It’s rare for an automaker to let journalists really test a new vehicle to its full potential. This is especially true for off-road oriented vehicles, as not only is vehicle damage likely, but corporate lawyers don’t like the safety risks, either.
To the surprise of many, Chevrolet has stepped up since the debut of the first Colorado ZR2 (2018), to not only allow journalists to test the off-road-oriented trucks in challenging conditions but also to encourage them to really find the truck’s limits.
I was lucky enough to be on that first ZR2 drive, the subsequent 2019 Colorado Bison drive, and the recent Vegas-to-Reno 2023 Colorado ZR2 drive. From jumping the trucks to rock crawling them, I’ve come away impressed by their capabilities each time.
For Chevy’s 2024 lineup of ZR2 trucks, it stepped up its media drive game again, this time with an invite to test the entire lineup on road and off in Palm Springs and Johnson Valley, Calif. Yes, that Johnson Valley, home to one of the most challenging off-road races in the world, King of Hammers.
I was able to get behind the wheel of the 2024 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison, Silverado 1500 ZR2, Silverado 2500 HD ZR2, and Silverado 2500 HD ZR2 Bison. The off-road terrain consisted of corrugated gravel roads, deep sand, soft whoops, and steep, loose rocks.
In short: No one got hurt, the trucks only received dents and scrapes in their armor, and everyone came away impressed by their capability. Not only are the off-road capabilities impressive across the 2024 Chevy ZR2 truck lineup, but the interiors, on-road manners, and onboard tech have also greatly improved. You do pay a hefty sum for these trucks, however, and each model is lacking some features that you’ll wish were available.
2024 Chevrolet ZR2 Truck Lineup Review
We got the first Chevrolet ZR2 truck back in 2018 with the Colorado ZR2. In 2019, we got the Colorado ZR2 Bison, with all the quality American Expedition Vehicles (AEV) upgraded parts. It wasn’t until 2022 that we’d see another ZR2, this time on the Silverado 1500. The Silverado 2500 HD ZR2 followed closely in 2023. Also in 2023, we saw the second generation of the Colorado ZR2 roll out.
For 2024, we get all three trucks — Colorado, Silverado 1500, and Silverado 2500 HD — in ZR2 trim. And, all three in ZR2 Bison trim as well.
These trucks have seen some serious development over the years. Most of that has come from a partnership between Chevrolet Performance and Chad Hall Racing. Chad Hall has been racing the Colorado ZR2 in off-road races since 2017 and has amassed 12,000 race miles in that time, finishing every race he started. The Silverado ZR2 race truck has 22 race wins, three championships, and over 6,000 race miles since it debuted in 2019.
All that development, along with the partnership with Multimatic for the dampers, has created some truly off-road-capable trucks. But, for me, the most impressive aspect of the ZR2 lineup is how well the trucks still perform on road and doing truck things, like hauling gear and towing.
Remember, these trucks have world-class suspension, proper armor, big tires, and carry a full factory warranty. There are very few true turnkey off-road adventure vehicles on offer directly from auto manufacturers, but the Chevrolet ZR2 truck lineup fits that bill.
2024 Silverado 2500 HD ZR2 Review
Let’s start this ZR2 lineup review with the big dog, the 2024 Silverado 2500 HD ZR2. It just recently hit the market, with deliveries starting in August 2023.
This is one of the first HD trucks I’ve ever driven where I’m not sliding all around. Big American trucks are usually made for much larger Americans than my tall, skinny frame. The seat bolsters are actually quite aggressive for a truck like this, which is something I like but many will not.
The HD ZR2 has a nearly identical interior to the 1500 ZR2. Only the gear selector moved from the center console in the 1500 to the column in the HD. I’m not in love with the column shifter, as it feels old and outdated. But, the argument is that the HD buyer still wants it. It does give you more room and offers a better layout on the center console.
A Bit Less Content
The HD ZR2 also has nearly the same feature set as the rest of the lineup. But, it only offers off-road and normal drive modes, versus the plethora available on the 1500 and Colorado. It only has a rear e-locker as well.
