High-power desert-running trucks like the Ford Raptor R and Ram TRX grab all the headlines (and they sell pretty well to boot). But Chevy decided it’s going to buck that trend, and there will be no three-way truck horsepower war. Instead, Chevrolet has gone a completely different route with its new-for-2024 Silverado 2500HD ZR2 and ZR2 Bison models. The basic idea is this: Take the heavy-duty Silverado, shake up the looks a bit, and add a ton of off-road ready hardware to make a truck that can work hard during the week and support off-the-grid adventures on the weekends.
According to Chevrolet, off-road performance is the largest growing segment for trucks right now, and that’s exactly what the ZR2 is meant to be. It starts with the Silverado 2500HD Crew Cab and builds off that truck’s LT trim. The interiors are largely similar between the LT and the ZR2s, but the ZR2 models, get a completely different front grille and bumper design that, to our eyes, makes it a much more handsome truck than the regular Silverado 2500. When asked if the face-lift would come to all HD models, a Chevrolet representative told us these looks were for ZR2 models only and that a face-lift for the standard 2500 isn’t in the works.
What do you get on the HD ZR2 and ZR2 Bison?
The modifications start with the Multimatic shocks. The same company that developed the Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers — first seen on the 2014 Camaro Z/28 and used on the current light-duty version of the Silverado ZR2 — has adapted the same technology for the HD ZR2. The advantages of DSSV dampers is, essentially, greater tuning variability to control damping. The result is more precision and better control both on- and off-road, according to Chevy. The new dampers combine with a 1.5-inch lift to give a total ground clearance of 11.6 inches on the standard ZR2 and 11.7 inches on the Bison.
Both the standard ZR2 and the Bison ride on 18-inch wheels that are wrapped in 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires. They also get a larger steel underbody skid plate to protect the transfer case and an aluminum front skid plate. A electronically locking rear differential round out the modifications. When asked why the ZR2 doesn’t include a front locker, Chevrolet said that it didn’t want to add in the extra complexity and mass of a front locking differential and that it can replicate the function of a locking diff with the stability control.
The Silverado HD ZR2 Bison, like other Bison models, has been engineered in partnership with American Expedition Vehicles. The additions to the Bison model include unique wheels (which still measure 18 inches), a unique stamped steel front bumper with room for a winch, a unique steel rear bumper with exposed recovery points, and boron steel underbody skid plate for the front end of the truck, underneath the steering rack and transfer case.
Approach angles measure 32.5 degrees for the ZR2 and 29.8 degrees for the Bison. The departure angle is 25.7 degrees for both trucks, and the breakover angles are 21.2 degrees (ZR2) and 22.6 degrees (Bison). Notably, both ZR2 models have worse approach, breakover and departure angles than the similarly positioned (i.e., another heavy-duty off-roader) Ram 2500 Power Wagon, which has a 33.6-degree approach angle, a departure angle of 26.2 degrees, and a breakover angle of 23.5 degrees.
A choice of two engines will be offered in the HD ZR2 and the ZR2 Bison, a gas and a diesel. The gas version is powered by a 6.6-liter V8 that makes 401 horsepower and 464 lb-ft of torque, while the turbocharged 6.6-liter V8 diesel makes 470 horsepower and 975 lb-ft of torque. Both engines are mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission.