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Henry Payne: Chevy wraps the Silverado ZR2 pickup in Bison armor

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Business News

Bison are getting bigger.

Learning from little brother Chevy Colorado, the full-size Silverado pickup is gaining yet another rugged off-road trim: the ZR2 Bison that's been popular on the midsize pickup since its 2019 model year introduction. Topping the Silverado Trail Boss and ZR2 off-road models, Bison takes the unique suspension, tires and style of the ZR2 — then straps on battle armor.

Chevy partnered with acclaimed aftermarket builder American Expedition Vehicles to equip Bison with rocker protection, unique skid plates and custom front bumper — continuing a partnership that began with the Colorado ZR2 Bison.

In other Silverado news for the 2023 model year, the pickup's 3.0-liter, inline-6 cylinder turbo-diesel Duramax engine — though not available in the ZR2 or Bison — gets a 10% increase in grunt to 305 horsepower, with torque increasing 7.6% to 495 pound-feet.

"The Silverado ZR2 Bison is the ultimate half-ton truck for back country adventures," said AEV CEO Dave Harriton. "It checks all the boxes — robust stamped steel bumpers, complete underbody protection, factory-tuned off-road suspension, and locking differentials front and rear."

The midsize Colorado also pioneered the ZR2 off-road package that Silverado adopted in 2022. While the Silverado ZR2 did not reach for the super-truck heights of the Ford F-150 Raptor R and Ram 1500 TRX with a special engine, it made significant off-road upgrades like spool-valve Multimatic dampers and front/rear locking differentials to offer a broad bandwidth of low-speed canyon crawling and higher-speed trail runs. Silverado Bison starts with the ZR2 model's 420-horse, 6.2-liter V-8 engine and off-road tools like Terrain Mode, which allows one-pedal driving.

 

The Bison elevates the ZR2 for the serious overlander. It also elevates the price to $78,490 (including destination fee) when the vehicle goes into production in early 2023.

The pickup adds another item to Silverado's menu to feed the market's insatiable appetite for trucks — a market the Detroit Three dominate. As manufacturers face an uncertain future of building electric vehicles, trucks like the ZR2 Bison add needed profit margin.

"Our most recent collaboration with AEV resulted in the much-acclaimed Colorado ZR2 Bison. We're thrilled to team up again to bring customers Chevrolet's next chapter of off-road dominance, this time on Silverado," said Chevy VP Scott Bell.

Compared to the '22 Silverado ZR2, Bison improves the front approach angle to an estimated 32.5 degrees (compared to ZR2's 31.8 degrees) and departure angle to an estimated 23.4 degrees (compared to 23.3 degrees), while still sharing the same 11.2-inch ground clearance.

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