2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison first drive: Heavy hitting in the off-roading sand box Page 2


Composed on road, a billy goat off

Given the hyper-knobby tires required to conquer off-road tasks, the Bison does the on-road slog remarkably well. In fact, given its specialized gear and the hoopla surrounding its rough-stuff capabilities, the Bison's on-road composure is a welcome plus. It stays relatively quiet up to about 75 mph on the highway before the tires start to sing, offers a flexible and comfortable driving position, and in no way beats you up on the tarmac while heading to the trail to, well, beat it up.

Once off-road, the Bison certainly shines. Silty, sandy, loose trails pose no real challenge. Likewise, medium-to-large rocks and boulders are swept aside as long as you're realistic with approach, departure, and ride height expectations. I had to lock the rear differential only twice during our morning-long romp in the Arizona wilderness, both occasions due to very loose terrain and very steep boulders to climb.

Those AEV-designed skid plates and protective gear did indeed grind on a few of the most rocky bits thrown at the Bison and for that, the diffs, the rockers, and the engine's sump were very grateful. Interestingly, diesel Bisons scraped their larger tailpipes at a few points where the V-6 versions didn't; V-6 models use more modest exhausts. (Note to AEV: have higher-placed pipes at the ready.)

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison

Question answered. The extra off-roading bits help the Bison go places the not even the ZR2 can go.

One small missed opportunity, though, is a front-mounted camera to serve as eyes when the truck crests a steep hill and causes the driver to lose sight of the trail ahead. The truck already has one camera in back and therefore surely must have the network in place to activate a front camera.

Regardless of how capable the new Bison is, at a minimum of $48,045 in extended cab form, other off-roading animals lurk to embody America’s mid-size truck id. Toyota offers its popular Tacoma in both more mild TRD Off-Road trim for a minimum of $36,575, and in full-zoot TRD Pro guise at $46,410. (All figures here include destination charges.) The forthcoming Ford Ranger pickup will likely offer an FX4 off-road package, though Ford has said it won’t get a Raptor variant for this generation. The Jeep Gladiator pickup is looming in 2019 as well, with the capability to strip down some of its bodywork for open-air off-roading.

With compelling entries from Ford, Toyota and soon, Jeep, the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison faces a rocky trail ahead.

For now, though, the Bison the mini-id for mid-size truck who never quite graduated from playing with Tonka trucks in the sand box.

Chevrolet provided travel and lodging for this Internet Brands Automotive contributor to bring you this firsthand report.


 
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