What is the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison?

What is the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison?

Last Updated March 10, 2022 | C.J. Tragakis

The Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison pickup is an off-road-focused collaboration between Chevrolet and American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) to create an ultra-rugged truck designed for overland travel and taking on the harshest terrain. While the standard ZR2 is already an extremely capable truck in its own right, the Bison takes things to the next level for added protection and prowess that will help drivers in tough environments.

The 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison, a 4x4 Pickup That's Beefed-Up by AEV

Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Trail Riding

Though AEV is an aftermarket company, this truck is a true Chevy model that’s going to be offered from dealerships like any other truck, warranty and all. Though AEV is no novice when it comes to collaborating with car manufacturers (as they have with Jeep and Ram previously), this is their first time putting their name on an OEM vehicle. The significance of this was not lost on GM, as the “Bison” name for the trim refers directly to the animal in AEV’s logo and a nod to the company’s Montana origins.

Unfortunately, GM is only estimating about 2,000 units for the 2019 model year, and word on the street is that they’re already “sold out," with dealerships asking for more than are currently available in anticipation of high demand. Enthusiasts will have to wait for 2020 or simply opt for the still-very-impressive ZR2, and then maybe add some aftermarket upgrades on their own.

Exterior of the Chevy Colorado Bison

The Bison can be had with the following exterior colors:

  • Red Hot
  • Satin Steel Metallic
  • Silver Ice Metallic
  • Summit White
  • Black

These are solid choices, but it would have been cool to see an exclusive Bison paint color to give it further differentiation. Especially now that cool colors like dark greens, sand tans, and flat grays are all the rage. The Ford F-150 Raptor’s Velocity Blue might be shared with other models in the line-up, but it’s the only F-150 trim to offer it, feeling just a little more special.

Other than this minor quibble, it’s hard to find fault with the Colorado ZR2 Bison’s exterior. The style properly conveys the rugged capability of the truck, and the visuals feel bold and robust without being overdone. It even includes fog lights as standard, which are not available on the regular ZR2.

Chevy Colorado Bison AEV Seat Stitching

Interior of the Chevy Colorado Bison

The interior of the Bison comes in just one color, Jet Black, with Jet Black accents. It’s fairly standard as far as GM interiors go, pretty much all business. The dashboard looks a bit clunky compared to competitors, but the controls are easy to use and it comes with enough modern features to work well as a daily driver. We would have liked to see some pops of color, as Ford offers on the F-150 Raptor. But in terms of comfort and usability, it’ll do just fine.

Fortunately, you do at least get some really cool AEV Bison stitching on the headrests, which helps to separate this special variant from “regular” ZR2 models. The seats are the same black leather, which will neither win awards nor ruffle any feathers

Off-Road Capability of the Chevy Colorado Bison

Car and Driver lauded the Bison for being one of the very few stock 4x4s that can conquer a rugged incline that they simply call “the Hill,” the only others being the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, the Ford F-150 Raptor, and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon. That’s an extremely impressive shortlist to be a part of, and it truly qualifies the Colorado Bison as one of the great off-roading vehicles on the market today.

The Bison includes everything that’s already standard on the ZR2, such as:

  • Class-exclusive front and rear locking electronic differentials
  • Revolutionary, segment-exclusive Multimatic DSSV dampers
  • Off-road rocker protection
  • Cast-iron control arms
  • Autotrac transfer case

For $5,750 more, however, the Bison takes things even further, by adding:

  • Unique black grille with CHEVROLET lettering
  • 31-inch all-terrain tires on 17-inch AEV wheels
  • Unique wheel well flares
  • AEV badging on floor lingers, headrests, tailgate, and wheel center caps
  • AEV-designed stamped steel front bumper with optional winch support and integrated fog lights
  • AEV-designed stamped steel rear bumper with robust recovery points
  • Five hot-stamped boron steel skid plates (Covering the fuel tank, front differential, rear differential, transfer case, and engine oil pan)

These boron steel skid plates are incredibly thin yet still amazingly strong and are really a testament to how seriously AEV took the underbody protection. There are also protective tubes for the corners of the bed in the back.

Chevy Colorado Bison Rear Off-Road

The wheel well flares are injection-molded and allow the Bison to just about accept 33-inch tires from the get-go, though a teensy-tiny bit of sanding will be required to ensure that there isn’t any rubbing at all. Chevy knows that plenty of serious off-roaders will be swapping out the rubber for their preferred tires anyway, but the included 31-inchers are still immensely capable, as AEV can attest to through their resting at Moab.

Sadly, the snorkel is not part of the Bison package, but was tested on the truck during development and is available from AEV as a third-party upgrade (under separate warranty).

The Bison offers both the 3.6-liter gasoline V6 and 2.8-liter turbo-diesel 4-cylinder options from the standard ZR2. We see the diesel being the vastly more popular option for off-roaders, given the low-end torque advantage, not to mention the superior fuel economy and payload/towing capacities. The diesel would certainly be our choice, and we anticipate that most Bison (Bisons? Does the plural change when we’re talking about a truck?) will come equipped as such.

Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison AEV Emblem

We hope that Chevy is able to ramp up production for 2020 because the Colorado ZR2 Bison is an incredibly competent off-roader that’s still a livable and practical daily driver. It’s ready to take on the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon and the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, not to mention the Ford Ranger Raptor if it ever comes stateside. While the ZR2 is a formidable contender on its own, the Bison solidifies GM’s commitment to the segment. The strong market demand means that these rugged off-road trucks are selling like hotcakes, and we expect to see even more competitors enter the space in the coming years!

2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Specs
Specification2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison
Starting MSRP 11,600 lbs
Horsepower + Engine 308 hp, 3.6L V6 or 186 hp, 2.8L Duramax turbo-diesel 4-cylinder
Torque 275 lb-ft or 369 lb-ft (diesel)
0-60 mph Est. 6.5 seconds, 9.5 seconds (diesel)
Transmission 8-speed or 6-speed automatic (diesel)
Wheelbase 128.5 inches
Dimensions 212.4”x74.3”x72.2”
Curb Weight 4,950 lbs (est)
Towing Est. 2,268 lbs, 5,000 lbs (diesel)
Payload Est. 499 lbs, 1,100 lbs (diesel)
MPG 17/18/16 MPG, Diesel: 19/22/18 MPG (Comb/Hwy/City, Est)
Fuel Tank Capacity 21 gallons
Available Configurations Extended Cab with 6’2” box Crew Cab with 5’2” box
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About the Author

C.J. is a Focus ST owner and car industry buff. He uses his first-hand experience and passion for the industry to craft interesting and helpful topics for fellow enthusiasts. Read full bio →

Image Credit: Chevrolet

Sources: Chevrolet | Car and Driver | CNET | ExpeditionOverland | GM Authority

What is the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison?

In collaboration with American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), Chevy’s new Colorado ZR2 Bison is one of the most capable and rugged off-road trucks on the market. With just 2,000 units available for the 2019 model year, find out what makes this pick-up different from a run-of-the-mill Colorado ZR2.