Many people are super excited about what’s coming down the pipeline with the new 2023 Chevy Colorado. It’s one of the most exciting midsize trucks on the market, thanks to a number of unique new features and changes made to the overall design. This brand-new generation of the Colorado comes in swinging thanks to the fairly significant overhaul taking place with the 2023 model year. Part of that overhaul includes an all-new powertrain lineup based around a turbocharged four-cylinder, as well as a heavy focus on off-roading for the 2023 model year.
As many of you know, off-roading requires a specific kind of vehicle setup to make the most of your time on the trails. It’s not just about how the powertrain is configured to pump out more horsepower and torque; it’s also about how the suspension is designed to absorb shocks and how the chassis is calibrated for the abuse that comes when you choose to take your truck off-roading. One of the fascinating parts about the 2023 Colorado is that it has three unique suspension and chassis configurations for the different trims, giving drivers the specific driving experience they want out of this midsize pickup from Chevy.
New Capabilities Based on New Dimensions
The new chassis design spawns from the all-new dimensions the Colorado received for the 2023 model year. The chassis is configured to accommodate the needs of off-road functionality. Most notable is the fact that the wheelbase is now longer, thanks to a change in the way the axles have been positioned. The front axle has actually been moved forward, adding 3.1 inches of length to the wheelbase compared to the previous generation of the Chevy Colorado.
This means that the 2023 Colorado’s wheelbase now sits at 131.4 inches across the entire trim lineup. However, the overall length varies by trim based on small changes in the fascia and exterior body designs. For instance, the ZR2 has a modified fascia and bumper to enhance its approach angle. Still, the differences are not massive, and all five trims have an overall length right around the 213-inch mark.
The track width has also been modified for the entire model year lineup. The base trims have a 62.8-inch wide track in the front, and the Z71 is a fraction of an inch narrower at 62.6 inches. The more aggressive Trail Boss rocks a 66.2-inch track, and the ZR2 has a 66.3-inch wide track. What’s the importance of this change? A wider track means better stability and off-road handling capabilities, which is especially useful when considering the higher center of gravity from the factory lifts included in the off-road-oriented trims.
It’s no surprise that the ground clearance is also significantly different between the trims. For the WT and LT, you have 7.9 inches of ground clearance, while the Z71 tops out at 8.9 inches, and the Trail Boss has 9.5 inches of ground clearance. The ZR2 and its Desert Boss variant manage an impressive 10.7 inches of ground clearance. Clearly, the engineers were focused on creating a variety of chassis configurations tailored to the kind of off-roading you plan on doing and how serious you plan to get with it. Basically, it’s acknowledging that there are levels to off-roading, and which trim’s specifications appeal to you will depend on how serious you are about your off-road activities.
Shorter Overhangs and Rearranged Shock Placement
The modified dimensions are just one part of the story about how the 2023 Chevy Colorado has been configured to become more dynamic in its driving. In addition to moving the front axle forward slightly, Chevy also reduced the rear overhang. Now, what’s the importance of a reduced overhang? Well, it means an improved departure angle and less of the exterior bumping and banging on uneven terrain. It also means easier handling. But it’s not just the rear overhang that has been modified for better functionality and maneuverability.
The Multimatic DSSV spool valve dampers introduced for the last generation of the Colorado are still present on the ZR2. This hardware gives drivers racing-quality damping while on or off the road, but what’s interesting is that the shocks in the rear are now more outboard. What’s the significance of this change? Well, it means the undercarriage is cleaner and has fewer obstructions that could potentially hit, scrape, or otherwise make contact with obstacles on the trail.
Tucking the shocks very close to the rear wheels, next to the leaf springs, on the outermost arm of the axle also improves the suspension geometry in two ways. First, it means better stability when traveling off-road and taking a lot of nasty bumps and shunts. The second reason is for towing and trailering. Even though off-road vehicles aren’t necessarily known for their towing prowess, the 2023 Chevy Colorado maintains the model’s best-in-class 7,700 lb max towing capacity. Even the ZR2 has a Tow/Haul mode, which makes the off-road iteration of the truck more useful for adventures and daily life.
Better Off-Road Tech Implementation
With the high-clearance bumpers, locking differentials, and undercarriage protection, you would think this would be enough for the 2023 Colorado to satisfy the whims of off-road enthusiasts, right? Well, the engineers at Chevrolet certainly didn’t think so. In fact, the undercarriage was specifically modified to accommodate an all-new tech implementation: cameras.
Yes, the Colorado is taking a page out of the Hummer EV’s playbook. For the Colorado ZR2 Desert Boss package, there is now the inclusion of underbody cameras. The cameras are designed and placed in such a way that you get views both in front of and behind the Colorado’s undercarriage. Why is this important? Well, if you’re rock crawling, doing desert runs, or jumping dirt mounds, the under-body cameras allow you to get a clear view of any obstacles the truck may have to clear or has cleared.
These cameras, I imagine, will be especially useful for drivers intent on using the Colorado to do a lot of rock crawling. With the standard inclusion of the five selectable drive modes, such as Terrain Mode, you have even more options. Terrain Mode is particularly interesting as it can automatically apply the brakes to improve control on technical surfaces. Add the under-body cameras looking out for what’s underneath the truck, and you will have greater peace of mind when the going gets tough.
How Important Are the 2023 Colorado’s Chassis Changes to You?
A lot of focus and importance is often placed on the powertrain of new vehicles, but given the 2023 Chevy Colorado’s heavy focus on off-roading (four of the six variations of the Colorado are specifically off-road centric), the chassis and suspension modifications are just as important. For off-road enthusiasts, one has to ask: do these changes make you excited about the new 2023 Colorado? Also, are these the kind of changes that you feel are necessary to make the Colorado more competitive in the midsize space against other off-road vehicles in the segment? The changes definitely seem exciting from where I’m sitting, but it will be fascinating to see how enthusiasts take to the new Colorado.