Car Life Nation

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A white 2024 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison is shown parked off-road after visiting a Chevy truck dealer.

Off-Road Face-Off: 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison vs 2022 Colorado ZR2 Bison

Today’s trucks are bigger and more imposing than ever, but few have the credentials to back up their aggressive appearance. That’s certainly not the case with Chevy’s midsize off-road monster in the Colorado ZR2 Bison. Born out of a collaboration between Chevy and the off-road and overland vehicle parts and accessories wizards at American Expedition Vehicles (AEV), the ZR2 Bison takes one of Chevy’s most capable trucks and transforms it into a no-holds-barred off-road machine.

Since first hitting dealerships in 2019, the ZR2 Bison has quickly become an industry favorite, earning countless plaudits and landing “Overland Truck of the Year” honors from The Overland Journal. Walk into your local Chevy truck dealer, and you’re sure to find a generous selection of new and pre-owned models to choose from, including the full-size Silverado, the new, all-electric Silverado EV, and, of course, the Colorado.

Before jumping into the cab of any of these storied pickups, it’s important to do a little research. Some models don’t see drastic changes from one year to the next, but the 2022 and 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison is a different story. During the two-year gap, Chevy treated the Colorado to its first major upgrade since 2011. The third-gen model features a number of stylish, appearance-related upgrades when compared to the second-gen version, including a new grill, revised fender flares, and new AEV badging, but it’s the pickup’s off-road hardware that marks the most notable changes.

Chevy has doubled down on the Colorado ZR2 Bison’s off-road armory, outfitting the truck with larger tires, more ground clearance, and one of the most advanced suspension systems on the market. The changes can be a lot to take in, which is why we’ve assembled this handy guide to compare the second-gen 2022 ZR2 Bison with its third-gen 2024 descendant. Buckle in and see how Chevy’s off-road offerings seem to get better with every passing year.

Tires and Wheels

The 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison’s wheels measure in at the same 17 inches as the 2022 model but represent a notable improvement in three important ways. First off, the tires have been treated to a massive upgrade with Chevy replacing the Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac 265/65R-17 rubber with a fresh set of Goodyear Wrangler Territory Mud-Terrain tires sized at 315/70R-17. For those who aren’t fluent in tire sizing, that translates to a five-inch upgrade with the 2024 model rolling on huge, 35-inch tires compared to the 2022 version’s 30-inch skids.

These larger tires provide some obvious benefits when it comes to off-road applications, specifically in increased ground clearance and traction enabled by the larger surface area, but the 2024 Bison’s second tire-related trick is even more impressive. For the first time in its history, the Colorado ZR2 Bison will be graced with a set of beadlock-capable wheels, which represent a significant addition to the truck’s off-road arsenal. What’s so important about beadlock wheels? In order to explain that, we’ll have to get into a little Off-Roading 101…

Increasing surface area is one of the easiest ways to improve traction, especially when it comes to sand, mud, and other loose, mucky surfaces. The ZR2 Bison’s 35-inch tires already offer an impressive contact patch, but those looking to improve their chances of off-road success can now take it one step further by letting out a little air. The less air in the tire, the more contact it’ll make with the road, thus improving traction and allowing drivers to essentially float over surfaces that they previously might have become mired in.

Beadlock-capable wheels are built with a system of bolts affixed around the rim of the wheel, which serves to essentially clamp the tire to the wheel and drastically reduce the chances of it coming unseated during challenging off-road maneuvers. Beadlock-capable wheels are one of the most popular off-road modifications, but the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison will save drivers the DIY hassle since these are offered as a dealer-installed option.

The 2024 ZR2 Bison’s hulking off-road tires do present one issue, which leads us to our final upgrade. At 35 inches, the pickup’s full-size spare is simply too large to fit into its normal storage spot under the bed. To solve this issue, Chevy has dropped the full-size spare directly into the bed. This solution required Chevy to lengthen the Colorado’s wheelbase by 3.1 inches, providing drivers with more cargo room while making the spare even easier to access.

This approach would seem a little over-the-top for a traditional, road-faring pickup, but given the ZR Bison’s off-road focus, it makes a lot of sense. All told, the bed is now 1.1 inches wider than the outgoing second-gen model while featuring almost an extra cubic foot of cargo capacity.

A white 2024 Chevy Colorado Bison ZR2 Bison is shown parked on a boulder.

Ground Clearance and Angles

When you’re regularly navigating rough, obstacle-strewn off-road terrain, you can never underestimate the importance of ground clearance. On paved surfaces, towering trucks are more of a status symbol, but that height can play a vital role when it comes to off-road performance.

From protecting vital underbody components to keeping the paint job looking fresh, increasing a truck’s altitude can go a long way toward ensuring consistent performance and resale value. The Colorado ZR2 Bison’s five boron skid plates certainly play their part when it comes to defending against rocks, logs, and other trailside detritus, but it’s this truck’s ground clearance that really cements its status as an off-road contender.

So, how do the 2022 and 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison compare when it comes to ground clearance? Let’s start with the second-generation 2022 model, which tops out at 8.9 inches of ground clearance. That’s certainly nothing to turn your nose up at, and it places the 2022 model firmly in the middle of the midsize pack, but it’s nothing when compared to the new, third-gen version. Since 2023, the Colorado has seen something of a growth spurt, with this ZR2 pickup boasting 10.7 inches of ground clearance.

