2019 Colorado ZR2

What's up, fellas? It's been a (longish) minute since I've been around on these boards. I let work an other things crowd in and, well, you know how it goes. Me and the family have still been doing the camping, river rat, general wanderer kind of thing, but not as much as we once did. With Covid giving us a much needed time at home to hit a little bit of a reset, we started reevaluating a few things and the Jeep was one thing that we weren't 100% happy with.

In 2016, we bought a new Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and put just shy of 100k miles on it in four years. However, with a family of four, and a dog, we were running out of room in that Jeep. Having permanent overland-y type mods weren't possible because I needed the cargo space in the Jeep to be flexible to handle anything from a family vacation, to a hardware store run, or lugging around band gear. The lack of storage space, and limited tow capacity of the Jeep caused me to start looking elsewhere.

I stumbled across this 2019 Colorado ZR2 with only 8k on the odometer. The previous owner downsized from a full-size truck, drove it for a few months and then traded it back in on a bigger truck. He put the Leer cap on it, and that's why I wanted this truck over several others in the area. Well, that and the low mileage, pristine nature of the truck. I cheaped out on the JKU and bought an Unlimited Sport, thinking I'd upgrade it to be better than a Rubicon. What a money pit of an idea that was. This time, I'm starting with a baseline that needs very little upgrading, giving me more money to invest in trips, not parts.

Initial upgrades planned:
  • CargoGlide bed slide - that was the best thing I did to our JKU, and we have a fridge that will live permanently in the back of the truck
  • Lighting - interior lights for the cap, and maybe some exterior camp lights, spot/flood up front
After that, I'm going to drive it and only make changes where I think they absolutely have to be made. The Jeep gave me a bad case of shipfitter's disease and I spent money on stuff that turned out not worth the time or investment. I'll consider that tuition on some valuable lessons. Here's to miles of adventures ahead of us in this beast.

Good looking ride! I would suggest looking for windoor replacements for the side windows. It wont be cheap, trust me your knees will thank you.

That has crossed my mind. If I were ordering the cap, it would've been ordered that way. I know I want the bed slide, so I'm hoping that may mitigate the need to change the side windows, if it's even possible on the model I have. Might need to go have a chat with a Leer dealer.

That has crossed my mind. If I were ordering the cap, it would've been ordered that way. I know I want the bed slide, so I'm hoping that may mitigate the need to change the side windows, if it's even possible on the model I have. Might need to go have a chat with a Leer dealer.
IDK if its possible on a Lear. When I broke the glass on my Snugtop I found both fixed windows and windoors. Ended up replacing the glass in that windoor with 1/8" aluminum.
Thanks, man. We're going up to the Tallulah River this weekend to let the kids play in the water and then going to wander around Rabun County.
I miss being able to step out the front door and hit those areas quickly. There's nothing down here in Cherokee County except people...and I don't like them. I keep trying to find an escape somewhere around Lake Allatoona, but so far no luck.
Added a little Georgia clay dust to the truck today, which really is my favorite kind of addition. Here we are atop Currahee Mountain of Band of Brothers fame; three miles up, three miles down. I live in the shadow of Currahee, so whenever I want to do a quick shakedown, I take a little trip to the top of the mountain and back. The last bit of the ride is steep and good for seeing how 4-lo crawls downhill when you head back down. I used the ride to see how the auto 4wd worked on this truck. It pretty much stayed in 4-hi the whole time we were on the mountain and the neighboring WMA except for when I was letting it crawl downhill from atop Currahee to get a feel for how the gearing handled things. I'm going to miss the manual shifting into 4wd of the Jeep. However, the road manners of this truck mean I don't have loose molars from riding down washboard roads.

We also took it up to the Tallulah River this week and let the kids scare the hell out of all the trout nearby. As we were packing up to ride on up to Charlie's Creek road and the river fording, it came a frog strangler and we really missed having an awning to huddle under while kids dried off and changed. The way the rain came down it probably wouldn't have mattered. That was enough to get the boss/accountant/wife to approve a roof rack.

Mod updates:
  • Rhino-Rack 49x52 platform for the cap is on the way
  • Getting a cargo-glide is also in the works
  • Beginning to get some 12v parts scrounged up to have a battery in the bed, but the cargo-glide needs to be installed so I can see what kind of room I have available.


