How To Unlock The Chevy Colorado ZR2's Secret Extreme Drive Mode

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The 2017 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is a fun truck, and I think Chevy’s first to come with an “off-road mode.” But unlocking the truck’s real wild side takes a few more steps than just pushing one button. We’ll walk you through the procedure.

Running normally, the ZR2 has a series of safety systems that will cut power to the wheels when excessive slip or yaw is detected. That’s good for everyday driving, and it can save your bacon if you overcook a turn on loose stuff or aren’t quite careful enough in a slippery situation.


But these safety nannies are a bit of a buzzkill when you want to rip donuts in a field or hang the truck’s ass end out around a dusty corner. And those are exactly the kind of shenanigans you bought your off-road toy for, right?

To make the ZR2 its most tail-happy and turn its traction control “totally, completely and fully off,” according to GM’s engineers:

  1. Leave the truck in 2WD, obviously.
  2. Tap the 2WD/4WD selector to engage “off-road mode.” This will allow a bit more slippage and sliding, and you might want to stop here for your first forays into Dukes Of Hazzard heroics if this is your first rodeo.
  3. But to cut the electronic angel off your shoulder completely, press and hold the traction control button until “StabiliTrak Off” appears on the dashboard. It takes about 10 seconds. Didn’t see the message? You didn’t hold it long enough and you’re still going to hit safety stops if you hoon too hard.
  4. With StabiliTrak disengaged you’re really ready to hurt yourself. But hang on, see that little button with the icon of the “X” between the rear wheels? Hit that. This will lock the rear differential, which will stay locked to whatever speed you want since you have off-road mode activated. (Otherwise, it automatically unlocks when you exceed 30 mph.)

As you may know, the rear diff lock is a device designed to aid traction. So why are we activating it if we want to skid?

While a vehicle’s power will naturally flow to whichever wheel has the least resistance on it, an engaged locker forces the power distribution to be symmetrical. The idea is to keep you moving forward even if only one drive wheel has a bite on the Earth. It works, usually. As long as you’re going straight.


In a turn, a vehicle’s wheels must spin at different speeds because the outside wheel has further to travel than the inside one. Of course, with the diff locked, the wheels are still forced into lockstep. So now instead of helping you climb, the locked diff is keeping your drive wheels out of traction, hypothetically making it easier to sustain a drift.

So there you go, four simple steps to unlocking a little extra rowdiness in the ZR2. Which you’ll only use if you’re a professional driver on a closed course, right?