It also has a few fewer skid plates. It’s missing the fuel tank and rear diff skids found on the other ZR2 trucks. Engineers told us that this was because the fuel tank was already tucked up and protected enough, and the weight savings from the parts was needed for towing and cargo capacity, as those are key factors for HD buyers.
No rock sliders are on offer on the HD ZR2, either. The sliders from the 1500 will bolt right up, however, and can be ordered from the dealership. Although, they are not rated for the extra weight of the HD.
Power drop-down running boards are a $2,250 option on the HD. And, this is a common option because of how tall the truck is. Off road, these running boards are not a great option, however. They did not remain on the test trucks with the extreme terrain we tackled in testing.
The Silverado ZR2 models also offer no jounce control dampers, which are currently only available on Colorado ZR2 Bison. I’d expect the next generation of Silverado ZR2 Bison to have this option, as the trucks would benefit greatly from them. However, I was impressed with how well this big truck handled congregations and whoops in the desert — although, at much slower speeds than the Colorado could handle.
HD ZR2 by the Numbers
Part of the reason for that is the big trucks’ weight. Physics still applies here. The curb weight on the HD ZR2 ranges from 7,409 pounds for a ZR2 gas truck up to a whopping 8,495 pounds for a ZR2 Bison diesel truck.
Engine options on the 2024 Silverado HD ZR2 are the 6.6L V8 (401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet) and the Duramax 6.6L V8 turbo-diesel (470 horsepower and 975 pound-feet). Both are backed by an Allison (10L1000) 10-speed automatic transmission.
I was only able to drive the diesel on this testing mission and came away impressed with the extremely usable torque and smooth solid transmission. The big diesel does put a lot of weight on the front end of the truck, however, which isn’t ideal when bouncing around off-road. My diesel test truck came in at $87,000 — which included the $9,500 diesel engine upcharge. The 2024 HD ZR2 starts at $70,000.
Payload ranges from 2,811 to 3,397 pounds, and I have no doubt the truck would handle on and off road even better with some weight in the bed. In our testing, there was nothing in the truck. This meant the rear end was very light compared to the front.
Towing capacity for the 2024 Silverado 2500 HD ZR2 ranges from 15,570 to 18,500 pounds. I towed a 7,900-pound, 30-foot toy hauler trailer, which the diesel truck of course had zero issues with.
You get 18×9 wheels wrapped in 35-inch MT tires (LT305/70R18) on the Silverado HD ZR2. These big tires, along with the ZR2 lift, provide 11.6 inches of ground clearance — 11.8 in the Bison trim. We aired down to 23 psi on our off-road adventures. This seemed to be about the right compromise of good traction, added cushion, and aversion to sidewall tears. There were no flats on this testing trip.
Also announced is that the Silverado HD will get the Trailboss trim in 2025. This entry-level off-road configuration will complete the HD range.
2024 Silverado 1500 ZR2 Review
I didn’t get a chance to experience the 2024 Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison on this trip. But, I did spend a little time on-road and off in the 2024 Silverado 1500 ZR2 with the new standard 3.0L Duramax inline-six turbo-diesel.
Engine options on the Silverado 1500 ZR2 are the 6.2L V8 (14 city/17 highway mpg, 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet) or I6 3.0L diesel (20 city/22 highway mpg, 305 horsepower and 495 pound-feet). The diesel is the only one on offer in 2024 on a light-duty truck in America. The little diesel has plenty of power, has usable torque down low for off-road adventures, and is amazingly quiet in the cabin. But, it does sound like a diesel from outside the truck.
The 2024 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 comes with 18-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires (LT275/70R18). Along with the ZR2 lift, this gives the truck 11.2 inches of ground clearance — 11.3 in Bison trim. This is a solid offering, but it’s disappointing to not see 35s on offer, as the rest of the lineup can be configured with.
I’m pretty sure the next-generation Silverado will be fitted with larger tires, as it will likely be designed to do so from the start. This generation truck wasn’t designed from scratch with the ZR2 and Bison models in mind as the new 2023 Colorado was.
The 1500 ZR2 has a 5,709-5,952-pound curb weight. It can carry 1,110-1,550 pounds and tow 8,700-8,800 pounds.
