2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2: 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.
"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
"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
"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
"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