2019 Colorado ZR2 Duramax Diesel: 5 Reasons It Bests the Competition

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Diesel, lockers, styling and more put Chevy’s ZR2 on top for stock, off-road pickups.

For decades, the Toyota Tacoma has ruled the midsize market, however, its time may come to an end with new competitors like the 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 equipped with the 2.8L Duramax diesel engine. Chevy’s off-road, mid-size pickup is simply better than the Tacoma and here are five reasons why.

First and foremost, the 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is a modified Colorado equipped with off-road gear like additional skid plates, a new front/rear bumper, front and rear electronically locking differentials, an optional Duramax diesel engine and an off-road appearance package creating a very unique look for the mid-size pickup.

On the other hand, the Tacoma TRD Pro offers its own suite of off-road gear with additional skid plates, improved wheel travel, Fox shocks along with technology like Crawl Control.

Both pickups now offer an optional snorkel-looking air intake system.

With these pickups both offering an assortment of off-road features, what makes one better than the other? Let’s break it down.

1. Duramax Diesel

The first and pretty obvious difference between the two pickups is the availability of a 2.8L Duramax diesel engine. This baby Duramax, as it is often referred to, produces 181 HP at 3,400 RPMs and 369 lb-ft of torque at 2,000 RPMs.

While the low horsepower figure may surprise people, the beauty of this engine is in the low-end torque. This allows it to literally walk its way up rocks and over obstacles whereas a gasoline engine would need additional throttle input. With the diesel, it is simply more capable when tackling rocky environments.

Plus, it works pretty well on open terrain and only requires some knowledge of left-foot braking to keep the turbocharger spooled to deliver more power coming out of turns.

Toyota fans have long awaited a diesel-powered Tacoma to no avail. It seems increasingly real Toyota will never offer one and this is clearly in the favor of the Chevy Colorado ZR2.

2. Lockers

A popular saying among off-roaders isn’t “If you will get stuck,” rather it is “When you will get stuck.” Knowing you will eventually get stuck at some point is part of the adventure as you will have to figure out howto get yourself unstuck. When it comes to getting unstuck, both pickups offer different ways to accomplish the task.

For the Toyota Tacoma, it uses advanced software systems like Crawl Control. This system uses the throttle and brakes to actively dig your pickup out of being stuck. It is often known by a low grinding noise as the brakes and throttle are applied at speeds much faster than human drivers can produce. Overall, it is a technology that has been around for some time and it pretty effective to getting out of trouble.  

The Chevy Colorado ZR2 uses a more traditional approach with electronically locking front and rear differentials. These differentials lock the axle and thus the wheels together making sure they are both turning at the same rate of speed. This really helps limit wheel slippage and create more traction allowing the pickup to simply back up and pull itself free.

While both pickups have ways of pulling themselves free, the electronically locking differential is often better since it gives the driver more control over the situation rather than relying on the pickup’s software. The fact is every off-road driving situation is different and having more individual control can be beneficial in some situations which is where the Colorado ZR2 proves itself as being better.

Besides, who wants to hear their pickup grinding while trying to free itself? We sure don’t.

3. Exterior Appearance

Pickup styling is largely subjective, however, when comparing the Chevy Colorado ZR2 and Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro based on how they look, the Colorado ZR2 is a clear winner.

The Colorado ZR2 simply looks like a different pickup than the stock Colorado while the Tacoma fails to separate itself that much. Also,the off-road appearance package really adds to the style by creating a strong,adventure-ready pickup.

With the tire mounted in the rear, the new bumpers, the hood scoop and the bed sails along with the LED lights, the ZR2 begs you to get it dirty.

Sure, looks don’t really matter to the overall performance of a vehicle, yet they matter too many pickup buyers. The Colorado ZR2 simply wins hands down.

4. Cabin Comfort and Technology

One of the more overlooked parts of any off-road rig is the interior comfort and technology. Off-roading may all be about the adventure and spending time off the pavement, yet there is no reason to ride in an uncomfortable cabin.

While each pickup has their pros/cons on the interior, there are really two factors which help put the Colorado ZR2 over the top.

First, the Colorado ZR2 has a more adjustable driver’s seat and a better driving position versus the Tacoma. The Tacoma has been criticized for years for having a “sitting on the cabin floor” type of front seat. After spending numerous hours driving the pickup, we can certainly agree with this criticism.

Second, the Colorado ZR2 has a better infotainment screen with Apple Carplay, Android Auto and a 4G LTE WiFi option. This really makes a difference on long trips to the dirt allowing you to better use your phone and use the internet in places where your cell coverage cuts out. Once again, this may seem like a small thing, but it really does matter over the life of ownership of the pickup.

Fuel Economy

Finally, likely the biggest benefit for the Chevy Colorado ZR2 over the Tacoma TRD Pro has to do with fuel economy.

While the Duramax diesel is a $3,500 upcharge over the stock 3.6L V6 Chevy offers, the fuel economy really can prove to be beneficial. In the 4wd configuration, the EPA estimated MPG is 19 city and 28 highway.

This is considerably better than the Tacoma’s 18 city and 22 highway MPG for a double cab 4wd automatic model.

Also, the gasoline powered Colorado is slightly better than the Tacoma with 19 city and 22 highway in a 4wd configuration.

Better fuel economy, especially in the diesel equipped model, makes a big difference when you plan on spending a considerable amount of time behind the wheel.

Ultimately, while the differences listed above make a difference on paper, a quick drive behind the wheel really shows how much better the ZR2 is over the TRD Pro. The fact is one is simply more fun than the other and really this is what these pickups are really about.

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