Chevrolet has bolstered their 2022 Silverado truck lineup with an all new ZR2 package specially equipped to handle extreme off-roading. With Ford’s Raptor and Ram’s TRX firmly established in the OEM off-road ready full-size truck marketplace, how does Chevrolet’s ZR2 Silverado measure up?
The Chevrolet ZR2 nameplate has been reserved for General Motors special off-road and suspension packages on mid-size pickup trucks and SUVs. It debuted in 1994 and recently re-emerged on the 2017 Colorado ZR2. If you include the Z71, the specialized off-road packages account for 60% of all Chevrolet truck sales.
Knowing all of this and a lot more about the ZR2 off-road trim on the second generation S-10 and Blazer, your Off Road Xtreme Editor was very excited to have received an invite to check out a very bright Glacier Blue Metallic ZR2 Silverado in person. Just days before the official media reveal, I headed down to the Motoring Club in Marina Del Rey for an exclusive one on one session with the Chevrolet Communications team. They gave me plenty of insight and allowed me to up inside, all around, and underneath the new truck. It was a delight and we thank them for the opportunity to share this with our readers.
The ZR2 Racing Heritage
In order to dial in the ZR2 Silverado, Chevrolet reinforced their off-road racing partnership with Chad Hall. Beginning in 2017, Hall Racing first entered a production-based ZR2 Colorado in the Best In The Desert’s Stock 7300 class. This racing effort contributed valuable data and bolstered contributions to make the production trucks even better. Following that successful program, Chevrolet would bring a Silverado to competition starting in 2019.
“Chevrolet has been competing on some of the most grueling, toughest off-road courses with a prototype Silverado ZR2 in the Best in the Desert race series,” said Dom Lester, General Motors chief engineer, Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports Engineering. “We applied what we learned in racing and Moab testing to the new ZR2 to offer a supremely capable and confidence-inspiring package, but one that doesn’t beat you up on the highway with its ride quality. It’s equally capable and comfortable.”
Beyond professionally sanctioned off-road desert racing, the ZR2 Silverado underwent extensive field testing in the most extreme environments such as Moab, Utah. The development team alongside with manufacturer suppliers, such as Multimatic, were all highly involved with this process both in the field and in the lab. These contributions provided significant improvements to the vehicle’s off-road capabilities that are now featured on the new platform.
What are some of the ZR2 Silverado Off-Road Features?
First and foremost, the ZR2 Silverado sits on 33 inch Goodyear M/T Tires with 18 inch wheels. This is a larger tire size than any other in the entire Chevrolet truck lineup. The Trail Boss Silverado has an optional 32 inch tire. Speaking of the Trail Boss, the ZR2 Silverado is equipped with the same two inch factory installed lift. The increased tire size provides slightly more ground clearance at 11.2 inches.
To push those big heavy tires around, Chevrolet has powered the ZR2 Silverado with their legendary 6.2 liter V-8 engine, delivering 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet’s 6.2 powerplant is the most powerful naturally aspirated V-8 engine in the segment. This is standard and the only option which is mated with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The ZR2 Silverado Multimatic Dampers
For off-road suspension, the Silverado ZR2 carries the Multimatic 40mm DSSV spool-valve dampers, which were highly tested and directly transferred over from the off-road racing program. Significant features of the Multimatic shocks include three separate spool valves to control damping, and three connected chambers for fluid flow. Additionally the truck gains further off-road performance through the uniquely-tuned springs that carry the weight load. Together, with the Multimatic dampers and coils, the truck achieves maximum front and rear suspension travel.
Equipped With Front & Rear Lockers And A 2-Speed Transfer Case
It sounds like Chevrolet paid close attention to make this ZR2 Silverado a go-fast off-roader. And after viewing the live reveal, we noted that they did not stop there. The ZR2 development team implemented several highly advanced drive modes that will calibrate suspension and driveability according to the terrain. The off-road Terrain Mode engages the 2-speed transfer case which enables a one-pedal. The driver could lift off the throttle and the truck would come to a complete stop. This feature would be incredibly useful when rock crawling or driving up and down steep trails. Additionally the ZR2 is equipped with front and rear lockers which are manually engaged by driver controls.
So the ZR2 can get you out there and off-road it. What happens when the driver runs out of talent? The truck comes with a unique skid plate package that is specifically tailored for the ZR2 Silverado and designed to manage serious off-road obstacles. Bolstered and upgraded, the skid plates give a high approach angle while protecting all of the critical components and driveline. In front, is an all new high-approach steel bumper designed for off-road strength, durability and clearance that offers an improved 31.8-degree approach angle compared to other Silverado off-road models.
With the Silverado ZR2 situated for serious off-road capability, kind of interior refinements have been implemented? The entire 2022 Silverado, including the ZR2, received a full interior design refresh. Most prominent is the huge 13.4-inch diagonal color touchscreen which comes standard. Additionally, the new center console incorporates an electronic shift controller with bucket seats and a vibrant double stitch thread throughout. The ZR2 brings together a premium interior, immersive technology, and a number of standard safety equipment features.
Off Road Xtreme’s Conclusion On The ZR2 Silverado
After viewing the official media release, participating in a live Q&A, and getting up close and personal with the 2022 Chevrolet ZR2 Silverado, we have prepared our conclusions. This is one giant step forward towards the truck everyone wants. By Off Road Xtreme’s measure, the ZR2 does hold impressive off-road prowess. However we feel that it falls short where the Raptor and TRX own simply more dominant features. Raptor’s off-road suspension travel and track width overshadow its little F-150 brother. The ZR2 put on a slightly more high-performance sock and shoe package when compared to its Trail Boss brethren. TRX’s supercharged V-8 is unmatched across the board.
Production is slated for Q1 2022 and likely to hit the dealership lots in the spring. Pricing will be announced as it comes closer to going on sale.
With all of that said, we are happy to see Chevrolet pour significant resources to develop the ZR2 for both the Silverado and Colorado. We can hope the price point is reasonable and the market responds with positive sales. For now, we can expect the aftermarket industry to finish building the truck that those of us at Off Road Xtreme we were hoping for.