The all new Chevrolet Colorado is here, and it looks good. The redesign introduces new trims and packages for the midsize truck, along with improved off-road capability. The ZR2 Desert Boss is the top dog in the Colorado lineup, but it’s the brand new Colorado Trail Boss that Chevy thinks will be the breakout star.
The Trail Boss is the second most expensive of the five trim levels available on the new Colorado, a range that starts with the base-model WT and climbs through LT, Z71, Trail Boss and finally ZR2. The Trail Boss comes with a 2-inch factory suspension lift and wider track, giving it 9.5 inches of ground clearance and roughly the same track width as the ZR2, which gains an extra inch of clearance thanks to a 3-inch lift and special DSSV spool-valve dampers. The Trail Boss offers a 30.5-degree approach angle, 22.4-degree departure angle, and 21 degrees of breakover.
Mechanically, the Trail Boss is most similar to the Z71 that sits just below it in the range. Every 2023 Colorado uses a version of Chevy’s 2.7-liter turbo inline-four (first seen in the Silverado), with different power and torque outputs based on trim level. The Z71 and Trail Boss both get the Turbo Plus version of the engine, making 310 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. Trail Boss will be 4WD only, with a two speed transfer case and rear limited slip differential. It’ll have 18-inch wheels and 32-inch all-terrain tires. What it won’t have is the F1-derived Multimatic DSSV spool-valve dampers found in the ZR2, nor the new ZR2's Turbo High Output engine with 310 hp and a whopping 430 lb-ft of torque.
Chevy expects the Colorado Trail Boss will likely outsell the ZR2. Price plays a role in this, but it’s as much about capability as cost — the Trail Boss is less of a hardcore off-roader than the ZR2, and that’s kind of the point.
Chevy vice president Scott Bell summed it up at the virtual reveal of the new Colorado, saying, “Trail Boss is a big addition because it has the look of off-road, but not the extreme capability of the ZR2.” Bell described the ZR2's capability as “extreme,” which isn’t a stretch. The last-gen ZR2 really ripped, and with more power and torque from that new turbo engine, the 2023 should rip even harder. But while most midsize truck shoppers seem to want the look of off-road performance, not everybody needs the full breadth of the ZR2's equipment.
Enter the Trail Boss, which Chevy approached with a bit of self-awareness; the automaker admits many off-road vehicles seldom go off-road, which is a waste of a ZR2. So, Chevy made the Trail Boss as a ZR2 for people who don’t need a ZR2.
I’m just happy that Chevy is being mindful about the use-cases here. But the differences between Colorado models might make it harder for enthusiasts to build their own off-road beasts starting from a WT or LT model: As Chevy explained, the Trail Boss and ZR2 have certain differences in their frame and suspension architecture, making those off-road models more capable right out of the box.
By Chevy’s account, the Colorado trims break down into two groups: WT and LT are pavement focused, while Z71, Trail Boss and ZR2 are off-road oriented. Even though the Z71 is technically a midrange trim, it’s more or less the start of the off-road range of Colorados. Chevy expects many drivers will go one trim up to the Colorado Trail Boss, which is more capable than a Z71 but not quite a ZR2.