miles, which is 5,151 miles after we last filled it. Here's what else he had to say about it:

"While I was adding more DEF to our Colorado this month, I couldn't help but notice the multiple warnings on the box that you shouldn't add DEF to the fuel tank. I could see somebody making that mistake, either by a lack of knowledge or just being tired and mixing up the truck's fill spouts. Just hope it doesn't happen, though. Apparently, adding DEF to the diesel tank and then driving can wreak havoc on the truck's fuel system, and would likely require expensive repairs." — Brent Romans, senior editor, written content

Brent didn't fill it fully this time because DEF at the pump isn't easy to find around these parts. It's easier to buy it by the 2.5-gallon jug and pour it in right there in the parking lot of an auto parts store. Past experience has shown us that the Colorado doesn't have the capacity for two 2.5-gallon jugs, so we usually add just one and get back on the road. Sure, it's not full, but our ZR2's historical DEF economy hovers in the neighborhood of 1,100 mpg. A single jug buys us another 2,750 miles of driving before we have to think about it again.

Logbook Highlights
Performance
"We've had a couple different opinions about our ZR2's diesel engine recently. Just last month, Dan Edmunds wrote: 'Can I tell you how much I love the diesel engine? Forget horsepower; torque is king.' But back in May, Travis Langness wrote: 'There's no way I'd buy [a Colorado] with the diesel.'

"I think I land somewhere in the middle. I enjoy the engine's relaxed power and distinctive clickity-clack soundtrack. Heck, if you could get this engine with a manual transmission, I'd like it even more. But in reality, I wouldn't buy it either. It's too expensive and too slow, and the modest gains in fuel economy and potential towing ability aren't enough to offset those downsides." — Brent Romans

Comfort
"I know it's been said before, but one side effect of the ZR2's trick shocks is a fairly amazing highway ride. High frequency bumps, like the kind you find in a lane heavily used by semi-trucks, are nearly nonexistent. So are high-speed dips and drops like the kind you find on portions of Interstate 405 here in L.A. If your off-roading destinations take a few hours of driving to get to, this truck is probably the most comfortable way to get there." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor

"Yesterday, I drove our Colorado ZR2 about 500 miles, the most I've ever driven it in one day. It was mostly highway driving, with about an hour of congested city traffic thrown in. At the end of the day, I was feeling pretty good. The ride quality can be a little bumpy at times, but the big tires and special DSSV shock absorbers take the edge off any truly rough pavement. The driver's seat is comfortable and the truck is stable at high speed. Even those knobby tires are reasonably quiet. I'd have no reservations about taking a ZR2 on a long road trip to get somewhere for dedicated off-roading." — Brent Romans

Utility
"One thing I love about having a pickup truck around is the ease in which you can load up bicycles. With any other vehicle, you have to deal with folding down seats, muscling bikes up on roof racks or installing tow-hitch attachments. With a pickup, you just throw your family's bikes in the bed and go. I found our Colorado's short bed is just long enough to hold my 29-inch bike." — Brent Romans


Monthly Update for October 2018

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

October diesel consumption: 21.6 mpg
Average lifetime diesel consumption: 21.1 mpg — no change
EPA rating: 20 mpg combined (19 city/22 highway)

Best tank: 26.4 mpg — new this month, displaces 25.7 mpg
Best range: 513.3 miles — no change

Miles added this month: 2,126.5 miles
Current odometer: 23,328 miles

Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) added this month: 4.9 gallons
Average lifetime DEF consumption: 1,104 mpg

Where Did We Drive It?
Our ZR2 diesel demonstrated its full range of capabilities this month. It was a daily driver on commute duty much of the time, but it was also pressed into service as the support and recovery vehicle for a fairly gnarly off-road video we shot. Near the end of the month, I took it on an impromptu same-day run to Phoenix and back to pick up some freebie off-road wheels and tires. When someone on a forum says, "You can have them. I just want them out of my garage," you've got to act fast.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
This month's fuel economy varied as much as the style of driving. Only a single tank of 18.4 mpg came in below the EPA city rating. Three other tanks ranged between 19.9 and 21.6 mpg. And then there was my trip to Phoenix. The outbound leg, which was tainted by a handful of errand-running miles I'd driven the day before I heard about the freebie tires, came in at 23 mpg. But the trip back was pure highway from door to door, and that's where the ZR2 achieved a new best tank of 26.4 mpg. The weight of the cargo I picked up was almost certainly a negative, but did the load's shape and positioning help smooth the airflow off the cab and improve the aerodynamic profile? Hard to say, but I think not. This long-legged diesel is simply very good at cruising along at a steady pace.

Maintenance and Upkeep
We added DEF partway through last month. But because of the circumstances, we'd only added a single 2.5-gallon jug. Our ZR2 diesel uses the stuff at a rate of about 1,100 miles per gallon, so it was no surprise that the warning light came on again this month some 2,600 miles later.

It happened on my watch during that freeway run to Phoenix. And I was determined to get to Phoenix before I stopped to add any and also run it down low enough that two 2.5-gallon jugs had a chance of fitting in the truck's 5.4-gallon DEF tank. I'd tried this before and failed because I stopped as soon as the warning light came one. I had no interest in toting a not-quite-empty jug of DEF all the way back home.

I succeeded in making it to Phoenix, though the warning did stop counting down the tank percentage once it dropped below 10 percent. For a good number of the final miles, it simply said "Low." But was it empty enough? Apparently not. When the filler neck started to back up, the second 2.5-gallon jug still contained about an inch of DEF, possibly less. I'm guessing I added 4.75 gallons. I attempted to add the remainder after driving the 340 miles home from Phoenix, but even then it wouldn't all go in.

I get it, don't fail to refill your DEF tank. Warnings, warnings, warnings. But come ON. You have two choices, GM: a) delay the onset of the sub-10 percent "Low" warning until 5 gallons will easily go in or b) increase the size of the DEF tank so you can continue to time the warnings the way you do now. Is that 5.6 gallons? 5.7 gallons? All I know is your 5.4-gallon tank isn't quite cutting it.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"This engine feels like it'll go on forever like this. The posted speed limit is 75 mph, and I'm not running any slower than that as I keep up with the flow of traffic. It all feels so effortless." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

"I'm not sure if this is a characteristic of all small diesel trucks, but when idling through traffic, the ZR2 kind of shimmies and bucks like someone driving a manual transmission and not giving it enough gas when releasing the clutch. This would get annoying if I spent a lot of time in rush hour in this thing." — Jonathan Elfalan, vehicle testing manager

Comfort
"When it comes to ride comfort, do not be afraid of the ZR2's jacked-up suspension and knobby tires. The ride is smooth, the suspension breathes nicely over swales, and I'm barely hearing a peep out of the tires." — Dan Edmunds

"The Colorado's driving position is far superior to that of the Tacoma. The seats aren't my favorite, but I like them more now than I did two years ago when I was 40 pounds heavier than I am today. They felt really small then; now they fit better. Or I do. They're still not the roomiest truck seats I've sat in, though." — Dan Edmunds

Utility
"I've never been a huge fan of the Colorado's bed. It only offers four simple tie-downs in the lower corners, and those hooks are hard to reach because the bed sides are cartoonishly tall. The bed bottom and tailgate are set high, too, which makes it hard to load stuff in. That's the regular Colorado. Take all that and add another 2 inches of raised ZR2 suspension, and it all gets that much worse. On this occasion, I had to lift five fairly heavy tire and wheel assemblies up and into there. Not fun." — Dan Edmunds

Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing @ 23,328 miles

Monthly Update for November 2018

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

Miles added this month: 1,044.6 miles
Current odometer: 24,372 miles

November consumption: 20.7 mpg
Average lifetime consumption: 21.1 mpg — no change
EPA rating: 20 mpg combined (19 city/22 highway)

Best tank: 26.4 mpg — no change
Best range: 513.3 miles — no change

Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) added this month: None
Average lifetime DEF consumption: 1,104 mpg

Where Did We Drive It?
No one drove our ZR2 on any long road trips this month. It stayed pretty close to home, and so the driving mix included a bit more in-town mileage than recent months. Commuting, errand-running, trips to the mall. It was mostly a ho-hum month.

But not entirely. One of those tanks did include an off-road adventure, but even this was on a trail close to home. The lights of the L.A. basin were still visible from high up on the mountainside.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
This month's driving averaged 20.7 mpg. But this 1,000 miles of new data wasn't enough of a departure from the truck's norm to lower its overall 24,000-mile lifetime average. The ZR2 came into November averaging 21.1 mpg, and that's how it left.

As for the tank that included the off-road trip, that one came in at 20.9 mpg, which is a tad better than the month's average. That's because the entire run consisted of no more than 30 miles of off-pavement driving. The trail was also narrow (more on that later) and only moderately technical. Speeds were low and throttle inputs were gentle — both of which favor a diesel powertrain such as this. If anything, the freeway cruise to the trailhead offset any losses that may have come from creeping up a mountain trail.

Maintenance and Upkeep
The ZR2's oil life monitor finally reached the point where an oil change was necessary, so Cameron took it to a dealer near his home. He noted:

"I brought it to Puente Hills Chevrolet, where I took our previous 2015 Colorado V6 to its first service. The check-in process hadn't changed much in three and a half years — I still waited awkwardly by the truck for a few minutes before an adviser helped me, then stood over his shoulder as he prepped the paperwork.

"I had called ahead the day before to schedule an appointment, but the service tech told me one was not necessary for an oil change. He was on the level: My adviser quoted me a total wait time of 1.5 hours for the oil change and tire rotation. I headed to the customer waiting room and enjoyed the much-improved Wi-Fi. An hour later, the Colorado was ready. Total cost was $0, thanks to Chevy's complimentary two-year/24,000-mile service. This is the Colorado's last free service because we're about to cross that mileage milestone."

