Here’s a fun fact: “Factory-lifted” pickup trucks account for 60% of Silverados sold in the U.S., according to Chevrolet. Thirty percent of Silverados are the Trail Boss trim, either Custom or LT, and an additional 30% are equipped with the Z71 off-road package. That tells us that y’all like your Chevy trucks off-road-ready, and it’s told Chevrolet brass the same thing — and that’s why we now have this, the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2.
Chevy has had off-road pickups before, but never one quite this purpose-built and capable, featuring similar modifications that have made the smaller Colorado ZR2 such a popular and well-respected trail runner. Chevy is billing the new Silverado ZR2 as a good mixture of off-road readiness for the weekends and on-road refinement for the school-day commute — not quite the specialized Baja runner that the Ford F-150 Raptor is, nor the ridiculously overpowered hot rod that the Ram 1500 TRX is.
So what exactly is a new Silverado ZR2? Here’s what Chevy has done to make their ultimate off-road machine.
Meaner-Looking, More Capable Body
The most obvious change is to the styling, which gets the latest ‘22 Silverado front grille and headlights. But the ZR2 gets some special equipment: The bumper is much higher for a dramatic improvement in approach angle (31.8 degrees) and features removable end caps, exposing the tires for better off-road rock-crawling clearance. There’s a larger, integrated steel skid plate up front, but the new-design foglights are still pretty low in the bumper. Plastic fender flares adorn the wheel arches to protect the body from flying rocks and debris, and the wheels themselves are black 18-inch models with 33-inch mud-terrain tires. A unique black insert sits in the hood, with a new grille with integrated lighting and a special “flow tie” badge up high, as well as ZR2 badges. Chevy’s even rerouted the dual exhaust system to sit higher and forward of the rear bumper to protect it off-road and preserve the breakover and departure angles.
The Off-Road Goods
The Silverado ZR2 starts with the same type of shock absorbers that have proven to be magical on the Colorado ZR2: Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve dampers, featuring three separate spool valves to control damping and three connected chambers for fluid flow. The suspension features uniquely tuned springs that provide increased front and rear suspension travel versus lesser Trail Boss trims. The ZR2 has standard front and rear electronic locking differentials, controlled through buttons on the dash, and electronically selectable Terrain Modes, one of which allows for one-pedal driving — lift off the throttle while rock crawling, and the truck automatically brakes down to a full stop if need be.
Powering the ZR2 will be one engine only: the top 6.2-liter V-8 available in the Silverado, making 420 horsepower and 460 pounds-feet of torque. It will be mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission, good enough to give the ZR2 a towing capacity of 8,900 pounds and a max payload rating of 1,440 pounds.
New Cabin, Unique ZR2 Trim
Like the rest of the new 2022 Silverado lineup from the LT trim on up, the ZR2 gets a new interior that dramatically improves and modernizes the cabin. It’s a much more horizontal look, featuring a massive 13.4-inch touchscreen and a standard, highly customizable 12.3-inch digital display. The ZR2 gets unique trim however, featuring a black-and-gray, leather-trimmed interior with complementing dark trim instead of wood grain panels.
The new 2022 Silverado ZR2 should go on sale in the spring of 2022, which is a late start for a model year. No pricing is yet available, either, which will be announced closer to the truck’s on-sale date.