Towing with a ZR2 compared to a Jeep Wrangler

We have a small Coleman / Fleetwood Cobalt tent trailer that we sometimes take out with us. Towing this small trailer with the Jeep is doable, but the trailer is very noticeable behind the Jeep and we have to be caution of trailer sway.

Once we strapped this trailer on the back of the truck, we expected a more pleasant tow and found just that. The trailer was hardly noticeable and sway was no issue at all.

This trailer is only about 2,500 pounds.

The Jeep Wrangler (4 Doors ) maximum tow rating is 3500 pounds. There is a towing package offered as a factory option, but our Jeep did not include it. We added the hitch, wiring, brake controller and sway limiter.

The Colorado ZR2 maximum towing specification is 5,000 pounds and the Colorado ZR2 comes standard with tow hitch, 4 pin, 7 pin trailer wire connectors and a built-in trailer brake controller.

The Big Bear Test

We had this Colorado ZR2 at Hungry Valley. Now time to step it up. Big Bears east end of John Bull, White Mountain and the Squeeze are some moderately difficult trails, just hard enough to get an idea of what this truck can really handle.

What we learned from this trip is:

1) The hill decent control is no good in rough, rocky terrain. You might notice the jerkyness of the truck in some of this video. That is the hill decent control.

2) The rock sliders hold up. We used them and the work. Yes, they attach to the body instead of the frame, but a Jeep Rubicons sliders do as well. The rocker sliders mounts could use some improvements. They have vertical brackets that connect to another horizontal bracket. The vertical bracket is a bad design for off road as it can catch and potentially bend or break on obstacles.

3) The front locker came in handy on the west end of the John Bull Trail. A late model Toyota 4runner TRD with a rear locker was attempting the same line when we were there and they could not pass one section of the trail, where the ZR2, on the same line, with the front locker on, could.

4) We are not ready to run the entire John Bull Trail in this truck. Based on the 1st section of the west end, the truck can do it, but the risk of damage is too high for us (for now). Minimum recommended modifications for the Colorado ZR2 on John Bull would be a gas tank skid plate and some rear end under armor.

Day 1 with a ZR2; Hungry Valley

The purchase was complete late on a Friday evening. First thing that next day, we were at Hungry Valley to get an idea of what this ZR2 can do in the dirt.

A quick run into the south entrance off Smokey Bear Road lead us to the 4x4 practice area, where we started to get familiar with this off road machine.

Then a run up to and through Sterling Canyon...

Then on to Power Line Road and down Freeman Canyon and the Freeman Washes.

After day one, what we learned; the truck is more capable than expected. The gasoline V6 has plenty of low end power to handle the slower, more technical obstacles at the 4x4 practice area and does great in the easier, high speed section.

The rear shocks mounts hang low and appear to a likely problem area.

The 4WD / 2WD shifter is a knob controlled, electronic switch and it is slow. I prefer a stick transfer case shifter to quickly shift from 4hi to 2hi to whip around a turn.

The rear locker can be turned on in 2WD or 4WD.

Hold the traction control button down to turn off traction control and the stabilitrack system for much better throttle response.

The off road mode button doesn't seem to do anything if you have already turned off stabilitrack...