A flow-through Chevrolet-lettered grille bar is one of the exclusive features of the 2020 Colorado ZR2 Bison. (Manufacturer photo)

A flow-through Chevrolet-lettered grille bar is one of the exclusive features of the 2020 Colorado ZR2 Bison. (Manufacturer photo)

2020 ZR2 Bison is the most rugged Chevrolet Colorado of all

This powerful mid-size pickup has off-road expertise, snowy street cred. And it can tow 7,700 pounds.

Chevrolet’s 2020 Colorado mid-size pickup is available in an assortment of configurations, offering extended cab or crew cab versions, three different bed lengths, three engine choices, and four trim levels: Work Truck (WT), LT, Z71, and ZR2.

Even more variety is provided by special edition models of each trim, the ultimate being the truck equivalent of Beast Mode: the Colorado ZR2 Bison Edition.

ZR2 is the off-road Colorado model, and the Bison version is outfitted for advanced capability under extreme conditions. But with all the focus on off-roading, Chevy has overlooked something: ZR2’s big benefit on ordinary paved streets that are buried under deep snow. I wish I were driving the ZR2 this week, when Snohomish County is getting clobbered by the white stuff. Instead, I had the ZR2 last week, when there was just a dusting.

I did take the ZR2 Bison onto a snowy forest-service road near Stevens Pass to get a taste of its off-road expertise. It was, admittedly, a weak taste of a vehicle capable of crawling over boulders.

If I had the ZR2 this week, I’d blithely let snow pile up indefinitely atop my long uphill driveway, knowing when I had to leave the house the ZR2 Bison could beast-mode its way through anything. And I’d get up super early to be the first vehicle on the road in the morning, to establish tracks in the deep freshly-fallen snow for less well-equipped drivers to use.

A flow-through Chevrolet-lettered grille bar is one of the exclusive features of the 2020 Colorado ZR2 Bison. (Manufacturer photo)

A flow-through Chevrolet-lettered grille bar is one of the exclusive features of the 2020 Colorado ZR2 Bison. (Manufacturer photo)

My 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison was a 4WD short-box crew cab model equipped with an optional ($3,500) 2.8-liter four-cylinder turbo-diesel engine and a standard six-speed automatic transmission. The turbo-diesel produces 186 horsepower (low horsepower numbers are typical of diesels) and a mighty 369 pound-feet of torque, good for towing up to 7,700 pounds. Fuel economy ratings are attractive: 18 mpg city, 22 mpg highway, and 19 mpg combined.

The Bison performance special edition is Chevrolet’s first collaboration with American

Expedition Vehicles (AEV), a premium off-road aftermarket manufacturer based in Michigan. Features exclusive to the Bison model include a “flow-through” Chevrolet lettered grille bar, AEV front and rear bumper, fog lamps, wheel moldings, front and rear floor liners, embroidered headrests, AEV 17-inch wheels, and boron steel skid plates for the fuel tank, transfer case, and rear differential.

An AEV air snorkel, to provide filtered air to the engine during literal dust-ups, is available as a third-party accessory.

An 8-inch touchscreen dominates the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 infotainment system, which is one of the best in the business due to its ease of use. (Manufacturer photo)

An 8-inch touchscreen dominates the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 infotainment system, which is one of the best in the business due to its ease of use. (Manufacturer photo)

Among the comfort, convenience, and infotainment features on the Colorado ZR2 Crew Cab are a six-way power driver seat (four-way power for front passenger seat), heated front seats with power lumbar adjustment, a rear folding bench seat, heated tilt and telescoping steering wheel with audio controls, wireless device charging, 8-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, Bluetooth, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, and OnStar services with available Wi-Fi.

The Colorado’s uncomplicated, easy-to-use infotainment system is one of the best in the business.

Key fob operated tailgate lock control and Tire Fill Alert are new for 2020. Tire Fill Alert is a GM feature that gives visual and audible alerts outside a vehicle when inflating an under-inflated tire to the recommended pressure.

With all this focus on off-roading and beast-moding, you’d think the 2020 Colorado ZR2 Bison would have a terribly rough ride on the highway. Wrong. Thanks to preventive measures by Chevy engineers, the ride is smooth and quiet.

2020 CHEVROLET COLORADO 4WD ZR2 BISON CREW CAB

Base price, including destination charge: $44,095

Price as driven: $53,345

Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.

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