2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Pickup Muscles Into Raptor Territory
The domestic pickup wars are nothing if not predictable. One manufacturer debuts a new feature or increases a tow rating, and the others scramble to one-up it.
In that respect, it’s a bit of a headscratcher that Chevrolet took until now to field the new 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 ultra off-road pickup. Based on the new 2022 Silverado 1500 crew cab short bed, the ZR2 features a well-curated list of hardware and tuning upgrades that transform it into a genuine off-roader. Exactly where it will land in the current off-road hierarchy dominated by the Ford Raptor and Ram TRX remains unclear.
The current ZR2 designation debuted on the midsize Chevrolet Colorado in 2017, signaling its intent as a hardcore factory off-road rig. Its performance supports that claim, and Chevy applied the same approach to turn its full-size Silverado 1500 into an equally capable beast.
Silverado ZR2 Powertrain
Chevrolet wastes little time moving it to the top of the class, dubbing the ZR2 the flagship of the Silverado off-road lineup. Fittingly, its sole powertrain is the big 6.2-liter V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque paired with a 10-speed automatic. Chevrolet says the engine, transmission and frame are the same units it’s been using in a ZR2 prototype running in the Best in the Desert off-road racing series with racer Chad Hall.
ZR2 Tires and Suspension
Eighteen-inch wheels with 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler MT tires team with specifically tuned coil front and rear leaf springs and Multimatic Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers at all four corners. More than just off-road shocks, the advanced, position-sensitive dampers use three separate spool valves and three connected chambers for fluid flow, providing a wide range of damping and rebound action for on- and off-road situations. (The Multimatic DSSV dampers first appeared in the Chevrolet pickup oeuvre on the Colorado ZR2.)
Silverado ZR2 Towing and Payload
Though designed for all-terrain activity first and foremost, it wouldn’t be a truck story without max tow rating. The Silverado ZR2 is rated to tug an 8,900-pound trailer. That’s 700 more pounds than the 2021 Raptor and 800 more than the 2021 Ram TRX.
Critically, a 2021 Silverado crew cab short bed with the 6.2-liter V8 can tow between 11,900 and 13,300 pounds when properly equipped. That doesn’t mean pushing up against the max published towing figures in any half-ton pickup will be all rainbows and unicorns, but you probably won’t void the warranty if you do it.
The Silverado ZR2 earns a maximum payload rating of 1,440 pounds, just beating the TRX by 36 pounds and the Raptor by 240 pounds. All fall short of the regular Silverado’s 1,750 to 2,250 max payload rating. But the ZR2 is not for you if max towing and payload are at the top of your requirements.
2022 Silverado ZR2 Style, Features, Tech and Price
In addition to receiving many of the same exterior styling updates as the 2022 Silverado, the ZR2 gets a black hood insert, an exclusive grille with integrated lighting and “flow-tie” emblem, distinct 18-inch wheels and the requisite ZR2 badging. Interior features include a special Jet Black and Graystone leather-trimmed interior with complementing dark trim.
The ZR2 shares the redesigned interior of the new 2022 Silverado LT, RST, LT Trail Boss and LTZ trims. (Chevy left the base work truck with the same features as the 2021 model.) The new cabin features a wide horizontal instrument panel with a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a new, more functional center console. A 13.4-inch color touchscreen handles infotainment, and the latest Google built-in software offers access to its Assistant, Maps and Play platforms direct from the infotainment screen or via voice command. It also works with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
For those thinking Chevrolet didn’t play all its cards with the ZR2, Chevy says it didn’t necessarily set out with a target in mind but wants the ZR2 to “play in its own space” and make sure it delivered balanced performance, on and off the road. Think a tradesman using it all week on the job and hitting the dunes on the weekend.
We think the Silverado ZR2 fills a small gap in the market: more hardcore than the F-150 Tremor but not quite as gonzo as the Raptor or TRX. If the ZR2’s MSRP lands closer to the Tremor’s $51,200 MSRP (including destination) than the Raptor’s $65,840 base price, Chevrolet should have no problem selling every ZR2 they can build.
Production of the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2022. Official pricing will be available at a later date.