Mid-Range Chevy Colorado Makes ZR2 Power With Just a Tune

Mid-Range Chevy Colorado Makes ZR2 Power With Just a Tune

2023 Chevrolet Colorado versions from left to right: Colorado Z71, Colorado Trail Boss and Colorado ZR2

2023 Chevrolet Colorado versions from left to right: Colorado Z71, Colorado Trail Boss and Colorado ZR2
Photo: Chevy

Now that the new Chevy Colorado has been announced, it is clear that the mid-size truck segment at a time. The Chevrolet Colorado 2023 gonna bask in the glow for a bit, before the spotlight returns to full size Chevy Silverado. But the new Colorado has the Silverado to thank for its four cylinder engineoriginally developed for the full-size truck and now adapted for the mid-size.

The powertrain proved to be versatile; the new Colorado range will be powered by one engine with three variants. But the claimed horsepower of the motors has such a wide powerband that it made us wonder: what sets the power apart? And, more importantly, if the engine is the same, what’s stopping a base Colorado WT from producing the same power as a Colorado ZR2?

Image for article titled Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss and Z71 can produce ZR2 horsepower with engine tuning

Photo: Chevy

For reference, the base engine will be standard on the Colorado WT and LT. Chevy calls it the 2.7-liter Turbo, and it makes 237 HP, 259 lb-ft. of torque. The Colorado Z71 and Trail Boss will get the 2.7-liter Turbo Plus that develops 310 horsepower and 390 lb-ft. of torque. And the Colorado ZR2 will have the 2.7-liter Turbo High-Output, which makes 310 HP and 430 lb-ft. of torque. That’s full-size power!

In the mid-size Chevy Colorado, that power should be even better. Chevy wants a balance of performance and efficiency, so all three engine variants feature a two-cylinder deactivation. This is because the engines share features and much of the same hardware. Power differences come from engine tuning and management via software.

But it turns out that the engine hardware is the same only on the 2.7-liter Turbo Plus and Turbo High-Output engines. Not the base 2.7-liter Turbo, as explained by Chevy deputy chief engineer Kevin Luchansky.

You might be surprised – like me – that the engine isn’t just in the outgoing Chevy Silverado, but in the current Cadillac CT4-V as well.

Image for article titled Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss and Z71 can produce ZR2 horsepower with engine tuning

Photo: Cadillac

Chevy’s drivetrain team wanted more power than the CT4-V, which puts out 325 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque. But the goal was for the Colorado to produce more power using regular fuel. The CT4-V makes more HP than the Colorado, but the car runs on premium gas; The truck’s 2.7-liter Turbo Plus is happy with cheaper fuel, which lowers the cost of ownership.

The team then pushed the 2.7-liter Turbo Plus further. Even though the high-output 2.7-liter produces the same horsepower and 7,700-pound tow rating, torque is up to 430 lb-ft. That tow rating is higher than the base engine’s 3,500 pounds, and the big bump comes from a third fan, which produces better “airflow through the charge air cooler.” Overall, it was the best performance the team could squeeze out of the engine while still meeting durability standards.

A cutaway of the 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used in the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.

A cutaway of the 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine used in the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.
Drawing: Chevy

As the engineer explained, everyone needs performance the most efficient engines. So they removed some parts and optimized others for the lower curb weight of the Colorado WT. They removed the piston cooling jets, as the 2.7-liter Turbo engine has a much lower power density. And they optimized the catalytic converter for the lower weight of the lower trims.

This means that the base Colorado WT engine will not handle the power density of the Colorado ZR2 engine. So it’s not just about adjusting or increasing the power via software on the WT to get the performance of the ZR2. But since the top two engines share hardware, a Z71 or Trail Boss could power the ZR2 via chip/tuning, and Chevy will sell owners “accessory calibration” to bring the 2.7-liter Turbo Plus to a 2, 7 liters high output. . Like the new Colorado itself, pricing for the upgraded engine calibration is still unknown at this time.

Image for article titled Chevrolet Colorado Trail Boss and Z71 can produce ZR2 horsepower with engine tuning

Photo: Chevy

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