- After I named the Chevy Colorado ZR2 the winner in a battle of the mid-size pickup trucks against the Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport, some folks said I should have chosen the TRD Pro.
- So I asked Toyota to let me borrow the Pro.
- And the Pro proved itself!
In March, I pitted a 2018 $US43,500 Chevy Colorado ZR2 against a Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport in a battle of offroading-oriented mid-size pickup trucks.
The Colorado ZR2 came out on top, but the $US38,000 Tacoma TRD Sport commended itself quite well. I heard, however, from numerous readers about why I should have compared the Chevy with the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, a more robust offroader.
Toyota kindly let me borrow a 2017 TRD Pro for a new matchup, and here’s how it went. Bear in mind that at Business Insider we have limited ability to go rock-busting in these vehicles. But in the case of the TRD Pro, I did find some mud.
Let’s again start this throwdown with the 2018 Colorado ZR2, in “Cajun red tintcoat.”
Our test truck was $US43,475 – the Colorado ZR2 is already a lot pricier than the $US20,000 basic Colorado, but our tester came well-optioned out of the box before a few extras added about $US700.
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.
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 stickers are angular and jazzy.
But I could do without this plastic faux hood scoop.
The bed is on the smaller side, but if you’re headed off-road, hauling capacity isn’t necessarily top of mind.
For daily duty, there’s plenty of room in the box for mountain bikes, camping gear, and home-improvement supplies.
On paper, the 308-horsepower, 3.6-litre V6 could be construed as underpowered. But in my hands, it was anything but. This pickup has nice pop.
The ZR2’s 0-60 mph has been clocked at a respectable six seconds. The motor is smoothly responsive, with solid – if not stunning – torque.
I’m a fan of naturally aspirated V6 engines that simply get the job done. The ZR2’s six-pot is a stout motor that’s unlikely to give owners a lot of trouble.
Fuel economy is meh: 16 mpg city/18 highway/17 combined. But you don’t buy a performance off-roading pickup to save on gas.
The ZR2’s power is channeled to the four-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The shifting was smooth. The transmission isn’t tuned to race for the upper gears to save fuel either. It holds in second through fifth to produce a sporty, powerful feel.
The interior is nice, nearly premium without being luxurious. That’s by design — this isn’t a truck meant to be babied, so the interior has to be able to endure some punishment.
For the driver, the instruments and steering wheel are pretty no-nonsense.
Beyond heated seats, cruise control, and the nicely appointed leather-wrapped steering wheel, you don’t get a lot of driver-assist features with the ZR2. But an off-road warrior such as this doesn’t need a suite of technologies that would be more at home on the freeway.
We’ve liked the IntelliLink infotainment system on all Chevys, and in the ZR2 it’s up to snuff, though the screen is small.
Bluetooth device pairing is a snap, and there are USB/AUX options for plugging in gadgets.
Like all GM vehicles, the Colorado ZR2 has 4G LTE WiFi connectivity.
Our tester didn’t have the Bose audio system that we’ve enjoyed in many other vehicles from the brand, but the more basic stereo still sounded pretty good when we fired up the classic-vinyl station on Sirius XM.
Now for the 2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro! The paint job is “cement,” an improvement of sorts from the TRD Sport’s “quicksand.”
Our 4×4 double-cab tester tipped the cost scales at $US44,814, with just a few grand in options over the unadorned version the the truck. The base Tacoma comes in at about $US25,ooo.
Here’s the Sport, for comparison.
The Taco TRD Pro looks about the same as the TRD Sport I tried out, purposeful and utilitarian. But it has rear doors and a shorter bed.
I also took it to a local gardening center and drove around in some actual mud. The TRD Pro brushed it off without breaking a sweat.
No stickers, but a bit of TRD Pro badging.
And a hood scoop that has actual slots in it, even if they don’t do much.
The bed swallowed up enough mulch and soil to repair my yard and garden from a brutal Northeastern winter.
An extra $US300 also gets you this very useful bed extender.
It alleviates the potential drawback of the short bed.
The Taco TRD Pro’s 3.5-litre V6 puts out 278 horsepower. Same as the TRD Sport, but that’s less than the ZR2’s 308. However, as with the TRD Sport, the Pro’s grunt is more visceral.
As with the Pro, the V6 also yields a 0-60 mph time of around 7.5 seconds. Not really crazy fast, but fast enough.
Fuel economy is 18 mpg city/23 highway/20 combined. That doesn’t sound all that great, but it beats the Colorado’s. And in practice, I didn’t seem to burn through much gas at all over the course of about a week.
The six-speed automatic is … well, I’m not sure if it was a meaningful improvement over the TRD Sport’s manual.
It gets the job done, however, and it feels nearly bulletproof.
The TRD Pro’s black interior was a step-up, premium-wise, from the Sport’s totally basic fabric treatment.
Yep, that’s some basic instrumentation. And I wouldn’t call being the driver of this things a comfortable proposition.
As with the Sport, the TRD Pro’s infotainment system shows up for duty, but the smallish 7-inch screen exacerbates its weakness relative to what we found in the Chevy.
This one isn’t a fair fight when we out the TRD Sport up against the ZR2 – and it still isn’t.
We’ve had issues with the infotainment setup in all Toyota’s vehicles, including those in its Lexus brand. The core functions are fine – Bluetooth paring, USB ports, navigation, Sirius XM radio – but Chevy vehicles offer infotainment that’s setting an industry standard.
The Tacoma’s audio was more or less even with the Colorado’s system.
And the unlikely winner is the TRD Pro!
The Chevy Colorado ZR2 is, quite simply, a nicer pickup. But for this matchup, I strangely came away with a better impression of the TRD Pro.
Why? It certainly wasn’t the ride quality, which would send most folks screaming for the nearest tractor. Nor was it the interior appointments, and it certainly wasn’t the infotainment.
Both pickups are also made in the US – the Chevy Colorado in Missouri and the Toyota Tacoma in Texas. So what pushed me in TRD Pro fandom?
It was the MUD! With four-wheel-drive engaged the TRD Pro meandered through a large and gummy expanse of mud as if it were freshly applied tarmac. I thought I heard the Taco softly laughing beneath the rumble of its torquey V6. “Is that the best you can do?”
The thousands of dollars of difference between the TRD Pro and the TRD Sport comes down to offroad setup. You get better, beefier everything. That’s why the TRD Pro is an awful truck for tooling around town, while the ZR2 is just fine. The Colorado is versatile. The TRD Pro wants trouble.
Not that the ZR2 is a slouch on the trails. But the TRD Pro craves them. In fact, it makes so sense for this truck to be rolling anywhere but on the dirt and rocks.
So there you have it. The ZR2 outdid the TRD Sport – but the Sport’s big brother, the Pro, came to town and showed us how it’s done.
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