Will Chevy finally build a worthy Raptor competitor?

Spy photographers just nabbed telling shots of the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado ZR2’s suspension. This off-road oriented midsize pickup appears to be testing dynamic spool valve dampers, a high-performance shock absorber normally reserved for high-end supercars with track-focused suspensions. In fact, the last General Motors vehicle to use spool valve dampers was the fifth-generation Camaro Z/28. The Aston Martin One-77 also rides on spool valves.

Unlike the Ford F-150 Raptor with its external bypass shocks from Fox Racing, the Colorado ZR2’s spool valve dampers make use of a design that alleviates nearly all heat build-up, making the shock run cooler no matter what terrain it encounters. This makes the shock’s behavior very predictable, whether it’s been driven one mile or 100 miles.

The damper is also precisely controllable, allowing engineers to dial in exactly the amount of compression and rebound the shock exerts. Likewise, both the compression and rebound stokes can be dialed in separately, allowing the shock to behave differently depending on which direction the internal piston, or spool, is moving.

This allows GM to spec thicker coil springs within the MacPherson struck design on the front suspension. Despite the springs’ size, the truck should drive rather smoothly on normal pavement. Out back, the Colorado’s traditional leaf springs are matched with spool valve dampers placed on opposing sides of the solid axle.

It’s clear GM is still deep in the developmental stages with the Colorado ZR2, but we do expect the truck to break cover in the coming months. Out bet is on the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit come January. The truck will then likely go on sale come the fall of 2017 as a 2018 model. Pricing will surely come at a premium over the standard Colorado, but expect it to drastically undercut the F-150 Raptor’s pricing, making it more affordable.

For the full gallery of photos taken by the spy photographer, check out Autoblog’s coverage here. For more information and speculation of the Colorado ZR2, click “Continue Reading.”

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

The Ford F-150 Raptor created and dominated the high-performance off-road truck segment since its introduction for the 2010 model year. Other automakers like Chevy and Ram have struggled to keep up with Ford’s success. Ram’s Power Wagon arguably had the most success, despite it not directly competing with the Raptor’s high-speed off-road antics.

The Power Wagon is all about low-speed, brutish, go-anywhere utility. Toyota also took shots at the Raptor with its Tundra TRD Pro, though the truck still didn’t match the high-speed capabilities of the Raptor. General Motors has success with its Z71 versions of its Silverado and Colorado pickups, though the Z71 package is hardly comparable to the Tundra TRD Pro, Power Wagon, or Raptor. The Z71 package basically boils down to Rancho shocks, underbody skid plates, tow hooks, and mild all-terrain tires.

Now it seems GM is stepping up to the plate with an all-out off-roader design to fully compete in high-speed desert racing. The ZR2 name is familiar to fans of GM’s compact trucks. It was first used with the redesigned 1994 S-10 pickup and Blazer. The package brought larger tires, Bilstein monotube off-road shocks with a raised suspension, better differential gearing, and thick skidplating. It proved to be a hit with trail riders and desert runners, though GM phased out the package with the introduction of the S-10’s replacement, the Colorado.

As for what this means for GM, the Colorado ZR2 could be a huge sales maker, stealing buyers away from the Raptor while also bringing fresh blood into the segment with its presumably lower pricing. Chevy could also use the ZR2 as a corporate-sponsored race vehicle for the Baja races, which capture the attention of millions of fans the world over.

All told, we’re extremely happy to see GM making a sizable and meaningful investment into its Colorado ZR2 project.

Chevrolet ZR2 Concept Specs

Drivetrain 2.8L Duramax diesel
Output 181 HP @ 3,400 RPM
Torque 369 LB-FT @ 2,000 RPM
Transmission six-speed automatic

Read our full review on the 2014 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Concept here.

Source: Autoblog

Mark McNabb
Mark McNabb was a contributor at TopSpeed from 2013 to 2018. Growing up, Mark always had a mind for tinkering on random items throughout his home and dad’s garage, including a 1953 Ford Mainline and 1971 Corvette Stingray.  Read More
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Photo Credit: Autoblog

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