Car companies plow untold research and development (not to mention several cubic acres of money) into technology which makes our vehicles endlessly enjoyable – but we often never see this tech with our own two eyes.
It’s like the farmer who provides the world’s best flour to Buddy Valestro for his cakes; the pastry chef gets all the accolades from customers but, without top-shelf ingredients, the dessert won’t taste nearly as good.
This convoluted crossroads of gasoline and gastronomy flitted though this writer’s increasingly addled brain as he goosed the loud pedal on a 2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, navigating through an enormous rock field which could have easily been lifted straight from the surface of our moon.
Underneath the truck, special off-road dampers and a tuned suspension were hard at work, balancing out the pickup’s chassis and making your author look a lot more of a capable driver than reality holds.
At the heart of Chevy’s burly off-road ZR2 family are a set of race-proven spool valve dampers built by a company called Multimatic, headquartered right here in Canada.
Sharing more than a skiff of DNA with the suspenders on hyper-exotic machinery like the Ferrari SF90 Stradale, these components are one of the key reasons anything with a ZR2 badge is incredibly capable off-road.
Without diving too much into the weeds, DSSVs have three connected chambers to make sure fluid inside the shock responds appropriately for given conditions, explaining why drivers can hammer over outrageously tough terrain but not get beaten up on the drive home.
Stir in a factory suspension lift plus huge tires and locking differential, then wrap it in appropriately aggressive styling and serve to an adoring group of off-road gearheads.
Plenty of off-road options here at home in the Maritimes
Speaking of, those who enjoy getting a bit of dirt under their fingernails around here know there’s plenty of opportunity for off-roading in Nova Scotia – even if our area doesn’t have vast networks of American-style wide open trails managed by a group like their Bureau of Land Management.
Even though they focus on two-wheeled dirt-based fun, the Nova Scotia Off Road Riders Association is a great group to mention since they provide education opportunities, organized races, fun rides, and social events in pursuit of the growth and development of recreational and competitive off-road motorcycling in our province.
If there’s a crew which would appreciate those DSSV dampers on ZR2 pickup trucks, it’s this crowd.
ZR2 across Chevy’s truck line-up
In fact, Chevrolet is applying the ZR2 treatment to its entire tripartite of trucks – not just the midsize Colorado. The half-ton Silverado has also received ZR2 goodies, complete with beefed up underbody protection and uniquely-tuned springs in addition to the trick dampers.
Same goes for the brutish heavy-duty Silverado HD ZR2, a truck which somehow manages many of the same off-road feats of glory as its smaller brothers despite its immense bulk (just don’t try to squeeze the HD down a narrow path unless you like buying replacement mirrors).
The fact all this gear works on trucks of different sizes – appropriately tuned for the application, natch – speaks volumes about the completeness of the ZR2 package.
Cranking the wick is a Bison package which can be added to ZR2 trucks if what we’ve just described still seems too desperately pedestrian.
Chevy planners tag-teamed a company called American Expedition Vehicles, an outfit which designs and distributes off-road parts, asking AEV’s boss to imagine the extra gear he would append to a ZR2 if he were building one for his own special-use cases.
What sprung forth for the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison were 35-inch tires, special Multimatic jounce control dampers to decrease body movement and increase control in tough off-road situations, a yaffle of new skid plates and some unique styling accoutrements.
It’s a package which works exceedingly well, providing 11.6 inches of rear wheel travel and gifting an added dose of confidence for tackling that boulder field mentioned earlier.
The mechanics of getting off-road
It was easy to control the power coming from the new 2.7L turbocharged engine, with an array of drive modes holding down the fort in terms of fettling the traction control and brakes in search of maximum traction.
These tools, by design, make plenty of clicking and grinding noises, so make sure to school any uninitiated passengers before hitting the trails.
Inside the cabin of the 2023 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2
We’ve waxed about the new Colorado interior previously on these digital pages, replete with crisp screens and good switchgear, but it’s worth reiterating again – this space is a quantum leap over the old Colorado.
One complaint we do have involves the optional sunroof, a portal which eats way too much headroom, causing the noggin of this 6’6” driver to rudely introduce itself to the truck’s headliner at every bump in the rocky path (and given the difficulty level, there were many).
Drivers not of freakish NBA proportions may not have this issue, and we did confirm the sunroof is optional across all trims, which is great news. And if engineers could port a digital rearview mirror to the Colorado ZR2 so we can see around the spare tire, that’d be great.
In this neck of the woods, customers will find a Colorado ZR2 priced around $56,000 while the larger Silverado ZR2 trades for $86,699. The big lad Silverado HD ZR2 commands $93,899. Layering the Bison package on any of these trucks is roughly a $10,000 addition, depending on model.