The upcoming 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 and 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X will coexist in GM’s midsize pickup truck portfolio, representing the very first time that GM will offer equally-equipped, off-road midsize trucks at both Chevy and GMC.
By comparison, the current-generation Chevy Colorado is offered in the off-road-going ZR2 trim, but the same doesn’t hold true for the GMC Canyon, whose off-road chops top out with the Canyon AT4 – a trim that’s roughly equivalent to the Colorado Z71, which slots below the ZR2. With the introduction of the Canyon AT4X, GMC will finally get an even more capable off-road midsize truck to slot above the AT4.
The strategy mirrors that of GM’s full-size trucks, where Chevy gets the all-new 2022 Silverado ZR2 as GMC gets the all-new 2022 Sierra AT4X 2023. The two full-size trucks are mechanically identical, albeit with the exception of the Sierra AT4X lacking the high-approach front and rear fascias of the Silverado ZR2.
2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2
The Colorado ZR2 was introduced in 2017 as the most capable off-road variant of Chevy‘s midsize pickup truck. The model is highlighted by a two-inch suspension lift, wider tracks, high-clearance front fascias, front and rear e-lockers, and MultiMatic DSSV dampers.
The 2023 Chevy Colorado was first spotted undergoing testing in prototype form back in May. Then in September, we brought you the very first spy shots of the 2023 Colorado ZR2, followed by an even better look in November after it was returning from off-road testing.
Outside, the 2023 Chevy Colorado will sport an all-new exterior design, with this prototype running dual-level rocker protection that could also serve as high-clearance assist steps (running boards). The prototype spotted in November is also equipped with production lighting elements, giving us out best look look yet at the horizontally oriented headlights and bright LED “eyebrows” around the top of the clusters. Inside, an all-new interior will be present and accounted for.
As for the running gear, we spot a set of 33-inch tires, specifically 285/70R17 Goodyear Wrangler Territory Mud Terrain rubber. By comparison, the current Colorado ZR2 is running 31-inch tires sized 265/65R17. The wheels on this prototype are obscured by wheel covers, but appear to have the same six-spoke design as earlier prototype models.
Unsurprisingly, this 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 rides high thanks to a suspension lift that delivers plenty of ground clearance. We also get a glimpse of Multimatic DSSV damper packs placed behind the rear tires, although they are obscured on this prototype via black paint. By comparison, production models typically show the suspension with a gold-and-blue finish.
2023 GMC Canyon AT4X
In June, GM Authority spies caught a prototype of what we believe to be the upcoming 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 undergoing testing. A month later, we caught what we believe to be a prototype for the 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X, since it features an even more aggressive stance and appears to sport DSSV dampers and 33-inch tires.
In fact, GMC already foreshadowed the GMC Canyon AT4X via the recently-revealed Canyon AT4 OVRLANDX Concept. Interestingly, the brand recently changed the name of the concept to Canyon AT4 Concept, further supporting our supposition that the show truck is a signal of the AT4X for the next-gen Canyon.
A cursory glance at this particular prototype would likely have many guess that it’s a 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2. However, a closer look reveals that it’s a GMC Canyon instead. This is evident in the prototype’s placeholder lighting configuration, which has all the makings of a GMC product. Specifically, the placeholder headlights feature a makeshift LED signature strip at the top of the cluster followed by the primary forward lights mounted lower within the front fascia.
Prototypes for the 2021 GMC Yukon, 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 refresh, 2023 GMC Sierra HD refresh and the 2023 GMC Canyon all feature the same placeholder lighting configuration. Chevrolet prototypes, on the other hand, usually feature horizontally-oriented lights at the top of the placeholder headlight cluster followed by an LED strip at the bottom of said cluster. All this makes us conclude that this prototype is, in fact, a GMC rather than a Chevrolet.
The initial 2023 GMC Canyon AT4 prototype mentioned above featured 20-inch wheels with beefy sidewalls, but no signs of a next-level suspension system. This new prototype, however, rides on 17-inch wheels wrapped in Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires – the same rubber fitted to prototypes of the Chevy Silverado ZR2. This particular prototype features 33-inch 285/70R17 tires, much larger than the 31-inch 265/65R17 tires mounted to the current Canyon AT4.
This particular prototype also appears to be wearing MultiMatic DSSV shocks front and rear. Look closely at the rear end, and you’ll see the makings of the DSSV configuration mounted outside the frame, as opposed to inside like the current Colorado ZR2. Aside from a black housing covering the typical blue-and-gold finish of the DSSV damper, the casing of the triple-chamber design is undisguised. It’s worth noting that a similar black DSSV housing was used in prototypes of the Silverado ZR2.
More evidence of the MultiMatic DSSV shocks can be seen at the mounting points visible on the prototype, illustrated by two images with a DSSV overlay. Specifically, the unique threaded collar on the DSSV’s piston chamber is clearly visible on this 2023 GMC Canyon AT4X prototype. At the front, we can also see a matching pin and mounting assembly that appears to be identical to the front shocks of the current Colorado ZR2.
At this point, it’s worth noting that the MultiMatic DSSV shocks are currently exclusive to the Colorado ZR2, and are not available on the GMC Canyon whatsoever, even in the offroad-oriented Canyon AT4 model. And that’s why the notion that the 2023 GMC Canyon will gain a Colorado ZR2 equivalent in the form of the 2023 Canyon AT4X is so significant, as it will finally give GMC a mechanical equivalent to the Chevy.
As a reminder, both the 2023 Chevy Colorado (including ZR2) and 2023 GMC Canyon (including AT4X) will be overhauled with new, model-specific exteriors and cabins. The next-gen midsize trucks will ride on an updated iteration of the body-on-frame GM GMT-31XX platform. The modernized version of the platform is known internally within GM as 31XX-2.
Both pickups will be powered by a new engine, namely the turbocharged 2.7L I4 L3B gasoline engine, which is currently found in the Chevy Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500. From the 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 Limited model years, the boosted four was rated at a healthy 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque. The torque figure was increased to an even more potent 420 pound-feet with the 2022 model year refresh of both the Silverado and Sierra. GM’s 10-speed automatic transmission will do shifting duty. The naturally aspirated 2.5L I4 LCV, naturally aspirated 3.6L V6 LGZ, and 2.8L I4 LWN turbodiesel Duramax will not return for the 2023 model year.
Looking specifically at the 2023 Colorado ZR2 and 2023 Canyon AT4X, both models will feature front and rear e-lockers, high-approach front fascias, higher levels of ground clearance, plus off-road driving modes and features.
The 2023 Colorado and 2023 Canyon will also make the migration to GM’s new Global B electrical architecture – otherwise known as Vehicle Intelligence Platform, or VIP. Besides allowing for over-the-air (OTA) updates to all vehicle systems, Global B also allows for the latest in infotainment and active safety features and technologies. The downside to Global B is tuning, as vehicles with the system are more difficult to tune, at least as of this writing.