Chevy unveils Colorado ZR2 AEV, a Duramax-powered rock crawler

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Updated Dec 1, 2017
Photos: Wayne GraysonPhotos: Wayne Grayson

Chevy has taken lessons learned from overland expeditions and off-road racing and applied them to the Colorado ZR2 AEV Concept.

The truck illustrates Chevy’s commitment to the Colorado as a major platform for the automotive brand moving forward and how in the last several years it has embraced testing and introducing new concepts to its customers, particularly at the annual SEMA show.

“AEV, American Expedition Vehicles, came to us and we started talking about what they do—building in the overland market—and it was really a perfect fit between the two organizations: a very capable truck right out of the factory with their expertise in the overland,” said Mark Dickens, executive director for Chevy Performance and Accessories.

Before you can walk, you have to crawl. And before you can go crawling over rocks, you’ll probably have to travel through some harsh terrain to get there. To help with the trip, AEV muscled-up the ZR2 with…

  • Front and rear jounce shocks, plunging front half-shafts, high-angle upper ball joint and increased stiffness high-angle tie rods
  • Long-travel rear leaf spring suspension, anti-wrap link and rear differential cover
  • Specially tuned Multimatic DSSV Shocks
  • AEV front and rear off-road bumpers, complete underbody skid protection, expedition bed rack, high clearance fender flares and high-rise snorkel
  • AEV DualSport beadlock wheels
  • 35-inch BF Goodrich KM2 Mud-Terrain tires
  • Front and rear high output LED auxiliary lighting
  • ARB refrigerator/freezer, Equipt aluminum storage cases, NATO-style fuel cans and James Baroud USA awning in the bed
  • Recovery shackles, Hi-Lift jack, Warn 9.5xp-s winch and MAXTRAX
  • Built-in air compressor and potable water delivery system with gauges

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Chevy’s proven and popular 2.8-liter Duramax Diesel provides the heart beat under the hood with 181 horsepower.

“I’ve gone out on some of the Rubicon trips—Moab trips. That diesel engine is a little torque monster—369 ft. lbs. of torque and you can just tractor up the face of anything,” Dickens said. “That combined with the locking axles makes it an unbelievably capable vehicle for crawling around rocks.”

Chevy’s team-up with Hall Racing has helped pave the way for a tougher ZR2. In fact, the Colorado ZR2, driven by Chad Hall, was the only stock truck to both compete in and finish Best in the Desert’s General Tire “Vegas to Reno” race in August.

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“This truck is a lot tougher than I thought it was going to be,” Hall said following the nearly 19 hour race. “I clobbered some things on the course that would’ve broken the many of the vehicles we competed with in the past.”

“Colorado can play any way you want,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Truck Strategy, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “The work with AEV and Hall Racing acknowledges the strengths of our midsize platform, with both SEMA entries showcasing the versatility that’s already made Colorado a resounding success.”

Colorado celebrates its three-year anniversary this month, with more than 250,000 sales in 36 months. Colorado also boasts the segment’s first applications of 4G LTE Wi-Fi and Apple CarPlay, along with safety features such as Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning.

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