Chevrolet’s Colorado midsize pickup truck went one up on the competition when the company debuted its Colorado ZR2 Bison four-wheel-drive (4WD) pickup. This brawny pickup is not your ordinary midsize in that it’s intended for serious off-roads. If you’re a hunter who truly goes off-road and into the outback, you need to check out the Bison.
The Bison differs from the standard Colorado as it comes with front and rear locking differentials for added traction that adds to its already capable 4WD off-road chops. But that’s not all. Chevy partnered with aftermarket 4x4 builder American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) of Missoula, Mont., which designed and built five hot-stamped boron skid plates to protect the oil pan, fuel tank, transfer case and front/rear differentials. They add the ultimate protection with less weight than steel or aluminum, and are less prone to gouging, according to Chevy.
The Bison also differentiates itself from the regular Colorado in that it’s 3.5 inches wider and 2 inches taller shod with Goodyear Wrangler knobby and wide P265/65R17 (31-inch-high) tires on 17-inch aluminum wheels for 8.9 inches of ground clearance. Its suspension, too, is enhanced with Multimatic Dynamic shocks for greater wheel travel, and Bison sports larger wheel flares. Plus, it’s jazzed up with AEV exterior badging, floor mats and embossed headrests.
The Bison is offered as an Extended Cab with a 6-foot-2-inch box and a Crew Cab (tested) with a 5-foot-2-inch box.
As for powertrains, two are available. Tested was the 3.6-liter V6 with 308 hp and 275 lb.-ft. of torque. There's alsoa 2.8-liter I-4 turbocharged diesel with 186 hp and a whopping 369 lb.-ft. of torque. The 3.6L comes standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission while the 2.8L diesel gets a six-speed auto.
The 3.6L was independently tested at 7 seconds for 0-60 mph, which isn’t too shabby for a pickup with a curb weight of 4,745 pounds and a GVWR of 6,000 pounds. The combination of engine and trans carries an EPA estimated 16 city, 18 highway mpg fuel economy rating. That’s far from miserly, but consider what it does, where it can go and tow (5,000 pounds). Incidentally, if your off-road jaunts force you to ford streams, an OEM snorkel (for dusty roads and deep water) can be attached. Those traits, along with a stiffer suspension, give the Bison a taut, but controllable ride with positive handling.
Despite its off-road capability, it’s a comfy daily driver, albeit with some tire hum with its large, deep-treaded tires.
Its interior is upscale with leather, heated/cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel. An 8-inch touchscreen includes a host of apps like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, plus it serves the rearview camera and a satellite radio. The touchscreen also serves the Hitch Guidance System that helps the driver align the receiver hitch to a trailer. There’s also 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity and a convenient wireless smartphone charger situated in front of the console box.
Like Chevy’s full-size Silverado 4WD pickups, the Bison’s 4WD system consists of 2-high, Auto, 4-high and 4-low gearing. The Auto mode is especially nice on rainy days or when light snow covers the roadways.
As we tested the Crew Cab, step-in was 25 inches or 20.5 to the rock rails on either side. The rear seatbacks flip down on the bottoms for flat storage, and they split and fold up against the bulkhead exposing a larger inside storage area and a handy full-width bin for small items like ammo boxes and game calls.
On the exterior, the front bumper is winch-ready and attaches to tubular wrap-around bumpers to protect the truck when negotiating tight, brushy and rocky trails. Chevy also included a tailgate that can be locked and unlocked via the key fob.
With an extremely long list of standard convenience items and safety items that includes a trailer brake controller, the Bison’s base price came in at $42,900. Add to that the ZR2 Bison Package ($5,750) and delivery ($1,095), and the bottom line was $46,745 as tested. Included is a three-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty and five-year/60,000-mile powertrain coverage. Plus, the first oil change, tire rotation and multi-point inspection is included.
If you’re into off-roading—be it rock-hopping, outback hunting or camping—but also need a sensible daily driver, check out the Bison. It’s one especially capable and striking hauler.
Technical Specifications • Drivetrain: 3.6L DOHC V6 w/308 hp and 275 lb.-ft. torque or 2.8L I-4 turbo diesel w/186 hp and 369 lb.-ft. torque; 8-speed automatic transmission w/3.6L or 6-speed auto w/2.8L; 4WD w/Autotrac 2-speed transfer case; locking front/rear differentials; 3.42 rear axle ratio; hill descent control • Brakes: 4-wheel antilock; StabiliTrack electronic stability control w/traction control Undercarriage: fully boxed frame; Multimatic Dynamic shocks; P265/65R17 Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires • Dimensions/Capacities: overall length 217.4"; wheelbase 128.5" w/Extended and Crew Cab; width 76.7"; height 72.2"; front/rear track 65.9"; ground clearance 8.9"; curb weight 4,745 lbs.; payload 1,223 lbs. Crew Cab, 1,325 lbs. Extended Cab (both w/3.6L V6); tow cap. 5,000 lbs.; GVWR 6,000 lbs. Crew Cab, 6,200 lbs. Ext. Cab; fuel 21 gals. • Base Price: $42,900; chevrolet.com