Having test driven all of the new variations of the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado except for top-end ZR2 I’ve gotten the chance to get a good feel for what each trim offers. The guys at Chevrolet designed the range to offer a wide variety from basic WT to well outfitted luxury and off-road choices.
The Chevrolet guys told me that they believe the two middle trim grades Trail Boss and Z71 will be the majority of what they sell – each offering a slightly different sauce to a different buyer. And having talked to a few of my friends looking at the new Colorado and not sure which they like more, I wanted to do a little side-by-side of these two to help clear up some key areas they differ.
First of all, both trucks come the same standard 310 horsepower Turbo Plus engine and it’s 8-speed automatic along with 4WD and a chassis outfitted for a good experience and capability set off-road. Check. Both trucks come with all the same eye-catching design features, various option packages and the same palette of eight colors.
At this point, things start getting completely different.
First, the Colorado Trail Boss is based on the down to basics WT trim grade and then adds all of the off-road, go there hardware underneath. It’s for the guy who always wanted a basic work truck with the bigger meat packing where it matters. As such it’s the less expensive of these two at $38,495.
The Colorado Z71 has more off-road capability than the WT or LT trim but is really about just having a nicer, well outfitted truck overall. It’s interior is upscaled with a lot nicer trim and color palette, it has a lot more standard features, and is just an outright fancier rig. It starts at $41,395.
From an exterior side-by-side, you can see a few things right away. The Z71 has about a 1-inch ride height lift over standard, the Trail Boss has a 2-inch lift. If you option up the Z71 it gets fender flares as shown here. They are however extra inch wider on both sides of the Trail Boss and the tire wheel combination bring the track out a bit wider as well.
The faces are different too. Z71 gets nicer LED lights, more body color in the jowls and some gloss black trims along with fog lights and a silver lower fascia trim element and red tow hooks. The Trail Boss has more basic natural black plastic, black hooks and has halogen headlamps.
Body sheet-metal is identical on both with a lot of the muscular creasing and shapes that make them both look good, but the Z71 has a few extra elements that raise its curb appeal like blackout trim between the front and rear windows and body color door handles.
Then there are the wheels. They both come standard with 18×8-inch alloy wheels though the finishes are slightly different with Z71 getting a machined face and Trail Boss getting a full blackout look. Z71 however does offer a 20-inch wheel option that might be better for a buyer who spends most of their time on the pavement. Trail Boss does not.
When it comes to off-road capability I found that a true off-road enthusiast will much appreciate the added 2-inch lift and unique suspension tune of the Trail Boss. In our testing I found it to be helpful in more challenging spots where the lower Z71 tended to touch the ground a bit more dragging its lip spoiler for instance. It’s worth noting however that air dam is easily removable on both.
They both offer the same palette of excellent well sorted drive modes and traction programs with the 4WD system with a dial a terrain knob on the center console. You can also get up to 10 camera views with their respective packaging as well.
The interior is really where these two trucks really go in a different direction. As noted the Trail Boss is based on the WT trim grade and shares the identical down to basics interior. Black plastic trims line the palace, you have cloth seating standard but you can option vinyl Chevrolet calls EvoTex. Most of the features, content and package options here mirror that of the WT.
The Z71 has a significantly stepped up collection of color, trims, upgraded feel and look as well as choices. Here you get a standard vinyl seating trim with red accent stitching and stripes. The door panels, dash and console all feature a nicer looking and soft to the touch trim treatment. You can even upgrade the seating to leather at the front seats, get heating and ventilation for them, get red seat belts and option more stuff like a premium Bose Audio system. The list goes on.
The bottom line it really gets back to is what do you want? If you want the off-road hobbyist flavor basic work truck with all of the top-drawer hardware and not all the gussied up fluff then the Trail Boss is for you.
If you want a nice well appointed truck that’s going to make your life grand every day by giving you all the creature comforts and an upscale feel in addition to enhanced off-road capability then the Z71 is likely your top choice.
If you want both worlds, then you spend out for the ZR2.