Donkey Strong: 2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Tested

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From the December 2023 issue of Car and Driver.

In 1902, a miner named William “Burro” Schmidt began digging a tunnel through a mountain in California’s Mojave Desert. He continued, by hand, for three decades, despite that a road was built during that time, and his tunnel came out on a ledge above the valley. You can visit Schmidt’s work down a silty dirt road. It’s a slidey, sandy journey, but it’s so easy in the Chevy Colorado ZR2 that if Schmidt had had one, he wouldn’t have bothered trying to make a shortcut.

HIGHS: Well sized for trails and parking garages, mulelike off-road ability, stout turbo four.

Much like the burros that gave Schmidt his nickname, the Colorado is stubborn and sure-footed. It’s easier to house than a draft horse, although for 2023, the mid-size Colorado grows in width, wheelbase, and ground clearance. A simplified powertrain lineup means all versions come with a turbocharged 2.7-liter inline-four and an eight-speed automatic transmission. The engine comes in three strengths, and the ZR2 gets max burro power: the high-output 310-hp version that makes 430 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough to tow 6000 pounds (1000 more than the previous generation), but unladen acceleration is no quicker, with a trot to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. On the road, the ZR2 brays loudly when spurred, but off-road, it scampers up hills and over loose surfaces. All that pulling and climbing makes it hungry—its fuel economy is slightly worse than the previous V-6, with an EPA combined rating of 16 mpg.

LOWS: Interior is basic, rear seat is child-size, engine is loud and thirsty.

The ZR2’s off-road prowess comes by means of a 3.0-inch lift and more suspension travel, as well as Multimatic DSSV spool-valve dampers. Larger 33-inch tires on 17-inch wheels also help soak up the rough stuff, and a redesigned front fascia and a better-packaged spare tire enable steeper ups and downs. An exclusive Baja drive mode holds gears longer and encourages slides in either two- or four-wheel drive. All of these goodies raise the price, of course—the ZR2 is now a $48,295 proposition.

Marc Urbano|Car and Driver

Inside, the ZR2 is dark and rubbery. Off-road features like the drive modes and locking front and rear diffs are easy to find and use—not so the headlights (those controls are tucked into the 11.3-inch touchscreen). The front seats are heated and optionally ventilated, but the rears may have your riders wishing for a full-size workhorse. For most loads and trails, though, the Colorado ZR2 is all the truck you need.

VERDICT: No mere show pony.



2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
Vehicle Type: front-engine, rear/4-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door pickup


Base/As Tested: $48,295/$53,280
Options: Technology package (adaptive cruise control, rear pedestrian alert, surround-view cameras), $950; ZR2 Convenience package (perforated and ventilated leather front seats, driver’s-seat memory settings, heated steering wheel, wireless charging, rear center armrest), $1490; power sliding-glass sunroof, $1000; Bose 7-speaker stereo system, $500; underbody cameras, $500; removable assist step, $495; yellow seatbelts, $50


Turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-4, aluminum block and head, direct fuel injection
Displacement: 166 in3, 2727 cm3
Power: 310 hp @ 5600 rpm
Torque: 430 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm


8-speed automatic


Suspension, F/R: control arms/rigid axle
Brakes, F/R: 13.4-in vented disc/13.3-in vented disc
Tires: Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT
285/70R-17 116/113Q TPC Spec 2808 POR


Wheelbase: 131.4 in
Length: 212.7 in
Width: 76.3 in
Height: 73.8 in
Curb Weight: 4926 lb


60 mph: 7.1 sec
1/4-Mile: 15.5 sec @ 88 mph
100 mph: 23.3 sec
Results above omit 1-ft rollout of 0.3 sec.
Rolling Start, 5–60 mph: 8.3 sec
Top Gear, 30–50 mph: 4.0 sec
Top Gear, 50–70 mph: 5.1 sec
Top Speed (gov ltd): 100 mph
Braking, 70–0 mph: 187 ft
Roadholding, 300-ft Skidpad: 0.73 g


Observed: 16 mpg


Combined/City/Highway: 16/16/16 mpg


Like a sleeper agent activated late in the game, Elana Scherr didn’t know her calling at a young age. Like many girls, she planned to be a vet-astronaut-artist, and came closest to that last one by attending UCLA art school. She painted images of cars, but did not own one. Elana reluctantly got a driver’s license at age 21 and discovered that she not only loved cars and wanted to drive them, but that other people loved cars and wanted to read about them, which meant somebody had to write about them. Since receiving activation codes, Elana has written for numerous car magazines and websites, covering classics, car culture, technology, motorsports, and new-car reviews. In 2020, she received a Best Feature award from the Motor Press Guild for the C/D story “A Drive through Classic Americana in a Polestar 2.”  In 2023, her Car and Driver feature story “In Washington, D.C.’s Secret Carpool Cabal, It’s a Daily Slug Fest” was awarded 1st place in the 16th Annual National Arts & Entertainment Journalism Awards by the Los Angeles Press Club.

Source: Reviews -


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