The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 is a rugged, off-road truck that can take on nearly any terrain. For 2019, Chevy decided that just wasn't enough (and who are we to disagree?). To add even more 'awesome' to the ZR2, Chevy collaborated with off-road aftermarket manufacturer American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) to create the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison. With trim exclusive details and even more off-road chops, it's no surprise the first batch of the Chevy Bison sold out in a matter of days before production even began. To see what all the hype is about, we took this beast through an off-road course at the Midwest Automotive Media Association's fall rally. Here's what you should know about its exclusive styling, off-road features, and performance on the course.
Bison Exclusive Styling
What good is the additional off-road capability if the Colorado ZR2 Bison doesn't look the part? AEV and Chevy made sure that the truck's design stands apart from the regular Colorado and the Colorado ZR2. The Bison exclusive features are aimed to catch the eye of the serious off-roader. Exterior details include an aggressive flow-through grille with CHEVROLET prominently lettered in place of the traditional Chevy bow tie badge.
Other special features include AEV front and rear bumpers, fog lamps, wheel moldings, fuel tank skid plate, transfer case skid plate, rear differential skid plate, and 17 x 8-inch wheels. For the ultimate off-roader, an AEV air snorkel is available as a third-party accessory. The interior of the Colorado ZR2 Bison gets front and rear floor liners and AEV embroidered logos on the headrests.
The Colorado ZR2 is a capable off-roading machine in its own right, but the 2019 Colorado ZR2 Bison takes it up a notch or two. To protect the truck's body and engine, AEV designed the Bison's burly stamped-steel bumpers for extra strength and 5 Boron steel skid plates replace the Colorado ZR2's aluminum skip plates. The stronger materials help protect the truck's components including the front and rear differentials, oil pan, fuel tank, and transfer case.
All ZR2 trucks including the Bison get a factory-installed suspension which adds 3.5 inches of front and rear track widths. ZR2 models also gain a 2-inch lift over the standard Chevy Colorado and offer locking front and rear differentials.The Multimatic DSSV dampers are excellent at absorbing the impact of a bumpy trail and making the ride more comfortable. 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires wrap the Bison's 17-inch wheels to take on the toughest terrain including mud, sand, or rocks.
Powertrain and Performance
The ZR2 Bison is offered with two engine options including a 3.6L V6 and a 2.8L 4-cylinder turbo-diesel that powered the truck we drove. The V6 gets 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque while the turbo-diesel gets 186 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. For everyday use, the V6 will provide better power and handling, but the higher torque of the turbo-diesel is better suited for lower speed off-roading. The 2.8L turbo-diesel adds some weight to the vehicle, but it also offers a better fuel range than the V6. The turbo-diesel gets paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and the V6 gets an eight-speed automatic. Compared to the standard ZR2 which is designed to perform at higher speeds in sand and dirt, the Bison was optimized for slow rock crawling and conquering trail obstacles.
Although we didn't get to test out the Bison's rock-crawling abilities to their full potential, the heavy rainfall during the early hours of the day made our course a good testing ground thanks to an ample mud supply. We put the Bison to the test through tight wooded trails, hills, ruts and plenty of fresh mud. As instructed, we took our time and drove slow and steady through the trail at speeds of just a few miles per hour. The Bison was able to get us through most of the course without any struggle. Its only challenge proved to be a steep and muddy hill. The lack of traction we experience was likely the result of the accumulation of mud in the Bison's tires after a full day of being out on the course. After a good fight with the muddy hill which resulted in a very dirty truck, the Bison was able to conquer it.
2020 pricing has not yet been revealed, but pricing for the 2019 Bison starts at $48,045 for an extended cab. The Bison package will cost you an extra $5,750 compared to the regular 2019 Colorado ZR2. Is it worth it? The standard Chevy Colorado ZR2 is capable enough for the majority of the population, but the extreme off-roaders who take on rock crawling should keep their eyes peeled for Chevy's release of the 2020 ZR2 Bison. Production is expected to increase compared to the 2,000 models in the 2019 batch, but only marginally and they will sell just as fast.