Logbook Highlights
Performance
"Last month I loved this engine while cruising the freeway, this month I geeked out over how well the truck lopes up and over uneven terrain on this little-used forest service truck trail. There's so much torque on tap I barely have to crack the throttle open much. Combine that trait with this diesel engine's miserly fuel consumption, and you've got one great combination for backcountry roaming and exploration." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

"The ZR2 perplexes me. It's supposed to be the ultimate off-road version of the Colorado, but its extreme width is a liability, in my opinion. The more I drive it I realize that what I'd really like is the ZR2's lockers, skid plates, tires and mildly lifted suspension on a standard-width Colorado body.

"Today's trail is a case in point. Many local trails through the local forests and deserts are narrow and lined with brush on both sides. There's no trimming service out here; the passage of vehicles is what prunes the growth back and keeps the trails passable. The thing is, many such vehicles are Jeeps, and they're not very wide.

"This wasn't much of a problem over the first two-thirds of the trail. I was able to steer clear of the worst of it, playing Operation with the overhanging scenery. But then I reached a narrow spot, and it came just after a very awkward tight corner. I couldn't really back up or turn around, so I had no choice but to plow forward and ignore the sickening 'screeee' sound of brush having its way with the finish on both sides.

"Want to know the worst part? It's a dead-end trail. Once I can turn around, I'll have to run this thorny gauntlet a second time. We locally refer to this as the optional 'desert stripe package.' The only cost involved is the payment you'll make to have a detailer attempt to buff it all out. Or, in this case, the payment that I will make." — Dan Edmunds

Interior
"The Colorado's interior doesn't feel very premium. It's just a sea of black plastic buttons, which seems to be par for the course in the midsize pickup class of vehicles; the Honda Ridgeline being the one exception. That said, the buttons are all functional and logically placed throughout the cabin." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor


Monthly Update for January 2019

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

To look at it, you would not think our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 would be a popular pick for an extended road trip. You'd instantly get the ZR2's off-road ability, but its smooth, settled ride and admirable open-road fuel economy do not explain themselves on looks alone. The reality is that many on our staff find themselves drawn to its pleasant on-road ride, and the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel has demonstrated repeatedly that it can cover a lot of ground between fill-ups. It's no surprise that the ZR2 was picked for three out-of-town trips since the last update.

Before the holiday break, John Adolph drove it on a scouting trip in support of a three-way truck video you'll soon see. He hauled a motorcycle and explored a fair number of off-road miles, but he also covered a lot of ground on the freeway getting there and back.

During the holidays, Travis drove it more than a thousand miles to Northern California and back to spend time with family. Shortly after his return, Scott Jacobs grabbed the keys and added more than 600 miles over a short weekend before things quieted down in late January.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
First, the bottom line: The ZR2 averaged 21.5 mpg over the 2,994 miles it was driven since the last update, and that was enough to raise its lifetime average up a tick from 21.1 to 21.2 mpg. It's an impressive performance considering the truck's EPA combined rating is 20 mpg.

Running ahead of the EPA combined number rarely happens, but an assortment of diesels and EVs we've tested have pulled it off. We think it has something to do with ample low-end torque and its ability to help get these vehicles rolling easily without needing a deep stab of throttle when the light turns green. We've noticed it before on VW TDI diesels, and our Ram 1500 EcoDiesel also beat expectations during the 50,000 miles it racked up while in our fleet.

The entire period was good, but one absolutely stellar tank stood out among the rest. One staffer set a new "best tank" record of 27.7 mpg over a healthy distance of 452.8 miles, and this otherworldly performance destroyed the truck's previous best of 26.4 mpg.

Either one is impressive when you consider that a ZR2 diesel's EPA highway rating is 22 mpg, but this month's top tank really stood out.

December and January consumption: 21.5 mpg
Average lifetime consumption: 21.2 mpg (up from 21.1)
EPA rating: 20 mpg combined (19 city/22 highway)

Best tank: 27.7 mpg (up from 26.4)
Best range: 513.3 miles

December and January miles: 2,994
Current odometer: 27,367 miles

Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) added this month: None
Average lifetime DEF consumption: 1,104 mpg

Maintenance and Upkeep
None.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"I took the ZR2 on a scouting mission for one of our truck comparison videos, and at the last minute I decided to take my wife and two dogs. We loaded everything up easily and were on our way. The highway mileage was better than average, and when we got on the trail, the truck excelled. Black diamond-rated sections of rocks and loose silt were no issue. Switching from 2-Hi/4-Hi/4-Lo was effortless. One nitpick from my co-pilot, though: She couldn't reach the forward-mounted grab handle easily, so when the bumps got rough, her head smacked the passenger window way too many times." — John Adolph, supervising producer

Comfort
"Ironically, the ZR2's smooth ride is an outgrowth of its jacked-up off-road suspension, which can afford to be supple because there's a lot of suspension travel. You actually want to let the suspension breathe when the going gets rough, so long as you can control the motions with advanced shock absorbers that invariably cost big bucks. Those same traits work on the road, but most street-focused vehicles are too price-sensitive to afford such fancy shocks, and they have far less suspension travel to work with." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

"The ZR2's front seats are OK for road-trip comfort but not excellent. The Ridgeline does much better in that category. But one feature I love that GM does is those split-heated seats. Every vehicle everywhere should have the heating function for the back pad only; it's like built-in heating-pad therapy while you're on the go." — Travis Langness, reviews editor

Technology
"The Colorado's simple dashboard layout just shouts 'TRUCK!' to me, and that's a good thing. I like the simplicity of it and all of the capability the infotainment screen provides. It's significantly better than the Tacoma's screen, especially when it comes to use-it-without-looking tasks." — Travis Langness

Miscellaneous
"This truck is big. All midsize trucks are big really, especially the crew-cab kind. And my father, who owns a short-bed '60s Chevy pickup could hardly believe his eyes when we measured the ZR2 and his C10 back to back. The ZR2 is much longer, has a longer wheelbase, and is significantly wider. Midsize is the new quarter-ton." — Travis Langness


Monthly Update for February 2019

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

February consumption: 21.3 mpg
Average lifetime consumption: 21.2 mpg (unchanged)
EPA rating: 20 mpg combined (19 city/22 highway)

Best tank: 27.7 mpg (no change)
Best range: 513.3 miles (no change)

February miles: 2,374
Current odometer: 29,741 miles

Diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) added this month: 2.5 gallons
Average lifetime DEF consumption: 1,104 mpg

February was a busy month for our Colorado ZR2 despite uncharacteristically rainy, and even snowy, local weather. The ZR2 continues to be both a staff favorite and a workhorse, and our merry band of drivers added a healthy 2,374 miles during a month that included at least three different trips out into the desert.

One trip was for pure fun. The other two trips amounted to video support for an off-road film we made: first to scout the area, then to shadow the subject vehicles and carry equipment during the actual filming.

Despite a fair bit of off-road driving and an occasionally heavy load of staff and equipment, the ZR2 averaged 21.3 mpg for the month, which is slightly better than the truck's lifetime average (21.2 mpg).

This diesel-powered machine continues to impress us with measured fuel economy that runs steadily above its 20 mpg EPA combined rating with little apparent effort. In this part of the country, a gallon of Diesel #2 fuel only costs about a dime more than premium unleaded, so the diesel's low fuel consumption is translating into real cost-per-mile savings at the pump.

Maintenance and Upkeep

DEF added: 2.5 gallons
Other maintenance: None

We had no maintenance issues this month, but we did need to add DEF. This refill happened at 29,625 miles, which means the previous DEF top-up had been sufficient to last 6,671 miles. But we can't calculate DEF consumption over this period just yet because our man didn't completely fill the tank.

Instead, he added a single 2.5-gallon jug and went on his way. History has shown that our ZR2 Duramax diesel can travel more than 1,100 miles on a gallon of DEF, so even this partial fill should keep the low-fluid warning light at bay for another 2,800 miles or so.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"My trip to the desert included a surprise. I encountered falling snow on a steep climb, which produced a traffic jam with numerous cars pulled over to install mandatory snow chains. That's the thing about traveling in Southern California. There's never any snow in the basin where everyone lives, and the desert never gets much more than a dusting. No one installs winter tires on their cars, in other words.

"But high mountain passes stand between the two locales and their sinuous steepness can make all-season tires worthless. The all-terrain Goodyears on the ZR2 skated around some because they're not fully optimized winter tires, but the snowflake symbol and M+S rating on their sidewall — not to mention the truck's four-wheel-drive system — allowed me to bypass the chain control and keep going. And unlike the others, I wasn't headed farther up the mountain to the local ski areas. For me, the heavy snow only lasted a few miles until I crested the pass and turned off toward my desert destination." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

"The ZR2 has the stance and drive system necessary to tackle most any terrain, but there are a few frustrating weak points. For one, its underslung spare tire hangs down much lower than any competitor's, which is obvious to the naked eye. It almost looks as if the owner hasn't winched it fully into place. This low-hanging spare can cause real problems on unmaintained desert trails, and we encountered an example where recent rain runoff had squared-off the lip of a sand wash we had to cross. As the rear tires came over the lip, the truck landed hard on the spare, pancake-style.

