Earlier this year, Chevrolet unveiled the next-generation 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison, built in collaboration with American Expedition Vehicles. It’s the second coming of an off-road truck that started Chevrolet’s foray into the off-road arena. The last-gen Colorado ZR2 Bison made such a splash, that order books filled up almost immediately, as everybody wanted a factory-built truck with top-shelf AEV parts. It’s on this foundation, and these high expectations, that Chevrolet has launched this far more capable, far more sophisticated truck than before.
Like before, the 2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison features AEV badging, upgraded wheels, bumpers, and underbody plating, which we believe results in what could be the most capable overlanding pickup truck anyone can buy from the factory. But unlike before, we see 35-inch tires, a far more powerful engine, and an off-road camera system that gives you eyes in the back of your head, and under the floor. With a price point just beside that of the upcoming 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor, it brings a lot to the table, and does so with its own style. And while slow and steady rock crawling is the modus operandi for the Colorado Bison, desert racing is still in the picture. Just look at the Chad Hall Racing trophy case.
2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison: Defending The Crown
Thanks to the 2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison featuring the GM 2.7L L3B Turbo High-Output DOHC engine, the midsize truck has 310 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque that is sent to its wheels via a Hydra-Matic 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission, just like the standard ZR2. If you haven’t had the chance to drive a Colorado with this engine, trust us when we say that despite being a measly four-cylinder, the loud pedal is responsive, especially in Baja mode. You also still get that beloved engine roar that helps remind you that you’re driving a truck. As for the torque, there’s plenty of it to help you overcome obstacles without too much effort, bringing us to the off-road capability that Chevrolet proudly displayed during the media event MC&T recently attended.
Unlike the 2024 Chevrolet Silverado HD ZR2 Bison, which we also drove, the Colorado features both front and rear lockers, which off-road enthusiasts know can drastically improve the capability of a truck. Once deemed unpassable due to the truck sending power to the wrong wheels, an obstacle becomes a breeze to overtake as the wheels turn at the same speed. If you’ve never used a diff locker, you might never know just how much of a game changer they are, and coming from the factory is an even bigger bonus. It means that customers only have to pay for the truck, and it’s ready to take on any obstacle you wish to face; there is no need for spending extra tens of thousands of dollars for modifications to make it capable; it’s ready. All you need to do is take it to the trail and make some memories.
Technology And Stuff
Thanks to the Multimatic DSSV dampers along with the first-ever Multimatic Jounce Control Dampers, ride quality for the Colorado ZR2 Bison is superb. On the road, it’s easy to forget that you’re driving a truck designed for off-roading, but off-road, the suspension quickly absorbs bumps, ensuring the driver and the passenger don’t get jostled around too much. Honestly, we wish this suspension setup was available for a range of other vehicles so we could put them on our trucks; they’re that good. But the suspension isn’t the only factor at play, making us fall for the Colorado ZR2 Bison as Terrain mode makes this pickup a full-fledged Autobot. Activating that and the rear or front and rear lockers completely transforms how the truck behaves. Terrain mode activates one pedal drive, meaning the driver no longer has to bounce between the brake and gas to ease their way up and over any obstacles. Lift your foot, and the truck will slow to a stop; though you may prefer to use the brake pedal for a sense of security, it’s not necessarily needed.
On the note of one pedal drive, the truck features a low gear, where the driver can switch between 1-3 thanks to the controls on the side of the shift-knob; it works much like how hill descent control would, L3 in particular, makes coasting down a mountain a breeze, and it’s easier to reach than hill descent control which is hidden within the infotainment screens assortment of settings. However, the camera view is easy to access, and the truck has a wide range of options for drivers to choose from to ensure they can make it through obstacles relatively unscathed.
There are two cameras underneath the truck to watch for protruding rocks, and should those cameras get muddy, there’s even a way to clean them off with the help of a handy button and windshield wiper fluid. That said, the front-facing camera was the most useful while traversing the terrain. Should the driver accidentally hit something, be it scraping on a large rock or hitting the rear bumper during a descent over an obstacle, you shouldn’t have to worry about damaging something too much as AEV‘s bumper and underbody treatment help keep the essential bits safe and offer peace of mind that you won’t be heading home on a tow truck. If it can reach you.
There’s an assortment of modes to choose from, but in an age where Unreal Engine has made its way into cars, the switch between modes on the Colorado ZR2 Bison seems lacking. You see the Colorado Bison striking the same pose, but the background is the only indication (outside of words) of what mode you’re in. It’s not quite as slick as what you’d get in a Hummer EV, but you can see where things are going. Ford Raptors have similar graphics, too.
2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison First Drive: Conclusion
On a more personal note, I have never been a massive fan of Chevrolet pickups, but the Colorado ZR2 Bison has genuinely changed my opinion; for me, it’s the perfect size, and it’s clear Chevrolet genuinely cares about its product and the opinion of its customers, it would be the ideal vehicle to purchase and use to take overlanding and explore all that North America has to offer. It rides well enough to be a comfortable daily driver, and the terrain it’s capable of taking customers from higher-end Jeep Wranglers and Ford Broncos, as well as the looming Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Ford Ranger Raptor.
Now, keep in mind that these new age off-road trucks and SUVs can quickly approach Corvette money, and the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison is no exception. But in a time where Detroit 3 automakers are announcing $300,000 Mustangs and equally expensive electric Cadillacs ahead of a union labor strike, it’s hard to calibrate just what is affordable these days. But just keep that in mind as you seek to venture into the unknown with that Bison’s shiny new paint.