These days, off-road enthusiasts have a huge number of choices to pick through when it comes to finding the right specialty off-road vehicle. The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is PickupTrucks.com‘s top option, taking down the mighty Toyota Tacoma TRD in a past comparison test. Now, however, the Chevrolet faces a new challenger – the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon. The Jeep brand is a natural when it comes to dirt duty, and the Gladiator’s new pickup format makes it an obvious competitor in the segment.
That said, the latest from the Bow Tie brand is no slouch either. The new Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, upfitted by American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), brings all sorts firepower – big terra-grabbing tires, electronic locking differentials front and back, Multimatic shocks, burly skid plates and a taller ride height.
To find out which is best, the testers brought both to the Indiana Badlands Off Road Park for a knock-down slugfest to determine off-road supremacy.
After coming to grips with the various electronic settings offered by both vehicles, the first test was a high-speed run across a loose surface, including gravel and sand, to see how the trucks faired in handling the combination of velocity and low-grip conditions. The take away was the Colorado’s natural airborne abilities bested those of the Jeep.
“The Colorado likes to catch air, the Gladiator does not,” the outlet reports. “To be more specific, the Gladiator likes to – it just hates the landing, which it will do with a teeth-cracking slam instead of a softer, more controlled splash like the Colorado does.”
The Chevy’s Multimatic DSSV shocks provided the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 with the right stuff in the first test. That said, PickupTrucks.com preferred the throttle modulation offered by the gas-powered Jeep, compared to the diesel-powered Colorado, making the sand test a wash. At this point, we feel obligated to note that one can buy the Colorado ZR2 and ZR2 Bison with a naturally-aspirated 3.6L V6 engine, which makes more horsepower, features better throttle response, and is cheaper to boot. But we digress.
Next up, a hill climb test, with packed dirt and loose surfaces. The packed dirt was no problem for either pickup, but the Gladiator looked to be superior on the loose surface, as the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 failed to get the power down following a number of electronic interventions. However, when the testers figured out which buttons to push, the Colorado had the torque needed to best the Gladiator in the drag race to the top.
Rock crawling came third. This one was all about angles, with the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 offering a shorter rear overhang, and the Gladiator offering a shorter front overhang.
“Ultimately, the Gladiator’s long wheelbase wasn’t as much of a disadvantage as we’d feared, and its approach angle was a big plus,” reports PickupTrucks.com. The Gladiator’s removable doors also helped.
Meanwhile, the Chevy’s throttle response held it back, while the Gladiator’s 77.24:1 crawl ratio made up for its low engine torque. “If steep, slow-speed rock crawling is your kind of off-road fun, the Gladiator is your easy choice – maybe too easy,” the outlet concedes.
The final test was on the street, where the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 made up for lost ground with a quieter, smoother ride compared to the Gladiator. However, in terms of interior fit and finish, the outlet found the Jeep to be superior.
|2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison Diesel||Jeep Gladiator Rubicon||Colorado ZR2 – Available Gasoline V6|
|Price As Equipped||$53,245||$60,965||TBD|
|Ground Clearance (in)||8.9||11.1||8.9|
|Approach Angle (degrees)||25.3||43.4|
|Breakover Angle (degrees)||23.5||20.3|
|Departure Angle (degrees)||23.5||26|
|Engine||2.8L I4||3.6L gasoline V6|
|Power (hp @ engine rpm)||186 @ 3400||285 @ 6400||308 @ 6800|
|Torque (lb-ft @ engine rpm)||369 @ 2000||260 @ 4400||275 @ 4000|
|Transmission||6-speed automatic||8-speed automatic||8-speed automatic|
In the end, the testers found it difficult to declare an outright winner, with both trucks offering their own respective benefits and drawbacks. However, we have a feeling that the Colorado would have fared better in the shootout with the naturally aspirated 3.6L V6 LGZ engine under the hood, rather than the 2.8 Duramax turbo-diesel LWN. That’s not at all a knock against the baby Duramax, which is great for optimizing fuel, especially when towing during long distances. However, the gasoline six-banger – which makes 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque – has a more instant throttle response compared to the oil burner.