By on October 29, 2021

22 Chevy Colorado ZR2

GM’s mid-sizer showed up as a contestant in the Ace of Base series a couple of years ago, back when the four-banger could be paired with a manual transmission. Chevy has since quietly removed that option from its order sheet, leaving cheapskates frugal shoppers with a fistful of automatic transmission.

An advantage of these Right Spec posts? The ability to venture beyond the bargain basement. Despite its second-rung status in the Chevy Truck pecking order in terms of size, there’s no shortage of trim configurations for this bowtie pickup. Throw in a trio of body styles plus a few engine choices, and the decision tree grows quite a number of branches.

You’ll notice we’ve selected the Extended Cab arrangement instead of the more popular Crew Cab model. The reason for this is two-fold. First, we assume very few of our readers have friends. More critically, however, your author can say with some certainty that the Colorado cabin is small enough that his 6’6” frame forces the driver’s seat totally rearward even in Crew Cab form, rendering the back seat behind him useless to anyone blessed with the gift of legs below the knee. If the rear seating area isn’t going to be utilized often, we might as well trade some of that vehicle length for usable box space while retaining the Extended Cab’s shorter overall dimensions. All hands will probably agree on that point.

Where we are likely to differ in our assessment – and hope for a bit of comment section debate – is in the choice of Z71 or ZR2. It’s a $5,000 walk to the latter, checking in at $43,795 before the inevitable destination and other sundry fees. This is not an insignificant sum. For the cash, one will find themselves in command of a rig with GM’s dandy Multimatic DSSV damping system, a set of suspenders that have proven themselves off-road time and again at your author’s hand (and right foot). They’re so good, in fact, that Chevy is installing them on a new Silverado trim for 2022.

22 Chevy Colorado ZR2

The ZR2 also packs an increased ground clearance and track width compared to other trim levels, along with the unique appearance package that can’t be mistaken for anything other than a ZR2. It’s worth mentioning that the Z71 does have unique suspension tuning (but not the DSSVs) along with a locking rear diff and an underbody skid plate to go with its A/T tires. As for engine choice in the ZR2, choosing the gasser is a no-brainer, since the Duramax power delivery style doesn’t suit the truck’s off-road personality – to say nothing of its $3,720 premium.

As for other considerations, all the really good colors like Bright Blue Metallic and Cherry Red Tintcoat are extra-cost items. Sand Dune Metallic, a $0 paint shown here, gives the thing a pre-runner vibe so we’ll go with that. Additional appearance packages and the like are a waste of money, and the Bison package seems pricey at $5,750. Be sure to spec the no-charge rubberized floor covering and for the love of god spend $75 on wireless device charging.

Total bill? $44,065. There will surely be plenty of you in the comments who’ll bleat that a clapped out 2005 Ranger is a better value or they have experienced 934,933 trouble-free miles from their Nissan Hardbody with only occasional maintenance and an upturned bucket for a driver’s seat (I haven’t toiled at TTAC for a decade without learning something about you yahoos). The rest of us will enjoy our air-conditioned ZR2 cabin. In extended cab form, of course.

Please note the prices listed here are in United States dollars and are currently accurate for base prices exclusive of any fees, taxes, or rebates. Your dealer may (and should) sell for less (obscene market conditions notwithstanding). Keep your foot down, bone up on available rebates, and bargain hard.

[Images: Chevrolet]

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28 Comments on “The Right Spec: 2022 Chevy Colorado...”


  • avatar
    Dan

    The extended cab looks cooler and is a bit cheaper but the stuff I haul is more often dirty or oddly shaped than it is exactly 6′ long so the long bed adds very little utility over the short one. The back seat on the other hand is the trunk and I fill an appreciable portion of the the enormous one in my F-150 all the time. A foot less in the baby crew cab would be doable, two feet less in this one would be limiting enough I’d want a toolbox and bed length wise you’d be right back where you started with a worse trunk besides. YMMV if you have a dirtbike back there.

