Monday, March 9, 2015

World Premiere: Chevy Colorado Z71 Trail Boss Edition

By Ben Aghajanian, UpShift Contributing Editor

The Cleveland Auto Show is more important than many people believe. It is among the 5 highest-attended shows in the country, after Detroit, Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. It's very important as a consumer show—one that is focused on car shoppers and enthusiasts, rather than splashy vehicle premieres.

This year, however, Chevrolet chose to unveil a new package at the Cleveland show: the Chevy Colorado Z71 Trail Boss edition. The Trail Boss is targeted at off-road and recreational sports enthusiasts, with a few upgrades over the standard Z71. It slots in well with the target market for the Colorado, introduced last year as a mid-size truck, a market segment neglected by a number of automakers over the last several years. Primarily, the Colorado competes with the Toyota Tacoma, a truck with a very loyal following. In part, this following can be attributed to the lack of alternative options Tacoma buyers have had since the late 2000s. Once Dodge dropped the Dakota and Ford nixed the Ranger, the Nissan Frontier was really the only other vehicle in the segment—and it is due for a redesign.

Chevy representatives explained that the Trail Boss is a package that allows buyers to take options available as OEM accessories and combine them to realize a discount. It comes with skid plates, rugged-looking alloy wheels (described by a Chevy rep as “punch-you-in-the-face aggressive”), unique Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac 265/65R17 all-terrain tires, black tubular side step bars, and components from the GearOn package (cargo tie-down rings, load bar, and cargo divider). It also adds a G80 automatic locking rear differential, front recovery hooks, and fog lights. The front air dam (part of which is shown below) is removable for better clearance, by the way.

Think of the Trail Boss as a pickup truck competitor to the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon—a vehicle with off-road credibility straight from the factory. Toyota offered something comparable with the outgoing, 2015 Tacoma (the TRD Pro edition), but there has not been word that the new Tacoma will offer a similar package.

I dig that GM is offering smaller trucks to customers again. A recent trip to my local Chevrolet dealer showed that they can barely keep them in stock—only 3 were on the lot. The Trail Boss adds $3,320 to the $28,505 price of the Colorado Z71—this is a lot of content for the money. In comparison, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon starts at $35,495 and the Tacoma TRD Pro at $35,525. I'm looking forward to driving one.