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The Chevy Colorado celebrates its third birthday with a truly impressive concept vehicle, the ZR2 AEV concept, just unveiled at the annual SEMA Show. At the core of this concept is an all-new suspension and performance off-road parts package that Chevy has been developing in-house and with the help of Rod Hall Racing. They have been testing these parts on a ZR2 Racing Development truck, as well as in the Best of the Desert races in a custom-built Rod Hall Racing ZR2.

These new parts include: prop shaft, jockey shocks, leaf spring pack, rock sliders, rear diff skid plate, rear shock mount sliders, long travel DSSV coilovers, tie-rods, ball joints, rear diff cover, anti-wrap link and more. While these parts are still in the development stage, demand should drive them to market soon — they are OEM-quality parts that bolt on and still retain all factory vehicle warranties. With the average Colorado rolling off dealer lots with $600-plus worth of accessories already, these performance parts offerings should help boost Chevy’s bottom line.

Chevy invited a handful of truck and off-road journalists to experience these ZR2 enhancements firsthand, with a back-to-back ride-along in a stock ZR2 and in the Rod Hall Racing ZR2. Both trucks were amazingly capable at high speed through the rough desert terrain surrounding Spring Mountain Motor Resort and Country Club in Pahrump, Nevada. The stock ZR2 was impressive in this environment, but the race truck truly showcased the new parts. The Rod Hall Racing ZR2, with its enhanced suspension and performance parts, provided an extremely plush ride and was able to handle sustained high speeds through large off-road obstacles/events.

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While the Chevy Performance parts help, it’s AEV (American Expedition Vehicles) that refined the entire package for off-road and overland enthusiasts. The company is well known for its high-quality Jeep and Ram products and builds, but hasn’t stepped outside the Chrysler arena with its offerings until now.

On this concept vehicle, AEV has done its full off-road treatment. This includes front and rear off-road bumpers, complete underbody skid protection, expedition bed rack, high clearance fender flares and a high-rise snorkel. It’s finished off with AEV DualSport beadlock wheels wrapped in 35-inch BFG KM2 tires.

Adding to the package are quality LED auxiliary lighting, an ARB fridge/freeze, Alu-Box aluminum storage boxes, NATO jerrycans and a James Baroud awning. Since recovery is key for such a capable vehicle, it has also been outfitted with a Warn winch, Hi-Lift jack, recovery shackles and MAXTRAX.

In three years of production, the Colorado has sold over 250,000 units in the U.S. alone and holds a 25 percent share of the market. We hope to see this concept truck find its way to production — and soon.

By Bryon Dorr