Snowy Muddy Fun With The 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison


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Steady, driving rain was expected for the duration of the weekend, and it would turn into heavy snow in the higher elevations. Some may cancel plans because of this forecast, but ours were only just beginning.

Sitting in our loading bay was not just any ’19 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2; it was the collaboration between the Bow Tie and American Expedition Vehicles—the Colorado ZR2 Bison. We had previously familiarized ourselves with the Colorado ZR2 during the 2018 Four Wheeler Pickup Truck of the Year test (it took home the win), but with the

’19 Bison moniker, the truck received upgrades we were itching to try out. In addition to the front and rear electric lockers, Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) shocks, a 2-inch-taller ride height, and 3.5-inch-wider track width, the Bison received a stamped-steel front bumper with foglights and space for a winch; a rear bumper with dual recovery points and contours to match the widened fender flares; hot-stamped Boron steel skidplates protecting the oil pan, fuel tank, transfer case, and front and rear differentials from damage; and AEV badging throughout.

001 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Lead Photo

Despite the dreary weather, we were determined to pack as much adventure as we could into the confines of a weekend. The 62-inch bed would normally provide more than enough space for camping gear, but because of the onslaught of precipitation, we chose to test the carrying capacity of the Bison’s rear seat. We stacked sleeping accommodations, photography and recovery gear, and our Dometic CFX 35W electric cooler into the back without a hassle; fired up the windshield wipers; and hit the highway. After stopping at the green pump to top off the Bison’s 21-gallon tank, we were armed with just under 500 miles of range, plus some emergency fuel in case of, well, emergencies. We traded pavement for powerline roads as quickly as possible and began the off-road journey into the storm, with the goal of traveling between Mojave and Bishop, California, on mostly (if not all) dirt roads.

002 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Dssv Shocks Photo With the first part of our trip largely comprised of undulating dirt and gravel roads, we were able to carry speed through obstacles that have been known to slow lesser vehicles to no more than a trot. The DSSV shocks prevented bottom-outs and gave us the confidence to maintain our momentum through these obstacles without fearing for our spinal columns.

003 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison  Photo Bison on dirt and gravel roads

004 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Rocky Climb Photo When the trail got slick, steep, and riddled with rocks, we were thankful for the skidplating, increased track width, and electric front and rear lockers—all were needed to carry the ZR2 up the more-challenging sections of trail with confidence and stability.

005 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Wheels1 Photo AEV’s 17-inch aluminum wheels came dressed with Goodyear DuraTrac tires, known for their prowess in snowy and muddy conditions, and we needed all four of them to pull us through the slick mud and deep snow. Beneath the Bison also hangs a fullsize spare tire and matching wheel.

006 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Wheels2 Photo In snow

007 2019 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison Snowplow Photo Daylight waned and the miles between us and camp dwindled, but the rain had become snow—and it was accumulating by the foot. Though we knew the trails beneath the snow were no more than simple two-tracks, nearly knee-deep powder and reduced visibility required both locking differentials to keep moving.

Debrief

Though our time with the Bison was short, we used every arrow in its off-road quiver. From the front and rear electric-locking differentials and grabby tires to the bumpers and skidplates protecting us as we plowed through the snow, we did it all. We were more than pleased with the fuel economy of the 2.8L diesel during the drive, although there is a learning curve with the turbo spool when throttling through obstacles. In closing, as noted in the logbook by a seven-slot fanatic, “This truck would make me sell my Jeep.”

The snow, though blinding at times, did not keep us from reaching camp, or breaking it the next morning. We returned to the highways, which were still blanketed in powder, and proceeded down in elevation and out of the storm.



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