"Later, on another rocky trail, the diesel's oversize and badly located exhaust tip got pinched between the rear bumper and a rock to the point where it was almost closed off. This issue isn't the first time this has happened, either." — Dan Edmunds

"It was very rainy this past weekend, and the storm drains in Los Angeles aren't particularly effective, which left a lot of standing water on the streets. One street I drove down had puddles that then splashed over the roofline of vehicles parked along the curb. Our Colorado ZR2 handled it without a problem. I set the 4WD to automatic — perhaps an overcorrection for an L.A. native — and it remained stable regardless of conditions. Plus, the higher ride height alleviated my concerns of water entering the engine compartment." — Ron Montoya, senior consumer advice editor

Comfort
"I took my girlfriend and her parents to the Getty Villa in nearby Malibu. Her father said he hadn't noticed the Colorado was a diesel until he heard the engine from the outside. I'll chalk that up to the conversation and rain drowning out the sound because the diesel noise is definitely noticeable if you're driving alone. My passengers didn't seem to have any issue with the comfort during the 30-minute drive each way. Getting in and out was a bit tough, however, due to the lack of side steps, but they managed." — Ron Montoya


Monthly Update for March 2019

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

March stats: 20.2 mpg, 1,526 miles
Lifetime stats:             21.1 mpg, 31,282 miles
EPA rating: 20 mpg combined (19 city/22 highway)

Best tank: 27.7 mpg (no change)
Best range: 513.3 miles (no change)

March got off to a damp, muddy start for our Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, which was drafted yet again to serve as a support vehicle for a video production of an off-road comparison test. The rain that fell in record amounts persisted into early March, and even our normally arid deserts got more than a fair share.

The ZR2 shrugged it all off, of course, but somewhere along the way one of the front tires suffered damage that caused leaking and a severe vibration that required attention. On the last day of March, the digital oil-life monitor dropped to 0%, and the digital monitor on the fuel filter life fell to 1%. We'll take care of both in April.

All of the off-road driving pushed the monthly fuel economy average fuel below the lifetime average, but this was offset somewhat by long steady highway runs to and from the video shoot location.

The March average came in at 20.2 mpg, which is bang-on with the EPA combined mpg rating for the diesel ZR2. That result is less than our truck's impressive lifetime average, but it didn't exert enough downward influence to change it. The month began and ended at 21.1 mpg.

Maintenance and Upkeep
DEF added: None.
Other maintenance: Two new tires at $183 each. The total including mounting, balancing, rotation, disposal, sales tax was $435.87. Specific details coming in a separate post.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"I'm finally back in our diesel-powered ZR2. I recently drove the gasoline-fueled V6 ZR2 and came away impressed with that engine's power and responsiveness. Our diesel version isn't as fast, but I was surprised at how different the two trucks felt. The gas version felt more energetic and lively, while the diesel was more lethargic. But the diesel's more laid-back personality brought consistent joy as I pulled away from stoplights or just cruised on the freeway.

"I'm somewhat torn over which engine I would recommend. For the cargo-hauling and towing driver, the higher payload and torque give the advantage to the diesel. The off-roader, on the other hand, will appreciate the gas engine's responsiveness and lower crawl ratio that the eight-speed transmission allows. These are good problems to have!" — Calvin Kim, vehicle test engineer

"While I'm a fan of the diesel's meaty low-end torque, accessing it from a standstill or a low-speed rock-crawling situation could be a lot better. The throttle response is pretty lazy, and there can be a critical surge in power once the engine and turbo catch up to what you asked for about a second earlier. It can make finessing the ZR2 over a steep, uneven rock face a little more challenging than it has to be." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor

"I ::heart:: having the traction control/stability control be a simple one-touch operation. No waiting 5 seconds and no silly sequence to follow. Just press a button and sideways through the mud you go." — Kurt Niebuhr

Technology
"Our ZR2's day/night interior lighting seems to have switched to a more conservative setting. Over this past weekend, nearly every time I drove it through a shadow, it switched to night mode and stayed there for way longer than it should have. It was a minor annoyance that I easily addressed by adjusting the brightness manually, but I wonder if there's some dirt or grime covering up a sensor somewhere." — Carlos Lago, manager, feature content

Miscellaneous
"Immediate forward visibility in the ZR2 is poor, and it's all because of the stylized hood. It doesn't need that 'power bulge' — there's nothing under it! You'd have a lot more confidence in low-speed off-road situations if you could see over the hood a little better. And I'm sure it'd be easy enough to swap to the standard hood, which seems like one of the best off-road mods you could do." — Kurt Niebuhr

"I agree with Kurt. But my recent comparison with the Jeep Gladiator showed me that's not the ZR2's only forward visibility problem. The front end of this and other new Chevy trucks is very broad and flat all the way out to the wide-set headlights. It's like trying to look out over a table mounted up front. Sadly, this problem is permanent because of the front-end styling." — Dan Edmunds, director of vehicle testing

Note: Yes, dear readers, this last logbook comment is similar to last month's comment. But the exhaust tip did take yet another hit this month, and Kurt's picture was too good to pass up.

"The exhaust pipe/tip thing has seen better days. They were fun days, and I'm sure this does nothing to restrict exhaust flow, but the end of the pipe is the first thing to drag over an obstacle. However, I'm guessing the truck owners who care about this stuff don't take their trucks off-road, and the truck owners who actually do go off-road will wear it like a merit badge. Still, I think it could be designed another way so as not to drag so readily." — Kurt Niebuhr


Two New Tires

by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing

We have not been shy about taking our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 out into the dirt, rocks and mud. We've put more than 30,000 miles on it so far, and we're still on the original tires. Well, mostly.

Midway through March, we used the ZR2 to support the production of yet another off-road video, and in the process it tackled all sorts of terrain. It went back into normal commuting duty afterward. And toward the end of the month, I drove it home for the weekend.

At some point during my drive home, the right front tire read 5 psi lower than the others on the tire pressure display. Later, when the low-speed freeway crush started to clear up and traffic started to run free, I noticed a severe vibration at speeds above 55 mph.

Low tire pressure? A case of the wobblies? I don't believe in coincidences.

To be clear, the TPMS warning light had not illuminated. It usually takes a 25% drop below the pressure listed on the door jamb to do that. The listed pressure is 35 psi, so the light would only come on if it were underinflated by 8 or 9 psi, not 5 psi.

Still, one front tire was clearly low, and the vibration was coming from the front. I crawled under for a look and saw a tire plug (actually the visible end of a plug/patch installed from inside) jutting from the main groove closest to the outermost tread blocks.

The plug/patch was leaking, but I couldn't recall how or why it was there. And then I remembered suffering a flat in rural Arizona more than a year before, and at that time I removed the flat and pressed the spare into active duty. The dead tire went into the spare tire rack and I had it repaired when I got to the next small town. I subsequently left the repaired tire as the spare because the ZR2 has five matching wheels and tires, and all of them have TPMS sensors.

The bad tire I was currently dealing with seemed to be that old repaired tire from a year ago. But why was it back on the right front? Whatever the reason, I figured I'd swap it with the spare once again and sort it out later.

But then I noticed that the spare tire did not match the other four. What the heck? I remembered that Travis had suffered a torn sidewall while off-roading outside a small Utah town many months previously, but I didn't know the details. I asked him about it, and he said he had intended to replace the torn tire with a matching new one, but the dinky tire shop only had a brand X tire in that size. As far away from home as he was, he had no choice.

Travis had installed the spare — my old repaired tire — when the flat occurred on the trail, and he decided to keep it there and put the cheesy, non-matching tire in the spare tire rack. A variety of staffers have driven it that way over 10,000 miles since then with no problems, and no one ever had to deal with the oddball spare. Until now.

So now I had two problems: a leaky tire with a failing patch and an iffy spare I could not press into continuous service. Buying two tires seemed like the way to go, especially since all of the tires were worn down about halfway anyway. At this late stage it was advisable to have a pair of new tires at the same tread depth on the same axle.

The factory Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires cost $183 each at a local America's Tire, and I asked them to install the brand-new ones on the rear — the recommended advice if you buy just two. When roads turn wet, you want the tires with the most tread on the back so you're less likely to hydroplane at the back end, oversteer and spin out.

That left me with three "experienced" tires. The best two (10/32nds tread depth) went on the front, and the one with the least tread (9/32nds) became the "new" spare. There's enough meat up front for at least another 10,000 miles.

All I can say is it's a good thing the ZR2 has five matching alloy wheels, and it's even better that all five of them are fitted with TPMS sensors that enables all of this endless mixing and matching. That's pretty rare nowadays, but it's important for an off-road truck.


Monthly Update for April 2019

by Calvin Kim, Vehicle Test Engineer

Where Did We Drive It?
Thanks to the combination of rough weather and photo/video work, our ZR2 has been getting regular exercise. But our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2's month was unexpectedly cut short due to being rear-ended on the highway. The initial prognosis is good, with our insurance adjuster recommending a new bumper and trailer hitch. While the need to replace the bumper was obvious, we inspected the trailer hitch and discovered no wrinkles or bends in the hardware or displaced bracketry. We're chalking it up to a case of being overly cautious.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We put more than 1,000 miles on the odometer in April, and it would've been higher had an errant motorist decided not to occupy the same piece of real estate as our truck. This time, all the accumulated miles came from city driving, so our monthly average was just 20.6 mpg.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.1
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/20 highway)
Best fill mpg: 27.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 32,463 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep

At 30,000 miles, the ZR2 called for service. Scheduling the appointment was a breeze. We rang DeLillo Chevrolet in Huntington Beach, and it booked us for the next morning. This interval required a tire rotation, new oil, an oil filter, and new fuel filters (there are two on the diesel).

We opted to skip the tire rotation since we'd just installed two new tires on the truck (see the previous update). The oil and filter were straightforward, but the fuel filters garnered most of our attention.

