By on October 18, 2016

2016 Chevrolet Colorado Duramax

General Motors has a hit on its hands with the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups, but the Renaissance Center braintrust seems to feel the automaker’s growing slice of the segment’s rising market share should grow faster, and sooner.

According to uncovered documents, GM appears ready to diversify its midsize pickup offerings for those who feel a full-size pickup is just too much, but still want piles of choice.

The first likely offering is the Colorado ZR2 — an off-road 4×4 variant with a more aggressive stance modeled after the ZR2 concept truck unveiled in 2014. That concept packed a 2.8-liter diesel four-cylinder, which later found its way into the Colorado/Canyon line. Don’t expect that mill in a production version, though.

A California Environmental Protection Agency-Air Resources Board certification document published by The Fast Lane Trucks lists a 2017 model year Colorado ZR2 4×4. The document reveals a conventional powertrain, which GM just happened to upgrade for 2017. If we’re to believe it — and why would a regulator make a fib on paper? — the Colorado ZR2 should sport a 3.6-liter V6 producing 308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque coupled to an eight-speed automatic.

What the document doesn’t provide are details on the ZR2’s off-road prowess. The concept bowed with a host of goodies — body cladding, skid plates, upgraded shocks and locking rear differentials — which should appear, to some degree, on a production version.

While the ZR2’s true nature is hardly a mystery, there’s plenty of head-scratching over another name attached to the Colorado. GM Authority reports that GM has filed a trademark application for “Colorado Bison.” The application, filed for on motor vehicles, namely trucks, is dated October 10.

Bison? It certainly ties in with the Colorado nameplate. The shaggy things once roamed the Great Plains in huge numbers before the advent of trains and repeating rifles. And man, it’s a delicious meat.

Now, what does the name signify in the Colorado lineup? Our money’s on a high-end trim line, not unlike the Laramie Longhorn and King Ranch models from those other automakers.

[Image: General Motors]

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27 Comments on “Docs Show Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Coming, But What’s a ‘Colorado Bison’?...”


  • avatar
    Kenmore

    I’d like a statutory requirement that every time the trigger-phrase “midsized pickup” is invoked the author must include a photo side x side of the vehicle they’re writing about with a stock ’90s S-10, Ranger, Taco or Nissan D-21.

    This isn’t about going home again.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al From 'Murica

      Why? Those trucks were all marketed as small or compact pickups, not midsized. The only truck from that era sold as a midsized truck was the Dodge Dakota.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        Because internet groupthink translates “midsize” as having the agility, visibility and garage-ability of the old compacts.

        Alternatively, show a comparo of the new “midsize” with a mid-’90s full-sizer. Same point would be made: these new trucks are clunkers.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        I owned a ’84 Ranger and I distinctly remember Ford calling it “mid-sized” when compared to the Japanese badges of the era. I might be hallucinating though, early Alzheimer’s perhaps. But hey it is my memory after all ;)

        • 0 avatar
          Drzhivago138

          The ads I’m looking at and watching mostly call it “small,” but also advertise a wider cab than Japanese trucks of the time (which were around 62″ wide). There really weren’t any consistent criteria for what exactly constituted “small” or “mid-size,” just that it was smaller than a “standard” pickup. The only consistent dimension across all small pickups was bed length–all short beds were 6 feet long, and long beds were anywhere between 7 and 7.5 feet long.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            @Drzhivago138 – It may have been local salesman speak to call it “mid-sized’.
            I did find that USA Federal regulation that a pickup needs a minimum of 5 foot box to be classified as such.
            Calling it a 3 passenger vehicle was a huge stretch. Even back then when I was “lean and mean” fitting 3 dudes in the cab was feasible only for short trips and the guy or gal had to be okay with your hand in his/her crotch to shift gears.

  • avatar
    mason

    If it’s a high end trim why not stick with the Denali name like they have in other models?

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    308 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque…

    Less torque than horsepower in a truck gives me sad face :-(

  • avatar
    greenbrierdriver

    Somehow the thought of driving a Bison just brings visions of Fred and Barney driving their car wearing their Lodge Hats. (Woo-ah-Wah) I did drive a top end Colorado at the State Fair of Texas this past weekend. Admittedly it was about 50 yards, but the interior was nice, I didnt have to have the seat all the way back and I could get in and out with relative ease, except the stupid “Nerf Bars” it was equipped with were a real nuisance when exiting. I had some S10 and Ranger extended cabs back when. I loved them. The Colorado/Canyons are bigger than those ever were, but I could probably adapt.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    It seems more likely that we’d get a Colorado LTZ (the equivalent to Laramie and Lariat) before a High Country (the equivalent to Laramie Longhorn and King Ranch). Right now, the top Colorado trim is a Z71.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Wasn’t Bison a GMC heavy duty truck?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      It was a Chevy Class 8 truck (semi or straight) in the ’70s and ’80s alongside the GMC General. Larger than the Chevy Bruin/GMC Brigadier and the Chevy Kodiak/GMC TopKick.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Right, the GMC trucks all had military names. I forgot.

        I always liked those old big GMCs and still see Brigadiers and original Top Kicks on occasion.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          breaking with that were the cabovers, the Chevy Titan and GMC Astro.

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @NoGoYo – Me Too. I was wondering why “Bison”? They already have copyrights to those names so it makes it easy for them.

          I have to laugh at the irony of calling a “small’ truck trim “Bison”. It needs BIG badges and OVER-SIZED options. LOL.

          Cue the “these trucks are as big as 90’s full-sizers” crowd with all of their indignation.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Being that this truck is named after the State of Colorado it would be more befitting to have “High Country” as its top trim to honor its new cash crop.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Because Colorado Buffaloes was already taken. And the UofC, Boulder mascot technically isn’t a buffalo. It’s a bison. Which makes Chevy technically correct.

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