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2015 BDS Suspension Chevrolet Colorado - To Oatman In A Colorado

Posted in Features on March 16, 2015
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Chances are the first images of the all-new 2015 Chevy Colorado 4x4 you saw on the internet from the SEMA show a few months back were of this truck. We have some connections in the off-road industry and through one such connection and some convenient timing we've somehow gotten our grubby hands on a new Colorado for a little 4WOR-style shakedown.

Not long ago our friends over at BDS Suspension went out and bought one of the very first 2015 Chevy Colorados to hit dealerships in the U.S. The delivery of this particular truck was taken in late September, and the company's research and development team then set to work prototyping a 6-inch suspension lift and 1 1/2-inch body lift. Once the suspension and body lifts were figured out, the truck was outfitted with a few more goodies, including a set of 35x12.50 R20 Nitto tires, some side steps, a tonneau cover, and a cool vinyl wrap. The truck was then driven out to Las Vegas to be displayed in the annual SEMA Show, as we hinted before. All of the above took about a month, meaning the truck—let alone the new aftermarket parts—are all brand spankin' new.

After a successful SEMA show it was decides that BDS's Colorado would travel down to the Ford Vehicle Proving Grounds in Whittmann, Arizona, where track time has been arranged to perform the complete FMVSS 126 traction control tests (vehicle rollover testing). These tests for safety and insurance purposes are great for a number of reasons, but also because they gave us some brand-new Colorado seat time. When we found out that the truck needed to be driven from Vegas to Wittmann we were happy to volunteer, as long as we could mix in a little 4-wheeling too! This way we kill three birds with one stone. One, we get to go on an adventure, and who wouldn't like that? Two, we get to drive the new Colorado both on- and off-road. Three, we get to see how well the prototype suspension and body lift system from BDS work on this truck. Check, check and check it out as we hit dirt in what has to be the first modified 2015 Chevy Colorado.

We picked up the truck at 4 the Truck Off-Road Center in Henderson, Nevada. The Colorado was shiny and clean, looking at home in the very nice showroom. Let's hope we don't ugly the thing up too much in the dirt. Thanks, BDS!

Somewhere under the bridge in this image is the Hoover Dam and the Colorado River. On road the lifted BDS Colorado does great. The 3.6L VVT direct injected V-6 makes a good power with 305 hp and 269 lb-ft of torque. We estimate our highway mileage to be 17-18 mpg, pretty darn good for a truck on 35s running 70 mph. The engine is well matched with the six-speed automatic transmission.

We turned off the paved road onto some dirt. Man, that's a shiny truck. We passed a couple of ladies on horseback. We pulled off to the side of the trail and shut of the engine till the horses passed. The ladies complimented our "nice truck"; the horses snorted.

The trails we chose to explore are some old mining roads south west of Kingman, Arizona, and north of the town of Oatman. Our plan was to play in the dirt and then head for the eclectic streets of Oatman before returning via paved roads to the greater Phoenix area (with Wittmann, Arizona). The mining trails turned out to be beautiful, rough, and even a little lucky.

Sometimes it pays to keep your eyes peeled on the ground. Do you see the $20 bill in this image? We spotted something odd on the trail and decided to stop. Our reward was finding someone else's lost money. We'd prefer a softball-sized lump of gold, but who's complaining? If you think this bill is yours we'll return it if you can identify the serial number.

In the faster sections of the mining roads the prototype 6-inch BDS suspension system with prototype Fox coilover shocks soaked up all but the biggest bumps. The truck handles pretty darn well, and you can pitch it sideways without the electronics freaking out and putting your fun to a halt. In the slower more flexy stuff the 1 1/2-inch body lift helped to keep the 35-inch Nittos out of the sheetmetal. Most of the weight is in the front of this truck, and we got it to lift a rear tire a few times, but we never got stuck even with a tire off the ground.

In the smallish rocks the Crawlerado did pretty well, but it feels like a large truck. That might be because of the rather tall suspension and body lift. Again the truck was able to maintain forward momentum without us needing to use excessive speed. We did drop the tire pressure down to somewhere north of 20 pounds, and while the Nittos grabbed without any issue we would have preferred a bit more sidewall between the rocks and the wheels. The axle gearing, transfer case gearing, and intuitive manual shift functions in the cabin inspired confidence when going slow. Because we are who we are, we'd still much rather have a shift lever than an electronic knob to turn when we go from 2-Hi to 4-Hi and 4-Lo.

It's cool to think that even with a one-off prototype suspension, BDS was comfortable with us beating up their brand-new truck off-road. The suspension system uses a consistent pattern of drop brackets and other parts to achieve the necessary lift. Some things never seem to change, and apparently Chevy never got the memo that pinky-finger-sized steering links are not up to the job turning larger tires off-road. The same holds true for the Colorado. We didn't bend any links this time out, but we'd like to see OEMs like Chevy take feedback from the end user and add more beef to vital components like steering links.

The BDS rear suspension lift on the Colorado is achieved with a block and an add-a-leaf. This combo flexes well on the Colorado, helping to keep the front tires on the ground. Up front, the 35-inch tires rubbed the front bumper or inner fenderwell liners a few times while we were off-road.

Near the end of our day in the dirt we came across this old Ford Ranger with a bed full of river gravel. Wonder what the story is there? Either way, don't hold your breath if you've been waiting on a load of authentic Arizona river gravel—we don't think they are going to make it.

Oatman, Arizona, is an eclectic and secluded little town on Route 66 named after Olive Oatman, a young lady who had one hell of a visit to the area in the 1850s (Google her if you're into history). We've always wanted to visit Oatman and meet a few residents. The town is popular with wild donkeys and tourists. You can buy a bag of donkey feed in just about every store and shop. The feed facilitates social interactions with the locals. Nice asses.

Check out this awesome video we shot of the BDS Suspension 2015 Chevy Colorado Z71 out in the dirt!

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