Chevrolet goes for off-road glory with the ZR2 Race Development truck
A whole slew of off-road goodies are currently in development on a very special ZR2.
Emme HallFormer editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
So you bought yourself a new Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, and now you want to make it your own. Never fear, fellow off-roaders, Chevy will soon have the parts for you. The company is currently testing a whole slew of goodies on a special ZR2 Race Development truck, and even if only half of them make it to market, we'll have a pretty awesome ZR2, indeed.
When it comes to desert running, the most important modifications you can make are to the suspension. This Race Development truck sports a specially tuned version of Chevy's Multimatic DSSV shocks and a long-travel rear leaf suspension. Jounce shocks, a kind of secondary absorber that adds damping and makes for an even more controlled rebound, are featured in the front and rear along with high-angle upper ball joints and tie rods. While the overall improvement in travel isn't yet set in stone, a Chevrolet engineer told me that a 20 percent increase is not out of the question.
But wait, there's more! A 1.5-inch body lift makes room for larger and more aggressive Goodyear Wrangler tires, and there are more skid plates than you can shake a stick at. The front plate from the stock ZR2 is lengthened and is joined by skid plates on the rear differential and the rear shock mounting points. This last bit is especially important, as those babies sit a bit low on the stock ZR2.
And if all that weren't enough, an off-road air intake and performance exhaust add just a touch more horsepower to the 3.6-liter V6 engine.
Here are the parts to make your Chevrolet ZR2 a bonafide race truck
Chevrolet had me ride shotgun in a stock ZR2 and Chad Hall's race ZR2, which is currently wearing all this awesomeness as it competes in the Best in the Desert racing series. While the stock truck handled the loose and slightly bumpy power line road at 40 miles per hour or so, the race ZR2 was able to eke out a bit more speed, all while feeling more controlled and much, much smoother.
No word on when these parts will come to market or what they will cost. Truck folks are notorious for personalizing their rigs with aftermarket parts and accessories, so it would benefit Chevrolet to hustle this development program to fruition.