CHEVY CREATES A COLORADO BUILT FOR OVERLANDING
2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison
Chevy creates a Colorado built for overlanding.
Have you ever seen a bison run? It’s not a graceful gallop like a horse, more skipping like a goat. I imagine most readers won’t be familiar with such matters. I am, only because one charged my car once. I don’t know if it was personal or if bison just don’t care for Volkswagens, but he gave up after a short chase. The ZR2 Bison, however, doesn’t give up so easily.
If you’re into trucks, you’re likely familiar with the standard Colorado ZR2. It transforms the already solid Colorado 4x4 into an incredibly capable off-road truck with locking front and rear differentials, beefy tires, underbody protection, hacked-off bumper ends, and Multimatic DSSV shock absorbers.
American Expedition Vehicles, Chevrolet’s development partner, takes the ZR2 to the next level. It’s appropriate that AEV features a bison bull as its mascot, because the even-more-rugged ZR2 skips over rocks like Billy the kid.
Known for selling factory-quality aftermarket truck and SUV parts (not to mention complete vehicles) for hardcore off-roaders, AEV specializes in overlanding—those who travel long distances off-road and camp along the way, completely self-sufficient.
For the ZR2 Bison, AEV supplies new bumpers with tubular steel protection for the corners of the truck. The front bumper gets a winch mount, and the rear gets recovery points. The ZR2’S rock sliders remain to protect the rocker panels, but the Bison gets additional boron steel skidplates under the truck to protect all the critical bits.
The looks are updated with 17-inch aluminum wheels in 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires, a new black grille with punched-out “Chevrolet” lettering, and AEV Bison badges. A snorkel is optional, and Chevy says the shocks are retuned for rock crawling.
You can tell the Bison is about getting into (and out of ) places other trucks don’t (or won’t) go. Your standard 4X4 isn’t much good at unmaintained trails, deep water crossings, or rock crawling. And specialized trucks like the Ford Raptor and Ram Power Wagon are way too big for the real backwoods stuff. The Bison happily goes places normally reserved for Jeep Wranglers and custom-built off-roaders while providing you a bed you can fill with gear, attach racks to, and set up a tent on.
This is no mall-crawling brodozer. To prove it, Chevy took us to the Sonora Desert and let us bang its $48,045 truck (to start for an extended cab V-6; Crew Cab runs $49,645, and the diesel adds $3,500) off all the rocks we could find. The rock garden required spotters on every element to limit damage to parts meant for such off-roading.
And damage those parts we did. The rock sliders below the doors got the biggest workout, followed by the underbody protection. Most of it doesn’t show, and even the dings you
can see didn’t look that bad, a testament to the strength of the guards. The massive exhaust tip on the diesel models didn’t fare nearly as well.
In most cases, the grip from the Goodyears and the torque multiplication provided in low range were enough to get through obstacles—but the locking rear differential came to the rescue when needed. Only a rare obstacle and a bad driving line necessitated the use of the front locker, but when it did, the truck went through, no winching required.
Its newfound strengths haven’t led to compromises. Skidplates thoroughly bashed, we disabled the lockers, popped the Bison back up into four high, and bounded out the trail and dirt access road no differently than we would have in a standard ZR2. Back on the highway, the rumble of the off-road tires was the only indication of the truck’s specialty.
The Colorado ZR2 Bison does all the things a ZR2 can while specializing in getting out of the worst situations you confront. It also offers an ideal platform for the off-roader of your dreams. It’s no Craigslist special, but if you’re basing your off-road build on a new truck, you’re going to dump some serious money into it regardless. Why not start with the best? n
The ZR2 Bison is about getting into (and out of) places other trucks don’t go.