2023 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 AEV Bison: Is Off-road Prowess Enough for On-Road Sacrifices?
Last fall we took some time while in LA for the Los Angeles Auto Show to review the all-new Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 on the road. We were only in town for the Auto Show but did enjoy the experience of piloting the largest, most capable version of the Silverado at the time through the downtown LA area and back to my hotel in Calabasas.
In that review, I noted just how strange it was driving a large pickup like this in LA. It was interesting though just how much the off-road additions to this pickup made it easier to live with in Southern California. It was easy to maneuver, had great cameras for tight spaces, and parted the flood or Priuses in my way when driving down the 101. I did not have time to properly test it off-road as I was completely out of my element not being home in East Texas.
Coming back to Texas and getting to spend a week with another ZR2, this time the AEV Bison version, yielded some different results and experiences in my day-to-day. I still liked its presence on the road, but it blends into the sea of other full-size pickups on Texas roads, leaving that feeling of traffic parting in front of me a thing of the past.
The first place I took it was to the airport in Dallas to catch a flight to the Midwest for a multi-vehicle drive event. Getting into the parking garage was a slightly nerve-wracking experience as I felt that the roof was going to scrape on each and every concrete cross member holding the next level up above me. Also, Downtown Dallas was a less hospitable environment to my big 1500 than I experienced in LA, again because trucks of this size are more commonplace and no one was eager to move out of my way like they did in SoCal. Bummer.
Getting to put some real highway miles on this rig, about 90 miles each way to and from Dallas, meant that I had more time to experience the ride while on pavement versus sitting in slow-moving LA traffic on the 101. In LaLaLand I did not really experience the jitteriness of the DSSV Multimatic shocks that I did here at Texas highway speeds. The ride, while not bad by any means, definitely told me I was in a truck meant for serious off-road action. While I appreciated that when testing it at Barnwell, it translated to a ride that was not as premium as the $84,905 price tag would suggest.
Most of that price did go into the partnership with AEV who supplied the skid plates underneath (this is the only Silverado to offer a fuel tank skid from the factory), the steel bumpers, and black wheels. The AEV Bison package adds nearly $8,000 to the window sticker, so you better be sure this is what you want. Otherwise, the $71,500 starting price of the ZR2 does offer some nice creature comforts on the inside like those heated and ventilated front seats that I appreciated so much while filming in the Texas sun.
Don’t get me wrong, I know this is a truck. I know that its purpose is to rock crawl and traverse tough terrain, I just expected the benefits of prepping the suspension for tough off-road terrain to translate into something a little less shaky on the road. If you are buying this pickup purely for the appearance of it, let’s face it there are those out there who will buy one and never take it off the pavement, this perhaps is not the trim for you. If however, you DO plan on spending the majority of your time with this where the blacktop ends, Chevy has engineered one great truck that you will want to stick around to see me test off-road tomorrow.
2023 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 AEV Bison Specs:
6.2L V8 Engine
460 lb-ft of Torque
Optional 3.0L Diesel Duramax Inline-6 Engine
495 lb-ft of Torque
10-Speed Automatic Transmission
Two-Speed Transfer Case
Multimatic 40-millimeter DSSV Spool-valve Dampers
Electronic Locking Front and Rear Differentials
Terrain Mode: Allows for One-pedal Rock Crawling
High-clearance Dual Exhaust System
Stamped Steel Bumpers
Improved approach angle: 32.5 degrees vs. 31.8 degrees on standard ZR2
Improved departure angle: 23.4 degrees vs. 23.3 degrees on standard ZR2
Heavy duty recovery points and integrated step pads; winch-capable front bumper
3-millimeter-thick steel that is both powder and e-coated
5 Press-hardened Steel Underbody Skid Plates
Front and Rear Differentials
Steel rocker panel protection
Gloss Black 18-inch AEV Wheels
33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT 275/70R18 Tires
Body-color Grille Bar
Black Tailgate Trim
AEV Bison badging
AEV Badging on the Front Headrests and All-weather Floor Liners
Seating for 5
Heated and Ventilated Front Seats
Rear Seatback and Under Seat Storage
Leather-wrapped Heated Steering Wheel
12.3-inch Configurable Digital Instrument Cluster
13.4-inch Infotainment System with Google Built-in
Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
8 available cameras
Standard Chevy Safety Assist
Dual-zone Automatic Climate Control
Damped Multi-flex Tailgate
Proximity Key with Push Button Start
EPA Fuel Economy 14/17/15 (city/hwy/cmb)
Starting Price: $71,500
Price As Tested: $84,905
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