2022 Chevy Silverado and Silverado ZR2—First Look
Photography by Courtesy of the manufacturer
The full-size pickup truck market is more competitive now than it has ever been before. And with today’s heavy focus on 4WD capability, exciting new products seem to be on the way every year. Chevrolet certainly couldn’t sit on the sidelines and let the new F-150 and Ram 1500 steal all the 4X4 attention.
For 2022, Chevy has refreshed its Silverado light duty pickups with numerous improvements. And we’ll get to those upgrades in a minute. But let’s talk about the big news first—Chevy’s Silverado ZR2. The new ZR2 takes the pole position as Chevy’s most capable full-size 4X4. But does it have the right stuff to compete with the insanely good Ford Raptor and Ram TRX. Let’s find out more.
2022 Chevy Silverado ZR2 Hardware
Chevy says 60 percent of its Silverado 1500 sales are made up of off-road capable trucks. That means Z71 and Trail Boss models. So, why not develop an even more trail-worthy truck? Chevrolet has been testing the ZR2 with Chad Hall and racing the Best in the Desert series. The engineers learned quite a bit and according to Chevy, they applied this knowledge as well as experiences crawling on the challenging trails around Moab, Utah to fine-tune the ZR2 package.
The basic architecture of the ZR2 chassis remains the same as any Silverado. And Chevy says it offers 2-inches of suspension lift, just like the Trail Boss. The ZR2’s suspension however has unique springs, and the setup has been engineered for increased wheel travel. Chevy says they’ve upped the travel in the front by nearly 2 inches for a total of 9.84-inches. The rear travel increases by an inch, which brings total to 10.62-inches. These are descent numbers to be sure, but they aren’t even close to the wheel travel Ford offers in the Raptor (14 inches front and 15 inches rear) and Ram has in the TRX (13 inches front and 14 inches rear). Still, thanks to the ZR2’s new Multimatic DSSV dampers (similar to the ones on the ZR2 Colorado) it should be able to handle whoops much better than any other Silverado.
Because the lift is modest, so too is the tire size increase. The Trail Boss rides on 275/65R18 Goodyear Wrangler Dura Tracs that measure 32-inches tall. The new ZR2 rides on 275/70R18 Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires which measure 33-inches. Both use an 18X8.5-inch wheel. Those 33-inchers are small compared to the TRXs 35-inch rubber and certainly the Raptors newly optional 37-inch package. But it should make the ZR2 a little more maneuverable on the street and perhaps even more garage-friendly too.
To boost off-road traction, the ZR2 gains front and rear electronic locking differentials. And that’s very good news considering that neither the Ford Raptor nor the Ram TRX offer a fully-locking front differential. There’s a new “Terrain” off-road mode which allows for one-pedal driving in low range. That means you can ease on and off the throttle and never really need to touch the brakes. We’ve experienced a similar system on the new Ford Bronco and can say it works amazingly well when trying to crawl a tricky obstacle.
In terms of armor, the ZR2 has a unique steel front bumper that allows for a high 31.8-degree approach angle. The bumper end caps are easily replaceable too in case they get dinged on a rock. The grill of the ZR2 is unique and has a “flow-tie” emblem, an outlined Chevy Bowtie that has the middle removed to let air through. The skid plate package has been upgraded and looks fairly beefy
Under the hood, every ZR2 will use Chevy’s stout and proven 6.2-liter V8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. And it comes hitched to a 10-speed automatic.
The ZR2 package sounds good, but this clearly won’t be the Raptor or TRX-slaying beast some were hoping for. For that, the ZR2 would need a long-travel suspension, 35-inch tires and a more powerful engine. Still, when it comes to slow-speed four-wheeling, this Silverado ZR2 might just have an edge thanks to those lockers.
Are we bummed that the ZR2 isn’t a little more radical? Yes, we are. But here’s the thing, Chevy says the ZR2 is designed to have road manners that are closer to a conventional Silverado. And that means the ZR2 should be a solid daily driver. It likely won’t shy away from doing real work either. The ZR2 is rated to tow 8,900 pounds and handle a payload of 1,400 pounds. That’s a slightly higher tow capacity than the Raptor and better payload and towing than the TRX. Perhaps the ZR2 will be a go-to overland-style rig for those that need real off-road capability mixed with load carrying and daily driving comfort.
More information about the Silverado ZR2, including pricing and fuel economy is sure to trickle out as the truck gets closer to its spring 2022 on-sale date. And we can’t wait to take one for a spin.
2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 Upgrades
The rest of the Silverado 1500 line receives some notable changes over the 2021 trucks. First, every model has a new grill design. It’s not a huge departure from the look of the 2019-2021 models but it does clean up and simplify the nose. The Chevy “bowtie” is moved to the top of the grill and new daytime running lamps were added with a programmed animation as you walk up to or away from the vehicle.
On the inside, every LT and up trim level truck gets a more modern interior with a standard 13.4-inch infotainment touchscreen with Google built-in that includes the handy Google assistant. Analog gauges are history, replaced by a 12.3-inch digital (and reconfigurable) gauge cluster. WT and Custom trim level trucks soldier on with the current interior.
Models with bucket seats gain an electronically controlled console shifter along with a redesigned console itself with improved storage. The top High Country trim uses upscale “open pore” wood along with real stainless steel covering the speakers.
In terms of tech, the High Country trim offers the option of GM’s Super Cruise driver assistance tech which allows for hands-free driving in some conditions. And Chevy has engineered the tech to work when towing too. Are you ready for hands-free towing? The company does say that if the trailer begins to sway, the system will require the driver to take command of the wheel again. Speaking of safety, Chevy Safety Assist, a suite of six safety features, comes standard on every Silverado and includes forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning and more.
The Silverado 1500’s V8 lineup of engines continues without any changes. However, the 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder has been beefed up and enhanced to deliver 310 hp and an impressive 420 lb-ft of torque. Chevy stiffened the block and upgraded the crankshaft for added durability while also re-programming the 8-speed automatic to be more responsive.
Trucks equipped with the 3.0-liter diesel are now rated to tow up to 13,300 lbs with special max tow and 20-inch wheel packages that have 3.73:1 gearing and higher capacity rear springs. The highest rating for a 4X4 is 13,000 lbs.
The 2022 Silverado appears to be a solid move forward for Chevrolet. The aggressive ZR2 is very appealing, and the new interior design and tech-forward options should certainly keep Chevy fans loyal to the home team.