2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison
The Colorado is Chevrolet’s player in the midsize pickup truck segment. Available in a variety of trim levels, the Colorado that really stands out from the crowd is the off-road-ready ZR2 Bison. With bold styling and a range of added equipment, the Colorado ZR2 Bison comes right from the factory with the looks and capability to handle practically any terrain.
Our test vehicle was the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado 4WD ZR2 Crew Cab Short Box — a long name to be sure. In addition to the standard equipment, the truck features the ZR2 Bison package as well as Chevy’s Duramax diesel engine for a total MSRP of $52,250. Competitors to the Colorado ZR2 include the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro, Ford Ranger FX4, Jeep Gladiator and Nissan Frontier Pro-4X.
The Bison edition of the ZR2 is a result of Chevrolet’s first collaboration with American Expedition Vehicles, a manufacturer of overland vehicle parts and accessories. While the ZR2 already gets standout styling, the Bison edition features the unique flow-through Chevrolet-lettered grille, AEV front bumper, fog lights, AEV rear bumper, wheel moldings, skidplates and 17-inch AEV wheels.
In addition to the parts provided by AEV, the Colorado ZR2 gets a unique hood, rock sliders under the frame on each side and at the rear, and 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac off-road tires. A lift kit raises the truck 2 inches, while the front and rear tracks are 3.5-inches wider than a standard Colorado. The result is a truck that not only looks ready to conquer the toughest trails, but actually has the capability to do so.
Chevrolet designed the Colorado ZR2 to be able to tackle everything from rock crawling to desert running in addition to everyday use. Features include front and rear electronic locking differentials, cast-iron control arms, a modified rear axle ratio and Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve damper technology.
Under the Hood
The vehicle we drove is equipped with Chevrolet’s 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel engine that produces 186 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque at a mere 2000 rpm. A 6-speed automatic transmission comes as standard equipment with the diesel engine. Maximum towing with the diesel is 5,000 pounds, which is a bit surprising — we would expect the diesel to have the capability to tow more than the gas-engine option.
The Colorado offers a decent amount of storage in the cabin thanks to a large covered center console, cupholders and additional storage with two USB ports near the gearshift.
The 8-inch display screen is easy to read and navigate with shortcuts to important features such as audio and communications. We appreciate that there are volume and tuning knobs, as well as clear controls for the climate system. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both standard, as is a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Seats are leather trimmed and heated with power adjustments in front. The AEV logo embossed on the head restraints is a nice touch. That said, the seats are a bit stiff — fine for our short drive but they might become uncomfortable on long trips.
While we appreciate the addition of a wireless charger, the implementation does not quite work in the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. We tried charging a Samsung Galaxy S9 phone — not a terribly large device; however, it did not fit in the charger. With phones getting larger and larger, this implementation seems a bit shortsighted.
Even though the Colorado is a full Crew Cab, the rear seats are rather cramped. Sitting back there would work in a pinch for short drives, but front-seat passengers would need to slide their seats forward. We do like that there are two USB ports for rear seat passengers.
The Colorado’s tailgate opens smoothly and feels quite light, and it closes easily with one hand. The tailgate also locks and unlocks with the remote.
On the Road
Acceleration in the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison is not strong with the diesel engine — the truck feels as if it would be more at home climbing a mountain than flying down a paved road, which admittedly is its intent. That said, the truck is surprisingly comfortable and quiet on paved roads — an impressive feat given the off-road suspension and tires. In a mix of city and highway driving we saw almost 23 mpg on the trip computer — a bit higher than EPA estimates.
Although we didn’t get a chance to take the ZR2 into any extreme off-roading situations, we did spend some time on gravel roads with a bit of mud. The truck remained comfortable even when the surface was quite rough, and, admittedly, the patch of muddy section we found was nothing the truck could not handle.
The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison is clearly a niche vehicle designed for a specific purpose — ultimate capability for extreme off-roading. The bold styling is a nice plus and will perhaps make this truck appealing to buyers who don’t necessarily need the capability but like the standout looks. The big surprise is how comfortable and easy the ZR2 drives even when the terrain is a paved road. For those ready to head way off the beaten path — or for buyers who simply want to look the part — the ZR2 Bison may be the perfect pickup.