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I'm going to put some of this info out there in the event someone else needs this, and it'll save them some headaches. I had to make some calculated guesses on this that I was fortunate in that they worked out for me.

The luggage bars that came with this topper were pretty old and didn't have a name on them anywhere, so I was left to scout the internet to find out what kind of bar they were. As best I could tell they were a version of the Rhino-Rack luggage rack type bars that aren't listed on their website, but are on Amazon or Walmart's sites.

Very minivan-esque in their aesthetic, and that simply wouldn't do. Actually, I really wanted a place to mount an awning to up my river rat game. So, I ordered some new legs and a 49x52 Pioneer Platform (got a helluva deal on it from etrailer) and hoped that these bars were indeed Rhino-Rack and that the track would play nice with the new mounts. The new mounts I ordered were Rhino-Rack part no. RLTP-2. Everything showed up mid-morning and right after lunch me and the boy set down to some quality wrenching. First things first; do the legs work? If they don't, I have to figure out how to make this work.

Well, THEY WORKED!!! They both used that hexagonal brass nut to fit in the track. Everything worked as it should. Perfect!!!

The platform was pretty easy and the boy put half of it together by himself (sorry no pics). All I really had to do was tighten the bolts down and get a few tricky pieces in place, like the cross bars and the t-nuts or t/bolts. That's all right because I more than did my fair share of working getting this thing mounted to the tracks. We had a helluva time getting the legs and the platform mounted, squared, and tightened down. After about an hour of up-and-down on step stools and chairs on each corner of the bed, I finally got it in place and it is only a millimeter an a half out of square (not my fault on account of the tracks being slightly out of square). Being low-profile meant it was a real pain working in that tight space between the roof and the bottom of the rack. My bear paws for hands barely fit under it. The end result was worth the sweat equity and the humidity ensured there was plenty of sweating.

No more lame minivan luggage rack bars. Look at the rack on that beauty.




I had to give the truck a quick wash afterwards because my sweaty self had been leaning all over it and it looked pretty gross. Not bad for a Tuesday.
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HOLY $&*# that was tedious.

New shock skids. Check.

The rear shock brackets are the lowest point on this truck's axle. There is a relocation kit out there that requires cutting and welding. It moves the shocks up and outboard of the leaf springs. However, it gives ground clearance and probably is how GM should've done these in the first place. It's something that is definitely on my radar, but after the warranty runs out on the current suspension. Until then, these Multimatic D$$V stock shocks are getting some beefy protection from some Rago Fab shock skids.

These require you to remove the plastic rock guards, but provide much more protection. I was impressed by the design and craftsmanship. Customer service was top notch too. The only thing I have against these is they didn't come with instructions. The job is really simple and instructions aren't really needed, but having a few tips would have saved me a little sanity on the first shock. Had I installed these on a lift with the axle at full droop, it would have taken more time to get the truck up and down than it would to install these. As it is, I'm a shade tree grease monkey, and I wallowed around on my back to get this done. That means, dear reader, I had to press these shocks back up into position and then perform the deft task of lining up the shock, bracket, and skid. Then upon achieving that miracle I had to get the bolt through all them holes without binding it up and stripping the threads. I've done it at least twice now. I think canonization for a saint requires three miracles, which I could have accomplished if I had done so without cussin'. I'm still one miracle shy of sainthood, and probably cussed enough to invalidate at least one miracle.

Might I add it has been hotter than two squirrels f'n in a wool sock around here. There's nothing finer than being under a truck, bench pressing a shock with one hand, lining up a skid with another, and that one bead of sweat rolling right into your eyeball. Fun times.

You're welcome to it. There are some colorful characters in these Appalachain mountains of Northeast Georgia. I heard it recently and fell out laughing. I'm like a kid who learned a new word and use it every chance I get.
The single most used addition to my Jeep was a sliding cargo tray from Front Runner. It was worth every penny. As such, the top of the list of things to add to this truck was a bed tray. I waffled between CargoGlide and BedSlide. Ultimately, the CargoGlide is what I went with because it looks like it is more solidly built. It took about two weeks to get it to my house via freight.

Installation is straight forward: center it left to right, space it about an inch off the front wall, mark your holes slide the tray a little out of the way to drill holes, seal with paint, insert rivnuts, slide back into place and bolt everything down loosely, then recenter the tray and tighten things down. Bob's your uncle.

