Test drive video: 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison at home on tough Arizona trails

Quimby Mug Bayou Florida Headshot

It’s no secret that GM’s midsize trucks helped push it to the coveted number one spot in overall truck sales. And now with the new 2019 Ford Ranger lineup expected to roll out early next year and Jeep’s midsize 2020 Gladiator coming shortly after that, GM has stepped up its game even more in hopes of staying king of the mountain.

Enter the 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison, a serious off-roader built in partnership with American Expeditions Vehicles (AEV).

We recently drove the four-wheel-drive Bison over tough terrain during a GM media event in Tonto National Forest in Arizona. One of the toughest tests? A rock crawling segment bent some tailpipes and scraped those boron steel skid plates, but otherwise the truck proved to be an agile and very capable climber.

Img 1510Our Bison’s 2.8-liter Duramax turbo diesel exuded plenty of confidence throughout the trip. The four-cylinder engine (186-hp, 369 lb.ft. torque) paired up with a six-speed automatic transmission replaces an 8-speed that comes standard with the ZR2. A 3.6-liter V6 gasser is available and will spare the $3,500 upcharge for the diesel.

Bison’s 3.42 gears in the rear got plenty of work off-road while selectable front and rear locking electronic differentials were just within reach and made the ride even more interesting.

Just like the standard ZR2, Bison gets Multimatic DSSV dampers, off-road rocker protection, cast-iron control arms and an AutoTrac transfer case. Also, front and rear tracks are widened by 3.5 inches and factory suspension lifted two inches over a Colorado Z71. The truck gets more off-road muscle through 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires wrapped around 17- x 8-inch aluminum wheels.

Besides the diesel powerplant, I keep thinking back to Bison’s suspension which proved especially responsive whether slowly crawling over large rocks or moving out fast over nasty washboard roads. Less jostling and jarring means a more impressive, enjoyable and confident ride.

While comfortable leather-appointed seats opened the door to luxury, bold AEV badging on the headrests remind you what the truck was built for—serious off-roading.

Other features:

  • Transfer case shield
  • Hill descent control
  • HD rear vision camera
  • Stabilitrak stability control system with traction control
  • EZ lift and lower tailgate
  • Front recovery hooks
  • Spray on bed liner
  • Exhaust brake
  • Chevrolet lettered grille
  • AEV front & rear bumpers


  • 6-way power driver seat
  • 4-way power front passenger seat
  • Power lumbar, driver and front passenger seats
  • Folding bench rear seat
  • Heated front seats
  • 4G LTE WiFi hotspot
  • AEV badge floor liners


Img 1528 Img 1525 Img 1478 Img 1475 Img 1492