We sussed out, with the help of YouTube mechanics, that swapping the filters takes just a few minutes. And according to the work order, changing the filters requires a $93.37 fuel filter kit and $145 of labor and was completed in just a few hours. Including the oil change, the total cost for the maintenance came out to $318.51. Afterward, we called around to see how the price matched up and were surprised we overpaid by nearly $100. Fair warning to owners of diesel-engine Colorados: Shop around!

Logbook Highlights

Technology-Audio
"I discovered one of the drawbacks for when a child becomes of smartphone-having age: infotainment priority fights.

"Case in point: establishing smartphone priority in the Colorado ZR2. With my iPhone plugged into the Chevy's front USB connection and running Apple CarPlay, my kid plugged in her iPhone through one of the rear USB ports. CarPlay then switched over to her phone. I would switch it back to mine, but as soon as a song changed on her device, her phone would again take over.

"She only wanted to use the port for charging while listening to her own tunes through Bluetooth earbuds. We tried a couple of different methods and connection sequences, including using the native interface (not CarPlay), but couldn't set up a way for her to charge without also taking over the music connection.

"Poking around a few internet forums, this situation appears to be common among Chevy/GM owners. And it is actually a great feature, the ability for any passenger to run the music from their device. That's great for extended runs and road trips. Chevy should just offer an easy way to set the priority for the different devices from the touchscreen.

"The obvious answer, of course, is to buy a dual USB charger for the 12-volt outlet and skip the USB ports altogether. But growth is in the struggle." — Dan Frio, reviews editor

Miscellaneous
"I'm going to be sad to see this truck go. It's easy to park, the ride is comfortable, and the tech helps me get through my painful commute. It's the PERFECT city truck." — John Adolph, supervising producer


Monthly Update for May 2019

by Calvin Kim, Vehicle Test Engineer

Where Did We Drive It?
If you've been following along, our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 was involved in an accident toward the end of April. It was a minor accident, at least it was for our plucky truck, and that meant we weren't in any terrible rush to get it fixed. All it needed was a new bumper and paint, and though the trailer hitch looked OK, we got a new one installed since it took the brunt of the accident. You can never be too careful.

Once back in our possession, we immediately put a thousand miles on the odometer with a quick trip to Flagstaff, Arizona, to take in the off-roading and camping spectacle that is Overland Expo. We then drafted it into family duty and discovered some issues with using car seats in a midsize truck. Of course, our ZR2 isn't just any midsize truck. It's nearly 2 inches taller than a standard Colorado, but it doesn't have the rear legroom of a full-size truck. Our verdict is that we found using the ZR2 for child-seat duty was challenging but doable.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Our quick road trip and some city driving added on 1,626 miles over four fill-ups to our ZR2. All told, those fill-ups averaged out to 20.6 mpg, with no effect on our lifetime result. We could've put more miles on the ZR2 this month, but the truck spent some time in the body shop.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.1
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 27.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 34,090 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
None.

Logbook Highlights

Comfort
"The seats are misleading. At first they don't seem comfortable, but as the miles tick away, they seem to mold to you, and the minimal amount of bolster lets you move around to change the location of your pressure points. Overall, I was amazed that I could go from Santa Monica, California, to Flagstaff, Arizona, with just one stop for gas and a stretch." — Calvin Kim, vehicle test engineer

Interior
"The Colorado will safely carry car seats and the children attached to them. That is about the only compliment I can give this truck with regard to child safety seats. It's not all the ZR2's fault. The midsize truck segment is largely unfriendly in this regard. Here's what you can expect:

"Little tykes will struggle to climb up into the high cab. Be prepared to lift them, especially when it's inconvenient for you.

"If you're still in the full-size car seat stage, you'll find it a snug fit. The front passenger will need to move forward to accommodate. Hopefully that person has short legs.

"Along the same lines, seat installation requires muscle groups you don't use often and flexibility. To attach our particular Britax seat, I had to push the front seat fully forward and wedge myself between the rows to connect the seat-belt portion. To tighten the top tether, I had to stand in the bed and pull the strap out of the cargo window. It felt ridiculous. Next time I'll get it on video." — Mike Schmidt, senior manager, vehicle testing operations

Utility
"Normally, I dislike the high bedsides of the Colorado, and the ZR2 trim exacerbates the issue. It makes getting bulky items difficult. But after my visit to Overland Expo, I realized the benefit to the high bedsides: They can help keep your cargo protected! The bedsides were high enough that my fancy cargo boxes didn't stick up past the edge even when double-stacking them." — Calvin Kim

"I owned a truck with a plastic slide-in bedliner for years. I loved it. The smooth surface was helpful when shuffling heavy items in and out and I didn't care that it got scratched. After a week in our ZR2, with its spray liner, I may like this more.

"It's not my first experience with a spray liner, but this time it got me thinking. The grip it offers is essentially the opposite of what I appreciated about my slide-in. It holds cargo a bit more securely. And I don't have to worry as much about wetting the bed because the rough finish stays grippy. I took a couple of memorable spills in my truck bed due to water, so that's a quality I welcome.

"The only real downside, in my opinion, is that you may need to carry a piece of cardboard or a blanket to help slide the heavier stuff around. That's not a big deal at all." — Mike Schmidt


Monthly Update for June 2019

by Calvin Kim, Vehicle Test Engineer

Where Did We Drive It?
After a busy spring with numerous photo and video shoots and lots of early summer travels, our 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 pretty much sat out the month of June. What few miles we accrued during the month were all basically in the city, which says a lot about the ZR2's on-road comfort and livability.

Yes, the ride height is high, and there aren't enough handholds inside the cabin to facilitate entry and exit for children or height-challenged adults. But the ride over Los Angeles' many pothole-ridden streets is comfortable. In fact, we haven't had any negative comments regarding the Multimatic DSSV shocks.

We did have many comments, both positive and negative, regarding the ZR2's onboard technology and now-outdated infotainment system.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Even with the limited number of miles we put on in June, our lifetime average went down a tenth of an mpg because those miles were all in the city. Still, 21 mpg beats out the EPA combined figure and is, in our opinion, A-OK for an off-roadable midsize truck.

Average lifetime mpg: 21 mpg
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 27.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 34,451 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
None.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"I got the chance to drive the gasoline-powered ZR2 back-to-back with the diesel model and came away impressed with the differences. I see merit to both powertrains and how different types of drivers would prefer one over the other. The gasoline V6 is more responsive and punchier, and the eight-speed transmission is a good match for it. The diesel, on the other hand, is comparatively lethargic, but the torque pulls continuously, and its character has a warmth to it.

"Other differences include the gas engine's shorter final drive ratio, which makes it have a lower slow-and-steady pace in 4-Low than the diesel. On the other hand, the diesel's smoother torque delivery and longer range have their merits when on the trails as well." — Calvin Kim, vehicle test engineer

Miscellaneous
"I realize that a good portion of our Colorado's $47,615 price tag is due to its off-road ZR2 equipment. I'm also fine with the cabin not being as luxe as what you'll find in similarly priced rivals. That said, it's missing a few features that should at least be available in a top-of-the-line Colorado.

"For starters, keyless entry and ignition is not available. On the plus side, our tester has a dealer-installed keypad, kind of like the one you'd find on a 20-year-old Ford Explorer. There's also no adjustable front thigh support either, so you always have an upright, bus-like seating position. Dual-zone climate control is also missing, as is power recline adjustment. I wouldn't need every option on Earth if I were in the market for a basic work truck. But these things really should be available in a modern vehicle with a price tag near $50,000." — Cameron Rogers, reviews editor

"From an off-roading perspective, the ZR2 is pretty much set up for 99% of any situation you could throw at it. But if this were my truck, I'd probably add more lighting, some of the ZR2 Bison's underbody protection, and some kind of gear management system for the bed." — Calvin Kim


Monthly Update for July 2019

by Calvin Kim, Vehicle Test Engineer

Where Did We Drive It?
After a mild first half in July, our trusty 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 got pressed into road-trip duty by Director of Content Strategy Josh Sadlier. You'd think a lifted truck meant for off-roading wouldn't be a willing companion over the open road. While not perfect, the ZR2 surprises with its civility.

It tracks well down the highway even with its large all-terrain tires, thanks to its independent front suspension. And though the diesel gives you long-range capability, you might find the Multimatic shocks to be somewhat disagreeable over harsh, broken-up pavement.

And then there are the issues in the cab. The infotainment system is buggy, and the interior hasn't aged well. Both of these factors are important when spending long hours in the otherwise comfortable seats.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
Thanks to Josh's long road trip, our ZR2 got filled up five times in a week. Over those fill-ups, our lifetime average went up 0.1 mpg. It doesn't seem like much, but the truck has almost 37,000 miles on the odometer, so any change to the average is worth a mention.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.1
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 27.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 36,933 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
None.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"Gotta give the Colorado some love for its mega range on long trips. Having filled up a few times now on my drive to the Pacific Northwest, I can confidently say that this is a 500-mile truck between stops at highway speeds. That's such a gift when you're out on the road and don't want to worry about the next refueling. For me — a serious road-trip fan — the extra miles versus the V6 are easily worth the full-throttle-acceleration tradeoff." — Josh Sadlier, director, content strategy

"Is the diesel Colorado's acceleration sufficient? Hmm. I've been contemplating that question a lot lately. Off the line, yes, there's ample torque, and I'm rarely left wishing for more get-up-and-go. But when I pull out to pass on a rural two-lane, oof, there's not much in reserve. I'd like about 100 more horsepower in that situation.

