Snorkel-Measuring Contest: Chevrolet's Colorado ZR2 Bison Comes Gunning for the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
snorkel measuring contest chevrolets colorado zr2 bison comes gunning for the toyota

Chevrolet has finally unveiled the production version of a model bearing a name it trademarked quite some time ago. The Colorado ZR2 Bison is an extra-brawny variant of Chevy’s off-road truck — a collaboration between General Motors and aftermarket manufacturer American Expedition Vehicles (AEV).

It was clear to everyone and their mother that GM was prepared to further plumb the butch end of the midsize truck market. Recall the Colorado Tacoma TRD Pro, the domestic automaker wasn’t about to see the Colorado positioned as an also-ran.

Looking at the Bison, it seems GM took Ford’s 2018 Detroit auto show put-down to heart. “Real trucks don’t have fascias,” said soon-to-be-ousted North American president Raj Nair.

You’ll notice a solid, exposed bumper spanning the breadth of this Bison’s face — a significant departure from the stock Colorado’s plastic lower and the ZR2’s barely-there, cutway setup. It’s assumed you might have to bash into a few things while owning this truck.

Made of steel, the AEV-supplied bumper offers a mounting point for the winch you’ll need to pull yourself out of pools of brown goo. Fog lights come standard, and the AEV rear bumper sports tow hooks for assisting hapless Ford Ranger owners. Interestingly, Chevrolet has signed on to the convention that tough trucks must favor obnoxious lettering over simple badges. Yes, FORD and RAM owners, that’s a bowtie-less CHEVROLET you see comin’ at you.

Unless you’re the sort of jerk who buys an off-road truck just to look cool while cruising the bar strip, you’ll probably drive over plenty of pointy things that pose a grave danger to the Colorado’s precious bodily fluids. As such, AEV supplied five underbody skid plates made of Boron steel to shield the gas tank, oil pan, transfer case, and front and rear (locking) differentials.

The only wheels you need to know about are the Bison’s standard, trim-specific 17 x 8-inch aluminum discs shod with 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac off-road rubber. Like the ZR2, the Bison boasts a rear axle ratio of 3.42, and four wheels come into play via an Autotrac transfer case.

Elsewhere, suspension and linkages are carried over from the ZR2: cast-iron control arms, a 3.5-inch wider track (with corresponding fender bulges), a two-inch factory lift, and DSSV shocks supplied by Multimatic. These spool valve dampers, normally found on certain sports cars, offer a more compliant ride at both extremes of the performance spectrum. In the ZR2’s case, Multimatic added a third spool valve to soak up the impact following brief periods of low-altitude flight.

While it isn’t standard content, buyers can tick a box for AEV’s snorkel and air filtration system, designed for operation in high-speed, dusty environments. You’ll need this is you park anywhere a Tacoma TRD Pro owner. In case you’re interested, AEV will sell that snorkel kit to any Colorado owner.

Like the stock ZR2, there’s a choice of cab and led lengths, with GM’s 2.8-liter Duramax diesel inline-four available for those seeking more twist. A familiar 3.6-liter V6 providing 308 horses and 275 lb-ft of torque comes standard, mated to an eight-speed automatic. Diesels get a six-speed.

While pricing hasn’t been announced, expect the Bison to retail in excess of the ZR2’s $42,500 pre-delivery MSRP when it launches in January 2019.

[Images: General Motors]

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  • Fred Ford needs to understand that 99.99% of those who said they should build it, won't be buying it. That the small number who will be able to buy it, will flip it for profit. I want to see it on the racetrack and driven by good drivers in sanctioned events. Not in auctions or BAT
  • MQHokie Picked up my X3M40i from the BMW Performance Center in South Carolina last week, and immediately drove it on US178 in SC, NC215, a stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway, NC28 through the Fontana Dam area, and over Tail of the Dragon into TN. All very enjoyable once the slowpokes got out of the way. Also drove the entire Skyline Drive on my way home, but it was raining and pretty foggy, so that wasn't as much fun as it might have been.
  • Spookiness I have heard countless stories of people not being served alcohol because their District of Columbia driver's license was refused on the grounds that international ID was not acceptable. Most people know when travelling to carry their passport as backup. I also know one person who got infraction for not displaying vehicle registration expiration stickers. DC plates say "See Window Sticker" in the place where a sticker would normally go.
  • Mattwc1 I drove a right hand drive Samurai in the Caymans years ago. They are perfect beach vehicles and go anywhere off-roaders. They were everywhere in the late 1980s (to think these were many of my peers first cars. We really didn’t care about safety back then).However, I couldn’t imagine driving this every day. Sprung stiffer than a Cj-5 , underpowered, and super easy to tip over. Definitely a vehicle for a specific use purpose.
  • Xidex my dad had this exact car, same colour. Only differences was his had the blue interior that was velour i think and it had the rare continental kit on the trunk lid. nicest driving car ive ever driven and so comfy. Had the quadraphonic 8 track also. 1975 model i believe.