Chevrolet introduced an off-road Colorado concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show in its boldest effort yet to position the midsize pickup as a versatile truck for active, outdoorsy types.
The Colorado ZR2 concept, unveiled Wednesday at the show, amps up the already sporty styling of the production Colorado, while incorporating changes to provide better stability and clearance for climbing rocky trails.
The concept's front and rear tracks are about 4 inches wider than the production Colorado Z71 for better stability on hairy terrain. Revised front and rear fascias sharply reduce the overhang at both ends, resulting in greater approach and departure angles needed for more ground clearance.
Integrated, flip-out aluminum tows are incorporated into the front and rear fascias. The front also has a built-in winch.
"The design of the ZR2 concept is all about functionality,” Tony Johnson, marketing manager for the Colorado, said in a statement. “It is inspired by the needs for traversing rock-strewn trails."
A production version of the Colorado ZR2 would give GM an answer to Ford’s F-150 SVT Raptor off-road model. While Chevy offers the Z71 off-road packages on its pickups and SUVs, its lineup lacks a true off-road variant.
Chevy is showing the concept pickup about six weeks after it began Colorado production in a closely watched return to the market for smaller trucks. Chevy's marketing has emphasized outdoor recreation -- some dealers are even mounting kayaks and mountain bikes to the Colorados in their showrooms.
GM insiders have indicated that a ZR2 is headed for production. In a statement, GM bills the concept as "a vision of how Chevrolet could take the all-new midsize truck's off-road capability to the next level."
"We’ll gauge the public’s interest in this concept as we continue to explore the possibilities for the all-new Colorado," Johnson's statement said.
The concept also features monotube, coil-over shocks for greater suspension travel. Electronic-locking front and rear differentials enhance off-road traction, Chevy says. Custom 18-inch aluminum multispoke wheels are accentuated by large wheel flares.
The concept uses the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel engine that GM had said would be available on the production Colorado beginning in late 2015. GM said the engine has an estimated 181 hp and 369 pounds-feet of torque, combined with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Chevy used the ZR2 name from 1994 to 2003 on an off-road variant of the compact S10 pickup. It was also used for an off-road Chevy Blazer SUV from 1996 to 2005.
Los Angeles is an ideal spot for GM to unveil the concept. More midsize pickups are registered in the L.A. area than in 48 other states, GM has said. Chevy unveiled the production Colorado at the Los Angeles show a year ago.