"In sum, I don't think of our Colorado as lacking motivation. It's got oomph from a stop, and I generally like the engine's character. It struggles at higher speeds, though, no doubt about it. That's something to consider if you're looking for a truck that lays down the law when you plant your right foot." — Josh Sadlier

Comfort
"There's hardly ever a need for high beams within the perpetual glow of L.A. But now that I've got the Colorado out in the wild, I have a strange flaw to report. Heading north on CA-139 from Reno into the night, I flipped on the high beams, only to discover that the blue icon in the instrument panel is almost painfully bright. What's more, it stays too bright unless you put the dimmer switch on its lowest setting, so it's not a matter of just turning it down a notch or two.

"With the dimmer on low, of course, you can barely make out the rest of the displays. I briefly tried tilting the steering wheel so that the top of the rim blocked the icon, but then I couldn't see half of the gauges. So I went with the dimmer on low for the duration — kinda like Saab's old Night Mode, was it? It's a weird little thing, but I don't think I could live with it if I owned this truck and regularly drove outside city limits." — Josh Sadlier

"The Colorado ZR2's fancy shocks may ultimately get the job done for off-roaders, but here's the key takeaway for me: They don't give you anything like the F-150 Raptor's absorbent ride over rough terrain. Instead, notable impacts in the ZR2 are jarring. They're just not soaked up. I certainly salute the ZR2's capabilities, and honestly I find myself kind of wanting this truck just as we specified it, diesel engine and all.

"But why doesn't this top-dollar tough guy get down and absorb all the rough stuff like a Raptor, or even a 4x4 Tacoma? Sure, the ZR2 will roll over just about anything in its way, but its occupants aren't well-insulated from the action. I don't expect much 'impact harshness' in an off-road truck with fat sidewalls and a trick suspension, but the Colorado ZR2 gives me plenty." — Josh Sadlier

Interior
"Man, I forgot just how cheap the interior of this truck looks and feels. I know you're buying it for the suspension hardware (and it is exceedingly good). But the overriding feeling of cheapness in a nearly $50K midsize truck is hard to swallow. This Colorado could be a pretty perfect truck with a better interior." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor

Technology
"I've lost all faith in the Colorado's MyLink infotainment system when it comes to managing my Bluetooth connection and Apple CarPlay. Here's the scenario. You're on a road trip, and by default, your iPhone is paired to the vehicle via Bluetooth. Great for a while, except now your battery's running on empty. What are you gonna do? Plug it into your USB cable, of course, which is connected to one of the USB ports.

"But that activates Apple CarPlay, and this is where we go off the rails. In order to activate Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth has to be disabled. But sometimes, the Colorado loses the ability to re-pair my phone via Bluetooth once it's charged and unplugged. In that case, I've got a fully charged phone that the Colorado can't pair with.

"Sure, I can leave it plugged in and cling to CarPlay, but what if my passenger wants to use the USB cable to charge her phone? Now I'm holding a fully charged phone that's infotainment-useless. I can't pair it via Bluetooth, so it's effectively bricked until I can stop and try to jog the system's memory.

"I realize the technology's complicated here, but I still consider this outcome unacceptable in 2019. When I unplug my phone from the USB cable, the system should automatically re-pair it via Bluetooth, no questions asked. Other infotainment systems get this done without issue. Our long-term Colorado's MyLink system isn't up to the task." — Josh Sadlier


Monthly Update for August 2019

by Kurt Niebuhr, Vehicle Test Editor

Where Did We Drive It?
After nearly two years and 40,000 miles on the clock, there's not much left to discover about our Colorado ZR2. But that's not to say we don't continue to be impressed by its reliability, fuel economy, and just the way it makes us feel when we climb aboard and think about hitting the trail and locking the diffs — even if we usually just go and pick up groceries. Hey, it's the thought that counts.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
This truck gets great fuel economy. Sure, it's got the diesel thing going for it, but it's also shaped like a barn, a barn on knobby off-road tires. Yet still we routinely get fuel economy numbers not only north of its combined rating but better than its highway estimate.

And with six tanks of fuel having come and gone throughout August — all of them averaging more than 20 mpg, and the highest at nearly 26 mpg — we're still deeply impressed. Other noteworthy numbers include a new range record of 518.6 miles. We also added a bit of diesel exhaust fluid (DEF).

Average lifetime mpg: 21.1
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 27.7
Best range: 518.6 miles
Current odometer: 39,134 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
Our Central California bureau chief, Brent Romans, took our Colorado ZR2 in for a bit of routine maintenance. Most of the service items made sense to us, but occasionally we get a curveball. This time it was a recommended brake fluid flush. We went ahead and did it just to be on the safe side since our truck has seen a fair bit of high speed off-roading in fairly hot temperatures.

Brent writes: "Our Colorado's oil life indicator was down to about 3% this month, so I scheduled an appointment at my local dealer (Michael Chevrolet in Fresno, California) to have it serviced. During the visit, the service adviser let me know that his tech, based on the inspection, recommended replacing the engine and cabin filters and flushing the brake fluid.

"I agreed to the extras, figuring we've used our truck for a fair amount of off-roading these past two years. Afterwards, I was less sure of my decision, particularly of the brake fluid. Did the truck really need it? The pedal felt a little firmer after the service, but it's not like there was an obvious issue. Ugh. Oh well.

"The charges stacked up as oil change ($80.29), engine air filter ($74.95), cabin air filter ($85.90) and the brake fluid exchange ($92.00). The final bill with tax was $347.05."

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"I've driven our Colorado ZR2 a bunch, yet I still get excited when I hop in the cab and see the bank of switches that include ones for the locking diffs. It's the visual promise of adventure. 'C'mon, let's go somewhere where there's a lot of dirt and rocks!' they seem to say. Now, the times I've actually engaged either of our Colorado's lockers totals to zero. But knowing they're available is pretty cool, and certainly many of my co-workers have taken our truck into situations calling for such hardware." — Brent Romans

Interior
"I do like the Colorado's control layout. Everything is in easy reach. The audio controls that are mounted behind the steering wheel (track up/down on the left side and volume up/down on the right side) are handy, too. They are effective and free up space for the other controls on the wheel." — Brent Romans

Miscellaneous
"I'm pleased to see that our Colorado has been essentially trouble-free since we started driving it in September of 2017. We've taken it in for a few scheduled services and dealt with a punctured tire, but nothing else significant has gone wrong with our truck. The powertrain and the interior still seem pretty much the same as when they were new.

"I'd hope that would be the case for a vehicle that only has 40,000 miles or so, but considering that some other similarly aged Edmunds long-term test vehicles have had some recent issues, our Colorado seems due some credit." — Brent Romans

• • • • • • • • • •

"The Colorado lineup gets a few changes for 2020, but the 2020 ZR2 is still pretty much the same truck as our 2017. Given that we've generally given our truck positive commentary, there's nothing wrong with that. But as a shopper, I know the temptation to buy a Toyota Tacoma just got a lot stronger for 2020. Toyota has fixed almost all of our criticisms by adding a more adjustable driver's seat, a retuned transmission, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. There's even a cool new front- and side-facing camera system for the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro versions." — Brent Romans


Monthly Update for September 2019

by Kurt Niebuhr, Vehicle Test Editor

Where Did We Drive It?
For a relatively quiet month, we still rolled another 1,400 miles onto our diesel-powered 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. This truck's been with us for so long that it's getting harder to find new things to talk about. But the consistently excellent fuel economy deserves mentioning since this capable off-roader is returning numbers more typical of a midsize sedan.

What Kind of Fuel Economy Did It Get?
We added about 1,400 miles in September, with a fairly even mix of city and highway driving, and the Colorado averaged 23.2 mpg. Since you've already colored us impressed, the only thing left to do is to crank up the saturation. Traveling 400 miles on a tank of fuel is not the least bit difficult.

Average lifetime mpg: 21.1
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Best fill mpg: 27.7
Best range: 513.3 miles
Current odometer: 40,669 miles

Maintenance and Upkeep
None.

Logbook Highlights

Performance
"Throttle response, especially off idle, is far too sluggish. I know I've said this before, but I wonder if this is something that can be remedied with some quick aftermarket wizardry." — Kurt Niebuhr, vehicle test editor

MPG
"The ability of this truck to return mpg in the low 20s is nothing short of astonishing. Not only can you cover a lot of ground on the highway, but you can spend all day bombing around off-road without ever worrying about the proximity of the closest gas station." — Kurt Niebuhr


Wrap-Up

What We Got

October of 2017 doesn't seem like that long ago, but that's when we took delivery of our then brand-new 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. Our purchase was influenced by how much we liked our previous 2015 Colorado long-termer, as well as the allure of the ZR2's Raptor-esque off-road capability in a midsize truck. And since we already had a year's worth of experience with the V6 engine from the previous long-term truck, we went for the new 2.8-liter Duramax diesel offering.

Hot on the heels of our impromptu Death Valley shock absorber demolition test, we were also keen to test out Chevrolet's claims about its new ZR2 package. Fitted with less bodywork for better obstacle clearance, meaty off-road tires, and expensive and highly touted Multimatic DSSV shock absorbers, the Colorado had a lot to live up to.

As is typical for a new vehicle, the extra off-road capability and the unique diesel powerplant came at extra cost. The diesel engine alone added $3,500 to the ZR2's price tag, while the Bose audio system, upgraded 8-inch touchscreen with navigation, floor mats, keyless entry keypad and black bowtie emblem tacked $1,495 on to the total. All in, we picked up our ZR2 for $46,615 and quickly headed for the dirt. The Deepwood Green paint job would never be the same.

Performance

"Is the diesel Colorado's acceleration sufficient? Hmm. I've been contemplating that question a lot lately. Off the line, yes, there's ample torque, and I'm rarely left wishing for more get-up-and-go. But when I pull out to pass on a rural two-lane, oof, there's not much in reserve. I'd like about 100 more horsepower in that situation.

