2021 Chevy Colorado ZR2 review: A rough-and-tumble midsize truck

Not everyone loves the Colorado ZR2’s updated grille, but it’s certainly more aggressive than before.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The Chevrolet Colorado he is an old man but a treasure. Yes, this midsize truck looks outdated, but despite some shortcomings here and there it remains a solid option in a segment full of less than stellar competitors. If you need the extra off-road capability or the convenience of open-bed transportation that only a pickup truck can offer, but don’t want or need a full-size rig, this Chevy is a decent choice.

Like it

  • Manageable size
  • Decent performance
  • Off-road hardware

I do not like

  • Full size pickup fuel economy
  • V6 could be smoother
  • Annoying rock rails

To keep things fresh, the Colorado has received some improvements for 2021. Mainline models get a reworked – and arguably better looking – front end, an 8-inch infotainment screen is standard on the LT trim, and taller, 17-inch wheels are now included at no cost additional. The off-road ready ZR2 model features similar improvements, although its face is noticeably more aggressive, it looks a bit like the boxy Silverado Bow of 1500, for better or for worse. Finally, three new exterior colors are available across the range, including Cherry Red Tintcoat, which is what you see here.

What sets the ZR2 apart from the lesser Colorados is its off-road hardware. The suspension benefits from a 2-inch lift and the track, both front and rear, is 3.5 inches wider. Keeping things in check while bombing the desert, climbing over boulders, or just turning in the parking lot at your local Home Depot is a spool valve shock absorber set for multimatic dynamic suspension. These shock absorbers help manage the Colorado ZR2’s starched springs, which ensure a stable road ride. As the truck laughs at the impacts of potholes and big bumps, you feel virtually every expansion joint on the highway. His Happy New Year Wrangler Duratrac tires are mounted on sleek 17-inch multi-colored rims and should provide ample grip when trail-bashing, although they transmit a lot of pavement noise.

The Colorado is offered with three different engines, two of which are available in the ZR2. This example features the 3.6-liter petrol V6, which develops 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. For all fans of compression ignition, a 2.8-liter Duramax diesel is offered. Lower trim colorados can be achieved with a four-cylinder petrol engine, although this malnourished option is probably best avoided. Paired with a smart and sleek eight-speed automatic transmission, the V6 has no problem moving this midsize truck with reasonable authority. The turbocharger Ford Ranger may have more low-end grunt ea Honda Ridgeline’s The V6 might be smoother, but this Chevy’s engine does the job with little fanfare.

The Colorado may be more maneuverable than a full-size truck, but it’s no more efficient. As it stands, this example is rated at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 18mpg on the highway. Combined, it should return 17mpg, a figure I surpassed by around 0.4mpg in real-world driving. It’s always great when you can pass a vehicle’s combined fuel economy rating without even trying, although this Chevy should probably be more efficient than it is. I mean, a Silverado 1500 TrailBoss with the best 6.2-liter V8 has the same combined fuel economy score and even beats the Colorado on the highway, returning the advertised 19 mpg. What’s the point of getting a midsize truck if a traditional half-ton is cheaper?

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

It may sound a little buzzing at times, but this 3.6-liter V6 engine gets the job done.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

If you’re towing or hauling significant loads on the log, you’ll likely want a sturdier truck than this Chevy too. The Colorado ZR2’s maximum payload is just 1,350 lbs and it can only drag up to 5,000 lbs. The Ranger and Jeep Gladiator’s peak figures easily outshine the Chevy – hell, the car-based Ridgeline can carry 233 pounds more, even if its towing capacity is the same. It is worth noting, however, that non-ZR2 Colorado are more capable. Their maximum payload is 1,550 pounds more competitive and they can tow up to 7,700 pounds when equipped with the diesel engine.

When it’s time to challenge the trail, the ZR2 has an edge over all of its mid-sized rivals except, perhaps, the Gladiator. Locking the front and rear differentials helps him get out of tough situations. It is also graced with plenty of underbody shields and other features such as hill descent control. The rocky tracks along each sill are great for protecting the body from jagged terrain, although coupled with that high ride height make it difficult to get in and out of this truck if you don’t want to get your pants legs dirty with dirt or mud. A pair of bright red recovery hooks dot the front end of the ZR2 and it’s ready should you go too deep when off-roading.

The ZR2 is available with a variety of option groups that enhance appearance, but if additional capacity is what you want, consider $ 5,750 Bison package. This update transforms an already capable truck into a true mountain goat. It offers you plenty of kits from American Expedition Vehicles including a special front bumper with provisions to mount a winch, boron steel skid plates for added underbody protection, unique fenders, special 17 inch wheels and more.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

The interior of Colorado is a no-frills area.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

The Chevy Colorado’s fundamentals are mostly impressive, but its interior and technology are what belies its advanced age. For better or worse, the interior of this truck is basically the same as it was five or six years ago, which means you get a lot of plastic and leather that’s so tough it looks more vinyl than anything removed from a living creature. The overall dashboard layout is also as conservative as a Southern Baptist, with no frills or interesting design decorations to be had. The advantage of this simple and honest layout, however, is that all secondary buttons and knobs are easy to reach and see, with the top-mounted climate controls and seat heating switches in an obvious position.

The Colorado is comfortable, with the front chairs fitting well to accommodate taller people, even if the cushions are rather flat. The rear seat of the crew cabin body is a bit on the vertical side, equal to the course of a mid-sized truck, but can fit a couple of 6-foot tall adults without too much trouble. The lower cushions also rise, revealing a closet for storing things away from prying eyes.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

These Multimatic shock absorbers help make the ZR2 model a complete off-roader.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Like its overall interior design, this truck’s technology is in step with the times. Sure, my tester’s 8-inch dash screen is nice enough, housing a quick and clean infotainment system that’s a pleasure to use, but the integrated navigation costs $ 995 more, even on the higher-end ZR2 model. Fortunately, if you don’t feel like shelling out an extra penny of sweaty scratch, Apple CarPlay is Android Auto they are ready, available and standard across the board.

But no matter how much you spend, you can’t get the push button start in this truck. Instead, each Colorado comes with an old-fashioned stick-and-twist key. For you unfamiliar children, you take a thin piece of metal, slip it into a receptacle on the steering column and turn it to start the engine. Likewise, blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic warning and lane centering are not offered, but at least keyless access is also available on the simpler work truck model and you can get the Colorado with remote start.

2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2

Despite its years, the Colorado is still a good midsize truck.

Craig Cole / Roadshow

Speaking of money, a basic rear-wheel drive version of this four-cylinder engine truck starts at $ 26,000 and changes. With far more features and a crew cabin body, the Colorado ZR2 tested here checks for a much steeper $ 44,890, including $ 1,195 in destination taxes. The only option that fills that figure is the paint job, which costs $ 495.

The Chevy Colorado’s gray hair is certainly showing, but despite its age, this truck remains a good option – one I somewhat prefer to the Ranger and Gladiator. For general use, the Honda Ridgeline is still the best all-round midsize pickup in my humble opinion, but if you want something with a more rugged appearance and a lot more off-road capability, the ZR2 might fit the bill.