Mar 26, 2023
2024 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Goes Bigger Than Off
The Bison is a beefier ZR2 that boasts big 35-inch tires and hydraulic bump
The Bison is a beefier ZR2 that boasts big 35-inch tires and hydraulic bump stops—basically daring drivers to 'send it.'
We're calling it. The golden age of pickup trucks is right now. Not only are there an unprecedented amount of choices—from compact trucks to electric trucks to luxury trucks—but automakers are also going all out on off-road-focused variants.
The mid-size segment is arguably the most hotly contested, with Ford, GM, and Toyota all recently revealing new generations of their respective entries. Chevy has already rolled out the 2023 Colorado lineup, and we've driven the desert-pounding ZR2, but before the dust has settled, the bow-tie brand is unleashing a bigger, badder version: the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison.
When it comes to bovine-themed Colorados, this isn't Chevy's first rodeo. The previous-generation ZR2 also came in Bison guise, which had trim-specific bits such as unique wheels and badging as well as steel bumpers and skid plates all from aftermarket supplier American Expedition Vehicles (AEV).
The '24 Colorado ZR2 Bison still gets exclusive AEV add-ons such as wider fender flares, a full-width steel front bumper with a winch accommodation, and a rear bumper with steel corner plates. Underneath the truck are five skid plates made of Boron steel (the regular ZR2 has three aluminum plates). The Bison's additional protection covers the fuel tank and the rear differential, giving drivers more peace of mind on rocky terrain. A set of steel rock rails is also standard.
The Bison's hooves are the real stars of the show. Its Goodyear Wrangler Territory Mud-Terrain tires are sized LT315/70R-17, which Chevy rounds up to 35 inches. Apart from the heavy-duty Silverado 2500HD ZR2, the Colorado ZR2 Bison is the only other truck with a bow-tie badge that features factory-installed 35s. No other mid-size truck offers tires that big, either, with the 2024 Ford Ranger Raptor and 2024 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro riding on 33-inchers, same as the regular ZR2.
To make room for the 35s, Chevy had to modify the ZR2's front fenders by enlarging the wheel openings. Moving the third-gen Colorado's front axle 3.1 inches forward also allowed for the bigger tires, and a company spokesperson told Car and Driver that fitting 35s was the main reason behind the stretch. The Bison's 66.3-inch front and rear tracks are almost an inch wider than the regular ZR2's. Thanks largely to the taller tires, the Bison stands 1.5 inches higher than its counterpart, with a slight suspension lift playing part too.
The Bison benefits from the same type of Multimatic spool-valve dampers found on the regular ZR2, however, here they've been retuned to account for the truck's added mass. The Bison is just over 300 pounds heavier, according to Chevy. Its suspension also has the same 9.9 inches of front travel and 11.6 inches of rear travel, despite what we thought when we saw a prototype in the Nevada desert.
Compared with the standard ZR2, the Bison has an extra 1.5 inches of ground clearance at 12.2 inches. While the AEV bumper drops its approach angle from 38.6 to 38.2 degrees, the Bison has a better breakover angle (26.9 versus 24.8 degrees) and departure angle (26.0 versus 25.2 degrees). To see how the standard ZR2 stacks up against the Ranger Raptor and the Tacoma TRD Pro, read our spec comparison.
What really takes the Colorado ZR2 Bison to the next level of off-road lunacy is that has hydraulic front and rear bump stops, which are also supplied by Multimatic. Chevy calls them "Jounce Control Dampers," and they're built to better withstand the abuse of aggressive off-road driving. While bison can't jump, the ZR2 version certainly can, and its upgraded bump stops will help soften hard landings should drivers be goaded into "sending it."
If the Bison gets a flat tire, there's a full-size, 35-inch spare mounted in the cargo bed. Unlike its predecessor, which also featured a bed-mounted spare tire, the new truck's carrier is mounted at the front of the five-foot-two-inch box instead of smack dab in the middle. Sure, it doesn't look as cool, but the new location maintains most of the truck bed's usable space. It also doesn't fully block the rearview mirror, and an aftermarket cab topper can be installed without interference.
Sadly, the Bison treatment doesn't bring any powertrain upgrades. It features the same high-output turbocharged 2.7-liter four-pot as the regular ZR2, which makes 310 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque (on 87-octane fuel, mind you). An eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, and electronic locking front and rear differentials are also mandatory. The Bison's tow rating is capped at 5500 pounds (500 less than the ZR2), and its payload capacity is 230 less at 1050 pounds.
For the 2024 model year, both the ZR2 and the Bison add launch control that can be activated in Baja mode. Simply select the setting with the rotary knob on the center console, press the brake pedal, pin the throttle, and release the brake for take off. Chevy says the launch mode also automatically adjusts to different surface conditions, so the system will detect if the truck is on dirt, gravel, or sand.
Inside, the Bison looks almost identical to the regular ZR2. The only differences are the AEV-branded floor mats and embroidered headrests. Otherwise the two trucks share a fully digital gauge cluster and an 11.3-inch touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Standard driver assists include automated emergency braking, automatic high-beams, and lane-keeping assist; adaptive cruise control is also available but costs extra.
The 2024 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison is slated to start production sometime in the third quarter of this year, with orders opening this fall. While Chevy says it'll release pricing closer to the truck's on-sale date, we fully expect the Bison to break the $60K barrier.
Eric Stafford's automobile addiction began before he could walk, and it has fueled his passion to write news, reviews, and more for Car and Driver since 2016. His aspiration growing up was to become a millionaire with a Jay Leno–like car collection. Apparently, getting rich is harder than social-media influencers make it seem, so he avoided financial success entirely to become an automotive journalist and drive new cars for a living. After earning a journalism degree at Central Michigan University and working at a daily newspaper, the years of basically burning money on failed project cars and lemon-flavored jalopies finally paid off when Car and Driver hired him. His garage currently includes a 2010 Acura RDX, a manual '97 Chevy Camaro Z/28, and a '90 Honda CRX Si.
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