The headline competition between the 2023 model year’s off-road spec midsize pickup trucks features the third-generation Chevrolet Colorado with its brutish ZR2 package and the much-anticipated Ford Ranger Raptor that will finally enter the US market. While Toyota’s tried and true Tacoma TRD Pro and GMC’s Canyon AT4 will have off-road enthusiasts shaking excitedly, the level of capability brought by Chevrolet and Ford pulls no punches.
2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 vs. Ranger Raptor performance figures
The 2023 Chevy Colorado ZR2 will come with a single engine option. A high-output version of the turbocharged 2.7-liter LB3 four-cylinder found in the base Silverado will churn out 310 hp and a colossal 430 lb-ft of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Ford is also going with a single engine choice in the Raptorized version of its Ranger, but it has the Colorado licked. The Ranger Raptor’s twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter EcoBoost V6 provides 392 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque, put to the wheels through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Car and Driver states those figures, however, are for the global models—sold in Africa, the Asia-Pacific, and Europe—and the American variant is likely to be slightly different given emissions standards.
Towing capacity has yet to be released on the 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor, but European models provide a 5,500-pound maximum. Car Buzz reports a US prototype may support 6,000-7,000 pounds, and the current Ranger’s top towing package can haul 7,500 pounds. The Colorado ZR2, on the other hand, offers the best towing capability in the midsize pickup segment, with a maximum capacity of 7,700 pounds.
Colorado ZR2 vs. Ranger Raptor off-road capabilities
The Chevrolet is 3.5 inches wider and 3 inches taller than the base Colorado with aggressively unique bodywork featuring an array of angular muscularity dedicated to functionality off the beaten path. Wider front and rear fender flares allow 33-inch tires wrapped around 18-inch wheels, whose traction is supported by a multitude of sturdy and substantial suspension components, including signature Multimatic dynamic suspensions spool valve (DSSV) dampers.
Ford readies the Raptor version of its mainstream Ranger with a heavy-duty suspension all around as well. With a 2-inch higher ride height and 5.9-inch wider stance than the base pickup, 33-inch tires fit nicely underneath the pickup as a base for the impressive FOX-built suspension components and 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass shock absorbers, Auto Expert Mag states.
Colorado ZR2 vs. Ranger Raptor interior amenities
Regarding interior design, Chevrolet took a big step forward with the Colorado. Available in crew cab only with a 5-foot, 2-inch bed, the complete redesign showcases a new center console and infotainment system, gauge clusters, and shifter arrangement, among others.
The 2023 Colorado will also include an optional sunroof, the first time Chevy has offered such on a midsize pickup. ZR2 models will also come standard with a lockable storage box in the tailgate, Car and Driver reports.
Ford is presenting the Ranger Raptor in crew cab only as well but with a slightly shorter 5-foot bed. Global versions feature luxurious amenities like leather upholstery and microsuede accents flanked by aluminum paddle shifters on the steering wheel topped with a red band at the 12 o’clock position to help with off-road descent.
Although there may be differences in US market models, expect the Ranger Raptor to continue to feature upscale creature comforts like dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, remote start, and more.
Colorado ZR2 vs. Ranger Raptor Cost
Current pricing figures for either off-road centered midsize pickup are only estimates. Lower, Motor Trend claims the Colorado ZR2 will start around $45,000, and Ford Authority reports the Ranger Raptor will begin at an MSRP of $52,500.
Which off-road truck should you consider?
If you’re searching for aggressive looks, the Colorado ZR2 may be ideal. Its exterior looks, performance, and redesigned interior push it closer to a new standard for midsize trailblazers.
The Ford presents an option for buyers who smile at the F-150 Raptor’s looks but scoff at the enormous price tag. The Ranger Raptor is a more user-friendly version of its herculean big brother, which will likely draw massive fanfare in its American debut.
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