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Haularado: Colorado ZR2 Makes Fast Friends With Chevrolet Performance

Posted in Features on October 30, 2017
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Contributors: Shaun Ochsner
Photographers: Brett T. Evans

Factory go-fast four-wheel drive trucks are all the rage these days, and with the newest entrant to the segment in the exceptional Colorado ZR2, Chevrolet is not about to be left in the dust anytime soon. In fact, the bow tie is doubling down on its commitment to Colorado with a couple of Colorado ZR2 variants being displayed at the 2017 SEMA Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, and we got exclusive access to one of the trucks months before its debut.

Developed in tandem, the ZR2 Race Development Truck and the Hall Racing ZR2, are the result of Chevrolet Performance teaming up with Hall Racing to develop and test OE-engineered parts that could be added to make the ZR2 even more dominating in the dirt. Both trucks started out as stock 2017 Chevy Colorado ZR2 3.6L/eight-speed vehicles, while the Hall Racing version shown here was modified into a street-legal Best In The Desert race series test bed. The idea behind these trucks is to allow the enthusiast customer to push the performance envelope of the platform even further than the stock ZR2.

The Hall Racing Haularado was jointly developed with Chevrolet Performance parts, using lessons learned in both programs to develop the prototype white truck in the background. Mum's the details on that one.

With Colorado sales hot and competition about to heat up, Chevy has reason to invest in the platform. After three years on the market, and an impressive quarter of a million in sales, the Colorado now commands 28-percent of the midsize truck market and Chevy isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

And with a slew of modifications to the suspension, the Hall Racing ZR2 won’t have to slow down either. Starting with a Chevrolet Performance-developed suspension featuring beefed-up Multimatic DSSV shocks with unique coil springs, the ZR2 race truck adds front and rear JounceShocks, plunging half shafts, high-angle upper ball joints, and stiffer high-angle tie rods. The rear also benefits from race-ready Multimatic DSSV shocks, this time paired with long-travel leaf springs and a trick anti-wrap link built into a special differential cover. A 1.5-inch body lift makes room for 34-inch LT305/70R17 BF Goodrich KM2 tires and the increased wheel travel enabled by the suspension mods.

Other Chevrolet Performance Engineering modifications to the Hall Racing ZR2 include a steel driveshaft, rear shock and differential skid plates, wheel spacers, performance intake, and performance exhaust. When added to the ZR2’s already class-leading off-road performance recipe of front and rear locker and “all-off” Off-Road Mode, capability is elevated even further, or so we were told.

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However, being told isn’t enough and we wanted experience the race truck firsthand, so we somehow talked our way into the passenger seat of the race truck for its inaugural run. The mission: Prove the parts and finish the race.

Shortly after we shot the Hall Racing ZR2 for this feature, it debuted at the Best In The Desert 2017 Vegas To Reno race. As the mostly stock (as in full glass, interior, stereo, and even air conditioning) #7330 Hall Racing ZR2 wound our way through tech, we drew a crowd and were barraged questions from fellow racers and enthusiasts wanting to know all about the Red Hot-colored Chevy. Many questions surrounded the Nevada license plates hanging off the bumpers. In fact, when all the other teams were offloading race vehicle from trailers at the start, we just drove up to the start line staging area, windows up, A/C on, ready to go.

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After settling in to the back seat for the first two pits, we got a taste of just how good the Colorado platform can be with the right parts. The upgraded Multimatic DSSV spool valve shocks, JounceShocks, experimental rear suspension setup, and the upsized tires all worked to make the race truck feel like a true dual-sport truck. Even on our short drive to the start, the truck felt legitimately streetable on the highway.

What amazed us the most, though, is just how incredible the modified Multimatic shocks felt out on the racecourse. We are impressed with the stock versions in the ZR2 and we are absolutely blown away with the Hall ZR2. The Multimatics do an unbelievable job of dissipating energy with such a short stroke, and when working in tandem with the JounceShocks, we were rolling through truly alarmingly sized truck gobblers at speed that a nearly stock truck had no business traversing. For us, the Hall ZR2 was an E-ticket ride that provided a small glimpse in to the ultimate potential of the ZR2 platform.

During the race, we only had a few minor issues, such as mangled lower shock mounts and cut tires, but nothing so major it knocked the unproven truck out of competition. In fact, Chad Hall piloted the race truck across the finish line at 7:00 a.m. PT on Saturday, August 19, taking 18 hours, 50 minutes and 16 seconds to complete the course with an average speed of 28.6 miles per hour. Mission accomplished.

Whether these upgrades will be available to ZR2 owners to upgrade their ZR2s or be a precursor to a future package remains to be seen, but what we can tell you is that according to Chevy, “this is just beginning of what’s possible”. If this is the future of midsized off-road performance, it’s a good day to be an off-road enthusiast.

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