2022 Chevy Colorado ZR2: End of a Generation
Chevy needs to update the Colorado, and they know that. The 2022 Colorado ZR2 is the last year of this generation before the newer, more efficient, more powerful version arrives.
Outside the 2022 Colorado ZR2
In an automotive world that mostly exists in grayscale, and red, this Bright Blue Metallic ZR2 pops. From any angle a ZR2 is easily distinguished from other Colorado and Canyon trim levels.
From the front, the bumper has very large clearance cuts so the tires have better access to the terrain. This also takes away the mounting location for the fog lights. Along with the bumper changes, a unique grill that only the ZR2 gets is equipped. The wider stance with large fender flares is also very noticeable from the front.
Moving down the side, extra ride height, hood bulge, and wide fenders are clear indicators that this is a ZR2. Slightly more subtle are the ZR2 sticker on the bedside and the gold colored DSSV shocks, if you’re standing at the correct angle.
The rear of the 2022 ZR2 might be the most difficult to differentiate from the rest of the Colorado lineup. However, the rear bumper is lacking the corner steps other trim levels Have. This increases departure clearance. The other differentiating feature is a small ZR2 badge on the lower right side of the tailgate.
The inside of the bed is largely the same as the rest of the lineup, with the exception of the ZR2 stamping by the cab.
Overall the ZR2 design is an aggressive adjustment from other trim levels of the Colorado.
Inside the 2022 Colorado ZR2 is the same as any other nicely appointed Colorado. While the whole lineup has a dated feel to it, there is no doubt that it remains one of the most functional and luxurious interiors in the midsize segment.
There are a lot of physical buttons, which we like, however, some important ones are hiding behind the steering wheel. On the left hand side of the dash behind the steering wheels are two dials that are the same size and texture. One is for the headlights and the other is for the 4wd system. It is a shift on the fly system so you can change it while driving, but it may take some time to learn which knob is which.
Above those knobs sits the trailer brake controller. Again it’s in a spot that is difficult to see, so before towing be sure to practice reaching for that controller. That practice might be enough to save you from a collision.
By today’s standards the 8” diagonal screen is small and not as clear as one would expect. Despite that there are still plenty of features like Android Auto and Apple Car play to meet all of your infotainment needs.
For charging devices there are two USB-A ports, a 12-volt outlet, and a wireless charger that is too small to fit many of today’s phones up front. For the rear seat there are two more USB-A’s and another 12-volt outlet.
The seating is fairly comfortable both front and rear, but being a midsize truck does limit the amount of space inside. The rear seat bottoms lift up for storage underneath and the seatbacks fold down to access the child seat anchors and a tiny amount of additional storage.
2022 Colorado ZR2 on the Pavement
In spite of the large tires and small lift, the ZR2 is very composed on the road. The ride is minimally different from a standard Colorado. Steering is direct but a little slow to respond. The delay most likely due to play in the large sidewalls of the tires.
The 3.6-liter V6 puts out 308 horsepower and 275 lb.ft. of torque. For a truck engine it’s always best to have more torque than horsepower and on top of that this engine runs very rough from 3,000 rpm to redline. Rough enough that the rumble is felt through the seat. We can’t wait to see what the next generation will offer with the turbo inline 4.
Around town the 2022 ZR2 is very manageable. The DSSV shocks perform admirably around town with a stiff ride, but not harsh. Parking and maneuvering in tight spaces is very easy. The ZR2 being larger than other midsize trucks is much different than a Raptor or TRX being bigger than a normal full-size truck.
On the freeway the ride is still very comparable to a regular Colorado. The suspension isn’t overly soft and keeping the truck centered in the lane requires little effort. Both of these are common issues with highly capable off-pavement rigs. However, the one big downfall is the V6 engine. Keeping speed is easier than in the Tacoma, but you have to pay close attention. Get distracted for a minute and you’ll find yourself going much slower than anticipated. To get back up to speed the transmission needs to downshift to get the engine up in its power range.
GM’s 8-speed Hydra-Matic 8L45 transmission shifts smoothly and quickly finds the right gear. We believe the issues we noticed were due to the low torque output of the V6 and rough feel up high, making the driver wanting to keep it at lower rpms.
Taking the Path Less Traveled
High Speed in the 2022 Colorado ZR2
We’ve driven just about every modern off-road vehicle available and the 2022 Colorado ZR2 is different from all of them. Toyota’s Tacoma TRD Pro has a much smoother ride off-pavement, but is a little soft on road. The ZR2 is great on-road but a little stiff off-pavement. The big differentiator is that despite being a little stiff off-pavement it almost never has harsh hits. Multimatic’s DSSV shocks are just different from everything else. They handle huge bumps and dips without hard bottoming out, yet feel stiff throughout the whole range. We were able to push the ZR2 harder than we expected and had great results.
On the other end of the spectrum the 2022 Colorado ZR2 maintains traction with 8.6 inches of wheel travel up front and 10 inches of travel in the rear. Keeping the wheels on the ground isn’t strictly necessary with the locking rear and front differentials. With that kind of traction we were unwilling to find its limits due to the risk of body damage. Needless to say, it climbed all of the hardest lines on our normal test hill without any issues.
2022 Colorado ZR2 Pricing
The 2022 Colorado ZR2 Crew Cab starts at $44,200. Our tester only included two options, Bright Blue Metallic paint ($395) and the wireless device charger ($75), adding in the $1,195 destination charge brings the total MSRP to $45,865.
In comparison to competitors like the Tacoma TRD Pro, Gladiator Rubicon, Ford Ranger Tremor, and Frontier Pro 4x the ZR2 is one of the least expensive and most capable.
Today’s truck segment is filled with very capable off-roaders. The ZR2 is one of our favorites due to its basic functionality. There are no crazy electronic systems controlling clutches and brakes to get the power exactly where the computer thinks it should be. Simply pushing a button to lock the rear differential in any transfer case setting, and then pushing another button to lock the front differential in 4wd low gets the power where it needs to go. There is no risk of overheating a clutch based LSD or losing significant torque to a brake based system. Overall the 2022 Colorado ZR2 is great for high speed desert running and low speed crawling. Despite all that off pavement capability it remains composed on road. It is a daily driver and weekend warrior all in one.
Matthew Barnes is an experienced towing expert. He works as a mechanical engineer and his day job involves testing a variety of vehicles while towing trailers of all types and sizes. Matt shares his knowledge by writing for automotive news outlets in the evenings. When he’s not working he can be found spending time in the great outdoors with his family. He enjoys camping, hiking, canyoneering, and backpacking. Whenever possible he spends time riding in or on any power sports vehicle he can find and claims he can drive anything with a motor, which probably isn’t true.
Matt lives in the Utah mountains and often posts cool off-roading videos to his Instagram and YouTube channel.