The funny thing about buying a pickup truck in off-road-ready trim, and adding an even more rugged off-road package on top of that, is that most of us will rack up 99 percent of the truck’s miles on pavement. So, it’s a good thing the technology that makes the 2020 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison an outstanding trail runner also happens to make it a pleasant pickup to drive on the highway. And that’s as it should be, since pavement — Formula 1 race tracks, actually — is where this truck’s capabilities were born. The Colorado ZR2 is kitted for mud, dirt, rocks and snow, with DSSV Multimatic spool-valve shocks as the centerpiece of the setup. And that suspension technology was handed down from race cars to performance production cars such as the Ford GT, Mercedes-AMG GT and Camaro ZL1 1LE, and finally, to this truck. Multimatic put triple damper units on the Colorado then fine-tuned the setup using analytics and software also developed through racing. The ZR2 got these babies a few years back, which is when our James Riswick did this deep dive into how they work. Additionally, the ZR2 gets driver-selectable locking front and rear differentials, a two-speed electronic transfer case, a trailering package with trailer brake controller, hill-descent control, a skid plate for the transfer case, off-road rocker protection, recovery hooks, special bumpers, a wider stance, and 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler Duratracs on 17-inch wheels. Oh, there’s also a hood scoop. But then along came American Expedition Vehicles, which in 2018 trotted out the Bison to further bulk things up. AEV and Chevy packaged a laundry list of goodies a ZR2 buyer might add in the aftermarket. First, the standard 3.6-liter gasoline V6 goes away, and the $3,500, 2.8-liter Duramax inline-four turbodiesel takes over, making 181 horsepower and a bullish 369 pound-feet of torque. An upgrade six-speed automatic and 3.42 rear axle ratio join it. Then another $5,750 in options get added on, starting with five skid plates to protect the engine pan, fuel tank, transfer case and differentials. There's an exhaust brake and dark gray 17-inch wheels, and the ZR2 bumpers get replaced by AEV designs with slightly improved approach and departure angles (30 and 23.5 degrees). There are rock rails all around. Fat black cladding bulges from the wheel arches, though there is a prominent scallop in the plastic around the fuel filler door that catches your eye every time you look in the left-hand mirror. Finally, there’s AEV Bison badging all about, including some cool Bison logo headrests. They're the standout feature in a same-old lackluster Colorado interior. All in, the truck as tested stickers for $53,345. With bold looks, brawny components and a boron-steel underbelly, it looks like it can take a back-country beating. The trouble was this: In soggy early March in Western Washington, where do you take a vehicle like that? The nearest official state off-road playground was an hour north and offers 36 miles of trail through 3,200 acres with 2,600 …
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|MPG||16 City / 18 Hwy|
|Transmission||8-spd auto w/OD|
|Power||308 @ 6800 rpm|
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