I'm planning on using L-track to attach the fridge tie downs. Temporarily I have a aux battery strapped down behind the fridge to run it, but that will likely end up as a permanently mounted 12v aux power system. That's another can of worms for another day.

Most importantly...BEER IS MORE ACCESSIBLE!!! Huzzah!


That tie down is temporary until I get L-tracks in.

This guy is what kept me looking back and forth between BedSlide and CargoGlide. Some Colorado owners have to have height adjusters installed to allow the slide to clear the tailgate because the tailgate does not open up to be level with the bed, it's slightly inclined. I'll just grab the Dremel and a cutoff disc and clearance that bolt a little more. There's about 1/4" worth of clearance between that and the edge of the tailgate.

There's an ongoing discussion on Coloradofans about methods of leveling out the open tailgate in case you want to take a look at it. I've not seen any discussion on why the tailgate is like that.
There's an ongoing discussion on Coloradofans about methods of leveling out the open tailgate in case you want to take a look at it. I've not seen any discussion on why the tailgate is like that.
I've seen some of that. That forum is where I saw that some folks had problems with the glide not opening fully without spacers or height adjusters. The inclined tailgate is only annoying if I set something on it and it starts to roll off (screws, bolts, sockets, screwdrivers, etc.).
Well, my driveway is a pretty steep incline, and my house is on the side of a hill so the whole yard is sloping. The only time my tailgate has a chance of being level is when I park elsewhere. If I'm drunk sitting on the tailgate, I'd rather it dump me into the bed of the truck than what more than likely would happen, me falling off onto my face.
Now that the CargoGlide is in, I'm working on getting the 12v system the way I want it because that fridge is just so easy to get to now. The Colorados come with a tray that will accommodate one of two battery sizes, an H6 for the gas engine and an H8 for the diesel. That means the gas engines are able to put the larger H8 (group 49) battery in the stock battery tray and everything goes right back in pretty as you please.


I plan on adding a Switch Pros SP-9100 to the truck battery to run a few led lights and some kind of trail coms. Down the road, we'll add a winch, especially before we take this beast out west. The aux battery will live in a portable battery pack right behind the fridge on the cargoglide and it'll power the fridge, 12v outlets, USB outlets, maybe some led string lights for the campsite, etc. I'm thinking a Redarc 1225d charger for that and running a 100ah lithium battery. I've already got a 100w solar panel and a pwm controller that will charge the old stock truck battery for now. The rest will have to come along and along, so it's time to start saving up those pennies again (in a coin shortage, maybe I can get dollars on the penny).
I have a need for environmentally friendly cooled beer for my dog days of summer river sitting lifestyle.

I picked up this solar panel from @Gallowbraid before he left the hills for life in the city and it's temporarily being moved from camp trailer solar panel duty to full time truck duty. I'm not 100% sold on this configuration, but it's the only way it will fit on this roof rack - it's almost as long as the rack, and there isn't enough room to get brackets on the front and back. This will do for now, but a smaller, slightly more efficient panel is on my Christmas wishlist.

Look at how perfectly that wiring fit into the t-slot of the cap rails. I can hear John "Hannibal" Smith right now; "I love it when a plan comes together!"

One more time just cause...


I built a homebrew battery box and it looked about as attractive as my 6th grade science fair project with only marginally less hot glue and zip ties. It was a fire hazard and a general embarrasement. I had a little extra funds from selling some stuff and purchased the National Luna Auxiliary Battery Box. That is a handy little piece of kit and it's so clean and tidy.

I swapped out NL fridge plug for my ARB fridge plug, and added a couple more 12v outlets. I also upgraded my solar controller to a Victron 75/15 Smart Solar mppt controller. I thought about getting a Redarc BCDC1225d, but at the moment I don't think I require the alternator charging. The solar is proving to be sufficient. I'd rather apply the money saved toward a lithium 100ah battery.

Cable management, hard mounting the solar controller, and a better way to mount the battery box are all on the to do list. However, I like to live with a problem for a little bit before coming up with a solution.

Some projects may be put on hold for a bit because 2020 is a giant <insert your favorite expletive here>. This week we discovered a pipe developed a slow leak in our wall some time back and we've been the happy owners of a healthy black mold farm. Behold Murphy's Law 2020 edition...

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