By on April 29, 2019

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 front quarter

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Crew Cab

2.8-liter turbocharged diesel I4 (186 hp @ 3,400 rpm, 369 lb-ft @ 2,000 rpm)

Six-speed automatic transmission, four-wheel drive

18 city / 22 highway / 19 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

13.0 city / 9.1 highway / 11.2 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

18.9 (observed mileage, MPG)

Base Price: $43,495 US / $49,595 CAD

As Tested: $47,490 / $54,280 CAD

Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $1995 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can’t be directly compared.

I sheepishly handed the keys over with an apology. Life conspired to keep me from the car wash before the truck was due to go back, and as you’ll see in the photos below, I was not bashful about making this truck properly dirty.

“Not a problem. Trucks are supposed to get dirty,” the friendly driver from the Detroit press fleet office responded. Still, I was ashamed. He’s likely delivering that truck to another journalist and would need to spend a good bit of time dislodging the mud.

But, goodness, did I ever enjoy getting this Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 absolutely caked in muck. It’s what I do for you, my dear readers – taking myself outside my usual routine to properly test each new vehicle as it’s meant to be used. That means, in this case, four-wheelin’.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 profile

Unfortunately, central Ohio is not known for rugged terrain. It’s known, rather, for corn fields made of concrete, and for suburban malaise. Public lands where one might go full-bore offroad are limited. I had to improvise, scoping out some out-of-season hunting trails along a nearby lake in a state park. The paths ranged from well-groomed gravel to rutted dirt speckled with exposed roots and sharp rocks. No sweet jumps, however.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 front

Not completely certain as to the legal status of my excursion, I exercised a bit of discretion in my driving. It’s not a good look to have a press vehicle impounded, I’m sure. But the Colorado ZR2 handled this journey with aplomb.

The reasonably-compact dimensions of this midsized Chevrolet, paired with excellent visibility to all corners, made placing the wheels on some of the more poorly-maintained ruts a simple proposition. Likewise, on one of the better gravel trails, I was treated to a bit of controlled higher-speed drifting while in two-wheel drive.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 rear

The on-road manners of the Colorado ZR2 are surprisingly good, considering the truck’s off-piste focus. The Multimatic spool-valve shocks seem to be the reason here – these high-tech dampers automatically adapt the compression and rebound settings while driving, without requiring electronic controls on the dash to toggle between “road” or “off-road” damping settings. Further, the knobby, 32-inch tall Goodyear Duratrac tires are surprisingly civilized. There is a bit of road noise, but it’s less noticeable on the interstate than one would expect.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 dampers

With the diesel engine fairly wheezing out 181 horsepower, it’s not exactly quick, but the substantial torque helps spin the tires up to merging speed with little drama. The six-speed automatic transmission is slow to respond when encouraged to shift either by rapid throttle application or by the shift-knob-mounted manual shift buttons, but all that torque means shifting isn’t as necessary or frequent.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 front seat2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 rear seat

The interior, while rather plain by typical passenger car or crossover standards, is one of the best I’ve found in the midsize pickup competition. Seats are comfortable – though I’d like a bit more seat bolstering when driving irresponsibly – with plenty of rear seat room for the kids on this crew cab model. Those rear seats have just enough recline to the rear seatback to keep them comfortable for long drives without compromising legroom. It’s a very useful truck for day-to-day commuting with the family.

My only dislike is the old-school key-start for the ignition. I’m spoiled, certainly, by the number of new cars that arrive with a push-button start – but I love the convenience of leaving my key in my coat pocket when I go to drive. It’s minor, but worth mentioning.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 interior

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 center stackOne annoyance: the indicator lights on the shifter do not dim, no matter the ambient light. Thus, while driving at night, a distracting white glow catches you in the right eye. See my wonderful cell-phone photo for an example. It’s nothing that a bit of tape wouldn’t fix, but it’s irritating.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado Shift Gate Lights

I’m not completely certain which engine I’d select were I to order my own Colorado ZR2. The torque from the diesel is so welcome when crawling through the nasty stuff, and the fuel economy is a bit better out of the diesel versus the V6 gasser – a 2 mpg improvement in the city, and 4 mpg on the highway.  But, as I mentioned above, there aren’t many opportunities for me to fully use the capabilities of this truck anywhere near home. The $3,500 diesel option would take some time to recoup – heck, according to, the diesel would only save the average driver fifty bucks a year.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 rear quarter

Then it’s settled. I’m picking a Crew Cab Colorado ZR2 with the gas V6. I’d add a soft folding tonneau cover (partially because any time I can see my last name in the name of an accessory I have to have it), the rubber/vinyl floors and the extra-price Crush paint. At $44,985, I’d have a truck that will do everything I’d ever possibly throw at it.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Screenshot

And then I’d need to head to the home center and buy a pressure washer.

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 muddy badge

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn, screenshot via]

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28 Comments on “2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Diesel Review – Digging in the Dirt...”

  • avatar

    No word on how it performed offroad? What was the point of going offroad then?

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t see any mention of going offroad.

      Dirt roads are still roads.

      (And there’s nothing to really say about how a truck handles on a dirt road, is there?

      You should never, ever be driving on one that isn’t a closed racecourse at such a speed that that will matter.

      And someone doing rally isn’t gonna be driving this anyway.)

      • 0 avatar

        I mean how well did it articulate, issues with clearance (of that low hanging diesel exhaust pipe especially), use of lockers, etc. Nothing to do with high speed handling, although somewhere on a graded gravel road with washboard sections this would indeed be relevant too.