"In sum, I don't think of our Colorado as lacking motivation. It's got oomph from a stop, and I generally like the engine's character. It struggles at higher speeds, though, no doubt about it. That's something to consider if you're looking for a truck that lays down the law when you plant your right foot" — Josh Sadlier

"I got the chance to drive the gasoline-powered ZR2 back-to-back with the diesel model and came away impressed with the differences. I see merit to both powertrains and how different types of drivers would prefer one over the other. The gasoline V6 is more responsive and punchier, and the eight-speed transmission is a good match for it. The diesel, on the other hand, is comparatively lethargic, but the torque pulls continuously, and its character has a warmth to it.

"Other differences include the gas engine's shorter final drive ratio, which makes it have a lower slow-and-steady pace in 4-Low than the diesel. On the other hand, the diesel's smoother torque delivery and longer range have their merits when on the trails as well." — Calvin Kim

"I'm somewhat torn over which engine I would recommend. For the cargo-hauling and towing driver, the higher payload and torque give the advantage to the diesel. The off-roader, on the other hand, will appreciate the gas engine's responsiveness and lower crawl ratio that the eight-speed transmission allows. These are good problems to have!" — Calvin Kim

"While I'm a fan of the diesel's meaty low-end torque, accessing it from a standstill or a low-speed rock-crawling situation could be a lot better. The throttle response is pretty lazy, and there can be a critical surge in power once the engine and turbo catch up to what you asked for about a second earlier. It can make finessing the ZR2 over a steep, uneven rock face a little more challenging than it has to be." — Kurt Niebuhr

"The ZR2 has the stance and drive system necessary to tackle most any terrain, but there are a few frustrating weak points. For one, its underslung spare tire hangs down much lower than any competitor's, which is obvious to the naked eye. It almost looks as if the owner hasn't winched it fully into place. This low-hanging spare can cause real problems on unmaintained desert trails, and we encountered an example where recent rain runoff had squared-off the lip of a sand wash we had to cross. As the rear tires came over the lip, the truck landed hard on the spare, pancake-style.

"Later, on another rocky trail, the diesel's oversize and badly located exhaust tip got pinched between the rear bumper and a rock to the point where it was almost closed off. This issue isn't the first time this has happened, either." — Dan Edmunds

"It's hard not to feel invincible when you're driving the ZR2 off-road. It's so effortless when it comes to navigating tight trails and rocky climbs, it almost feels like you're cheating. And out on open dirt roads, it feels even better. Get this thing up to 60 mph on a washboard surface and it just floats. It'll go for hours like that, even in the heat of the desert. No fuss, no muss, no exploding shocks." — Travis Langness

"I am not a fan of this diesel powertrain for a lot of reasons. It doesn't offer much more range than the V6 (21 miles, per EPA estimates). The six-speed transmission is a HUGE step down from the V6's eight-speed. The diesel is sluggish, slushy and slow, and with the ZR2 package, there's no towing benefit over the V6; they're both capped at 5,000 pounds. It also costs almost $3,500 more. As far as I'm concerned, it's the worst option you can put on this truck." — Will Kaufman

"In terms of power delivery, the diesel ZR2 is not a shrunken-down Raptor. This little diesel is almost, but not quite, overmatched by the ZR2 in unladen form when wheeling around on the freeway. I don't think I'd want any more weight/aero drag/rolling resistance for the Duramax to try to push around. That's not to say I don't like the Duramax. It's a pretty solid little engine, with a reasonably responsive turbo that puffs the torque up in short order and lacks the traditional diesel glackety-glack noise. Yeah, there's a bit of a pause when you initially dip the right pedal, but it's not nearly as offensive in this regard than, say, the diesel in the Jaguar F-Pace. I've driven the Duramax off-road in the standard Colorado and liked its manners at low speeds." — Jason Kavanagh

MPG

"The ability of this truck to return mpg in the low 20s is nothing short of astonishing. Not only can you cover a lot of ground on the highway, but you can spend all day bombing around off-road without ever worrying about the proximity of the closest gas station." — Kurt Niebuhr

"If you find yourself shaking your head and thinking that a 22 mpg highway rating isn't that great for a midsize diesel pickup, remember that this is the ZR2 we're talking about. It stands quite a bit taller and is significantly wider than a regular Colorado. Its front end has been almost comically pruned back to enable more off-road clearance. And don't forget about those knobby tires, which are also quite wide.

"It would be a gross understatement, in other words, to say that a regular diesel Colorado has better aerodynamics. The difference in the frontal area and total drag is absolutely massive. A comparative look at the Colorado's EPA highway ratings bear this out: A non-ZR2 4x4 diesel is good for 28 mpg (plus 5 mpg/27%) and the Colorado 4x2 diesel is rated at 30 mpg (plus 8 mpg/36%).

"But aerodynamics don't play nearly as big a role at lower city speeds, so the ZR2's 19 mpg city rating rises to just 20 mpg for the regular 4x4 Colorado diesel. A 4x2 diesel Colorado does a little better at 22 mpg, which is in line with the usual 1-2 mpg improvement that comes when you subtract the weight and mechanical drag of a 4x4 system." — Dan Edmunds

"While I was adding more DEF to our Colorado this month, I couldn't help but notice the multiple warnings on the box that you shouldn't add DEF to the fuel tank. I could see somebody making that mistake, either by a lack of knowledge or just being tired and mixing up the truck's fill spouts. Just hope it doesn't happen, though. Apparently, adding DEF to the diesel tank and then driving can wreak havoc on the truck's fuel system, and would likely require expensive repairs." — Brent Romans

"Buying DEF at the pump isn't easy to find around these parts. It's easier to buy it by the 2.5-gallon jug and pour it in right there in the parking lot of an auto parts store. Past experience has shown us that the Colorado doesn't have the capacity for two 2.5-gallon jugs, so we usually add just one and get back on the road. Sure, it's not full, but our ZR2's historical DEF economy hovers in the neighborhood of 1,100 mpg. A single jug buys us another 2,750 miles of driving before we have to think about it again." & Dan Edmunds

"I get it, don't fail to refill your DEF tank. Warnings, warnings, warnings. But come ON. You have two choices, GM: a) delay the onset of the sub-10 percent 'Low' warning until 5 gallons will easily go in or b) increase the size of the DEF tank so you can continue to time the warnings the way you do now. Is that 5.6 gallons? 5.7 gallons? All I know is your 5.4-gallon tank isn't quite cutting it." — Dan Edmunds

"Running ahead of the EPA combined number rarely happens, but an assortment of diesels and EVs we've tested have pulled it off. We think it has something to do with ample low-end torque and its ability to help get these vehicles rolling easily without needing a deep stab of throttle when the light turns green. We've noticed it before on VW TDI diesels, and our Ram 1500 EcoDiesel also beat expectations during the 50,000 miles it racked up while in our fleet.

"The entire period was good, but one absolutely stellar tank stood out among the rest. One staffer set a new "best tank" record of 27.7 mpg over a healthy distance of 452.8 miles, and this otherworldly performance destroyed the truck's previous best of 26.4 mpg.

"Either one is impressive when you consider that a ZR2 diesel's EPA highway rating is 22 mpg, but this month's top tank really stood out." — Dan Edmunds

Comfort

"Ironically, the ZR2's smooth ride is an outgrowth of its jacked-up off-road suspension, which can afford to be supple because there's a lot of suspension travel. You actually want to let the suspension breathe when the going gets rough, so long as you can control the motions with advanced shock absorbers that invariably cost big bucks. Those same traits work on the road, but most street-focused vehicles are too price-sensitive to afford such fancy shocks, and they have far less suspension travel to work with." — Dan Edmunds

"The Colorado ZR2's fancy shocks may ultimately get the job done for off-roaders, but here's the key takeaway for me: They don't give you anything like the F-150 Raptor's absorbent ride over rough terrain. Instead, notable impacts in the ZR2 are jarring. They're just not soaked up. I certainly salute the ZR2's capabilities, and honestly I find myself kind of wanting this truck just as we specified it, diesel engine and all." — Josh Sadlier

"The ZR2's front seats are OK for road-trip comfort but not excellent. The Ridgeline does much better in that category. But one feature I love that GM does is those split-heated seats. Every vehicle everywhere should have the heating function for the back pad only; it's like built-in heating-pad therapy while you're on the go." — Travis Langness

"The seats are misleading. At first they don't seem comfortable, but as the miles tick away, they seem to mold to you, and the minimal amount of bolster lets you move around to change the location of your pressure points. Overall, I was amazed that I could go from Santa Monica, California, to Flagstaff, Arizona, with just one stop for gas and a stretch." — Calvin Kim

"I know it's been said before, but one side effect of the ZR2's trick shocks is a fairly amazing highway ride. High frequency bumps, like the kind you find in a lane heavily used by semi-trucks, are nearly nonexistent. So are high-speed dips and drops like the kind you find on portions of Interstate 405 here in L.A. If your off-roading destinations take a few hours of driving to get to, this truck is probably the most comfortable way to get there" — Kurt Niebuhr

"Yesterday, I drove our Colorado ZR2 about 500 miles, the most I've ever driven it in one day. It was mostly highway driving, with about an hour of congested city traffic thrown in. At the end of the day, I was feeling pretty good. The ride quality can be a little bumpy at times, but the big tires and special DSSV shock absorbers take the edge off any truly rough pavement. The driver's seat is comfortable and the truck is stable at high speed. Even those knobby tires are reasonably quiet. I'd have no reservations about taking a ZR2 on a long road trip to get somewhere for dedicated off-roading" — Brent Romans

