2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2: 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.
"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
"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
"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