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  • Exclusive First Drive: 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss

Exclusive First Drive: 2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss

Where Form Intersects Function

Aug 3, 2015
Photographers: Jason Gonderman
Building on the success of the all-new '15 Colorado, Chevy has begun introducing special editions of the vehicle, which cater to a consumer's desire for a customized ride that fits their unique personality. It all started with the '15 Colorado Z71 Trail Boss, and the company has wasted no time in introducing us to the updated '16 Trail Boss (along with the Midnight edition for the more street oriented crowd, more on that next issue). With lots smooth talking and a lot of bribery we were able to get our hands on the one and only '16 Trail Boss in existence (don't worry, they assure us that more will be built soon).
Photo 2/41   |   Black fender flares and body-colored bumpers contribute to the unique look and stance of the Trail Boss.
The Trail Boss is built off of Chevy's legendary Z71 off-road package and adds unique features that improve both appearance and functionality. It is offered in extended and crew cab configurations, with the choice of a long (6-foot 2-inch) or short (5-foot 2-inch) bed. It can also be had in two-wheel or four-wheel-drive, and with the 2.5L inline four-cylinder, 3.6L V-6, or the 2.8L Duramax diesel engine. Unfortunately, the only drivetrain option not available is the manual transmission, which to us is unacceptable (but understandable).
Photo 3/41   |   2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss Tailgate And Emblem
Photo 4/41   |   The truck's front and rear Chevrolet Bowtie emblems are also blacked out, an option that is unique to the Colorado Trail Boss and Midnight, along with the Silverado Black Out and Midnight editions.
At its base, the Z71 off-road package adds a G80 automatic locking rear differential, off-road suspension with twin-tube shocks, all-terrain tires, front recovery hooks, hill descent control, a transfer case skid plate, fog lights, and projector headlights. Checking the Trail Boss box on the order form cranks it up to 11. Black, three-inch round rocker steps provide an aggressive look, help with ingress, and protect against rocker damage on tough trails (though Chevy doesn't officially claim that last part). However, we found the steps to be a bit of nuisance when getting out of the truck. Also part of the Trail Boss package are black fender flares, black Bowtie emblems front and rear, a spray-on bedliner, and all-weather floor mats with the Z71 logo. Adding functionality to the Trail Boss are aggressive 265/65R17 Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac all-terrain tires, which are wrapped around custom black 17-inch wheels. A sport bar is mounted in the bed and holds a pair of LED off-road trail lights for those times when your adventures last well past the sun's quitting time.
From behind the wheel, the Trail Boss drives just like any other Colorado. The Z71 suspension is soft enough for comfortable daily driving, yet tuned just right for the mild trials that it's intended for. We bombed around on some simple dirt trails, graded roads, and tore-up two-track, and the Trail Boss handled it phenomenally, only occasionally bumping the air dam into the trail (we're keeping our fingers crossed for a removable version on the next Trail Boss). The Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires are a great addition to the truck and provide enough traction to get you deeper in trouble than you probably wanted to be. We're still annoyed that the transfer case selector is hidden behind the steering wheel and easily confused for the headlight switch, but its operation is quick and easy once you find the knob.
Photo 8/41   |   New for '16 is the bed-mounted sports bar. Aside from adding to the unique look of the Trail Boss, this bar also serves as the mounting location for a pair of LED trail lights.
Overall, we're extremely pleased with the direction that Chevy is headed with the Colorado Z71 Trail Boss. This truck provides a quick and easy way to get outdoors in a pickup that has excellent looks, loads of capability, and is completely covered by the factory warranty (and financing). And the fact that the '16 model has been introduced so quickly after the '15 went on sale, and with even more content than before, reinforces their commitment to this lifestyle. While we're excited for the '16 Trail Boss, we're even more interested in what the future holds!
Photo 9/41   |   A pair of 3-inch round side steps are included to provide assistance in entering and exiting the pickup, along with enhancing the rugged look. However, they are also the source of one of our only grievances with the truck, as they can sometimes get in the way when trying to step out.

Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss

TYPE: Five-passenger pickup
BASE PRICE: $29,000 (est.)
ENGINE: 3.6L V-6
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed automatic
HORSEPOWER: 305 at 6,800 RPM
TORQUE: 269 lb-ft at 4,000 RPM
EPA FUEL ECON: 17 city/24 hwy
Photo 14/41   |   Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires provide the grip necessary to keep the whole operation moving forward when the trails get tough. These tires, while on the more aggressive end of the all-terrain spectrum, are actually quite smooth and quiet on the pavement.
Photo 29/41   |   2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss Front Fascia
Photo 41/41   |   2016 Chevrolet Colorado Z71 Trail Boss Front View