If you like off-roading in desert regions, then the two trucks you’re probably considering are the Toyota Tacoma Pro TRD and the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison. Both have great features which make them amazing trucks in their own right, but if you can only afford one, you have to choose between the two.
After testing both trucks in the Mojave Desert, Motor Trend recommends the Bison for serious off-roaders and here’s why.
Tacoma TRD Pro
Motor Trend tested the Tacoma TRD Pro, the Jeep Gladiator Rubicon, and the Chevy Colorado ZR2 Bison. As the Gladiator isn’t really designed for off-roading in desert regions, we won’t be comparing it to the other two in this article.
Before we discuss what Motor Trend thought, let’s take a look at what other critics have to say.
According to Car and Driver, one of the greatest features for the Taco probably revolves around the fact that 4WD is standard. Many consumers who are new to buying trucks and SUVs may have been caught up in the trap of believing that 4WD is standard on everything. Unfortunately, it’s not, and far too often opting for 4WD raises the sticker price at least $1,000. If you already had your budget planned out, this may leave you stuck with a vehicle that doesn’t come equipped with what you had planned on.
Other standard features that you’ll fall in love with include a six-speed manual transmission, 16-inch TRD black-painted wheels, a JBL audio system, an electronic terrain management system, leather seats, and Rigid Industries fog lights.
The Taco also comes complete with Fox Shoxs which help give you a smooth ride over even the roughest of terrain.
There’s no extended bed options, so if you plan on hauling heavy loads after you get done playing in the desert, just make sure that they aren’t too long.
Another example of Toyota’s thoughtfulness in designing the Taco is the snorkel. If you plan on going over rivers, a snorkel helps alleviate some of the pressure on your engine. This is especially helpful when the closest sign of civilization is days away.
The Taco really impressed Motor Trend due to its ability to speed over rough terrain, the quiet smooth ride, and ability to take on tough terrains that would leave other vehicles stranded.
What Motor Trend didn’t like was the cramped cab. If you’re headed out for a ride that will last a couple of hours, this probably isn’t that big of a deal, but if you’re head out on a major camping trip with questionable weather, a small cab is definitely going to make you miserable.
Other factors that the Motor Trend crew wasn’t crazy about was the carlike engine and poor transmission tuning. Motor Trend believes that owners would have to shell out a lot of money in order for the Taco to be trail ready for longer journeys.
U.S. News reports that you can purchase the Taco for $42,810, which is right on trend with other trucks in its class.
Colorado ZR2 Bison
Chevy has a long history of designing and building trucks, and all of this experience played a huge role in the Bison.
According to Car and Driver, “The 2019 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison is GM’s most capable 4X4 ever.” Considering how many 4X4s Chevy has built over the years, many of which have converted drivers into loyal fans, that’s some truly high praise.
What impressed Car and Driver so much with the Bison was the fact that it is now the fourth vehicle which allowed them to reach the top of what they call ‘The Hill.’
Car and Driver describes the Hill, and it sounds truly brutal for most vehicles. “For most of its quarter-mile length, it holds a steady angle of 40 degrees or so, which is no big deal. But about 25 feet from the top, it gets nasty, kicking up sharply just as the surface changes from grippy hard-packed dirt to slippery rock. Deep ruts grab the left-side tires and throw a truck back and forth across the slick surface, arresting its momentum just 10 feet from a stupid-steep breakover that high-centers all but the tallest rigs.”
The other three vehicles to make it to the top of the Hill include the Ford F-150 Raptor, the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, and the Ram 2500 Power Wagon.
According to CNET, some of the features that make the Bison so perfect for off-roading include steel bumpers, Bison-specific 17-inch aluminum wheels wrapped with 31-inch Goodyear Wrangler tires, and 4WD.
If you’re interested in adding a snorkel, this is an optional feature.
Kelley Blue Book reports that an extended cab starts at $48,045.
What Motor Trend liked, and ultimately made them choose the Bison over the Taco, was the shocks that give it both a smooth ride as well as superior control while driving over dangerous terrain. The rock crawling capability also helped make a difficult decision easier.