The Z71 trim is one of the most intriguing customization options available for the 2022 Chevy Colorado. Half off-road kit, half sporty appearance package, the 2022 Chevy Colorado Z71 combines some of the industry’s best off-road components with a generous raft of surprisingly luxurious features to create a pickup that defies categorization. Equally comfortable in the role of a refined daily driver or rugged off-road pickup, the Z71 gives drivers the flexibility to choose their driving experience on a daily basis.
The Colorado Z71 offers a more practical alternative to the no-holds-barred off-road beast that is the Colorado ZR2 which, while engineered for extreme conditions and packed to the gills with heavy-duty gear, can be a bit too brutish to serve as an everyday vehicle. Combine this with the Z71’s sophisticated Midnight Edition equipment package and roomy, well-appointed interior, and you have a versatile off-roader that’s bound to turn some heads. Let’s take a closer look at the Z71 trim and see what makes this version of the popular Colorado such a unique offering from Chevy.
The Z71 might be the most luxurious trim to offer for 2022, but it isn’t the only off-road model in the Colorado lineup. The base model Colorado WT offers a significant value for those looking for an affordable entry-level vehicle, and the LT trim adds a number of noteworthy features while keeping the price tag under $30k, but it’s the ZR2 trim that truly gives the Z71 a run for its money. First introduced in 2017, the Colorado ZR2 is Chevy’s top-of-the-line off-road trim for the Colorado and features many heavy-duty upgrades that allow the pickup to hold its own in even the most demanding off-road scenarios. So how do these two off-road models differ? Let’s take a closer look and examine the pros and cons of each trim.
First off, let’s start with the similarities. Both the Z71 and ZR2 come with a 3.6-liter V6 boasting 308 hp and can tow up to 7,700 lbs. The two pickup’s tech offerings are also relatively similar, though the Z71 does get the edge when it comes to some high-end luxury features, making for a more refined ride all around. Both models include heated seats and steering wheels standard, not to mention a rear vision camera with a high-definition display, so why the $7,000-plus price discrepancy between the two models? It largely comes down to a matter of hardware. While the Z71 is more than capable as an off-road companion, it lacks some of the heavy-duty hardware found on the ZR2. For non-off-road enthusiasts looking for a durable truck without all the off-road-focused features, this vehicle is a perfect balance of the two.
Topping the ZR2’s off-road resume is the inclusion of Multimatic DSSV Damping System, which goes a long way in ironing out the ruts, bumps, and obstacles one might encounter in a typical off-road excursion. The ZR2 also comes standard with both full-locking front and rear differentials, which can be selectively activated to give drivers ultimate control over their ride. This all sounds great on paper but does come at the price of comfort when contending with on-road applications. Simply put, the ZR2 is an off-road beast but maybe a little overkill for the average driver who might rarely, if ever, take advantage of the pricey off-road components.
While lacking the ZR2’s cutting-edge Multimatic DSSV shocks, the Z71’s off-road suspension package sees the addition of a number of vital components that elevate the trim far above the base model Colorado while keeping the price reasonable for most drivers. The package includes an Autotrac two-speed transfer case, Rancho twin-tube shocks, a performance air filter, and a metal underbody shield to protect the pickups on obstacle-laden terrain. Recovery hooks, hill descent control, and a locking rear differential round out the Z71’s off-road arsenal, resulting in a pickup just as rugged as its aggressive appearance suggests. The pickup also sits a little higher than the standard Colorado, with a one-inch lift that can be upgraded to two inches should drivers decide to spring for the Trail Boss package.
The ZR2 trim is only available as a four-wheel drive (4WD) model, which makes sense given its intended use as an off-roader, but limits its practicality as an everyday driver. The ZR2 is only available in a 4WD configuration, whereas the Z71 can be optioned as either a four-wheel drive (4WD) or two-wheel drive (2WD) model. This gives the Z71 the edge when it comes to fuel efficiency, with the Z71 posting an impressive 18 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway compared to the ZR2’s 16 MPG in the city and 18 MPG on the highway.
For those looking to further customize their Colorado Z71, Chevy has you covered. The automaker had previously offered two different off-road-focused packages to upgrade the Z71, and Chevy nixed the Trail Boss package mid-way through the 2022 model year. The Trail Boss package, which was available with either the Z71 or LT trim, saw the addition of an automatic-locking rear differential, red tow hooks, 17-inch gloss-black wheels lifted from the ZR2, two skid plates, and a host of resilient off-road components. There still might be some Trail Boss-equipped Z71s on the market, but as of now, the Midnight Edition stands alone as the pickup’s sole off-road package.
Despite what its relatively modest price of $2,600 might suggest, the Z71 Midnight Package is more than just a simple makeover. Sure, it features just as much moody, blacked-out styling cues as one would expect from the “Midnight” moniker, with the same 17-inch gloss-black aluminum wheels found on the Trail Boss package as well as a black grille, black Chevy bowtie emblem, and striking Z71 door emblem, but it doesn’t stop there. The Midnight Edition does trade some of the Trail Boss’ functionality for a little boost in the fashion department, but that’s less of a dealbreaker considering how well equipped the Z71 is to begin with when it comes to off-roading.
The Midnight Edition package does feature a number of functional upgrades, with massive 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac all-terrain tires representing the most noteworthy addition. These tires go a long way in expanding the pickup’s functionality in off-road scenarios, giving drivers the traction, and confidence, to tackle whatever the trail might throw at them. This sophisticated, blacked-out pickup might easily blend in with some of the more urbane, city-oriented vehicles on the road, but make no mistake, this truck is designed to get a little dirty. That’s evident with the inclusion of all-weather floor liners and a spray-on bedliner, which both enable the type of quick cleaning that allows the Colorado to seamlessly shift from a weekend spent out on the trail to a sophisticated night downtown; just add water.
The 2022 Colorado Z71 is notable for its generous dimensions. This extends to both driver and passenger room as well as cargo capacity, with the Z71 outperforming many of its competitors when it comes to storage. Available in either a short box configuration with 41 cu.ft. of storage or an extended long box setup that ups the ante to almost 50 cu.ft., the Z71 has plenty of room to bring along all the equipment, accessories, and supplies one might need for a weekend out on the trail. The pickup’s spaciousness is all the more impressive when you look at the Colorado’s two closest competitors in the mid-size pickup category, the Honda Ridgeline and Toyota Tacoma, which only manage to provide 34, 38 (short box), and 47 cu.ft. (long box), respectively.
The Colorado’s roomy reputation extends to the truck’s interior, where front seat passengers will enjoy 41.4 inches of headroom, with 38.3 inches in the rear of the Crew Cab and 45 inches of legroom in the front with 35.8 inches in the rear of the Crew Cab. Spacious back rows have never been a strong suit of the pickup class, and while the Z71 isn’t much of an exception, it does provide some unique storage options; a deep center console bin and roomy compartment below the Crew Cab’s rear seat, that cleverly use the interior’s available space.
Any mention of the Colorado Z71’s interior wouldn’t be complete without touching on the pickup’s sizable complement of advanced infotainment technology. Such infotainment systems have become the new battleground for models trying to outshine their competitors, and the Z71 is no exception. Chevy has risen to the challenge with its Infotainment 3 Plus System, which represents the highest tier of the automaker’s Infotainment 3 systems. This high-end infotainment offering includes a high-definition, 8-inch color touchscreen over the base model’s 7 inches, as well as available built-in navigation, enhanced voice recognition, and more. A Wi-Fi hotspot enables web browsing on the go, an important feature in an increasingly data-conscious world, and both the Z71 and ZR2 see the addition of a 4.2-inch digital instrument cluster display.