- Both the Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport and the Chevy Colorado ZR2 are aimed at people who want to go off-road in their pickups.
- We sampled these midsize off-road warriors back-to-back.
- The Chevy Colorado ZR2 is a nicer truck. The Toyota TRD Sport is very capable, though less refined.
Chevy is credited with single-handedly reviving the compact-pickup-truck segment in the US, but the truth is that Toyota has long ruled it with its Tacoma. It was just that the “Taco” stood more or less alone, with only the Nissan Frontier to challenge it in the entry-level-pickup space.
The Chevy Colorado arrived in 2014 to crash the party. By rights, this segment isn’t the same as it was back in the day when the Chevy S-10 and the Ford Ranger were in the game. These new pickups are midsize, sitting a notch below the big stuff — Chevy’s Silverado and Toyota’s Tundra, for example.
I recently had a chance to check out the off-road, high-performance version of the Chevy Colorado, the ZR2. Soon after, I borrowed the Tacoma TRD Sport, the competition from Toyota.
OK, I didn’t go rock busting or explore a desert. But I did tool around in both trucks on the daunting winter roads of suburban New Jersey.
Here’s what I thought.
Editorial note: I heard from a number of readers about this comparison. Many asked why I hadn’t put the ZR2 up against a TRD Pro. The answer is that that the TRD Pro wasn’t available, and in any case, the TRD Sport stacked up pretty well. But I’ll be testing the TRD Pro in April, so look forward to a rematch.
Let’s start with the fetching 2018 Colorado ZR2, in “Cajun red tintcoat.”
Our test truck was $43,475 — the Colorado ZR2 is already a lot pricier than the $20,000 basic Colorado, but our tester came well-optioned out of the box before a few extras added about $700.
Our ZR2 came with a crew cab and a “short box” bed. Some folks don’t much like short boxes, but I think that for most owners it’s ideal.
The Colorado ZR2 kind of blends aggression with sporty sleekness. But I don’t think the various fascia elements — grille, badge, headlights — are in good balance.