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2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro vs. Chevy Colorado ZR2 – Which is your off-road truck?

We compare the top two off-road midsize pickups head to head.

In the latest of our win-win comparisons, we pit the all-new 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 against the all-new 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro. Both of these trucks have the goods to take a driver into the most extreme off-road conditions and also get an owner to work on Monday in comfort. If you think one of these closely-matched trucks is a clear winner, tell us why you think so in the comments below.

Tacoma TRD Pro vs. Colorado ZR2- Drivetrain
If all you care about is horsepower, then the Colorado is your truck. The Colorado ZR2 will have an all-new 308 hp V6 engine with 275 lb-ft of torque. That will be coupled to the only transmission Chevy has so far announced, an eight-speed auto. This engine earns an EPA Combined 19 MPG for 2017. The Tacoma’s V6 engine is rated at 278 hp and 265 ft-lb of torque. It earns a 20 MPG Combined rating for 2017 when equipped with its six-speed auto trans. However, the Tacoma can be equipped with a stick-shift 6-speed. So if fun and rowing your own gears excites you, the Tacoma is ahead.

That is unless you want a high-torque, low horsepower diesel engine. Chevy is planning to equip some Colorado ZR2s with its Thai-built Duramax engine. The Duramax is rated at a wimpy 180 hp, but it has a high torque rating of 369 lb-ft. If you think the diesel option will save you money at the pump, think again. We checked the EPA’s website today and at today's fuel prices the annual fuel cost savings for the Colorado diesel over the Tacoma is only $50. We broke down the cost comparison in detail in our prior story. (More on pages 2)

Colorado ZR2 vs. Tacoma TRD Pro – Suspension
As our image shows (chevy on left), these factory off-road trucks are more about suspension upgrades than engine tweaks. Much of off-roading is not done at high-speed. Suspension and tire upgrades make the real difference in the woods or on the rocks. Chevy has gone high-tech and employed a Formula-1 damper manufacturer to build custom Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers. Shocks from a company known for making parts for cars driven on smooth-as-glass pavement, what could possibly go wrong? Toyota’s TRD Pro suspension is proven and rugged. Here the choice will be the known vs. the unknown.
- Go deeper on the Chevy Colorado ZR2’s Suspension Here
- Go Deeper on the Tacoma TRD Suspension Here
Tacoma TRD Pro vs. Colorado ZR2 – Off-Road Specialty Items
Toyota’s off-road Crawl Control is now well-known. In my time with the TRD Pro off-road I found Crawl Control interesting, but not always exciting. It was cool to see it unstuck the truck from sand and it was fun driving off a ledge with Cliff from Car and Driver, but it didn’t light my fire. Chevy will offer nine different drive modes and electronic locking differentials front and back. It will be interesting so see how that number of choices works in the real world.

Tacoma TRD Pro vs. Colorado ZR2 – On-Road Comfort and Convenience
Having driven the Tacoma TRD Pro on-road and being less than thrilled with the brake-squat, road noise, and low seating position, Chevy should take this category unless it all-out ignores this part of the ownership experience. We can’t comment much yet since journalists are just now being offered wheel time. We can say that TRD Pro owners don’t seem to mind the compromises and that Chevy’s Colorado is already ahead in this regard. Really the question is will Chevy screw up. Doubtful.

The enthusiast off-road magazines will very soon be pitting these to monsters side by side off-road and anointing one or the other the “winner.” The experts will have their say and the consumers will as well. Based on our experience testing vehicles, we think there is really just one opinion you should trust – your own. Tell us what you predict will be your favorite and why.

Related: 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro Prices & Spec Details


Bill mee (not verified)    November 19, 2016 - 2:43AM

Back in 2000 i couldnt make up my mind to buy the zr2 or a tacoma. It was a tough decision. I felt the ZR2 had more style but toyota had the reliability. I ended up going for the taco based on the reliability. This past week I saw a period ZR2 and thought what a piece of trash. Yet i still lust for those older tacomas. Interestingly at the time i couldnt belive how like a piece of trash the taco rode. I ended up buying a set of fox coilovers as a kit from fabtech. Replaced the front swaybar bushings w poly and then had an amazing riding vehicle. Like the chicago cubs... Cheverolet finally hits a homerun! At least on the suspension front.