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A blue 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is shown from the side while in sand.

Three Engines, Four Stances, Countless Possibilities: The 2023 Chevy Colorado

The redesigned 2023 Chevy Colorado is here, and it’s picking up accolades left and right. However, if you’re getting ready to buy this all-new midsize truck, prepare yourself—there are a lot of different options, and it may get confusing.

Unlike most pickups—including the previous generation of this truck—the new Colorado doesn’t offer a variety of cab and bed sizes, and all three of its available powertrains use the same 2.4L gasoline engine as their base. However, the selection of suspension setups and engine tunes available for this truck gives you more possibilities for adventure. From the basic WT to the high-end ZR2, here’s what you need to know when selecting your 2023 Chevy Colorado to ensure you get the capabilities you need.

Starting Out Strong

The first thing that you might notice looking at the Colorado models parked at your local Chevy dealer is that they all appear to be different heights. That’s because Chevy saw how many truck drivers were installing aftermarket kits in their pickups and decided to offer a variety of ride heights straight from the factory. There are a grand total of three available stances to choose from, starting with the standard ride height in the WT, LT, and Z71 trims.

The two lower trims offer 7.9 inches of ground clearance, which is plenty for commuting around town and some light off-roading when needed. While they may not be the most impressive midsize trucks on the street, they are some of the most affordable, and the lower ride height makes accessing the cab and bed a lot more convenient. If you are looking for a work truck or a daily driver that you will be climbing into and out of all the time, these basic trims are a good choice.

However, if you want something more aggressive, the Z71 trim adds blacked-out badging, red tow hooks, and a set of 32-inch all-terrain tires. These tires are 1.5 inches taller than the all-season tires on the WT and LT, giving the Z71 a bit more ground clearance despite sharing the standard ride height. In total, you get 8.9 inches of ground clearance, a 29.1-degree approach angle, and a 22.3-degree departure angle. If you see a lot of dirt roads and muddy job sites, the Colorado Z71 is probably the trim for you.

A red 2023 Chevy Colorado Trail Boss is shown from the side.

Built for Adventure

While the base ride height is fine for most drivers, especially with the Z71 trim, there are always those who need more. For them, there are the Trail Boss and ZR2 trims. The Trail Boss comes from the factory with a two-inch lift kit and a 3.5-inch wider track, providing more ground clearance and stability on the trail. Black plastic fender flares cover 32-inch all-terrain tires and help protect the paintwork on your truck from off-road hazards. With 9.5 inches of ground clearance, a 30.5-degree approach angle, and a 22.4-degree departure angle, there are few drivers who would not be satisfied with the Trail Boss trim.

The final option is the Colorado ZR2. This has always been Chevy’s most off-road capable trim, but the 2023 version goes further than ever with a three-inch factory lift. With 10.7 inches of ground clearance, the ZR2 sits higher than a stock Jeep Gladiator, and its special bumpers give it a 25.1-degree approach angle and 24.6-degree departure angle. While lifted trucks can sometimes be difficult to handle, Chevy’s use of an ultra-wide track and Multimatic DSSV dampers makes the Colorado ZR2 nimble and stable on even the roughest terrain. If your weekends revolve around seeing how far off the grid you can get, the ZR2 is the answer.

Choosing Your Engine

At first glance, choosing the right engine for the 2023 Chevy Colorado is easy––after all, every trim comes standard with a turbocharged 2.4L engine. But while the line-up may look simpler than the old selection of I-4, V6, and diesel engines, there are actually three distinct versions of the same 2.4L engine, and they provide very different experiences behind the wheel. While Chevy hasn’t done a great job of advertising it, this means you can unlock a lot of power in the lower trims for very little money.

The base engine tune, known as the 2.7L Turbo, is found in the WT and LT trims. It provides 237 hp and 259 lb-ft of torque. Overall, this engine sits somewhere between the I-4 and V6 engines offered in the previous-generation Colorado and is more efficient than either, making it a great choice for a daily driver or a no-nonsense work truck. The one limitation is its relatively low maximum towing capacity of 3,500 lbs, but if you aren’t planning on towing, you will be more than satisfied with this engine and its modern eight-speed automatic transmission.

If you want to unlock the full 7,700 lbs maximum towing capacity of the 2023 Chevy Colorado, you will need to upgrade to the available 2.7L Turbo Plus engine. In addition to its higher towing capacity, this motor provides 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. Although it is basically the same engine as the standard 2.7L Turbo, it has a few mechanical differences to handle its higher power output and a different RPO code (L2B vs L2R), so you can’t upgrade the 2.7L Turbo to the 2.7L Turbo Plus down the road. The more powerful engine comes standard on the Z71 and Trail Boss trims and is an option on the WT and LT trims.

High-Output Power

The final engine option is the 2.7L Turbo High-Output, which is the same engine inside the full-size Chevy Silverado 1500. With 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, it is the most powerful gasoline engine you can get in a midsize pickup truck, handily overpowering the V6 options in the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. In fact, it is only 12 lb-ft of torque short of the 3.0L V6 turbo-diesel available in the Jeep Gladiator. While this extra power doesn’t increase the towing capacity of the Colorado, it provides impressive acceleration and off-road performance. Hence why this engine is standard in the ZR2.

The really fun part is that the 2.7L Turbo High-Output engine is mechanically identical to the 2.7L Turbo Plus engine, and Chevy sells a dealer-installed software update that gives you the full 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. The “2.7L Turbo High-Output Calibration” (RPO Code RWQ) costs just $395 on the Chevy site, giving you little reason not to check that box on the options list for your truck. The only bad news is that this optional calibration is not offered for the base WT trim, so you will have to upgrade to at least the LT trim to enjoy the full power of the 2023 Colorado.

A white 2023 Chevy Colorado WT is shown from the front at an angle.

The New Standard for Pickup Configurations?

Drivers have been installing lift kits and engine tunes on their trucks for ages, but relying on the aftermarket usually meant reduced reliability and voiding your warranty. Fortunately, Chevy has seen the light and introduced a plethora of options for the all-new 2023 Colorado. While some truck shoppers might lament the fact that you can no longer option a long bed or a regular cab on the Colorado, the rest of us are excited by the seemingly endless possibilities available to customize this pickup. We hope that more manufacturers will follow suit to give truck buyers more options straight from the factory.