A white 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison is shown from the front at amn angle while parked off-road.

Go on an American Expedition With the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison

One of the most exciting things to come out of Chevrolet in the past decade was the introduction of the Silverado 1500 ZR2 in 2022. This dedicated off-road version of Chevy’s popular half-ton truck took the pickup world by storm, establishing itself as one of the top trail runners available to enthusiasts right off the lot with little or no need for aftermarket modifications. With the success of the ZR2, it was expected that Chevy would rest on its success, satisfied with building the Silverado 1500 business for the coming year with little or no need for any changes. But if you thought Chevy was just going to wait around while its competitors prepared to make their Rebels more rebellious and their Tremors more shaking, then you’ve got another thing coming. Chevy has just introduced the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison, an advanced version of the ZR2 model made in collaboration with the folks at American Expedition Vehicles (AEV).

The goal of the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison is to build on the success of the prior year’s ZR2 model through its collaboration with AEV. As Chevy vice president Scott Bell makes clear, “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 in off-road dominance, this time on Silverado.”[a] So how does Chevy build on the ZR2 success with the ZR2 Bison?

A white 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison is shown from the rear while driving through the forest.

Things in Common With the ZR2

The 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison shares a number of common features with the ZR2 model. For one thing, they both run on a 6.2-liter V8 gas engine that comes paired with a very responsive ten-speed automatic transmission. This combination delivers a very impressive 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Less impressive is the fuel economy, which tops out at 16 miles per gallon in city driving and 20 miles per gallon on the highway. I guess off-road performance has its price.

Like the ZR2, the ZR2 Bison rides on a set of 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory Mud Terrain tires wrapped around 18-inch wheels. The ones on the ZR2 Bison are painted a trim exclusive jet black. The suspension features Multimatic 40-millimeter DSSV spool-valve dampers, just like on the Silverado 1500 ZR2. These feature three separate spool valves to control damping and three connected chambers for fluid flow. There are also specific off-road chassis and suspension calibrations on the ZR2 Bison. These include a special Terrain Mode that allows one-pedal rock crawling, so you can focus on steering while the system works your truck’s brakes.

The ZR2 and ZR2 Bison share a beneficial 11.2-inch ground clearance. This will help you to traverse most obstacles you encounter on the trail. The front and rear e-lockers will help protect against wheel slippage as well, a problem that most trucks encounter when off-roading. Just like the ZR2, the 2023 Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison has uniquely tuned springs that work with the Multimatic dampers to increase front and rear suspension travel, compared with that on the Silverado 1500 Trail Boss model.

For technology, both the 2023 Silverado 1500 ZR2 and ZR2 Bison feature the Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Plus system on a huge 13.4-inch diagonal color touchscreen display. This will let you and your passengers stay connected with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, as well as Bluetooth connectivity. There is also a 12.3-inch diagonal enhanced multicolor reconfigurable Driver Information Center that provides you with all the critical vehicle information when driving your Silverado 1500 truck. These are premium features that are only equipped on top trims of the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500, like the ZR2, High Country, and ZR2 Bison.

Unique Active Features

Chevy has given the 2023 Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison a number of unique features, some of which improve performance, while others bolster its special looks. As Chevy vice president Scott Bell likes to point out, “The 2023 Silverado ZR2 Bison unlocks the pinnacle of the nameplate’s off-road capability.”[a]

When it comes to performance, one thing that Chevy and AEV have done with the Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison is improve its angles over those of the ZR2. For example, where the ZR2 has a 31.8-degree front approach angle, this has been improved to 32.5 degrees on the ZR2 Bison. In addition, the 23.4 degrees of departure angle on the ZR2 Bison represents an improvement over the 23.3 degrees on the ZR2.

AEV has also helped Chevy provide better protection on the ZR2 Bison. The undercarriage features unique skid plates protecting the front and rear differentials, transfer case, and fuel tank. These are made of press-hardened boron steel that is three-and-a-half times stronger than the equivalent cold-stamped high-strength steel plates on the Silverado 1500 ZR2. When coupled with the 11.2 inches of ground clearance, this will give you the peace of mind that if you can’t traverse an obstacle, you will at least protect the vital parts of your Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison from damage.

Speaking of protection, the 2023 Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison sports front and rear stamped steel bumpers. These are made of three-millimeter thick steel, which is powder and e-coated. This will stand up to the rigors of any collision, whether on or off the road. There is also steel rocker panel protection. AEV CEO and founder Dave Harriton notes that “The Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Bison is the ultimate half-ton truck for backcountry adventures. The Silverado ZR2 Bison checks all the boxes––robust stamped steel bumpers, complete underbody protection, a factory-tuned off-road suspension, and locking differentials front and rear.”[a]

The 2023 Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison has a set of black vertical front tow hooks. These not only look cool but will also help get you out of a jam out on the trail. There are also heavy-duty recovery points on the front and rear bumpers, with integrated step pads. You can even add an available winch to the front bumper to give you even more capability in your ZR2 Bison.

The rear of the ZR2 Bison features Chevy’s esteemed Multi-Flex Tailgate. This has been given a unique black finish to match the other exterior appearance features of the ZR2 Bison. The Multi-Flex Tailgate gives you improved access to the payload. It even lets you configure it in a number of different ways, like a workbench that comes in handy for tailgating parties and as an on-the-road workspace.

The black and tan interior of a 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison is shown from the drivers seat facing backwards.

Unique Cosmetic Features

One part of designing a specialized truck is giving it looks that match its intended purpose. With the ZR2 Bison, Chevy and AEV have chosen finishes and detailing that match its intention to be the king of the off-road hill. The rugged looks of the ZR2 Bison show a truck that can get through the toughest trails.

There is a body-color grille bar that bolsters the aggressive looks of the ZR2 Bison. The wheels are a specialized AEV gloss black, as are the front tow hooks. There are AEV box side outer decals, so the world will know that you are driving a ZR2 Bison. On the inside, Chevy has placed a set of AEV-branded floor liners and head restraints. These carry the exterior looks of the ZR2 Bison into your truck while giving you and your passengers superior comfort.

The ZR2 Bison May Cause an Off-Road Stampede

Dave Harriton, the Founder and CEO of AEV, makes clear that “We are confident that off-road enthusiasts are going to love this truck.”[a] With all of these standard specialized features and gear, it is clear that the ZR2 Bison comes equipped and ready to take on some of the more challenging trails. In addition, it seems poised to give Chevrolet a serious challenger against the dedicated off-road full-size trucks from its biggest competitors Ford, Ram, and Toyota. Now Chevy will have to see if this triggers a stampede of customers eager to push the boundaries of the off-road trail.