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The Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison will laugh at rocks

It’s fitted with skid plates made of hot-stamped boron steel

The snorkel is an optional (but practical) accessory. PHOTO FROM CHEVROLET

How complicated could pickup truck design really be? If you think about it, it’s all about attaching a single- or double-cab body to a cargo bed and then putting a powerful and torquey engine under the hood. Everything from the Ford Ranger and the Nissan Navara to the Isuzu D-Max and the Toyota Hilux follows this basic formula. And because this is the template, the marketing strategy almost always ends up becoming a pissing contest to determine which model boasts the highest horsepower figure and the top torque rating.

Often forgotten in the conversation is a pickup’s real-world capability in harsh off-road conditions. Yeah, this or that pickup might have the segment’s most robust powerplant, but can it actually make it through a route that threatens to violently tear its underside to shreds? This, more or less, is the question that the new Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison seems to be the answer to.

The ZR2 Bison’s underside is extremely protected. PHOTOS FROM CHEVROLET

In essence, Chevrolet asked an off-road aftermarket company called American Expedition Vehicles (or AEV) to toughen up the already muscular Colorado ZR2, which is propelled by either a standard 3.6-liter V6 gasoline engine (308hp and 373Nm) or an optional 2.8-liter Duramax turbodiesel (186hp and 500Nm).

AEV’s idea? Protect the Colorado’s vulnerable underbelly by giving it a total of five skid plates made of “hard, durable hot-stamped boron steel.” These skid plates cover the following:

  • engine oil pan;
  • fuel tank;
  • transfer case;
  • front locking differential; and
  • rear locking differential.
Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires add versatility. PHOTOS FROM CHEVROLET

AEV also put a mean-looking ‘Chevrolet’ grille, Bison-exclusive 17-inch aluminum wheels, and 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac off-road tires. Upon purchase, if the owner so desires, he may also avail of a Bison snorkel also from AEV.

Comparing the Bison with other premium Colorado variants, Chevrolet Truck marketing director Sandor Piszar breaks it down in a statement: “The Colorado Z71 offers a full suite of off-road equipment, the maneuverability of a midsize truck and the driving range of a class-exclusive diesel engine. The Colorado ZR2 offers even greater off-road capability with class-exclusive front and rear locking differentials and Multimatic DSSV dampers. And now, the Bison offers customers an even more extreme turnkey off-road truck ready to tackle your next adventure.”

Some of the signs you’re driving a tough 4x4 truck. PHOTOS FROM CHEVROLET

The badass Colorado ZR2 Bison will be available in the US in January 2019. Will Chevrolet Philippines bring it in? Most probably not, as the American Colorado is not really the same Colorado we have in our market. But it would be fun if the local distributor did—if only to counter the arrival of the Ford Ranger Raptor. We have no doubt 4×4 enthusiasts would pay to see the two trucks going at each other even if they’re technically not direct rivals.

Vernon B. Sarne

Vernon is the founder and editor-in-chief of VISOR. He has been an automotive journalist since July 1995. He became one by serendipity, walking into the office of a small publishing company and applying for a position he had no idea was for a local car magazine. God has watched over him throughout his humble journey. He writes the ‘Spoiler’ column.