Aptly named save for one trait
Upon reflection of my encounter with Chevy’s new ZR2 Bison AEV trim package for their mid-sized truck offering, the Colorado, the Bison moniker was appropriate. I found myself with a bit of a shiver on a particularly cold morning, with what felt like freezing fog. For being in the heart of a land that had lived in harmony with the name Chevy decided on for this variant, Bison, I hadn’t heeded the lessons learned from the past centuries of the local peoples. As my breath puffed visibly as I grew closer to this truck, I was longing for an actual Bison cloak to keep warm.
Instead of deep, course bison fur, I’d soon be wrapped in steel and lesser bovine-sourced leather interior. The chill in the air also kept away my previously-formed opinions of this smaller, budget minded truck offering. Before I refocused on the task at hand, there it was not looking as forlorn as I had anticipated. Styling is a decent upgrade over the base, with height, wheel and tire upgrades, a better balanced tougher looking grill and the hood hump. Bison I hear are the American cows that can survive a deep snow pack, precisely because of that hump. Plowing through it where other cattle could not cope.
So it is with the hump, that this Colorado and its improved stance, not the biggest cow in the paddock, but purpose-built to saunter through the tough stuff. The temps I encountered that day at first did feel like an 8 inch snow was not a distant memory. However, sadly, no deep snow pack was around to test this Bison-of-a-truck’s abilities. Instead, a wet, damp, hilly country back road course was our adventure. And for most people, that will likely be the setting this truck will play in. Off road just enough for the job site; maybe tread onto loose, sandy beaches when the weather summers-up a bit more.
Chevy touts this truck as having best in class torque, and thus towing should be very capable. Having no way to test this on this day, the observation and subjective feedback I got from the drivetrain I’ve no reason to doubt those desiring a mid-sized truck will not be disappointed. And it should be purposeful in its highway ability to get the jet skis to the reservoir on the weekends.
My perception upon climbing a not-too-high up step-in into the cabin were as such: Square in the middle of the market. And that’s not a good thing nor a bad thing. It’s a Chevy thing. Nicely appointed interior design with the modern infotainment touches that are the entry into this segment. If you’re a bigger fella, the full size pickups might still be best to your liking. Think of it as mid-sized, with medium inseam. The seating position fit me well. The look out over the dash, and steering wheel were very, normally truck like. A bit of a reach here, no claustrophobic feeling at all. The IP materials were another middle of the road, medium, mid-size, too. Not Range Rover plush, not Jeep basic wash-out the mud spartan, either.
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Driving impressions are it feels solid. Smoother than if one were to put a saddle, harness and hold onto the reigns of an actual Bison, I’d suspect. The wheelbase and improved suspension actually worked quite well. Not wallowing, nor too stiff, even for the cold morning. Visibility was very good. The seats for me needed a bit more hugging, though comfort again was very utilitarian. One benefit of this Bison over the cloven hoofed ones was a nice heated steering wheel.
Now, back to the one trait that I could not get past might influence some buyers. This one reminds me of a time I worked adjacent to Arlington Raceway thoroughbred track. One time they raced a Bison against a decent horse, and damned if the bison is very quick… to the first turn at least. For all the love that Diesels are given, and I’ve owned a diesel, this one left me wanting for more oomph. This is the only area that I see this truck losing to its namesake. Short bursts of speed, while holding on dearly to the reigns, one will not have to be concerned about. And really, who ever needed the reason Bison to do that except for show off.
The Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison AEV trim upgrade packages, then, in effect, is the closest thing to the Jeep Gladiator of the current market offerings. As a buyer, you would do well to shop both vehicles, back to back. A truck that can perform dutifully during the week on the job site or and then at the vacation rental might just be a great solution.
James grew up in an Indiana community where the auto industry was at its heart. His first car was an Olds 442, and many of his classmates had their father’s hand-me-down muscle cars. Met his wife in college. They have three children. Survived esophageal cancer. Is passionate about enjoying his second chance and his automotive interests further that goal.