By on April 10, 2019

Yes, the ZR2 is far from a base truck. But based on a suggestion from the peanut gallery  (*waves at PrincipalDan*) we thought it would be a good idea to see if a “base” off-roader is a healthier bet than upgrading to the full meal deal.

In fact, calling the ZR2 a base truck – with its DSSV dampers and other gonzo off-road kit – seems like heresy to your author. Jumping a Colorado ZR2 at 40 mph over an obstacle on a trophy truck track proves just how capable the thing is.

(How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter, then.)

Chevy has, however, added another layer onto the ZR2 cake. Called the Bison, is its extra gear worth the cash? Or are gearheads better off with a “base” ZR2 and spending the money on mods of their own? Let’s see.

By the way, did you know that Chevy quietly dropped the manual transmission option that used to appear on the 2WD base Colorado? Me either, despite the build-n-price tool showing a stick on the floor in the promotional image. Chalk up another loss in the standard column.

Jumping right into the deep end, the Bison is technically an option package and not an additional trim. For $5,750, shoppers will net themselves front and rear bumpers designed by the off-road boffins at AEV. In fact, it is said that development of the Bison started not long after the ZR2 appeared, with the company’s boss essentially being told to envision a ZR2 as if he himself were taking it to rugged locales like Road of the Bones in Russia.

AEV additions also include more robust skid plates, new wheels, and a few styling tweaks like the CHEVROLET billboard grille and a set of fog lamps. Mercifully, the Bison package is a standalone option, one that does not require selecting other gear in order to get the good stuff.

You’ll notice the truck shown here is the Extended Cab model, not a Crew. This is because your author firmly believes that Colorado buyers are far better off taking the longer bed than longer cab, since legroom is so woeful in the Crew that it’s just as logical to get the smaller cab. It’ll likely only get used for enclosed storage, anyway.

According to the AEV website, very little of what makes up a Bison is available as standalone parts. I’m sure if someone waved a bag of cash at AEV they’d craft the bumpers for them but it doesn’t seem to be mass-market stuff. Yet. However, their snorkel kit is $459 compared to Chevy’s $725 performance air intake system.

My answer? Yes. I’d pop for the Bison. In a world where a set of bumpers are close to $3,000, and skid plates are equally expensive, the Bison package is a fair (but not bargain) priced package. Just stay away from everything else on the ZR2’s option list.

[Images: General Motors]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments and feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and priced in American Dollars. Your dealer may sell for less.

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11 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2...”


  • avatar
    salmonmigration

    You can get these for a steal compared to a comparably-equipped Tacoma.

    There’s probably a good reason for that but if you have a thin bank account and a set of train tracks on your way to work this is the ride for you.

    • 0 avatar
      RedRocket

      My local Toyota dealer has a stack of about 20 shiny new Tacoma frames outside the service department doors awaiting installation on rusted-out customer trucks. That’s why you buy something else. Toyota quality is not what the public has come to believe it is.

      • 0 avatar
        salmonmigration

        Is this a time traveler from the distant past?? The first-gen Tacoma that had that issue stopped production in 2004. That warranty work isn’t valid any more.

  • avatar
    xflowgolf

    so how much does a “base” ZR2 sticker for?

    What kind of things are on the list that we need to stay away from… “Just stay away from everything else on the ZR2’s option list”? That implies it already has things typically needed/wanted? What are they?

    I can get behind a “base” truck with upgraded mechanicals and functional lift/offroad capability. I found the article lacking on what the base ZR2 already has (A/C? power windows? cruise? bluetooth? etc.) and why it’s already enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I built it for $41,300. ZR2 is positioned above the Z71 so it is pretty loaded (standard leather, etc) but doesnt come with Nav and a lot of other options like that but you get AC, Cruise, Bluetooth, ndroid Auto, and the offroad goodies, but it can be optioned up with skid plates and what not.

      But yeah, as the author states in the article, not even close to a base truck.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    It’s a a cool truck.I’ve been seeing more of these.More than new full -TRD Tacos around here. For reasons not known , I found myself building a base Colo. W/T 4×4 on the website. It must be the steelies.Not a bad deal for under 28k

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Personally I’d fall back on The Fast Lane Truck and their recent comparison of a TRD PRO Tacoma with silly snorkel to a PRO 4X Nissan Frontier.

    If you are actually gonna get you truck dirty, get the Frontier and save many thou over the Tacoma/Bison.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      Yep, I just did a config on a Frontier

      2019 Frontier King Cab® SV V6 4×4 5-Speed Automatic… $29,555

      It may be old, but that’s a great price

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Get the 6 speed manual, put a performance exhaust on it with the money saved, and then you can drop down a gear at will when you want to rattle the windows of the car you’re passing.

        Anti-social Behavior, no “rolling coal” required.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Disappointed to hear that the 6 speed manual was dropped from the Colorado but not surprised. Probably Nissan will drop the manual on the new Frontier as well. In another 5 or 10 years manuals could disappear entirely.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    “How’s that Ranger Raptor coming, Ford? Oh, it isn’t? I see. Thanks for the mobility scooter, then.”

    You owe me a replacement cup of coffee!

    From what I’ve read, it seems a shame you can’t option any Colorado with the DSSV dampers.


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