That permeates into the ride, which is surprisingly quiet and comfortable regardless of terrain. The stock 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler tires on 17-inch wheels were picked for their off-road traction, but also their quiet ride at cruising speed.
At highway speeds, the ZR2 is almost unbelievably quiet—anathema to the typical off-road experience of shouting at passengers on the way to the trail, shouting at everyone on the trail, and shouting over the ringing in your ears at home. The ZR2 conquers all it sees in almost complete silence, like a bunker buster delivered in an acoustic shadow. We live in exciting times, people.
Shock and awe
But the tires are the only outward appearance of the witchcraft at all four corners. The ZR2’s best—and only—trick is its custom-built off-road dampers.
2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 First DriveEnlarge Photo
Multimatic seems eager to make a name for itself (they help build a car you may have heard of recently) by building improbable appliances such as the quartet of shocks found on the ZR2’s corners.
The Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valves damper with Position Sensitive Damping built by Multimatic and planted on the ZR2 are a mouthful to pronounce. The alphabet soup of initialisms should be further distilled down to two-stage damping. It’s intelligent, and fantastic.
The first stage, where compression and rebound swing less than the White Sox, the ZR2 improbably acts like a completely normal truck. The Goodyear tires’ tall sidewalls are predictably relaxed—almost nauseating—and nearly overshadows the heroically compliant suspension in everyday drives. Taking the ZR2 more than 100 miles to the trailhead wouldn’t be a big ask. Yup, it’s that comfortable.
On more jarring excursions, the shocks press into a different duty to dampen at different rates during high-impact compression cycles. The magic is found in spool valves that force hydraulic oil in and out of sleeves within the pistons at a specified rate. Two spool valves in the middle of the dampers control on-road behavior, a third spool valve toward the bottom of the shock handles more extreme events. Each are configured for the best behavior under load, and to dissipate heat better than traditional steel shims. The dampers are filled with nitrogen for even better temperature control.