Chevy’s Silverado ZR2 Bison Edition
Let me begin by complimenting my colleague, Bill Owney, for his excellent overview of the new Chevy lineup of light-duty pickups. If you’re shopping for that new truck and need to know the breadth of what Chevrolet currently offers, check out Bill’s review.
I, however, am going to delve into a specific truck, the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Bison Edition, which is Chevy’s latest light duty offering. This is another example of a truck and SUV/crossover manufacturer trying to quench a buyer’s thirst for trucks and crossovers that are tough, rugged, aggressive, etc. OEMs have figured out that if they add a lifted suspension, knobby all-terrain tires, wide plastic cladding and eye-catching decals to almost any vehicle they can add a hefty premium to the MSRP. It’s all about creating a bad-ass vehicle that looks and sounds loud tearing down the asphalt highway, or – more appropriately – the rugged off-road.
This very bad-ass truck was a Sterling Gray Metallic Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab ZR2 4WD Bison Edition, and it arrived with a whopping $84,905 MSRP price tag, i.e., Buffalo’s Bill. It was powered by a 420 hp, 6.2 liter Ecotec V8 engine mated to a ten-speed transmission. EPA estimated fuel economy numbers are abysmal, but typical for the segment: 14 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway – and, I’ll guess, about 7 mpg in most off-road environs.
The 2023 Silverado ZR2 Bison is a collaboration with Chevy and American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), a premium off-road aftermarket manufacturer. According to the press release, “This truck was uniquely tuned to unlock new heights in off-road capability for customers seeking overlanding adventures.” There’s no doubt the truck is built to survive some extreme off-road treks. Whether the people able to shell out $85k will aim this truck into those precarious conditions is another matter.
For those of you thinking of taking your Bison into an extreme off-road environment, here’s how the truck compares to its Silverado ZR2 cousin. The front approach angle increases to an estimated 32.5 degrees (compared to 31.8 degrees), and the departure angle improves to an estimated 23.4 degrees (a marginal improvement, when the ZR2 is 23.3 degrees). The trucks share the same ground clearance at 11.2 inches. The AEV-stamped steel front and rear bumpers are constructed of 3-millimeter-thick steel and are powder and e-coated. The press-hardened steel used for the underbody skid plates is three-and-a-half times stronger than an equivalent cold-stamped high-strength steel plate and provides incredible resistance to underbody damage.
The interior feels more luxurious than rugged so better wipe off those muddy boots before climbing inside. There’s all the safety tech that customers demand, and it comes in handy when driving such a lifted truck. Visibility can be limited at times, and those sensors and cameras are invaluable when navigating crowded parking lots.
My one wish is that this Bison had been equipped with GM’s second-generation 3.0L inline-six turbo-diesel Duramax with 305 hp and 495 lb-ft. max torque. Although Americans seemed to have cooled on their love for diesel engines, putting one into a large, heavy truck like the Bison makes a whole lot of sense, especially with the extra torque for those uphill climbs. The new Duramax diesel won’t be available until the fall, and pricing for the engine has yet to be announced.
The Chevy Silverado ZR2 Bison Edition is what you would expect it to be, a magnificent beast of a truck. There’s no doubt that the overbuilt Bison can endure almost any extreme off-road it might come across while trekking through the wilderness. I’m just not sure I’d want to risk taking my $85K where it might get scratched.