"The Colorado's driving position is far superior to that of the Tacoma. The seats aren't my favorite, but I like them more now than I did two years ago when I was 40 pounds heavier than I am today. They felt really small then; now they fit better. Or I do. They're still not the roomiest truck seats I've sat in, though." — Dan Edmunds

"The ZR2 isn't built for commuting, but, man, it's good at it. Its compact exterior dimensions, relative to full-size trucks, mean you can navigate tight city streets without forcing other cars to move out of your way (although that can be fun, too). Its big tires and off-road shocks mean you can drive over curbing and speed bumps at full speed. Quickly driving over things you're not supposed to is dumb fun, but it also might affect something deeper. This kind of harmless civil disobedience is liberating when you're trapped by the uncaring rule of rush-hour bumper-to-bumper traffic. It gives you a semblance of freedom. I count three Ford Raptors in my neighborhood that I've never seen dirty. I suspect the owners of these trucks feel the same way, even if they don't realize it" — Carlos Lago

"Went for a bit of a drive with my wife in our lifted Colorado and each of us had different ingress/egress issues. She really had to hoist herself up, and basically jumped out of the truck every time she got out. I could deal with the high step-up, but because I like to sit high in trucks and have the seat set a little higher, I also had to duck to fit myself under the door. I'm 6 feet tall and she's ... shorter. Both of us have issues with the ZR2." — Will Kaufman

Cargo Space

"I forget how convenient a tailgate can be. I used the Colorado's as an impromptu work bench for a half-hour yesterday and it did everything I needed. The strategic cutouts were probably enough to keep my tools and fasteners from rolling away by themselves. But add the grippy surface of the spray-in bedliner and my things weren't going anywhere." — Mike Schmidt

"I went to Home Depot to buy 16 bags of gravel. At 40 pounds apiece, that adds up to 640 pounds. My wife and daughter accompanied me and, between the three of us, we weigh 420 pounds. Add gravel and passengers, and you get 1,060 pounds.

"What's the ZR2's payload? It's just 1,110 pounds because its dedicated off-road suspension is optimized for long-travel compliance, not payload. Hauling ass, not gravel, if you will. The moral of the story: We were just a single 40-pound sack away from maxing out the ZR2. And, yes, people are payload." — Dan Edmunds

"The corner steps built into the ends of the Colorado and the Silverado are really useful, but the ZR2 doesn't have them in order to maximize off-road departure clearance. I get it, but the ZR2's jacked-up suspension produces a much higher bed and tailgate lip than a standard Colorado. Climbing in to deal with the bags of gravel wasn't easy. It's another example of how the ZR2 isn't the payload monster in the Colorado lineup." — Dan Edmunds

"One thing I love about having a pickup truck around is the ease with which you can load up bicycles. With any other vehicle, you have to deal with folding down seats, muscling bikes up on roof racks or installing tow-hitch attachments. With a pickup, you just throw your family's bikes in the bed and go. I found our Colorado's short bed is just long enough to hold my 29-inch bike." — Brent Romans

"I've never been a huge fan of the Colorado's bed. It only offers four simple tie-downs in the lower corners, and those hooks are hard to reach because the bed sides are cartoonishly tall. The bed bottom and tailgate are set high, too, which makes it hard to load stuff in. That's the regular Colorado. Take all that and add another 2 inches of raised ZR2 suspension, and it all gets that much worse. On this occasion, I had to lift five fairly heavy tire and wheel assemblies up and into there. Not fun." — Dan Edmunds

"Normally, I dislike the high bedsides of the Colorado, and the ZR2 trim exacerbates the issue. It makes getting bulky items difficult. But after my visit to Overland Expo, I realized the benefit to the high bedsides: They can help keep your cargo protected! The bedsides were high enough that my fancy cargo boxes didn't stick up past the edge even when double-stacking them." — Calvin Kim

"I owned a truck with a plastic slide-in bedliner for years. I loved it. The smooth surface was helpful when shuffling heavy items in and out and I didn't care that it got scratched. After a week in our ZR2, with its spray liner, I may like this more.

"It's not my first experience with a spray liner, but this time it got me thinking. The grip it offers is essentially the opposite of what I appreciated about my slide-in. It holds cargo a bit more securely. And I don't have to worry as much about wetting the bed because the rough finish stays grippy. I took a couple of memorable spills in my truck bed due to water, so that's a quality I welcome.

"The only real downside, in my opinion, is that you may need to carry a piece of cardboard or a blanket to help slide the heavier stuff around. That's not a big deal at all." — Mike Schmidt

"The folding rear seat in the crew-cab Colorado isn't nearly as smartly designed as the one in the Tacoma. Toyota's design offers up a flatter load floor that's also lower and easier to load. Here you get something that looks like a teetering pile of couch cushions." — Dan Edmunds

Interior

"I'll second my co-workers' comments about getting in and out of our Colorado ZR2 — it's not the easiest. Granted, this isn't going to be a primary concern if you're buying a ZR2. But it would help if Chevy added an overhead grab handle so you can lift yourself up. There's not one on the driver's side. There's a handle on the front passenger side, but it's on the front roof pillar instead of being overhead. It's more to hang onto when the truck is bouncing around." — Brent Romans

"Will this madness never cease? Chrome belongs outside the car, not inside. And never on the steering wheel. The Colorado shines on in the late morning sun." — Dan Frio

"I found a fix to the shiny-steering-wheel-chrome problem: tape. I haven't found a Sharpie yet, but this temporary workaround is definitely keeping me glare-free for now. Let's see how long other staffers leave this thing on." — Travis Langness

"My wife, daughter and I decided to go to Lazy Dog cafe for dinner, and they welcome pets on their patio with water and a separate menu. I went to load our black Lab, Rosella, into the ZR2, but I'd forgotten how badly its rear-seat folding scheme works. The 60/40-split seat bottoms do flip up, but the floor beneath is taken up by a fixed seat foundation that's nowhere near flat enough for a dog to lie down upon. Rosella gave it two paws down. We took another vehicle instead." — Dan Edmunds

"$46K and you don't get a power-operated sliding rear window." — Kurt Niebuhr

"The Colorado's interior doesn't feel very premium. It's just a sea of black plastic buttons, which seems to be par for the course in the midsize pickup class of vehicles; the Honda Ridgeline being the one exception. That said, the buttons are all functional and logically placed throughout the cabin." — Ron Montoya

"I always catch it in my peripheral vision, but the reflection of the infotainment screen in the rear window never fails to get my attention. I don't know what the fix would be on Chevy's end. Maybe angling the screen toward the driver would be the best course of action, but if it's not one annoying reflection in this thing, it's another." — Kurt Niebuhr

"I do like the Colorado's control layout. Everything is in easy reach. The audio controls that are mounted behind the steering wheel (track up/down on the left side and volume up/down on the right side) are handy, too. They are effective and free up space for the other controls on the wheel." — Brent Romans

Audio and Technology

"I've lost all faith in the Colorado's MyLink infotainment system when it comes to managing my Bluetooth connection and Apple CarPlay. Here's the scenario. You're on a road trip, and by default, your iPhone is paired to the vehicle via Bluetooth. Great for a while, except now your battery's running on empty. What are you gonna do? Plug it into your USB cable, of course, which is connected to one of the USB ports.

"But that activates Apple CarPlay, and this is where we go off the rails. In order to activate Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth has to be disabled. But sometimes, the Colorado loses the ability to re-pair my phone via Bluetooth once it's charged and unplugged. In that case, I've got a fully charged phone that the Colorado can't pair with.

"Sure, I can leave it plugged in and cling to CarPlay, but what if my passenger wants to use the USB cable to charge her phone? Now I'm holding a fully charged phone that's infotainment-useless. I can't pair it via Bluetooth, so it's effectively bricked until I can stop and try to jog the system's memory.

"I realize the technology's complicated here, but I still consider this outcome unacceptable in 2019. When I unplug my phone from the USB cable, the system should automatically re-pair it via Bluetooth, no questions asked. Other infotainment systems get this done without issue. Our long-term Colorado's MyLink system isn't up to the task." — Josh Sadlier

"Our ZR2's day/night interior lighting seems to have switched to a more conservative setting. Over this past weekend, nearly every time I drove it through a shadow, it switched to night mode and stayed there for way longer than it should have. It was a minor annoyance that I easily addressed by adjusting the brightness manually, but I wonder if there's some dirt or grime covering up a sensor somewhere." — Carlos Lago

"The Colorado's simple dashboard layout just shouts 'TRUCK!' to me, and that's a good thing. I like the simplicity of it and all of the capability the infotainment screen provides. It's significantly better than the Tacoma's screen, especially when it comes to use-it-without-looking tasks." — Travis Langness

"With over-the-air updates an inevitability, the whole idea of manually updating software will become quaint. But until then, in order to ensure our ZR2's infotainment system works well, the updates are manual. At least it's fairly easy enough thanks to its onboard LTE modem." — Calvin Kim

"I have become dependent on how easy Apple CarPlay makes it to connect to Bluetooth. I don't think I could ever go back to regular Bluetooth pairing again. But I do have a few gripes. There isn't a good place for my phone, and the USB port is hidden nearly out of sight in a dark corner. Ram and Jeep products have added illumination around the port to aid connection in low light, and that's something that the Colorado could really use." — Dan Edmunds

"The inductive phone charging pad is in a good location so long as you're not heavy on the brake pedal. But it's simply not wide enough for modern phones." — Calvin Kim

Maintenance

"At 30,000 miles, the ZR2 called for service. Scheduling the appointment was a breeze. We rang DeLillo Chevrolet in Huntington Beach, and it booked us for the next morning. This interval required a tire rotation, new oil, an oil filter, and new fuel filters (there are two on the diesel). We opted to skip the tire rotation since we'd just installed two new tires on the truck (see the previous update). The oil and filter were straightforward, but the fuel filters garnered most of our attention.

