No one needs a 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, though General Motors (GM) - Get General Motors Company (GM) Report is betting that a number of off-roading fanatics will fork over $41,000 and up to own the mid-size pickup specially tricked out to facilitate their adventures.
GM, which first displayed the concept in 2014, put the ZR2 on a trajectory for spring delivery in a bid to solidify its grasp on second place in the hot, midsize pickup segment, along with its GMC Canyon and standard versions of Colorado. The top seller of mid-size trucks in the U.S. remains Toyota's (TM) - Get Toyota Motor Corp. Sponsored ADR Report Tacoma, which also offers a version -- the TRD Pro -- with special handling equipment for jaunts across the desert or descents over boulders.
Conspicuously absent from the segment is Ford (F) - Get Ford Motor Company Report , which sells a Ranger mid-size overseas and is planning to manufacture the truck in the U.S. in the next few years. Ford will also build a Bronco mid-size SUV, using the same architecture.
Earlier this week, Mary Barra, GM's CEO, said she expects 2017 adjusted earnings to be higher than 2016's $9.43 billion of net income, given continued strong performance in North America and continued strong performance in China. If she's proven right, no doubt highly profitable pickup models like the ZR2 will help her prophecy come true.
GM's strategy of offering a full-size lineup along with the mid-size models has proven to be quite successful, owing much to the collapse in gasoline prices over the past couple of years that has attracted consumers back to trucks.
The pickup comes with special shock absorbers that raise its height by two inches and provide protection against rocks and ruts; front and rear locking differentials to improve traction in mud, sand and snow; rails to protect rocker panels against damage, cutaway front and rear bumpers, 31-inch Goodyear off-road tires on 17-inch allow wheels; and aluminum skid protection under the body. The truck can be equipped with an optional 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine (instead of the 3.6-liter V6), premium audio and other goodies.
"ZR2 is truly a segment of one and does everything well -- from traversing heavy two-track trails to high-speed desert running and full-on rock crawling," said Sandor Piszar, Chevrolet Trucks marketing director, in a prepared statement.
Oh, and if you really intend to get dirty and track all kinds of muck into the ZR2 -- as opposed to merely pose -- Chevrolet will swap the standard carpeting in the truck with vinyl flooring free of charge.
Doron Levin is the host of "In the Driver Seat," broadcast on SiriusXM Insight 121, Saturday at noon, encore Sunday at 9 a.m.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.