Sweet Jumps

For me, the most obvious indication of the macro-passage of time is my two boys.  They nonchalantly toss ever-more complex words and sentences at me every day, they type almost as fast as I do, they are suddenly so tall that it’s easier to throw them over my shoulder and carry them like logs than it is to carry them upright, and lastly—excitingly—whereas in the past their toes barely touched the floor when sitting in the rear seats of the 996, now their knees are pushed up past the horizontal plane, even with soles flat.

It must be almost time for a new car, right?  Can’t have the kids be uncomfortable, right?

This is a convenient excuse to drive some of my prospects, among them the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.  I’m not usually a pickup-truck guy, but the ZR2 is remarkably compelling.  In short-box crew-cab form, it seats 5 with just over five feet of cargo bed out back.  It’s offered with a four-cylinder diesel engine making 369 pound-feet of torque at just 2,000 revs, but that engine adds over three thousand extra dollars to the MSRP, and you sacrifice horsepower for all that torque – the Duramax’s 181 horses are realistically not enough to keep all 4,758 pounds of ZR2 at equal pace with highway traffic.  My choice is GM’s ubiquitous but respectable “LFX” aluminum-block gasoline V6, displacing 3.6 liters and producing (in the ZR2’s case) 308 horsepower and 275 torques—while itself weighing 226 pounds less than the iron-block diesel.  The LFX also gets two more gears in its transmission—eight versus the diesel’s six.

The ZR2’s real party trick isn’t its powertrain, though—it’s the Multimatic DSSV (Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve) shocks that come as standard.  Multimatic makes most of their money putting their trick shocks on high-dollar race cars—and when I say high-dollar race cars, I mean cars such as Sebastian Vettel’s ridiculously dominant 2010-2013 Red Bull Formula 1 machine.  However (as good racing technology tends to) Multimatic’s efforts have trickled down to some road cars, for example the 2014-2015 Camaro Z/28.  Multimatic’s factory in Toronto is also, wouldn’t you know it, the primary assembly location for the current Ford GT supercar.

When bolted to the ZR2, the Multimatic DSSVs make the midsize pickup’s ride incredibly compliant.  I happened to test-drive the ZR2 on a lonely stretch of road that periodically was interrupted by sections coned-off for repair, requiring me to drop some wheels off the tarmac to navigate around.  I was reminded of the episode of Top Gear where the trio drive through Albania in top-end luxury sedans—at one point, driving on a rocky dirt road, James remarks from the comfortable driver’s seat of his Rolls-Royce Ghost, “As far as I’m concerned, the road merely changes color occasionally.”  From the helm of a Colorado ZR2, the surface passing beneath you has absolutely no effect on the sensation you experience as you glide effortlessly over it.  It’s uncanny.

The truck is plenty fast enough, capable of 0-60 in 7.1 seconds and a quarter-mile in 15.6.  It sounds…unobtrusively okay…with the stock exhaust, and the available “Performance Exhaust” offered by Chevrolet nudges the acoustics firmly into the “good” category.  The truck doesn’t feel excessively wide or tall or long from behind the steering wheel, either, so it’s easy to fit into normal gaps in traffic, garages, and parking spots.  There are a zillion accessories and ways to customize it, so it can be configured to do just about anything.  The ZR2 tows less than its plain-jane Colorado brethren (5,000 lbs versus 7,000) but that’s still capacity enough for a light trailer and a track car.

It should be an easy transition for my boys.  They’ll simply transition from being admired at school as they go home in the back of a sports car to being admired at school as they go home in the back of the neighborhood Stadium Super Truck.  Oh, did I forget to mention?  It does sweet jumps.