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Chevrolet Colorado gets ZR2 Concept with turbodiesel power

  • The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 off-road concept truck is revealed during the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. The annual event is open to the public beginning Nov. 21. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

    The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 off-road concept truck is revealed during the Los Angeles Auto Show on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Los Angeles. The annual event is open to the public beginning Nov. 21. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

  • Chevrolet

     (Chevrolet)

  • Chevrolet

     (Chevrolet)

The Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup is new for 2015, and along with itsGMC Canyon twin, it's under consideration for the 2015 North American Truck/Utility of the Year award.

Now, GM is showing off a new version--an off-road specialist powered by the upcoming turbodiesel engine due in the trucks by the end of next year.

The Colorado ZR2 concept wears a new front-end design, with blacked-out trim and a power bulge on the hood. Shown in deep green with orange details and an orange-stitched, black-leather-trimmed cabin, the ZR2 also adds badging and logos all over the place--even in the gauge cluster.

It's the ZR2's powerplant that will draw more attention for off-roaders. GM's been talking up the new powertrain since the mid-size trucks were first shown on the auto show circuit. Rated at 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque, the powerplant is hooked up to a six-speed automatic.

On the concept, the Colorado is buffed up with a slew of add-ons and upgrades to extend its off-pavement ability. It sits four inches wider than the current Colorado, and wears wheel flares and rocker guards, all the better to swallow big 275/65R-18 off-road tires. A spare wheel/tire live in the bed, and there's a four-foot jack for extreme stuckness.

Electronically-controlled locking front and rear differentials amplify traction, and they're controlled by dash-mounted toggle switches. King monotube shocks and new control arms in front deliver better suspension travel, Chevy says. The ZR2 also gets new front and rear bumpers to accommodate approach and departure angles of 30.7 and 22.7 degrees (up about 5 inches and 2 inches respectively). Skid plates and a two-inch lift boost and safeguard the additional ground clearance. There's also an inclinometer tucked into the gauges, so drivers can keep an eye on how far out of true they've gotten.

A Colorado ZR2 seems a sure bet for production, though without some of the concept-truck outerwear. As for the standard-issue, turbodiesel Colorado, it's due in showrooms late in 2015.

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