Chevrolet S-10 ZR2 truck with V6 kick makes off-roading easy
Date Posted: 5/10/2005
FORT WORTH, Tex. -- To create a dirt-wheeling ZR2 off-road truck warrior, start with Chevrolet's lively compact-class S-10 pickup equipped with a short bed in back and an extended cab up front, plus a six-pack of power beneath the hood and a strong transfer case to channel the engine's torque to front as well as rear wheels for reliable traction on virtually any surface.
Then push the wheels apart to forge a broad stance that measures nearly three inches wider than a conventional S-10.
Now modify the sheetmetal, such as at front wheelwells that flare extra wide to oblige big and nubby tires and allow for accumulating mud and sharp turning maneuvers.
Further, ZR2 wears distinctive decals along sides of the pickup box to identify its off-road prowess.
And if you x-rayed this truck, you would also find it rides on a strong frame that supports the wider track, then applies 46-mm Bilstein high-pressure gas-charged shocks at all four wheel posts to manage abusive bumps along a rough trail.
To test it on dirt, we steered a ZR2 up steep grades of slippery sand and slogged through tire-sucking mud pits at an off-road motorsports park near Fort Worth, Tex.
Poised at the trailhead, our tester ZR2 with its aggressive face, high stance and wide track looks like it can conquer whatever obstacles may come in the off-road world.
And our tests reveal that the ZR2 makes all that tough work away from pavement seem easy.
Those tall dunes of silt and sand?
No sweat: ZR2 can do. To prove the point, we stop midway up a steep slope with disc brakes locking hard, then gun the throttle and sprint to the top of the grade.
Deep pits of sticky mud?
Again, ZR2 exhibits a can-do attitude as we plunge through a long and broad trough of goo. This time, a pause at mid-pit breaks our momentum and settles the slop, but the truck leaps forward again on command to demonstrate that even a foot of mire won't deter it.
In dicey off-road situations like these, it helps to have a strong engine to motivate the wheels and Chevy's ZR2 gets it from a 4.3-liter V6 Vortec plant by General Motors.
It makes 190 hp at 4400 rpm with the four-wheel-drive (4WD) rigging, and torque muscles up to 250 lb-ft at 2800 rpm.
A four-speed GM 4460-E automatic shifter mates to the Vortec engine as the standard ZR2 transmission.
However, you can also put a manual five-speed stick on ZR2 for precise shift-it-yourself control.
We like to throw the tight manual lever around its gear box and enjoy the mechanical mastery it affords, yet the automatic transmission is more popular and remains a superb shifter for its artful ease and sophisticated action.
Another sophisticated assemblage standard on the 4WD ZR2 goes by the label of Insta-Trac. It consists of an automatic transfer case that brings shift-on-the-fly convenience from two-wheel-drive (2WD) to the higher gear ranges of 4WD or back again, and Insta-Trac functions efficiently at any speed.
Once in 4WD-Hi range and while the truck rests in neutral, use the index finger to punch up 4WD-Lo from a dashboard toggle to get serious in mud or sand or snow.
Even on tough stuff off-road in that Texas motorsports park, though, we can plow confidently through the slippery substances in 4-Hi -- save for a time or two in 4-Lo, such as on the sandy slope or mud pit.
ZR2 makes running off-road easy and so much fun.
Lots of assistance comes from features for convenience, comfort and safety: Twin frontal air bags mounted in the fat steering wheel and right-side dashboard to protect the driver and rider, four-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), daytime running lights to let other drivers know you're out there, power windows/door locks/mirror switches in an optional convenience package, and optional bucket seats with manual lumbar adjustment for driver and rider.
The extended cab design puts extra space behind the driver's seat, plus a third door on the driver's side for rear access and optional jump seats.
And the truck bed stretches to 72.8 inches (six feet) and supports the addition of optional bed rails, bed liner, an aluminum flip-over bed extender and soft or hard (folding and locking) tonneau cover.
ZR2 as the Wide Stance Sports Performance Package caps the S-10 Chevy truck series.
The complete assortment of S-10 2002 issues includes a two-door regular cab and the extended cab with third rear-hinged door plus the crew cab with four full-size doors.
As for powertrains, the series begins with a 2.2-liter in-line-four base engine that's good for 120 hp at 5000 rpm and torque of 140 lb-ft at 4600 rpm.
price leader in the series mates the four-cylinder plant and manual five-speed transmission in S-10 with a regular cab and the short bed in back.
The optional Vortec 4300 V6 engine rises to 180 hp at 4400 rpm in 2WD format with torque numbers up to 245 lb-ft at 2800 rpm. In 4WD mode, the V6 shows its ten-point boost in power.
You can put either engine in the regular or extended cab, but the four-door crew cab reserves the V6 exclusively.
The crew cab S-10 also has an abbreviated bed of 55.2 inches to hold the wheelbase to an easy-to-drive distance.
Packages customize S-10 by function or style, such as the Xtreme that makes a factory-built street 'rod truck with low stance and special ground effects, or the ZR2 Wide Stance Sports Performance Package for 4WD off-roading.
Standard equipment increases for all S-10 models this year with items added such as air conditioning and a tachometer in the instrument cluster.
The price chart for all S-10 models runs from the MSRP of $13,742 for a 2WD regular cab with four-cylinder engine and manual transmission to $27,235 for ZR2 with maximum accessories aboard. In addition, a $585 deliver fee applies to all figures.
An S-10 in extended cab format with the smaller engine begins at $15,724 and $17,065 with the V6.
The ZR2 package with V6 and automatic transmission starts at $25,770, or $24,675 with the manual shifter.
And the Crew Cab V6 automatic tallies to $24,242.
| 2002 CHEVROLET S10 ZR2 VEHICLE SPECIFICATIONS
||Compact pickup truck
| Model Options:
||Compact pickup truck
||Reg. 2WD: 108.3 inches
Ext. 2WD: 117.9 inches
Ext. 4WD: 122.9 inches
Crew 4WD: 122.9 inches
| Overall Length:
||Reg. 2WD: 190.1 inches
Ext. 2WD: 206.1 inches
Ext. 4WD: 204.8 inches
Crew 4WD: 204.8 inches
| Engine Size:
||OHV 2.2-L I4
OHV 4.3-L V6
||Rear 2WD / 4WD
||2WD: Power disc/drum/ABS
4WD: Power 4-disc/ABS
| Gross Weight:
||2WD: 4200 pounds
4WD: 5150 pounds
| Towing Capacity:
||I4 2WD: 3200 pounds, V6 2WD: 6000 pounds, V6 4WD: 5500 pounds
| Gas Mileage:
||I4 M/5 2DW: 22/28 mpg
I4 A/4 2WD: 19/25 mpg
V6 M/5 2WD: 16/22 mpg
V6 A/4 2WD: 17/22 mpg
V6 M/5 4WD: 15/20 mpg
V6 A/4 4WD: 14/17 mpg
| MSRP Price:
||$ 13,742 to $ 27,820