As tested, the 1500 ZR2 I drove was $75,000, with base/standard 3.0L turbo-diesel.
You get all the drive modes the Colorado ZR2 has on offer, besides Baja mode, in the 1500 ZR2. You also get pretty much all the off-road hardware, besides the jounce shocks that the Colorado Bison has on offer.
2024 Colorado ZR2 Review
I already went deep on the 2023 Colorado ZR2 when I drove it mostly off road from Vegas to Reno. The truck hasn’t changed for the 2024 model year, but we do now officially get the Colorado ZR2 Bison, which is a big deal.
The only engine option on any Chevy Colorado truck for 2024 is the 2.7L I4 turbo. This little engine puts out an impressive 310 horsepower and 430 pound-feet of torque. This is plenty to turn the Bison’s 35s without issue, without regearing.
To get those power numbers, you do need to keep your foot in it and the turbo spooled up. But, the torque does come on fast and works well even at slow-speed rock crawling. What doesn’t work well for me is the noise this engine emits. Honestly, it just doesn’t sound good at all.
On this testing day in Johnson Valley, I was really able to push the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison on both wide-open fast terrain and slow, steep, loose, and rocky terrain. To say it impressed is an understatement!
2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison Review
Remember, this is a mid-sized pickup, on 35s, fully armored up, with jounce shocks at all four corners, and carrying a full factory warranty.
I got to put in over an hour on pavement and then most of a day off road in Johnson Valley in the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison. Off road, I was able to tackle the Short Bus and Lower Johnson Valley trails, as well as some deep sand and wide-open desert whoops.
Off road, the truck was aired down to 20 PSI, which seemed to be just right. While on paper the tires are the same Goodyear MTs as the standard ZR2, only a bigger diameter, I believe them to offer beefier sidewalls. We had zero flats in testing on rough terrain, whereas, we had lots of flats on our Vegas-to-Reno testing adventure — although that was at much higher speeds and with arguably sharper rocks.
We put the skid plates and rock sliders to good use in testing in Johnson Valley. The sliders in particular are impressive pieces. They truly protect the body from damage and allow you to slide over obstacles that would otherwise hang you up. While they do work OK as a step into this very tall truck as well, the narrow and smooth top on them is easy to slide off of, especially when covered in dust or mud.
By far the most impressive, besides the massive tires, aspect of the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison is the Multimatic dampers and jounce shocks. The dampers are really good on road, impressive off road at speed, and a bit harsh at slow-speed rock crawling — but better than the last-generation Colorado ZR2.
The addition of the jounce shocks at all four corners on the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison really means that you can travel at even higher speeds over rough terrain. This is something that, no doubt, the average driver will find great confidence in and probably get in trouble with quickly.
Also new for 2024 are brackets on the frames of all Colorado ZR2 for jounce shocks. This means that moving forward, you can buy the jounce shocks from your dealership and bolt them on your standard Colorado ZR2.
2024 Colorado ZR2 by the Numbers
The Colorado ZR2 gets 17×8-inch wheels wrapped in 33-inch mud-terrain tires (LT285/70R17). While that is impressive on a mid-size truck, and all most people need for real adventure, the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison is rolling on 17×8.5-inch wheels wrapped in 35-inch MTs (LT315/70R17). These big, meaty tires transform this truck into something very special. No other mid-size truck on the market comes from the factory on 35s.
The lift and big tires mean the Colorado ZR2 gets a solid 10.7 inches of ground clearance and the Colorado ZR2 Bison a massive 12.2 inches. As you might imagine, approach/departure/breakover angles (38.2/26/26.9) are also super impressive on the Bison.
Sitting empty the Colorado ZR2 weighs in at 4,950 pounds, with the Bison package adding 325 pounds to that — 5,265 total.
The Colorado ZR2 can carry 1,280 pounds worth of gear and tow 6,000 pounds. The Colorado ZR2 Bison can carry 1,050 and tow 5,500.
The 2024 Colorado ZR2 and 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison should hit dealerships right around the end of the year, as they are already in production. No word on pricing just yet, but don’t expect this crazy impressive and content-rich truck to come cheap.