The 2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss package will be around for just this model year, so if you want one, you’re going to have to hurry. These will be snapped up quickly and you’ll never see them again.
The Desert Boss on top of the ZR2 turns the Colorado crew cab short bed into a serious desert off-road machine, with all the bells and whistles you expect from a top trim Jeep. So you can compare this Chevy to a Wrangler or Bronco, but not to a working truck. Get more details at TheDetroitBureau.com.
The Desert Boss is built up in layers. At the base, you’ve got a Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck, with a turbocharged engine and a nice trim package. It’s a midsize crew cab pickup with a short bed just over 5 feet long.
The ZR2 trim level buys a lot of great off-road stuff like special shocks and skid plates, and then the Desert Boss Special Edition gets you 17-inch beadlock-capable wheels, a bed-mounted sport bar with a sail panel, off-road light bar, auxiliary power box, underbody cameras, Desert Boss decals, blackout emblems, and an off-road front bumper fascia with a safari bar.
Here’s the thing about the Desert Boss, and the ZR2 generally. It’s been body-lifted from the factory, so it’s a climb to get into. You need to be 6 feet or taller to get in this truck conveniently.
It’s not a great choice for kids or shorter people, because the rocker panel protectors — colloquially known as nerf bars — are not running boards, and you’ll eventually slip off and break your leg if you try to use them as steps.
Apart from that, you’ve got a big light bar with side sails that say ZR2 on them behind the cab, and there’s an extra LED light bar mounted on top. This doesn’t really impede the use of the bed, but don’t think of this as a truck where you can put a canopy shell on it and use it for ordinary truck purposes. You’re really supposed to strap down an extra spare tire back there when you’re heading into the wilderness.
Inside, you get a top trim Colorado, with everything from leather to a heated steering wheel. It’s nice, with heated and ventilated front seats, surround view camera, and a big infotainment screen. Much of that stuff is contained in a “ZR2 Convenience Package” that adds $1,490 to the price, but if you’re going Desert Boss, money is really no object. There’s plenty of room in the back seat, by the way.
The ZR2 comes with the top version of Chevy’s 2.7-liter 4-cylinder turbo engine. In normal trims, this engine is tuned to produce 237 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, which is good enough. But if you buy the high output version, you get 310 hp and 391 lb-ft, which is better. But wait! The ZR2 is even torquier, with 430 lb-ft of grunt and the same 310 ponies.
The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and a real hi-lo dual-range Autotrac 4X4 system, all controlled from the console like any modern truck. The ZR2 also comes with driver-selectable locking differentials front and rear, and that extends to the Desert Boss.
Safety and Technology
Like most pickup trucks, the Colorado doesn’t come with a huge amount of advanced safety gear, but most advanced features are available as part of an option package. As a high-trim model, the Desert Boss comes with a good selection, including automatic high beams, lane keeping assistance, and automatic emergency braking.
Additional safety gear that’s part of the ZR2 convenience package adds rear cross traffic braking, blind spot monitoring and steering assistance, and rear parking assist. Features like adaptive cruise and the HD surround vision camera are in an additional $950 technology package.
In the dash, you get a nice 11-inch driver information display, and an 11.3-inch infotainment screen with Google services built in. There’s support for wireless Apple CarPlay and wired Android Auto. A mobile device charging pad is included with the ZR2 Convenience package.
Once you’ve climbed up into the truck, the Desert Boss is fun. The high-output engine delivers the torque you need to get the fat tires moving, and everything is smooth and quick. Well, maybe not cornering, because this truck rides on 33-inch mud terrain tires. But if you want crisp turn-down and precise cornering, go buy a Corvette.
The Desert Boss will, in fact, make you feel like a boss. Of a desert. Or the mall parking lot. It’s good fun and looks great.
2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss Specifications
|L: 213 inches/W: 76.3 inches/H: 81.8 inches/Wheelbase: 131.4 inches
|2.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder; 8-speed automatic transmission and 4WD
|16 mpg city/16 mpg highway/16 mpg combined
|310 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque
|Base price: $46,800; As tested: $61,925 including destination charge
As mentioned, the Desert Boss is a 1-year-only special add-on special edition package that adds an eye-popping $9,295 to the already steep-ish price of a ZR2 off-road Colorado. The ZR2 can actually be had at a fairly reasonable $46,800, but by the time you add the Desert Boss and the convenience package and a few more options, you’re looking at $61,925 for this truck.
That’s a lot for a midsize truck, but you get a lot with the Colorado. So it’s really up to you to decide if it’s all worth the outlay. But as we noted, if you want one of these, the time to act is now.
2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss – Frequently Asked Questions
Why can’t the ZR2 tow as much as other Colorados?
The reason Chevy dropped the tow rating from 7,500 pounds on the other Colorado versions to 5,000 on the ZR2 is because of the altered bumper and suspension set up for off-roading.
Is the ZR2 better than the Z71?
The Z71 is off-road capable, but the ZR2 has some extra features that are perfect if you plan to go off-roading frequently or on more challenging trails.
What’s special about a ZR2?
The ZR2 has over half a dozen drive modes, selectable four-wheel drive, a low-range gearbox, 33-inch tires and beefy suspension.