  • avatar

    I didn’t even read the review yet, but in what universe do you actually believe that the manufacturers take a vehicle straight from one journalist to the next? No way, Jose. They take them back to their staging facility (local or central) and go over them with as fine a tooth comb as they can before handing them back off to the next user.

  • avatar

    Everybody knows that all the jumps are in Hazzard County.

  • avatar

    This is a cool truck. I agree, diesel is pointless unless you need towing. I’d 100% get the gas engine as well.

    Shifter dimmer is annoying.

    This truck is getting pretty badly in need of at least an interior update. It looks so old fashioned inside. 6 speed auto? No pushbutton start even offered? That shift lever looks like something out of the 2005 TrailBlazer.

    Still a cool truck. I like all the various versions GM offers here, though I still think the Ranger and Tacoma look like the ones to buy unless you need/want the diesel, or the off-road packages etc.

  • avatar

    Oh, and I continue to have to log in 1327 times on this site. Login. ERROR. Login. Prove humanity with difficult math problems. Login again with username and password and another difficult math problem. Get taken to TTAC options page. Click back to TTAC home page. Click back into article. Comment.

    Been going on for months now. Desktop or mobile. Various browsers. Always happens.

    Can this please be addressed?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yes, this is a recurrence of an old problem.

      My workaround is to log in, then hit refresh when the error page comes up (Firefox). Works for me every time, but it’s annoying.

    • 0 avatar

      Forums that use vBulletin also have problems and they can be as irksome as what goes on here. I use Firefox and the method that SCE described to reliably deal with TTAC.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I feel like the shifter lights are *supposed* to dim with the interior lighting, and you probably experienced a glitch if yours didn’t.

  • avatar

    Everyone needs 4WD SUVs and pickups, but how many ever match what they demonstrate for an earlier 2WD Chevrolet (skip to the 2.45 mark to get the offroading part of the first link). Or watch the first 2 minutes of the 2nd link to see some real off-roading in 1928.

  • avatar

    “It’s what I do for you, my dear readers – taking myself outside my usual routine to properly test each new vehicle as it’s meant to be used.”

    Your head is in the clouds, mate. Your “reviews” are the next best thing to being utterly useless. Yet you boast, obviously convinced you’re not just relevant, but a star! The worst reviews around. What did we learn about the vehicle on this test? Nothing memorable whatsoever. The guy who still does reviews for our local weekend newspaper has you beat by a country mile.

    The whole site has turned into an outfit with no focus, sort of kind of run by entry-level folk. What is Healey’s job supposed to be? Placeholder and writer of yawn-inducing prose? Managing editor, you say? Managing what exactly? It takes no more effort to do a half-decent job than to turn out this somnolent stuff. Let Lewis take over – he’s awake.

    Mediocrity personified – the Tonn TTAC vehicle review.

  • avatar

    The diesel’s benefit is range. Not fuel cost,

    Midsize trucks have, at best, midsize fuel tanks. And off pavement, especially in 4lo, they all suck mileage wise. So, in order to get somewhere at all, they need some semblance of frugality.

    Plus, diesel just feels less scary when heated to 200 degrees inside a Jerry can, by the Death Valley sun.

  • avatar

    Seeing the MSRP left me stunned. Then the dismal fuel mileage….for a diesel? I am definitely *not* the target audience for this.

    • 0 avatar

      Same here. And the absence of push-button start and that non-dimming trans indicator (that ‘has’ to be a glitch of some sort) are definite fails.

      If I were going to rough it in a less than full-size pickup that gets miserable fuel mileage, I’d go all the way and lease a base Gladiator soft-top (and I’m no fan of Jeeps, either).

      • 0 avatar

        I also find this less than inspiring. Still, I was thinking just the opposite. I think you can get this (diesel or not) at prices well below what you’d pay for the Gladiator. I think this probably works better as a truck and more comfortable on road or at speed. In the Gladiator’s favor is styling (if you like Jeeps and I do). You’d think the Gladiator would win off-road but I’m not sure. In fact, I’d bet the ZR2 can go just about anywhere the Gladiator can. You can be fooled by the Gladiator’s front end that it can follow a Wrangler down the trail but the Gladiator’s departure angle is not even close to it’s approach angle and ends up being a limiting factor. The ZR2’s departure angle is close the Gladiators and the breakover angle is actually better.

      • 0 avatar

        “Same here. And the absence of push-button start and that non-dimming trans indicator (that ‘has’ to be a glitch of some sort) are definite fails.”

        Fail? Pretty drastic language. I’ve driven push-button vehicles before and don’t think it’s a drastic difference versus the key in the ignition. It’s not like putting a key in an ignition is a major endeavor.

  • avatar

    Use Brave Browser, it works well for this site

  • avatar

    No need for a ZR2 version, but the Colorado is on my shopping short list.

    Attention GM: I’d CHEERFULLY pay you some more money to put those Multimatic shocks on my “lesser” Colorado.

  • avatar

    Great pic of the Colorado logo caked in mud.

  • avatar

    “The $3,500 diesel option would take some time to recoup – heck, according to, the diesel would only save the average driver fifty bucks a year.”

    It always amazes me when that’s someones comment regarding whether or not to buy a diesel engine. That comment is particularly bizarre coming from someone who is doing the review of the vehicle.

    So much for better towing with the diesel, the diesel exhaust break that comes with the 2.8L Duramax engine that really improves towing, the torque benefit with the diesel when towing, the gas mileage benefit when towing using a diesel versus gas engine, etc. Sad that the reviewer just focuses on one tiny variable when there’s lots of others he could have considered.

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