Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept — Diesel? Manual? Ohh…

Posted by

This far, one of the highlights of the 2014 LA Auto Show has been a Concept that builds on the capabilities of the production Chevrolet Colorado Z71 and advances the legacy of Chevy’s previous ZR2 models. In addition to aggressive off-road styling, the Concept showcases a new 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine that is slated to arrive as an option for the Colorado, next year. “From the bold stance to the trail-ready special equipment, the Colorado ZR2 is all about the fun of driving where the pavement ends – and doing it in characteristic Chevy style,” said Tony Johnson, Colorado marketing manager. “Chevrolet has a heritage of the ZR2 representing the ultimate in production-based off-road capability and we’ll gauge the public’s interest in this concept as we continue to explore the possibilities for the all-new Colorado.”

The Colorado ZR2 Concept crouches with an imposing stance that is a full four inches wider than the current Colorado. It is equipped with new front and rear fascias that are designed to maximize approach and departure angles, dramatically increasing off-road clearance. A two-inch lift kit also adds to improved ground clearance, as do the remote reservoir shocks, and larger wheel/tire combination. Integrated anti-skid plates help to protect the ZR2’s vital organs while the wider stance yields greater stability in precocious circumstances.  “The design of the ZR2 concept is all about functionality,” said Johnson. “It is inspired by the needs for traversing rock-strewn trails, as well as the aesthetics of competition-style vehicles such as pre-runners – with all elements contributing to safe, sustainable off-road driving.”

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept

Off-road traction is enhanced with electronic-locking front and rear differentials, which distribute torque to 275/65R18 off-road tires mounted on custom 18-inch aluminum multi-spoke, bead-lock-style wheels. The center section of the wheel design has a raw aluminum appearance with black accents, while the bolt-on bead lock cover is orange-anodized aluminum.

Custom wheel flares cover the larger off-road tires and increased track width, enhancing the truck’s purposeful stance. They’re complemented by custom rocker guards.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept

A matching spare wheel/tire assembly, with a quick-release handle, is mounted in the bed. The bed also features the protective spray-in bed liner available with production Colorado models, GearOn accessories and a 48-inch Hi-Lift jack – all necessities for the trail.

Additional exterior elements include an all-new grille and headlamp housings with blacked-out accents. The power dome-style hood is unique and echoes the design cues of Chevrolet’s Duramax-powered Silverado heavy-duty trucks.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept

The Colorado ZR2 wears a concept Cyprus Green exterior color, with Henna Orange accents and custom ZR2 identification on the rear fenders, tailgate and grille.

Inside, the concept off-roader features the same blend of capability and comfort found in the production Colorado Z71, with ZR2 logos embroidered on the front-seat headrests and embossed in the custom Chevrolet Accessories-based floor liners. The ZR2 logo is featured on the instrument cluster display, as well as a custom inclinometer that shows degree of incline from front to back, and side to side.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept

Additional electronic accessories have been added to the center stack to make the Colorado ZR2 a true off-road warrior. Incorporated into the piano key bank is AUX toggle and four additional toggles: two for winch in and winch out operation; and two for the electronic front- and rear-locking differentials.

The Jet Black leather-trimmed interior features orange stitching that complements the exterior’s orange accents.

Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept

The Colorado ZR2 concept’s new 2.8L Duramax diesel packs the power – an estimated 181 horsepower at 3,400 rpm and 369 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,000 rpm – to tackle the toughest trails. It is part of a new, global family of turbo-diesel four-cylinder engines designed to deliver more-efficient capability. It features a variable-geometry turbocharger for optimal power and efficiency across the rpm band and a balance shaft for greater smoothness. “This new Duramax diesel engine will take efficient capability to an entirely new plateau for the midsize truck segment,” said Johnson. “Its broad torque band makes it very powerful at low rpm, while the turbocharged performance provides a confident feeling of immediate and smooth power on demand – attributes customers will appreciate when trailering.”

The concept is mated to an automatic, but what makes this prospect more interesting is the comment from GM’s Mark Reuss in an interview with Motor Trend:

By the way, you haven’t tested the baby Duramax,” Reuss said, “and you’re going to really like that.”

Edward Loh from Motor Trend responded that automotive journalists were predisposed to liking diesels and manuals.

Reuss shot back: “We might check all those boxes.”

A diesel ZR2 with a six-speed manual transmission? Where do you sign up for that?

S.M. Darby

S.M. Darby

I am a freelance author with over 25 years of experience as a professional, ASE certified automotive technician and shop owner, muscle car enthusiast, avid street racer, and classic car restoration specialist.