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 ZR2 AEV SEMA concept from the 2017 SEMA show. Certainly, with Toyota planning upgrades (including a snorkel) for its 2019 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]