This Is How You Make An Awesome Off-Road Truck

With the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and the upcoming Ford Ranger Raptor in the mix, off-road worthy small trucks are shaping up to be the sweethearts of America. Chevrolet can’t miss this party. Luckily, it already visited the party with the Colorado ZR2, but something even more off-road thirsty had to end up in Chevy showrooms. Called the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, the new truck is a specially prepared Colorado ZR2 modded by AEV (American Expedition Vehicles). It is their first Chevrolet work as the company is best known for its off-road worthy forays with the likes of Jeep Wranglers or RAM trucks. Nevertheless, Chevrolet opting to partner with AEV produced one of the most astounding, small, off-road worthy trucks currently on offer and I am here to tell you about all the astonishing mods AEV did to it.

Yet, before I start, know what AEV President, Dave Harriton said this about the project:

“We’ve been following Colorado since its introduction, and the ZR2 really captured our attention. As this is the first Chevrolet vehicle we’ve given the AEV treatment to, we wanted to do something special with the industry’s first use of hot-stamped Boron steel. We also expect that Colorado drivers will love the added ruggedness of our front and rear bumpers on ZR2 Bison.”

We have seen the first glimpses of the truck with the Colorado ZR2 AEV concept that was unveiled at the 2017 Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas. Luckily, the process of fruition and transformation into a proper production model did not last too long. You can go now and buy your Colorado ZR2 Bison by AEV at a Chevy dealer and get a full warranty with it too.

Ok, what’s new then?

1. Off-Road Protection

4 Awesome Off-road Features Of The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison Exterior
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AEV worked on the ZR2 which is already a nicely packed off-roader. However, AEV “identified parts of the truck that would be most vulnerable off road and set about strengthening them.”

The result is a Colorado with five skid plates made from Boron-steel. The Colorado ZR2 has three skid plates protecting the underside.

With the integration of more skid plates, basically, the whole underside of the ZR2 Bison became thrash resistant.

In other words - don’t sweat if you hit something down there when offroading. The Boron-steel skid plates will protect the engine oil pan, the fuel tank, the transfer case, and the front and rear locking differentials. All the important stuff.

2. New Bumpers

4 Awesome Off-road Features Of The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison Exterior
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While the protection of the underside was one of the most important improvements AEV could do, the company actually designed and integrated all new bumpers. Unfortunately, neither Chevy nor AEV provided any details about approach or departure angles.

The standard Colorado ZR2’s approach and departure angles are 30 degrees and 23.5 degrees, respectively.

Unfortunately, that is not on par with the Tacoma TDR Pro, or the Wrangler Rubicon. For this reason alone, I am thinking that the ZR2 Bison actually has better approach and departure angles.

Courtesy of AEV, of course. The bumpers also feature Boron steel. AEV integrated tubular protection on the corners, and it is all linked directly to the chassis. In this case, even if you hit something, the whole structure will absorb the hit. Clever thinking considering that the Colorado ZR2 Bison is perfect for rocky terrain.

AEV did even more clever thinking in regard to the bumpers. The front one is made in such a way that it can accommodate an aftermarket winch setup. The rear, on the other hand (or end), has recovery points so one can attach a winching rope if they please or need to. AEV really wanted to give the Colorado ZR2 Bison a new dash of off-road readiness. It shows.

3. Off-Road Gear

4 Awesome Off-road Features Of The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison Exterior
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It seems that AEV did not touch upon the drivetrain of the Colorado ZR2. That does not mean that the ZR2 Bison isn’t simply awesome. It is because it features front and rear locking differentials and special Multimatic DDSV dampers. Along with longer suspension travel, AEV redesigned the fenders. Flared fenders offer a bit more space for the two-inch suspension lift which was beneficial for clearance as well.

Compared with the stock Colorado ZR2, the Colorado ZR2 Bison is offered with new 31-inch tires - Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires at that.

They sit on new 17-inch wheels specifically designed for the Bison.

They are exclusive to this model, so you can’t have them on other trim levels. Obviously, with a gear like this, the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison feels prepped and ready for rock crawling and mud splattering. Some of the additions improve the looks of the truck as well, but I find the front grille to be the biggest and most important change. It simply exudes self-confidence. That’s something important when compared to the likes of the Tacoma TRD Pro, or perhaps even the new Ranger Raptor.

4. Snorkel

4 Awesome Off-road Features Of The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison Exterior
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You can see it on the photographs attached, but the fact of the matter is that the snorkel isn’t a part of the Colorado ZR2 Bison package by AEV. It is an optional piece that will cost you another $459. Should you opt for it, though?

Well, the snorkel on the Colorado ZR2 Bison isn’t made primarily to ease the process of fording water.

Instead, it is an air filtration device that works best while driving on dusty trails. Driving behind someone on a dusty road can be hard on engine breathing. Having a snorkel like this does, in fact, somewhat mitigate that problem. After all, it seems that snorkels are usually used for those purposes than for enabling you to ford great depths in the water.

If you ask me, you should buy it because it will make the truck look better and it serves a noble purpose.

Conclusion

4 Awesome Off-road Features Of The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison Exterior
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If you are still trying to grasp why would Chevy build an even more off-road centered version of the Colorado ZR2, Director of Engineering for Performance Models at Chevrolet, Mark Dickens, can perhaps help you. He concluded that the ZR2 Bison reflects the desire of fans to have hardcore versions of the popular trucks.

“It’s a growing trend, where people load up their trucks, and go out for maybe six days, and run through all kinds of terrain, where they need the ability to crawl up over stuff and go long distances across all kinds of varying terrain,” Dickens finished.

The 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison is available with an extended cab or crew cab body with the option of a 3.6-liter V-6 or a 2.8-liter turbo-diesel engine.

The gasoline engine delivers 308 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque and comes equipped with an 8-speed automatic transmission. On the other hand, the diesel unit sends its 186 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission. Nothing new there, but I’d go for the diesel, because, it’s just right.

Further reading

2015 Chevrolet Colorado High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado.

Chevy Colorado ZR2 Takes L.A. By Storm with Supercar Suspension High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.

2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 AEV Concept
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2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 AEV Concept

Read our full review on the 2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 AEV Concept.

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