SCORE Journal

SCORE Journal Issue - Feb 2017

SCORE Journal - The Official Publication of SCORE Off-Road Racing

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Page 20 of 90

HIGH-SPEED ASSAULT CHEVROLET’S COLORADO ZR2 TAKES AIM TO CONQUER THE DIRT By Dan Sanchez Photos Courtesy of Chevrolet Off-road truck enthusiasts are a hard on their vehicles and demand a high level of performance that comes from factory or aftermarket components that are rooted in racing. While past versions of the Chevrolet Colorado offered an “off-road” package that most hardcore enthusiasts ignored, the new 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 has caught their attention. The 2017 ZR2 is much more than a name badge. This is a serious effort by Chevrolet in building a mid-size off-road truck that offers extreme capabilities and incorporates new technologies that can set it apart from the competition. According to Chevrolet executives, the Colorado ZR2 was designed to handle both fast desert running and technical rock-crawling, putting it on par with segment leaders like the Ford Raptor and Toyota Tacoma TRD. New Suspension and DSSV Dampening Indeed, the ZR2 has numerous off-road features that will make it enticing to SCORE and off-road fans who want more than a slight ride-height adjustment, heavier-duty shocks, and decals that say it’s for off-road. One of these is the ZR2’s suspension system which not only offers a 3.5-inch wider track for greater stability but also has a two-inch lifted suspension system and cast-iron front control arms for greater durability. But perhaps the most intriguing part of the suspension is the use of Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) design dampers. This is the same type of damper technology used in Formula 1 racing and first used by GM in its 2014 Camaro Z/28 and in the 2017 Corvette. Although high-speed pavement dampening is great, many wondered if it would work in off-road situations, where oscillations and terrain are not only different but can be extreme. Chevrolet engineers tend to think so, and with the Colorado ZR2, it will be the first time DSSV damper technology will be put to use in off-road applications. DSSV technology uses spool valves that offer increased precision and enhanced ride and handling performance in a variety of conditions. The dampers are position-sensitive and feature aluminum bodies that incorporate two spool valves that provide both compression and rebound dampening. During extreme off-road use, a third, piston-mounted spool valve delivers additional, uniquely tuned, compression damping. The front dampers also employ a separate rebound valve, which comes into play when the suspension approaches full extension. According to Mark Reuss, executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, the ZR2’s DSSV technology allows the truck to “go rock crawling on Saturday, desert running on Sunday, and comfortably drive to work on Monday.” The dampers also offer the off-road enthusiast six tuning curves for the front and four at the rear, allowing the driver to have more control in a wider range of terrain which definitely gets the adrenaline pumping. Looks The Part During the truck’s development, Chevrolet also recognized that appearances do matter. This is one of the reasons why the 2017 Colorado ZR2 features an aggressive appearance that comes from a combination of aesthetic and functional body components. One of the most important is a set of full functional steel rockers that are standard on the ZR2 and extend to protect the body sides of the truck. Redesigned front and rear bumpers feature tapered ends that offer improved approach and departure angle tire clearance, and an aluminum front skid plate and transfer case shield also help to protect vital components while off-roading. The truck’s aggressive stance is also enhanced with 17x8 inch aluminum wheels and 31-inch diameter Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires. A new grille and hood with a black insert also add to its menacing appearance from the front, while a spare tire carrier in the bed provides the ultimate pre-runner look, and will be available as an optional accessory. Seriously! Locking Differentials! Perhaps one of the complaints among hardcore off-road truck enthusiasts is that there are limited vehicles with both front and rear locking differentials. While this is mainly used for rock-crawling, there are times with fast-paced desert attacks lead to a pile of rocks that need to be traversed. With that in mind, Chevrolet added a sophisticated four-wheel drive system to the Colorado ZR2, that features nine configurations that allow the vehicle to operate with an open or locked differential in both 2WD and 4WD modes, and with a locked transfer case in all of the 4WD modes. Chevrolet went a step further and connected the electronic lockers to the truck’s stability and traction controls, offering a multitude of calibrations for various terrain. This allows the driver to have better control and can set the vehicle to respond to a variety of driving conditions at the turn of a dash-mounted knob. Gas or Diesel Engines It may seem trendy to add a diesel engine to any pickup truck, but the reality is that it can provide additional torque and improved fuel economy in the right conditions. Chevrolet didn’t hesitate to offer the Colorado ZR2 with both a gas 3.6L engine and a 2.8L four-cylinder Duramax diesel as an option. The diesel cranks out 369 lbs.-ft. of torque and 181 horsepower, while the gas engine makes 308 horsepower and 275 lbs.-ft. of torque. Both utilize an 8L45 eight-speed automatic transmission that helps provide greater fuel economy and keeps the engine within their power band and allows the truck to two up to 5,000 lbs. or carry a 1,000 payload in the bed. Baja Ready The 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is available in showrooms and the truck is definitely what SCORE and off-road enthusiasts are looking for. Enthusiasts are always open to another mid-sized truck with the agility and respectable power to fly across the desert, and the ZR2 definitely provides the appearance and performance that deserves some respect. SJ

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