That number matches Ford’s midsize off-roader, the Ranger Raptor, but the ZR2’s Bison trim sweetens the pot even further; when you factor in the extra height afforded by the Bison’s 35-inch tires, the range-topping trim offers 12.2 inches of total ground clearance. That’s a number few of the Colorado’s competitors can match, with the Ranger Raptor and Jeep Gladiator Mojave both trailing behind Chevy’s pickup in terms of pure height.

But ground clearance isn’t the be-all, end-all metric to consider when it comes to judging a pickup’s off-road performance. Approach, breakover, and departure angle are also key, as they’re good indicators of how a model will fare when tackling steep grades and unavoidable obstacles. A vehicle’s approach angle describes the angle between where the front tires meet the ground and the lowest part of the front bumper.

Why is this important? If the approach angle isn’t wide enough, the bumper might make contact with the ground when ascending a particularly steep hill or obstacle. The 2022 Colorado ZR2 Bison was no slouch with a 30-degree approach angle, but the 2024 model takes it to a whole other level at 38.2 degrees. That’s more than a 25% improvement when compared to the previous design, which shows just how seriously Chevy is taking the off-road segment as of late.

Departure angle is basically approach angle in reverse, describing how steep of a grade a vehicle can descend without the rear bumper dragging in the dirt or bashing off of a rock. The 2022 and 2024 ZR2 Bisons stack up a little better in this comparison, with the newer model measuring in at 26.9 degrees versus 23.5 in the second-gen version.

Breakover angle is a little more complex, but an important factor to consider when shopping for any off-road vehicle. This term describes the angle that an off-road vehicle can summit when the front tires are on one side of the apex and the rear tires are on the other. To help visualize the concept, just imagine a truck summiting a triangle: if the vehicle doesn’t have an adequate breakover angle, you’re bound to make contact with the apex of the peak, resulting in possible damage to some of the vital underbody components located in the center of the truck.

This might sound a little harrowing, but as any experienced off-roader knows, these sorts of steep obstacles aren’t always easy to avoid. At 26.9 degrees, the 2024 ZR2 Bison not only bests its 23.5-degree forerunner when it comes to breakover angle, but the rest of the class to boot. The 2024 ZR2 Bison tops the Ranger Raptor in all three categories and comes in second to the Jeep Gladiator only in terms of approach angle.

A white 2024 Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison is shown driving in a dust cloud.


For those seeking the ultimate in off-road performance and comfort, it’s hard to do better than a Multimatic suspension. This company’s spool-valve dampers are commonly found on some of the industry’s most iconic high-performance models, including the Camaro Z/28, Ford GT, and Mercedes-AMG GT, but they’re just as valuable of an addition out on the trail as they are at the track.

The 2022 ZR2 Bison comes standard with Multimatic’s Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers on the front end, which differ from your run-of-the-mill shock absorbers in one important way: most dampers employ shim dampers to perform what’s known as deflected disc valving; this approach works fine for most applications but doesn’t always result in the smoothest performance or the most comfortable ride.

Multimatic has improved on this age-old design by replacing the typical shims with laser-etched ports within the spool valves; able to open and close in response to changing motion, these ports allow the DSSV dampers to improve on the all-important force-velocity curve. If PhD-level fluid dynamics isn’t your thing, we’ll put it this way: you’re going to enjoy more comfort and predictability in a truck that’s fitted with DSSV dampers than one without.

Drivers will be happy to know that the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison retains the second-gen’s Multimatic DSSV dampers and even happier to discover a new addition to the package. Chevy has outfitted the third-gen ZR2 Bison with Multimatic jounce control dampers—also known as bump stops—on both the front and rear of the truck; designed to prevent the ZR2 Bison’s suspension from bottoming out in the event of a harder-than-expected bump in the road, the jounce control dampers are an important bit of kit.

In addition to improving an off-roader’s handling and comfort, these jounce control dampers also reduce noise and vibrations and are almost overkill, given the presence of the DSSV dampers. We’re certainly not complaining, especially if it allows the 2024 version of the Colorado ZR2 Bison to achieve 9.9 inches of front suspension travel and 11.6 inches of rear suspension travel while increasing driver confidence on rough terrain.

A Tale of Two Colorado ZR2 Bisons

Tire size, ground clearance, and suspension design are all important factors when it comes to deciding between the 2024 and 2022 Colorado ZR2 Bison, but these features really just represent the tip of the iceberg. If you want to get a real, up-close feel for the differences between the two generations of this award-winning pickup, there’s no substitute for a test drive.

Comparing the second- and third-generation versions of the Colorado ZR2 Bison might be easy on paper, but only a little time behind the wheel can tell you which model is right for your own unique driving needs. While the 2024 Colorado ZR2 Bison features some noticeable improvements when compared to the 2022 model—especially when it comes to tire size and the addition of Multimatic’s jounce control dampers—the late-model version might not be the best choice for every driver or every off-road scenario.

The 2022 version is not only more affordable than its third-gen cousins, but it’s also already experienced its most rapid period of depreciation, further enhancing the truck’s value in the eyes of budget-conscious buyers. No matter which version you choose, you’re bound to enjoy some of the mud-slinging, rock-crawling fun that’s made the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison such a popular choice among the off-road crowd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *