Type to search


Checking out the 2023 Chevy Colorado Trail Boss vs. Z71 left me really confused on a recent first drive of both trucks, and I’m guessing I’m not alone.

The all new 2023 Chevy Colorado comes in five trims. And while the differences between the WT, base consumer LT and high-end ZR2 off-road trims are fairly obvious, the differences between the Z71 and Trail Boss trims are clear as mud.

Exterior differences

At first glance, they look pretty darn similar on the outside, and unless you park them side by side, you might not spot all the changes. Fortunately, I did just that, and here’s what I discovered.

Basically, the Trail Boss has a wider stance, which you can easily see with the Goodyear Wrangler KO2s sticking outside the fenders while the Z71 tires tuck into the fenders. Then, you can spot the headlight differences with the Trail Boss having halogen lights while the Z71 having LEDs. Finally, the Z71 has body color molding on the front grille and the Trail Boss has black plastic molding.

Inside differences

On the inside, the differences are even more apparent. For the Trail Boss, the interior is chock full of black plastic without any pattern or style. This, in my view, makes it easier to wipe clean after a day on the trail. The cloth seats are also easier to clean.

On the other hand, the Z71 has red stitching throughout, and it has leather appointed seats, which feel more upscale.

Performance differences between 2023 Chevy Colorado Trail Boss vs. Z71

Both truck trims come with the Turbo Plus engine tune on the 2.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder mated to the updated 8-speed transmission. This mid-level tuning option on the Colorado delivers 310 horsepower and 319 pound-feet of torque — and both can be tuned up to Turbo High-Output version of the engine with 310 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque.

The Trail Boss comes with the aforementioned wider track and a 2-inch factory lift, which makes it noticeably taller than the Z71 — especially in the rear. We expect that with the higher lift of the Trail Boss, the fuel economy will take a hit when the official EPA ratings come out.

Features and options

The big differences, however, show up in the features and options. For example, the Z71 comes with a 120-volt plug in the bed whereas the Trail Boss comes with no bed power.

How about a manual tilt and telescoping wheel? Z71 comes with it, Trail Boss doesn’t. Then there are the heated-and-cooled seats, remote start and heated steering wheel, which are all optional on the Z71 and not available on the Trail Boss. Oh, and dual-zone climate control, lumbar support, power front seats are all optional on Z71 and not available on Trail Boss.

But wait, there’s more.

Cruise control is standard on Z71 and optional on the Trail Boss. Underbody cameras are available on Z71 and not available on Trail Boss. Then there are the tires. Trail Boss gets beefier standard 32-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires, while the Z71 gets less aggressive 32-inch tires. Both come with a variety of larger wheel options with 18-inch wheels being standard — 20- and 22-inch wheels are optional.

Finally, you want a sun roof? Only available on the Z71 and ZR2 models, not the Trail Boss.

The bottom line

To help clarify a little more, Chevy engineers said the primary difference between the two is this: The Trail Boss was basically an off-road version of the WT trim, while the Z71 was an off-road version of the LT trim. That’s fine and all, but there’s still a lot to consider when comparing these trucks, which are separated by just a few thousand dollars.

For my money, I’d go Z71, add the Trail Boss tires and install a 2-inch lift kit. How about you?

Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

  • 1

You Might also Like


  1. Salvatore D’Elia May 13, 2023

    Hi there Tim, one thing I don’t understand, what makes the TB wider? Just wheels and tires? Or does it have a wider body/axles? Can you turn a Z71 into a TB by adding a lift, offroad tires and fender flares?
    Love your content,

    1. Tim Esterdahl May 15, 2023

      The press release states it has a “wide chassis.” You could probably replicate part of this look with wheels and tires with some backspacing. Yes, you can turn a Z71 into a Trailboss with lift and tires.

  2. Steve August 12, 2023

    Thanks for the helpful comparison. BTW, the Z71 does not come with leather seats or a telescoping wheel. Those are part of optional packages.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Stories