Concept cars rarely make it to production for myriad reasons: a committee may deem the design too aggressive or there may be a lack of necessary tech or a failure to meet safety regulations. Even the fully functional one-off designs Jeep brings to the Easter Safari never see the light of day in full form. And earlier this spring at SEMA, when Chevrolet showed off the Colorado ZR2 Bison concept, built in collaboration with American Expedition Vehicles, there was a similar bittersweet assumption — ‘a fantastic idea, too bad we’ll never see it on the road.’ Well, today Chevy pulled a fast one on everybody and announced the Colorado ZR2 Bison will go on sale in January 2019.
There’s no word on pricing yet but with the already off-road worthy Colorado ZR2 priced at $43,495 don’t be surprised if the Bison AEV trim closes in on $50,000. Moreover, the Colorado ZR2 Bison will be the only hardcore off-road midsized pickup option come 2019 since Ford is holding out on releasing the Ranger Raptor. (Even though we know it’s coming.)
At first glance, the Bison looks like it will be well worth the money. Giving overland experts AEV the go-ahead to modify the ZR2 was the wisest decision Chevy made. The production Bison doesn’t get the bed rack, air compressor and water tank introduced on the concept and the snorkel in the pictures isn’t a factory option (AEV will be happy to add one aftermarket), but it’s an impressive package nonetheless.
Protecting the oil pan, fuel tank, transfer case and front and rear locking differentials are five hot-stamped boron steel plates. The perfectly sized front and rear bumpers made from stamped steel increase approach and departure angles — nearly the entire front wheel is visible from head-on. AEV threw in a two-inch suspension lift and a 3.5-inch wider track over the Z71, recovery points and winch for good measure.
The question now is not which Colorado to get (the Bison is the right choice), but picking between the relatively docile 3.6-liter V6 or the 2.8-liter Duramax diesel with 369 lb-ft of torque. Decisions, decisions.