    I’d also skip the ZR2 because this offroad the everything cosplay is getting really old.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    “Total bill? $44,065”

    The crew cab short box is another $2000. Maybe this is why so many people are looking forward to the Maverick. I know they’re not the same, but if you want a light duty AWD crew cab pick-up and you want to save about $16,000, Ford has a better idea

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    3.6L High Feature V-6. Caution – Beware – Danger – Peligro!

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    This is what I’m looking at. My sons now drive so I don’t need seating for four. The extra 12 inches of box space actually makes a huge difference. Travelling on rough roads with the tailgate down weakens the structural integrity of the box and flying debris can damage the tailgate.

    One point not mentioned is the 8 speed transmission. It is sh!t. I’ve talked to a few Chevy drivers who hate the gear hunting and poor shifting. One fellow with a ZR2 I talked to was also a Chevy mechanic. He wasn’t impressed with the transmission. He’s a self admitted Chevy stalwart but hated everything about the new 1500 Silverado’s.

    I’d go with the diesel for better offroad driving characteristics and better MPG. The V6 Colorado has similar MPG ratings to that of my 2010 F150.

    A Jeep Gladiator is extremely expensive so that’s off my list and the Ranger currently does not have a decent offroad package.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Isn’t there a Ranger Tremor coming out next year? Or is that not available in Canada? Not a fan of the new Pro-4x?

      Modern diesel tech or the GM 8A is a real Sophie’s choice situation.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        @ajla – I reviewed the Tremor specs and it’s basically a leveling kit with slightly stiffer shocks and slightly bigger/aggressive tires. You don’t get a front locker either.
        I didn’t look too closely at the Nissan because it doesn’t impress me in any way, shape or form. The Pro-4x is basically equivalent of Ford’s FX4.

        I’d rather take my chances with the diesel. The Chevy tech I had talked to stated that he has yet to run across any issues with the baby Duramax. He did list several issues related to the V6 and transmission.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Total bill? $44,065. There will surely be plenty of you in the comments who’ll bleat that a clapped out 2005 Ranger is a better value”

    Fortunately you’ll get $20,000 on trade for that clapped out ’05 Ranger.

  • avatar

    I feel like the dampers in the ZR2 will hurt reliability in the long run– but that may just be my experience with high-po ON ROAD suspension talking. Are they more durable than “standard” bits?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I’ve asked similar things about magnetic shocks.
      Way back in the Seville days replacements cost all the money. Maybe prices have gone down in the years since, but I still read people with XLRs and C6 Corvettes talking about doing Magneride deletes so it can’t all be sunshine.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      The technology behind the Colorado Multimatic shocks are rather interesting. My understanding is that the design sharply reduces heat fade and provides a wider range of damping sensitivity. They’ve been used in various on road and off road racing applications for a long time. I’m not sure what they’d cost to replace. I can’t see them being more pricy than the Raptor or TRX shocks.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        “what they’d cost to replace”

        Rockauto shows 2021 Colorado shocks (no info for 2022 yet) at around $60 per corner for the lowlife version and more like $500 per corner for the fancy ones (GM Original Equipment ACDelco in both cases).

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @ToolGuy – I looked them up on Rock Auto as well. I find it interesting that Multimatic shocks would list as an “ACDelco” unit. CAD$632.84. With the difference in the dollar that’s on par with what you listed. Summit Racing has them listed for the same price as Rock Auto. I hate to think what a dealership would ask.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Dealership parts departments don’t “ask” – they “tell.” :-)

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “Dealership parts departments don’t “ask” – they “tell.” :-)”

            My local BMW dealer actually had good parts discounts if you bought from their website. Then again, a major online BMW parts seller that allowed you to pick up the parts at their warehouse in the next state over (which is a no sales tax state) was only 20 minutes away.

  • avatar

    I think if I’m not worried about the crew cab I would go for a Tacoma offroad for like 38K. I know a lot of people hate the driving position but I actually kind of like it.

  • avatar
    bradfa

    I have a 2021 Colorado Z71 trim crew cab long bed, bought just before the chip shortage made everything crazy. I very much like it!

    I’m 6′ 2″ and I can sit behind myself comfortably. My kids fit 3 across the back seat, 2 of them in boosters. I’ve found the extra foot of bed length is super handy. My truck has no issues with the transmission, GM specified a different fluid a few years back and that seems to have remedied many of the complaints about the transmission. Early build 2021 models have a common issue with front brake pad noise, there’s a TSB and new pad material to fix it, GM changed the brake calipers on the 2021 models for unexplained (probably cost) reasons.

    Only things I wish my Colorado had is better low beam headlights and keyless start. Oh, and door card storage that isn’t tiny.

    I wanted a ZR2 but couldn’t justify the price increase over the Z71, although if the ZR2 was offered with a long bed I might have had an easier time. I don’t offroad, just thought it looked cool.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      @bradfa – there was an issue with engine oil recirculation in older V6 Colorado/Canyon’s that was fixed in 2021. If you lived in colder climates the vehicle would run for a long time without proper oil flow until they warmed up.

      I heard of the oil viscosity change in the transmission and apparently other tweeks occured to improve shifting.

      In 2023 the Colorado/Canyon is supposed to be ditching the V6 and diesel and going with the turbo 2.7 litre long stroke engine, transmission and t-case out of the 1/2 ton Silverado/Sierra. That might be worth the wait.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @bradfa Sir, always good to hear from a real-world owner. I’m glad you like your truck.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    “It should be for $16,000 more, but not everyone needs a truck that is that much better”

    For me that is exactly why I ordered a Maverick XLT hybrid. I like the Colorado but I wanted and needed something a little smaller but I would have liked a 6 foot bed but otherwise the Maverick checks all the boxes for what I need especially mpgs.

  • avatar
    Oberkanone

    ZR2 equipped with 2.8L diesel is the one that appeals to me. The over $50K price ends the appeal.

  • avatar
    stuki

    “As for engine choice in the ZR2, choosing the gasser is a no-brainer, since the Duramax power delivery style doesn’t suit the truck’s off-road personality”

    Diesel and Multimatics, are a match made in (city acceptable size at least) heaven, for overlanding.

    While the Multimatics may be marketed as just a jump-truck accessory: In practice, what most will notice, is that they allow the truck to travel down rutted dirt ROADS at a meaningfully quicker and more consistent pace, than less evolved suspenders.

    The diesel complements that with added range, less concern about additional fuel in jerrycans and bladders etc. Also, while slow as molasses comparatively, the diesel doesn’t wheeze out nearly as badly at altitude. So the difference is less pronounced there.

    Seriously, as a “travel truck,” the diesel ZR2 is pretty much without equal. It has the range, the economy and the poor-road/offroad chops to reach most areas of the boons, yet can still travel to Manhattan without getting stuck. Throw on the Bison kit ad a winch, and you’re almost ready to go, without dirtying more than your credit card.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      I agree. The only place the V6 has an advantage offroad is desert running where you need the extra RPM and can rev it out. As a trail rig or overlander, the diesel is superior. Max HP and torque are a sweet spot for typical wheeling.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        For highly technical “wheeling”, the superior responsiveness and linearity of a normally aspirated gasser, is nicer than a blunderbuss turbodiesel. It’s amazing how lightfooted even the gigantic 6.4 in the Powerwagon manage to be in ow range.

        But I can’t imagine many buying a Colorado, with a rather limited articulation IFS, to play in the rocks with SWB Rubicons.

        OTOH, the ZR2 is such a sweet spot overlander for many who are somewhat size limited, that I can’t help but thinking that this is the recreational “off road” role it was born to perform. And for that role, the diesel is simply a superior option.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @stuki – I’m not interested in rock crawling. I’d have to drive a few hours to get to anything. I want a “light” trail rig. Camping, packing motorbikes, fishing. A light overlander. Gladiator Rubicon’s are 20k more than the ZR2.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            I suspect most actual buyers of “offroad” package trucks are. And for those, especially if longer trips are planned, the diesel ZR2 is a sweet package. It’s not a Rubicon in the tight stuff. But very few who aren’t involved in selling or marketing offroad trucks and kits, take their brand new Jeeps to places ZR2s couldn’t also make it to.

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