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A blue 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss is shown from the front at an angle.

Show Those Dunes Who’s Boss With the All-New Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss

How do you make something that was already great even better? This seems like a very difficult task, but the folks at Chevrolet decided they were up to the challenge. Chevy has been offering a fully loaded off-road version of the Colorado called the ZR2 since introducing the current generation of this midsize truck. With so many standard features, the Colorado ZR2 promised a truck you could take right from the dealer’s lot to the trail without stopping for any post-factory modifications. For the 2023 Chevy Colorado, the company’s designers decided to truly push the envelope on the ZR2. This led to the all-new Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss Special Edition. This model adds many things that hadn’t been conceived of just four short years ago. You get the full package; a midsize off-road truck that leaves nothing to luck or imagination.

The cool thing about the ZR2 Desert Boss Special Edition is that it doesn’t subtract anything from the basic Colorado ZR2 package. Instead, it builds on items that already come standard on the ZR2. This means that you don’t have to make a tough decision when buying a ZR2 Desert Boss Special Edition since you won’t be put in a position of having to choose between two features you love. Speaking of love, if you are serious about off-roading, then you are going to fall in love with the Desert Boss. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this model so special.

Building on the ZR2’s Powertrain

Like the standard Colorado ZR2, the 2023 Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss has a 2.7-liter High-Output Turbo I-4 gas engine. This is the most powerful engine offered on the Colorado, and it delivers an impressive 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. This not only gives you the power to get up and over practically any obstacle, but it also allows you to tow up to 7,700 lbs with your Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss. This is an important feature as you can still use this truck for utility purposes. It’s also somewhat surprising because many other purpose-built off-road truck models require you to trade towing and hauling capability for performance.

The ZR2 Desert Boss pairs its Turbo I-4 engine with an 8-speed automatic transmission and features the same five drive modes as the Colorado ZR2. Normal is perfect for everyday driving boosting fuel economy, while Tow/Haul helps you maximize this utility capability on your truck. The other three modes are all about fun. Off-Road mode is designed for added traction on loose surfaces like mud, gravel, grass, and even snow. Terrain helps you get your Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss up and over steep hills and also helps with rock crawling by automatically applying the brakes for better control. Finally, Baja is designed for driving on sandy terrain, giving you greater power delivery, traction control, and stability. This is where the ZR2 Desert Boss truly earns its name.

The engine bay of a 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is shown in close-up.

Improving the ZR2’s Suspension and Design

The 2023 Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss comes with a standard crew cab, just like the ZR2 model, providing a roomy interior for up to five passengers. As expected, it is also standard four-wheel drive with a specialized transfer case to provide the proper amount of torque to each wheel, depending on driving conditions.

An off-road truck must have a specialized suspension, and the Colorado ZR2 doesn’t disappoint. Chevy has given this truck a high-performance lifted suspension and a wider chassis than the standard Colorado pickup. This is a full 10.7 inches of ground clearance, significantly more than the 8.2 inches of ground clearance on other models of the 2023 Colorado. That can make the difference between traversing an obstacle safely or having a problem.

In addition, the Colorado ZR2 sports a set of Multimatic DSSV dampers on its specialized suspension system. This is exclusive to the ZR2 model. Fortunately, Chevy includes these on the ZR2 Desert Boss Special Edition. This will make sure you and your passengers have a comfortable ride when pushing your Colorado to the limit.

The ZR2 Desert Boss adds beadlock capabilities to the 33-inch OD MT tires wrapped around the 17-inch wheels that are standard to the ZR2. This a major upgrade for the Desert Boss, securely holding the bead of the tires. As a result, you can underinflate your tires before going off-roading without risking that the wheel rims won’t hold the tires in place. If the tires come off the bead, you can ruin the tires, resulting in a costly repair. The beadlocks on these wheels will hold the tires and rims in place, preventing them from detaching. As a result, you can safely deflate your tires on the ZR2 Desert Boss. Doing this will increase the amount of surface area in contact between your tires and the terrain you are riding on, allowing you to traverse more challenging terrain.

Adding to the ZR2’s Off-Road Special Features

The 2023 Colorado ZR2 is equipped with a host of specialized off-road features, like strategically located skid plates. This will give you underbody protection from rocks and branches that could otherwise do a job on your truck’s oil pan and transfer case. The ZR2 Desert Boss Special Edition includes these and other off-road features that are exclusive to this special edition model.

The ZR2 Desert Boss also features an underbody camera, giving you the ability to watch the obstacles your truck is passing over in real-time. The images will appear on your truck’s touchscreen when in this mode, and as a result, you can better take evasive action to avoid hitting unseen obstacles. So, if your camera detects a log jutting up, you can steer clear of it without any worries.

There is also a specialized front fascia with an off-road bumper. This gives the ZR2 Desert Boss a very aggressive look in keeping with its design. The roof is also fitted with a specialized light bar. Aside from looking cool, this will help you when driving your Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss on a nighttime off-road trail. Finally, the truck’s roof has a rollover bar with a sail panel mounted behind the cabin. This provides additional support in the event that your truck flips on a steep hill or sand dune.

A blue 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss is shown from the rear while going over a sand dune.

Featuring the ZR2’s Top-Of-The-Line Infotainment System

The 2023 Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss Special Edition carries over the ZR2’s fully loaded Chevrolet infotainment system. This touchscreen measures an impressive 11.3 inches, making it easy to operate so that you can switch between your favorite apps and entertainment features. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, so you can pair your smartphone with this system, allowing you to access features like Waze, Google Maps, Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora. The voice commands will come in handy when taking your Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss out on an especially challenging trail.

The infotainment system also pairs with the off-road modes, allowing you to judge approach angles, set the drive mode, check on tire pressure, and check the pitch and roll of your Colorado truck. This is the kind of crucial information you need when you are off-roading. There is also an 11-inch diagonal digital driver information center. This includes an odometer, tachometer, and gas tank level. The layout is perfectly set just below eye level, so you can check out this important information without being distracted from the road.

The Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss Is Ready to Take the Throne as King of the Hill

Chevy has done an excellent job improving on a masterpiece. The 2023 Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss takes the existing features you know and love on the ZR2 and builds on them. This allows you to get everything you want out of your Colorado pickup truck, whether you are taking it on or off the pavement. As a result, Chevy is positioned to be king of the hill in the increasingly crowded field of off-road midsize pickup trucks.