"We sussed out, with the help of YouTube mechanics, that swapping the filters takes just a few minutes. And according to the work order, changing the filters requires a $93.37 fuel filter kit and $145 of labor and was completed in just a few hours. Including the oil change, the total cost for the maintenance came out to $318.51. Afterward, we called around to see how the price matched up and were surprised we overpaid by nearly $100. Fair warning to owners of diesel-engine Colorados: Shop around!" — Calvin Kim

"Our Colorado's oil life indicator was down to about 3% this month, so I scheduled an appointment at my local dealer (Michael Chevrolet in Fresno, California) to have it serviced. During the visit, the service adviser let me know that his tech, based on the inspection, recommended replacing the engine and cabin filters and flushing the brake fluid.

"I agreed to the extras, figuring we've used our truck for a fair amount of off-roading these past two years. Afterwards, I was less sure of my decision, particularly of the brake fluid. Did the truck really need it? The pedal felt a little firmer after the service, but it's not like there was an obvious issue. Ugh. Oh well.

"The charges stacked up as oil change ($80.29), engine air filter ($74.95), cabin air filter ($85.90) and the brake fluid exchange ($92.00). The final bill with tax was $347.05." — Brent Romans

"We dropped off our Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 for maintenance at Martin Cadillac on a Thursday. It wasn't ready for pickup until Monday. What took so long? It was due for its 15,000-mile service, which included an oil and oil filter change, tire rotation and safety inspections. There were also three open recalls:

17466 — Reprogram the instrument cluster to remedy a timing-belt warning message
17337 — Reprogram the engine control module to fix a diesel particulate matter sensor error
17345 — Inspect the shock absorbers for fractures (ours were OK)

"Chevy Complete Care is good for two years or 24,000 miles of free maintenance, so the only cost this time was four days out of service." — Mike Schmidt

"On one of the off-road side trips in Utah, the ZR2 took some damage to a tire. It was a slow leak but needed to be fixed before the truck could get back on the road. Luckily, the local shop in Bryce Canyon had a spare. We removed the matching full-size spare located under the bed, then replaced the spare with the new tire. Labor plus the cost of the tire and resetting the tire pressure monitors cost us $206." — Travis Langness

Miscellaneous

"I'm pleased to see that our Colorado has been essentially trouble-free since we started driving it in September of 2017. We've taken it in for a few scheduled services and dealt with a punctured tire, but nothing else significant has gone wrong with our truck. The powertrain and the interior still seem pretty much the same as when they were new.

"I'd hope that would be the case for a vehicle that only has 40,000 miles or so, but considering that some other similarly aged Edmunds long-term test vehicles have had some recent issues, our Colorado seems due some credit." — Brent Romans

"The Colorado lineup gets a few changes for 2020, but the 2020 ZR2 is still pretty much the same truck as our 2017. Given that we've generally given our truck positive commentary, there's nothing wrong with that. But as a shopper, I know the temptation to buy a Toyota Tacoma just got a lot stronger for 2020. Toyota has fixed almost all of our criticisms by adding a more adjustable driver's seat, a retuned transmission, and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration. There's even a cool new front- and side-facing camera system for the TRD Off-Road and TRD Pro versions." — Brent Romans

"I realize that a good portion of our Colorado's $47,615 price tag is due to its off-road ZR2 equipment. I'm also fine with the cabin not being as luxe as what you'll find in similarly priced rivals. That said, it's missing a few features that should at least be available in a top-of-the-line Colorado.

"For starters, keyless entry and ignition is not available. On the plus side, our tester has a dealer-installed keypad, kind of like the one you'd find on a 20-year-old Ford Explorer. There's also no adjustable front thigh support either, so you always have an upright, bus-like seating position. Dual-zone climate control is also missing, as is power recline adjustment. I wouldn't need every option on Earth if I were in the market for a basic work truck. But these things really should be available in a modern vehicle with a price tag near $50,000." — Cameron Rogers

"From an off-roading perspective, the ZR2 is pretty much set up for 99% of any situation you could throw at it. But if this were my truck, I'd probably add more lighting, some of the ZR2 Bison's underbody protection, and some kind of gear management system for the bed." — Calvin Kim

"Immediate forward visibility in the ZR2 is poor, and it's all because of the stylized hood. It doesn't need that 'power bulge' — there's nothing under it! You'd have a lot more confidence in low-speed off-road situations if you could see over the hood a little better. And I'm sure it'd be easy enough to swap to the standard hood, which seems like one of the best off-road mods you could do." — Kurt Niebuhr

"I agree with Kurt. But my recent comparison with the Jeep Gladiator showed me that's not the ZR2's only forward visibility problem. The front end of this and other new Chevy trucks is very broad and flat all the way out to the wide-set headlights. It's like trying to look out over a table mounted up front. Sadly, this problem is permanent because of the front-end styling." — Dan Edmunds

"The exhaust pipe/tip thing has seen better days. They were fun days, and I'm sure this does nothing to restrict exhaust flow, but the end of the pipe is the first thing to drag over an obstacle. However, I'm guessing the truck owners who care about this stuff don't take their trucks off-road, and the truck owners who actually do go off-road will wear it like a merit badge. Still, I think it could be designed another way so as not to drag so readily." — Kurt Niebuhr

"This truck is big. All midsize trucks are big really, especially the crew-cab kind. And my father, who owns a short-bed '60s Chevy pickup could hardly believe his eyes when we measured the ZR2 and his C10 back to back. The ZR2 is much longer, has a longer wheelbase, and is significantly wider. Midsize is the new quarter-ton." — Travis Langness

"The Jeep Wrangler has its charms (like a removable roof to let all the smells in), but if I wanted an off-road-ready vehicle that I was going to drive on the road regularly, I'd take the Colorado ZR2 over the Wrangler. The Wrangler has that exhausting 'never stop steering even when you're going in a straight line' thing going on, and I can't get comfortable in its seats. The ZR2 isn't perfect (and I would definitely get the V6 instead of the diesel), but I'll take its seats and better on-road steering any day. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go prepare myself for getting shouted at by all my co-workers about why I'm wrong." — Will Kaufman

Maintenance & Repairs
Outside of normal maintenance, our need to purchase three tires set us back $641.87, or nearly as much as two visits to the dealer. There were no other repairs other than an over-the-air software update, which we handled in our driveway, and a brief stint at a body shop for a new rear bumper.

Regular Maintenance:
Thanks to Chevrolet's two-year/24,000-mile service plan, our first two service visits (at roughly 12K and 24K miles) were free. After that, our routine 30K-mile service cost us $318.51, while the following scheduled trip to the dealer, at 40K miles, set us back $347.05.

Service Campaigns:
All of these NHTSA recalls were completed under warranty during a routine service stop.

17466 — "Reprogram the instrument cluster to remedy a timing-belt warning message"
17337 — "Reprogram the engine control module to fix a diesel particulate matter sensor error"
17345 — "Inspect the shock absorbers for fractures" (ours were OK)

Fuel Economy and Resale Value

Observed Fuel Economy:
Average lifetime mpg: 21.5
EPA mpg rating: 20 combined (19 city/22 highway)
Worst-fill mpg: 15.2
Best-fill mpg: 27.7
Best range: 518.6 miles
DEF mpg: 1,106.1 miles

Resale and Depreciation:
With options, our long-term 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 came with an MSRP of $47,615. Thanks to the dealer's no-haggle pricing, we paid $46,615. After owning it for two years and putting 50,363 miles on the odometer, according to the Edmunds appraisal tool, it had a trade-in value of $27,719. When we actually traded it in, the dealer offered us $25,000. That's 46% depreciation. That level of depreciation is higher than we're used to, but for such a unique and narrowly focused off-road vehicle, it's not terribly surprising. Ours ZR2 also had higher-than-average mileage over 27 months.

Summing Up

Pros:
With the ZR2 package, the Chevrolet Colorado packs legitimate off-road hardware and has impressive go-anywhere credentials. When powered by the optional 2.8-liter Duramax diesel, the ZR2 also offers impressive fuel economy and enables 500 miles of highway range.

Cons:
Thanks, or no thanks, to its interior, the ZR2 feels a bit low-budget for its over $45K price tag. And while the infotainment system was a welcome addition in 2017, it didn't age well over the 27 months.

Bottom Line:
If long-range comfort and serious off-road credibility are at the top of your shopping list, a diesel-powered Colorado ZR2 is a must-drive. Experienced off-roaders on our staff were won over by the ZR2's capability while non-truck-owning staffers appreciated the Colorado's comfortable road manners. But we found fault with the interior's lackluster interior materials and subpar storage, and the lack of some features buyers have come to expect at this price point.

Total Body Repair Costs: None
Total Routine Maintenance Costs: $665.56 over 27 months
Additional Maintenance Costs: $637.87 (3 tires)
Warranty Repairs: None
Non-Warranty Repairs: None
Scheduled Dealer Visits: 4
Unscheduled Dealer Visits: None
Days Out of Service: 1 (bumper/hitch replacement after accident)
Breakdowns Stranding Driver: None
Best Fuel Economy: 27.7 mpg
Worst Fuel Economy: 15.2 mpg
Average Fuel Economy: 21.5 mpg
Best Range: 518.6 miles
True Market Value at Service End: $29,719.00
What it sold for: $25,000.00
Depreciation: 46%
Final Odometer Reading: 50,363 miles

Disclaimer:
Edmunds purchased this vehicle for the purposes of evaluation.

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