Long-Term Test: Third Report-2018 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Crew Cab
Third report: Turning heads
There is no mistaking the ZR2 for just a merely mortal, run-of-the-mill Chevy Colorado, and other Colorado owners know it. As it turns out, so do Tacoma owners. From drive-thrus to fuel stops and freeways to parking lots, we've gotten lots of thumbs-ups and questions about our badass midsize wheeler. It might be the wide stance, the broad fenders, or the taller ride height, but whatever it is, the ZR2 gets noticed. Clearly, Chevy has done something right to get the word out, because the wheeling world at large is on the trail of the ZR2.
And we've enjoyed putting the ZR2 on the trail. One thing that stands out on the ZR2 is just how different the suspension feels when bombing down a dirt road. What can sometimes be a little stiff on pavement wakes up into a tossable rough-road mobber. It's really quite noticeable, and the difference is unlike anything we've felt before. While its midsize proportions give up a lot to the fullsize crowd, it means a superbly maneuverable truck on the trail, and the decently sized Crew Cab still has enough room for four normal-sized humans.
The Colorado is spacious enough for a family; however, storage is at a premium. In an attempt to solve this, Chevy has made the rear of the cab flexible with a rear seat that can fold up stadium-style, or fold forward to give you a flat area to place cargo. We just wish they had installed tie-downs on the seatbacks to keep gear from moving around during spirited driving.
Thankfully the shortbed is relatively deep, and with the GearOn system we have plenty of tie-downs to secure all types of cargo. However, there are some limitations, such as the fixed position of the GearOn mounting tabs, which means that accessories such as the crossbar or bed divider aren't moveable fore and aft. We tried to mount a Yakima FrontLoader bike rack to the crossbars, but because of the fixed position we couldn't move it back far enough for the tire of our medium-framed Giant Trance to clear the rear window, so we went with a Yakima GateKeeper, which ended up working out just fine. We also wish there was a power outlet in the bed for accessories, such as fridges, and for charging an e-bike on the way to the trail (we are just noting this for a friend).
Among the things we enjoy about the ZR2 is the standard "Auto" setting on the transfer case. Thanks to this, the ZR2 is just as capable on a wet or snowy day on the pavement as it is in the dirt, giving the ZR2 class-leading capability—no matter where it happens to be driven. That being said, we continue to be unimpressed with the weak headlights. On dark, stormy nights, the headlights leave us wondering if they are even on at all. The ZR2 would benefit greatly from auxiliary lightning.
So far, the only unscheduled service visit for our truck was to replace a windshield, thanks to an errant rock on our SoCal commute. We were admittedly shocked that a replacement OE windshield set us back $765, so keep that in mind when you are checking boxes on your insurance coverage. Otherwise, our second scheduled service clocked in at a reasonable $123 (including a DEF top off).
With only one quarter of testing to go, the ZR2 continues to turn heads and win over the staff. From an ownership perspective, it has been as reliable as hoped, with no unscheduled visits or issues cropping up in the first 15,000 miles. In fact, the 2.8L Duramax eeked out its best tank during this quarter and upped its average fuel economy above last quarter's best tank. With efficiency, capability, and reliability all rolled into one amazingly engaging package, the ZR2 is a tough truck to beat.
Report: 3 of 4
Previous reports: Nov '18, Feb '19
Base price: $42,000
Price as tested: $50,400
Four-wheel-drive system: Part-time/automatic, electronically controlled, two-speed
Miles to date: 14,111
Miles since last report: 4,576
Average mpg (this report): 21.36
Test best tank (mpg): 23.15
Test worst tank (mpg): 18.52
This period: Oil service ($123.03), windshield ($765.39)
Problem areas: None
What's Hot, What's Not
Hot: Reliability, efficiency, and capability
Not: Missing some basic features, expensive windshield
"The Goodyear DuraTracs have worn pretty evenly and haven't really gotten any louder, but the direction stability leaves something to be desired."
"$50K and no HomeLink—it's an inconvenience that shouldn't exist at this price point."
"For those who are running a rear-facing child seat, the Crew Cab is just big enough that the front passenger can find a comfortable front seating position."
"During a stormy night, I could hardly tell that the headlights were on."
"The exterior of the ZR2 screams cool, but the interior is so bland. Save for the 'ZR2' logo on the seats, there is no special stitching, sportiness to the vanilla instrument cluster, or anything to make this feel special to the driver."
Options as Tested
2.8L Duramax Turbo Diesel and Six-speed Automatic ($3,500), Premium Interior Package ($750), Premium Bose Audio ($500), Cajun Red Tintcoat ($495), Chevrolet Infotainment w/Navigation and 8-inch Touchscreen ($495), GearOn Bar Package ($415), Cargo Divider ($305), Perimeter Bed Lighting Kit ($265), Keyless Entry Keypad ($155), Engine Block Heater ($100), and Illuminated Black Bowtie ($495)