2024 Chevrolet ZR2 Silverado LD, HD, and Colorado Are Well Suited for Hammer Town

Jackson Wheeler
10 Min Read


  • Chevrolet offers three trucks with ZR2 setups: the Colorado, Silverado, and Silverado HD. We got to try them out in the dusty, boulder-strewn confines of the King of the Hammers trails in the Mojave Desert.
  • Offerings on the trucks include: skid plates, tougher front and rear bumpers, lifted ride heights, bigger MT tires, and Multimatic DSSV dampers.
  • Prices start at under $50,000 for the Colorado.

Jeep has the Rubicon, both the trail and the 4×4; Ford has the Raptor, which can go anywhere fast; Ram has the TRX, which can fly off jumps and not destroy itself upon landing; and Chevy? Well, now Chevy has Hammer Town.

King of the Hammers is a mondo-tough four-wheel-drive rock-crawling festival held way out in the middle of nowhere, California, a couple hours northeast of LA in the Johnson Valley area of the Mojave.

As far as rock crawling goes, there may be nothing tougher, certainly nothing that has boulder-strewn mechanical slugfests like the ones you’ll see in The King of the Hammers January 18 to February 3, 2024. Read our stories about KoH here and here, and maybe here, too. It’s impressive what those contraptions can get up and over out there in the Mojave.

the 2024 colorado zr2 bison rock crawling on an off road trailVIEW PHOTOS

A Colorado ZR2 Bison negotiates Chocolate Thunder.

Chevrolet

And it was impressive that Chevy thought highly enough of their new ZR2 family of 4×4 trucks to bring them all out to the KoH torture site and let us have at them.

Specifically, Chevy chose the KoH rock playground to introduce to us the following:

  • The Colorado ZR2, $48,295, which Chevy says “…builds upon greater performance and midsize packaging of the standard truck. It includes as new features for 2024 the Colorado ZR2 Bison, with 35-inch tires and new jounce control dampers.” Specifically, that’s Multimatic DSSV dampers, off-road rocker panels under the side sills, unique front fascia, rear bumpers, fender flares, a three-inch lift, 33-inch MT tires, and even a “Flow Tie” emblem on the grille. That’s on top of the truck’s 310-hp/430-lb-ft 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed automatic.
  • The Silverado 1500 Light Duty ZR2, “…an off-road capable, multi-purpose half-ton pickup Silverado LD customers expect.” It includes your choice of either a new-for-2024 305-hp, 495-lb-ft 3.0L Duramax turbodiesel inline six-cylinder engine or a 420-hp, 460-lb-ft 6.2-liter V8 with variable valve timing and direct injection. It also gets DSSV dampers, skid plates and Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires. There is also an LD ZR2 Bison – same added features of Bison on Colorado minus the jounce control dampers. Prices: $71,895 for the diesel, $73,590 for the gas engine.
  • And the mighty and powerful Silverado 2500 Heavy Duty ZR2, which is all-new for 2024. Chevy calls it, “…a capable hauler for towing and payload necessities that are crucial for HD customers with off-road credentials worthy of the ZR2 badge.” You can get a 401-hp 464-lb-ft 6.6-liter gasoline V8, or the king of all Chevy torque, the 470-hp, 975-lb-ft (yes, 975!) Duramax 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8. I drove the HD ZR2 Bison off-road in Johnson Valley. Prices: $72,595 for the gas engine, $82,085 for the diesel.
front three quarter view of the 2024 silverado zr2VIEW PHOTOS

The Light Duty version of the 2024 Silverado ZR2.

Chevrolet

The ZR2 is the most off-road capable family of pickups Chevy has ever offered. And it wanted to show the world, or at least the automotive press, how good they were. So there we were in Hammertown contemplating a run up Chocolate Thunder, one of the truck-tossing trails that make up the 12 or so brutally steep boulder storage areas up which the world’s best rock crawlers would bounce come February.

How tough is Chocolate Thunder?

“Body damage is likely!” said trailsoffroad.com.

“Recommend two lockers, recommend a winch,” said “Trail Reviews with Mel Wade.”

“WTF?” said me.

The trail was first “broke,” according to the group Extreme Wheelers 4 Christ writing on Pirate4x4.com, by John James and Mike Hendrix in 2005. It got its name (skip this part, perhaps) “…after Mike’s intestinal issue at the time.”

And yet there we all were ready to drive up it like we were off to buy groceries at Trader Joe’s. Not only did I do it, but I did it twice, first in a Silverado HD ZR2 with additional parts from AEV’s Bison trim level, then in a Colorado ZR2 Bison, also with AEV parts added.

If you get the AEV Bison trim level, it’s all covered under warranty.

The trick was to use the forward-facing camera when the trail got so steep you couldn’t see anything but sky ahead, and to follow the directions of your spotter when there were so many washing machine-sized boulders to crawl over that you couldn’t possibly pick out the right line between them all from the driver’s seat.

Both rigs had easy-to-operate 4×4 swtichgear, allowing me to simply click into whatever mode I wanted, as well as locking the diffs front and/or rear. That and the spotters, along with some very judicious application of throttle as necessary, got me through both runs.

There were a few areas for engineering improvement. If you get the lifted Silverado, and you plan to go extreme rock crawling like this, either don’t order the flip-out steps that were on our rigs, or remove them entirely before wheelin’.

Why? Because we (someone else, not me, actually six trucks in all) broke those suckers clean off when the rigs slid over big boulders on their rails. This looked expensive, but since it wasn’t my fault, I didn’t worry too much about it.

Also, you could debate whether to get the AEV Bison trim level. You do get:

  • AEV Bison unique front and rear differentials, transfer case and fuel tank skid plates
  • AEV Bison front and rear bumpers
  • Black vertical front tow hooks
  • Body color grille bar
  • Gloss black 18-inch AEV unique wheels
  • Multi-Flex tailgate with unique black finish
  • Rocker protection
  • AEV branded floor liners and headrests
  • AEV box side outer decal

If you get it as an AEV Bison trim level, it’s all covered under warranty and you can finance it altogether when you buy your truck.

But you might want to save some dough and buy a few of the pieces separately, or not at all. These are the things Four-Wheelers wrestle with at night.

Otherwise, you will get a solid work truck, one that can tow up to 36,000 pounds if you get the diesel-powered Silverado HD, or one that will fit in your driveway and still tow 7700 pounds if you get the Colorado ZR2, both while being capable of taking on the King of the Hammers.

Sounds like four-by fun no matter what you decide.

How off-road capable does a pickup truck need to be before you seriously consider a purchase? What are you looking for? Please comment below.

Headshot of Mark Vaughn

Mark Vaughn grew up in a Ford family and spent many hours holding a trouble light over a straight-six miraculously fed by a single-barrel carburetor while his father cursed Ford, all its products and everyone who ever worked there. This was his introduction to objective automotive criticism. He started writing for City News Service in Los Angeles, then moved to Europe and became editor of a car magazine called, creatively, Auto. He decided Auto should cover Formula 1, sports prototypes and touring cars—no one stopped him! From there he interviewed with Autoweek at the 1989 Frankfurt motor show and has been with us ever since.

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at Speedofdaily.com, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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