The Colorado ZR2 has no equal in the medium-sized truck segment. They are multimatic DSSV shocks and the available diesel engine is literally unrivaled. There is much too much fun, if you like trucks and do not like them much – the interior may seem better suited for a Cruze. Otherwise, as we mentioned in our first trip, there is not much left of the package, except for a provision for a front winch and more possibilities for approach and departure angles.
The aftermarket repairs all ailments. The ZR2 is still fairly new. And although many truckers like to rummage on their trucks, it is sometimes nice to have everything sorted and well developed, ready for use, out of the box. The ZR2 Bison, co-developed with AEV, fits into that category. It represents what we would describe as a package of good, mild upgrades, the kind of things you would buy yourself to give the ZR2 an extra hard core.
It looks a lot like the ZR2 AEV concept that we saw during SEMA 2017 (and later also spied on the road – this truck is a poorly kept secret). But some details are different. The aggressive, almost tactical grille carries it over, and it is demonstrably an improvement over the less extreme version of the ZR2 stock. The new front bumper still carries a winch, but the exact styling is a bit different. The rear bumper almost looks like a worn out factory unit with added tubular corner protection. It looks neat and has built in real recovery points, something the regular ZR2 did not have (if you do not count the integrated tow receiver). And you can install the AEV snorkel as an option (in fact, this applies to every Colorado, not only for the ZR2) – it is covered by its own warranty and, more importantly, does not invalidate the factory drive.
The wheels are, according to Chevy, an exclusive design for the Bison and are no longer beadlock type. They are packaged in Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires in a diameter of 31 inches, instead of the great 35-inch BFGoodrich KM2 Mud Terrains of the concept – that is, the rubber of the Bison is the same as the stock ZR2, which is somewhat disappointing, but they will do the job and it is easy to upgrade later.
The Bison also has very strong steel skid plates for the oil pan, the fuel tank, the transfer box and both differentials. The marketing material says it is a boron alloy, but we have no thickness or durability information. We assume that it is an upgrade – and you must bear in mind that the plastic fuel tank in the standard ZR2 does not have slip protection. Chevy told us that the tank of the standard ZR2 has been fitted sufficiently under the chassis rails so that it is not damaged during extensive off-road tests. But that extra slip plate should provide extra reassurance.
We do not know how the new bumpers change the approach and departure angles, a bit of a weak point with the standard ZR2 – the approach angle is only 30 degrees, compared with the 36-degree angle of the Tacoma TRD Pro. The (JL) Wrangler Rubicon is 42 degrees for comparison.
But most importantly, we do not know the price of this package, which is offered for sale in January 2019. Because it is rather a combination of useful functions and looks than a huge upgrade of the assets, the price that it delivers will be important. But whether you see it as a special edition ZR2 with AEV branding or a pre-modified, factory-guaranteed ZR2, you can put a winch in the track and hit the track, it seems like a good move. We can not wait to try this truck ourselves.