Think the new 2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, the midsize pickup truck’s hardcore off-road trim, is impressive? Its primary changes from before include less styling—seriously, Chevy just straight-up made most of the front end part of the grille or intake. Underneath, it still has the same lifted suspension, beefy tires, and 4×4 equipment to chase goats up rocky paths. But what if that ’21 ZR2 isn’t crazy enough? The GM Defense ISV Army truck is a ZR2 with even less bodywork and a stronger dose of visual intimidation.
And boy, is the ISV intimidating. GM Defense gave Chevy one of the prototype Infantry Squad Vehicles (hence, ISV) based on today’s Colorado ZR2 chassis to show off at the SEMA aftermarket show this week in Las Vegas. This rig, bound for military service, not your local Chevy dealer, looks insane from the outset. That the example sitting in the Las Vegas Convention Center amongst SEMA’s glittery fantasy vehicles and customs was covered in mud made it that much more attention-grabbing. Trust us, in person, the ISV looks like something straight out of the Halo video game series.
Unlike so many other vehicles present for SEMA, the ISV is very, very real. So far, GM Defense has been awarded a $1 million contract by the U.S. military to develop the ISV and test two prototypes ahead of a planned order of 650 finalized models by 2020. If a million bucks doesn’t seem like not a lot of money for a defense contract, let alone a vehicle development cycle, you’re right. But, then, there isn’t much to the ISV beyond the Colorado ZR2’s frame and suspension and that wacky metal exoskeleton.
The Colorado ZR2’s available 2.8-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel engine provides power via a six-speed automatic transmission. Suspension and driveline components battle-tested in the Best in the Desert Racing series lurk, well, pretty much out in the open beneath the stripped-down ISV, as well.
What the ISV has more of than pretty much anything else are seats. The vehicle can hold nine soldiers plus their gear, all within the relatively handy footprint of a Colorado pickup.
Other design requirements include the ability to fit inside a CH-47 Chinook helicopter while being “light enough to be sling-loaded from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.” While that last bit sounds insane, it translates roughly to an ability to be airlifted via a cable or hook beneath a Blackhawk chopper (which is smaller than the cargo-friendly, two-rotor Chinook). It also needs to carry those nine soldiers on-road or off-road at speeds up to 60 mph; given how the production Colorado ZR2’s top speed is 98 mph, that likely isn’t an issue for the ISV.