With current offerings like the Ford Raptor, Ram Power Wagon, Toyota TRD Pro trucks and Jeep Wrangler, off-road driving enthusiasts haven’t had this many exciting choices since the 1970s, and now Chevrolet is getting in on the action with the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss.
Initially conceived as a series of SEMA show trucks, the Trail Boss combines beefed-up components for improved off-road driving with unique styling elements for a sinister appearance. Starting with the top Z71 trim level, which oddly enough is available on two-wheel drive models, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss has numerous build configurations including the choice of an extended cab or a four-door Crew cab, short or long bed and three engine options including a class-exclusive diesel engine. Thankfully, this 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss tester was equipped with Chevy’s torquey Duramax four-cylinder, so we took to the trails to see just how much of a boss the new Colorado can be.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss Exterior:
The third-generation Chevrolet Colorado is already a sharp-looking truck, but the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss injects an added dose of style for good measure. When introduced last year, the Trail Boss package added front recovery hooks, a spray-in bedliner, black side steps, black Chevrolet bowtie emblems, black fender flares and black wheels wrapped in meaty Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac 265/65R17 all-terrain tires. The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss takes this a step further with new blacked-out wheel and a black sport bar with red “COLORADO” lettering and LED trail lights.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss Interior:
Backing up its rugged looks, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 is only available with a cloth and leatherette seat trim that feels extremely durable yet offers the added luxury of heated front seats. New for 2016, the Chevrolet Colorado also gets an enhanced, multicolor driver information center display and an upgraded Chevrolet MyLink now featuring Apple CarPlay capability. The only interior upgrades on the Trail Boss spec sheet are the all-weather floor mats with a Z71 logo. On the Crew Cab, there is plenty of room for five passengers, and the rear seat offers plenty of cargo versatility with hidden a storage area under the seat as well as a split bench that can either have the seat backs folded down or the seat bottoms folded up. To improve rearward visibility, the headrests can be folded down at the push of a button.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss Performance:
While Chevrolet is showing up late to the off-road party, it is making up for lost time by being the only automaker in this segment to offer a diesel engine… until a diesel Jeep Wrangler is offered in the U.S., that is. The 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss can be equipped with any of the Colorado’s available engines (including the 200-horsepower 2.5-liter direct-injected inline four-cylinder or 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter direct-injected V-6), but this tester was equipped with the optional 2.8-liter Duramax inline four-cylinder. Small truck enthusiasts have waited a long time for a diesel to be available, and the 2016 Colorado Duramax doesn’t disappoint with 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque.
With the 4×4 setup, this engine is rated at 20 mpg city and 29 mpg highway, and with the base two-wheel drive layout, those figures improve by 2 mpg each allowing the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado (and its GMC Canyon twin) to be the most fuel-efficient trucks in the U.S. Not only that, but this engine can also run on B20 biodiesel fuel. As most diesels do, the Duramax backs up these EPA numbers with excellent real-world figures that include a 25.5 mpg average (according to the trip computer) after driving a little over 145 miles, which required less than a quarter tank of fuel, including plenty of low-speed, off-road driving. Combined with the 21-gallon fuel tank, the Duramax gives the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss an excellent range of more than 600 miles on the highway.
Compared to the competition, the Trail Boss doesn’t get any major suspension upgrades, but that just means that this mid-size truck doesn’t give up any of its on-road ride quality. On paved roads, the Colorado is smooth and comfortable, and the cabin is remarkably quiet. Hitting the trails, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss had little problem with the varying terrain whether it be faster washboard two-tracks, washed-out sandy areas or even low-speed trail crawling. The standard automatic locking rear differential helps the Colorado perform flawlessly off-road, and my biggest complaint about the truck is the front air dam sits a little too low and tends to drag on scrape over just about anything.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss Safety:
While the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado can be equipped with driver-assistance technologies such as Front Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning, these are only available with the optional Safety Package, which is not offered on the Colorado Z71 trim level (LT only). For whatever reason Chevrolet chose to do that, the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado still exhibits decent safety with a four-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (full IIHS testing has not been performed yet). Standard safety features do include a backup camera, stability control, daytime running lights and OnStar, on the LT and Z71 trim levels.
2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss Overall:
The cheapest way to get into a 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss would be sticking with the base engine and two-wheel drive, and that is still going to set you back $36,120* after factoring in the $6,710 package. As you see it here, the Crew Cab, 4×4, Duramax-powered Colorado Z71 Trail Boss carries an as-tested price of $46,760. That’s more than double the $20,100 starting price of a 2016 Colorado, and it is slightly more expensive than the bigger, more capable Ram 2500 Power Wagon, which starts at $46,560*.
One thing you can’t get on a Power Wagon, Tacoma TRD Pro or the upcoming 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is a diesel engine, and for off-roading, nothing beats the low-end torque this baby Duramax delivers. Chevrolet is eventually expected to bring the ZR2 off-road package to the Colorado, but in the meantime, this 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss is as extreme as this truck gets. Since it lacks any major off-road upgrades – other than the tires – the Trail Boss does a good job of showing just how rugged the Z71 is right out of the gate, and the added styling add-ons do result in a cool-looking truck.
Make sure to visit your local AutoNation Chevrolet dealership and test drive the any one of the capable 2016 Chevrolet Colorado models including the off-road ready Z71 Trail Boss!
*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.
**Based on 2016 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.