The 2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison shouldn’t be dismissed as just an ordinary ZR2 with some AEV logos and unique AEV wheels, reinforced AEV front and rear bumpers, and a tonne of boron-steel skidplates. But if you did, we wouldn’t blame you. After all, it was the recipe for the first-generation Colorado ZR2, and the Silverado 1500 ZR2 and 2500HD ZR2 followed suit. There is a common explanation for this: When those vehicles were initially imagined, the ZR2 treatment was not included in the design brief.Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Gets Bigger in 2024.
The Colorado ZR2’s second generation is distinct. It was created fully aware that a ZR2 was already quite well-liked. That made way for the more fundamental changes we noticed when we first drove the truck across the Nevada desert in a three-day sprint: a front axle was moved forward in relation to the cab to make room for larger tyres, and the distinctive Multimatic DSSV shocks were relocated outboard of the leaf springs, where they belonged. However, these modifications not only made the Colorado ZR2 perform better, they also made way for a more extreme ZR2 Bison.
An Extraordinary Bison
It is evident that the Bison was the reason for shifting the front axle forward rather than the ZR2’s already-worn-out 33-inch tyres. However, it required more to fit those large men, so Chevy reshaped the fender liners and raised the suspension by a half-inch. Ground clearance increases from 10.7 inches to 12.2 inches as a result of that raise and the additional inch of tyre radius. The offset of the Bison’s 17-by-8.5-inch wheels was pushed roughly a half-inch outward to prevent rubbing because the LT315 tyres are also 1.2 inches larger.
Combining those figures results in a 0.9 inch track expansion and a 2.1 inch increase in outer sidewall to sidewall width. The ZR2 Bison has more pronounced fender flares as a result, giving it an 80.1-inch width that is greater than the ZR2 by 2.0 inches and giving it a meaner appearance.
Behind those tyres is a Colorado Bison-only feature that we may refer to as “bump stops supreme”—hydraulic jounce bumpers—at each of the four corners. They are manufactured by Multimatic, the same business that creates the spool-valve dampers for the ZR2. When larger and heavier tyres are installed, a shock retune is typically advised, but the hydraulic jounce bumpers bring up additional possibilities that make that necessary. In essence, you get an additional stage of specifically designed compression damping, and both components must be set to work well together. The Multimatics on the Bison don’t provide any additional total suspension travel, but they also don’t provide any less, and their midway was modified to maintain the compression/rebound split.
A Colorado ZR2 Bison ride
The ZR2 Bison unequivocally confirms that it’s worthwhile by tearing across the undulating whoop-de-doos in the wide-open California desert. The gnarlier whoop parts allowed us to carry greater speed, and it ate those sections up mercilessly. The absence of further travel did, in fact, limit how far we could push, but the hydraulic jounce bumpers were unquestionably more stable on landing and took harder knocks with a lot more fluid progression. The only drawback, which was hardly one at all, was the faint click we heard when the plungers of the front pair made contact with the lower control arms, as they should when operating regularly on unusually rough terrain.
The Bison was similarly vicious out amid the rocks. The added ground clearance was useful on difficult trails with sharp rocks the size of coolers that covered every Yeti model. The rock rails did scrape a bit, but that is what they are intended for. The five boron steel skidplates that guard the differential and underbody are analogous. Although the AEV bumpers’ front and back ends have precise contours, the rear corners would benefit from providing greater lower bedside protection, like on the Jeep Gladiator.
The 35s tended to roll over holes that smaller tyres would have gotten stuck in, as huge tyres often do. The typical front and rear lockers were available, but we gave them much more thought than usual. The Bison’s standard 17-inch AEV beadlock-capable wheels would have allowed us to deflate even further than we did if we had needed to air down to a very low pressure—provided we had the additional beadlock rings installed. The spare is a full-size matching unit that is positioned vertically in the bed because it cannot fit underneath. This reduces bed capacity but increases departure angle compared to the ZR2.
Our initial excitement over the one-pedal crawling experience in Terrain mode has subsided with more time spent in the rocks. It still has a place, but that place isn’t on a trail covered in boulders where the truck might tip over or the stones might move under you and cause your throttle foot to accidentally move. We struggled to maintain foot stability, which becomes increasingly important when controlling the brakes with a relatively sensitive throttle. This resulted in jerky riding at times. It is preferable to utilise Off-Road mode for rock crawling and Terrain mode for sandier two-tracks or Moab slickrock, which are smoother off-road creeping terrain.
When the trails widen, Baja mode continues to be a favourite. With a few taps on the touchscreen, the relaxed stability control programme that comes with it may also be completely turned off. The Bison doesn’t feel as punchy as a conventional ZR2, however, because its taller tyres are not compensated for by lower gearing. If the final drive ratio on the Bison package was 3.73:1 as opposed to the 3.42:1 found on all ZR2s, it could seem a little more eager. Since the Bison’s shortcoming is primarily related to the truck’s excess weight, which Chevy claims is around 300 pounds heavier than a standard ZR2, it is unlikely that this would increase its tow rating above 5500 pounds (against 6000 for the ordinary ZR2).
Will the Bison maintain the standard ZR2’s 18 mpg combined (17 city/19 highway) EPA fuel economy? Due to the additional weight of the Bison plus the higher air and rolling resistance that come with a bigger truck on fatter tyres, we doubt it. We predict that all vehicles will lose 1 mpg.
Cost and Value of a Colorado ZR2 Bison
Price, however, is the more important query, since as of yet, 2024 Colorado cost has not been disclosed, we are unable to provide an answer. All we know is that the 2023 Colorado ZR2 cost $48,295 and the last-generation ZR2 Bison option, which lacked trick jounce bumpers and 35-inch rubber tyres, cost $5750. This more ethical structure will undoubtedly cost more. We’re looking at an estimated $57,000 for a new Colorado ZR2 Bison if we assume $49,500 for the 2024 Colorado ZR2 and an additional $7,500 for the strengthened Bison option.
That’s starting to feel like a lot of money for a mid-size pickup, but from where we’re sitting right now, the 2024 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison now offers the additional performance and grungier aesthetics that make the Bison badge wholly worthwhile.