Chevrolet is the latest to up its game in the battle of the midsize extreme machines, offering up a first look at the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison.
Much like the new Canyon AT4X AEV from sibling brand GMC, the latest version of Chevy’s midsize truck is being billed as “the ultimate Baja desert racer.”
If the name sounds familiar, no surprise. Chevrolet first introduced a version of the truck back in 2018 and, a year ago, brought out a ZR2 Bison version of the bigger Silverado a year ago. For 2024, the Colorado package gets big updates in power and performance as well as creature comforts.
Ready to go
The midsize truck is “extreme off-road ready and factory warranted right from the showroom,” Michael MacPhee, the director of Chevrolet truck marketing said during a background briefing for journalists ahead of the Memorial Day holiday.
As with GMC’s new offering, Chevrolet turned for help to American Expedition Vehicles. Founded in 1997, and based in Montana, AEV is known for producing some seriously tough parts and accessories for off-road and overland vehicles. It started off focusing on Jeep Wranglers but has found growing factory demand from brands like Ram, GMC and Chevy.
For its part, AEV provides a number of key parts for the ZR2 Bison including:
17-inch beadlock-capable of wheels — shod with segment-exclusive 35-inch Mud/Terrain tires;Rear bumper and fender flares;And a heavy-duty, winch-capable front bumper.
A “top-tier truck with top-tier equipment”
But that’s just the start of what turns the already tough Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 into a Bison. Add features such as Multimatic front and rear jounce control dampers, Multimatic DSSV dampers, power-locking front and rear differentials and five steel skid plates and rocker protectors.
“It’s our top-tier truck with top-tier equipment” said MacPhee.
The 2024 ZR2 Bison boasts segment-best 12.2-inch ground clearance. For those who’ll put it to the test off-road, it claims a best-in-class approach angle of 38.2 degrees, with a 26-degree departure angle, and a 26.9-degree breakover angle.
Powertrain, cargo and towing
The powertrain is shared with the GMC Canyon AT4X AEV, a 2.7-liter turbo-4 making a solid 310 horsepower and even more capable 430 pound-feet of torque. Power is directed to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic and a 2-speed transfer case.
The Bison will haul up 1,050 pounds of cargo and has a 5,500-pound tow rating. That’s actually down from 1,280 pounds of cargo and a 6,200-pound tow rating with the ZR2, Chevy officials acknowledged, in part due to the 300 pounds of added mass, much of that in the form of those skid plates.
One of the more intriguing features of the 2024 model is an off-road launch control system, said Cory Taulbert, manager of performance variants for Chevy.
“It will constantly learn (about) the surface you’re on to refine your launches,” Taulbert explaned. “It learns on the very first launch to minimize wheel spin.”
Features, pricing and availability
The 2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison doesn’t ignore creature comforts. It features one of the more refined cabins in the Colorado line-up and adds a number of tech features, including an 11.3-inch infotainment touchscreen, Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, a built-in WiFi hotspot, and an extensive array of advanced driver assistance systems. Active Cruise Control is offered as an option.
Set to reach U.S. showrooms later this year, Chevrolet hasn’t yet released fuel economy numbers, nor pricing. The current model starts around $78,000, including destination fees — nearly $8,000 more than the ZR2 model’s base price.