2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 First Drive

chevrolet silverado-1500 Full Overview

In the world of performance off-road trucks, the half-ton market has separated itself into two general categories, what we refer to as the standard-track-width trucks (Ford F-150 Tremor, Ram Rebel, and Toyota Tundra TRD Pro) and the wide-track-width trucks (Ford Raptor and the Ram TRX). To the mix of standard-track-width trucks, you can now add the Chevrolet Silverado ZR2.

For 2022, Chevy has come into the standard track-width market with an incredibly strong product in the ZR2, a new off-road version of the Silverado that sits atop Trail Boss in the lineup. At the core of this off-road package are a 6.2-liter V-8 pumping out a strong 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque through a 10-speed automatic transmission and an upsized version of the Colorado ZR2’s exceptional Multimatic DSSV spool-valve shocks. To the package, Chevy adds front and rear electronic locking differentials, 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler tires, enhanced chassis calibrations, including Terrain Mode, as well as a unique skidplate package, high-approach steel front bumper, and a high-tuck performance exhaust.

The Multimatic 40mm DSSV spool-valve dampers are a three-chamber design and feature three separate spool valves per shock. These shocks are paired with tuned springs (coilovers in the front and leaves in the rear) for exceptional performance and ride, while delivering 9.84-in of front and 10.62-in of rear wheel travel. Spool-valve shocks are significantly different from the standard shim-style shocks that are standard across the rest of the industry and have been proven in road racing and off-road racing for years. For a comprehensive breakdown of how the Multimatic DSSV shocks work, check out this previous article on the breakdown of the Chevy Colorado DSSV setup.

The Silverado ZR2 has an impressive 31.8-degree approach angle, thanks to its steel front bumper. This bumper was designed for increased durability and clearance, and with removable end caps, the customer can get even more clearance, or easily replace a damaged wing without replacement of the entire bumper. This also makes it extremely easy for the aftermarket to fit their own solutions to the truck. Departure angle is 23.3 degrees, and the breakover angle is 23.4 degrees. Ground clearance comes in at 11.2 inches, while payload and towing check in at 1,400 pounds and 8,900 pounds.

Upgrades don’t just stop with the functional hard parts, but extend into the ZR2’s styling, allowing it to stand apart from lesser Silverados. The ZR2 package includes a more aggressive hood thanks to a black hood insert, a ZR2-specific grille with integrated lighting, and the cool red-accented “flow-tie” emblem (or Chev-flow-let, if you will). ZR2 badging, 18-inch wheels, and red tow hooks round out the package.

Inside, the ZR2 cabin benefits from the premium interior that is part of the 2022 Silverado midcycle refresh. This means the ZR2 receives the same tech-forward dash of other high-trim Silverados, which includes a massive 13.4-inch high-definition touchscreen and a new 12.3-inch configurable instrument cluster. An exclusive Jet Black and Greystone leather interior gives an all-business vibe to the ZR2 interior.

If you’ve ever experienced the Colorado ZR2, the feel of the Silverado ZR2 will be very familiar. On the highway, the ride is fantastically taut, without being harsh. It’s a fine line that the Silverado does a good job of balancing on. The steering is nicely weighted, and the brakes are strong, easy to modulate, and offer one of the better pedal feels in the class.

In the dirt, the Silverado ZR2 acquits itself well in both trail riding through technical sections and at speed with that big V-8 power, accurate steering, and strong brakes. It’s compliant enough for crawling, and with front and rear lockers, a suite of cameras, and a 40.7:1 crawl ratio (although it could be deeper) it can hold its own in technical and rocky terrain. Our test rigs were equipped with Chevy’s accessory rock rails, which should be included on any ZR2 that will see rough terrain.

Two drive modes are offered, “Terrain” and “Off-Road,” to help optimize the ZR2 for the off-road situation. With a one-pedal drive feature, “Terrain” mode is perfect for more technical sections, while the “Off-Road” mode is better for higher velocities. Like the Colorado ZR2, a long press of the ESC button calls off the electronic babysitters and lets the Silverado party with easily controlled powerslides and big roosts of sand, all at the discretion of the driver’s right foot.

At speed, the position-sensitive DSSV shocks come into their own, and like their Colorado counterparts, dissipate enormous amounts of energy toward the end of the travel. The shocks have a feel to them that is very unique. One might mistake the Silverado for having hydraulic bump stops, which it does not. Drivers would be hard-pressed to smash the jounces at anything other than ridiculous speeds off-road.

Thanks to the DSSV technology, the Silverado almost always feels composed (there are times at the limit of the envelope that you can incite some suspension harshness) and unlike some of the competition the suspension feels balanced front to rear, with enough rear rebound valving to control the rear axle and prevent bucking. Secondary motions are also nicely mitigated, meaning that Silverado is a driver’s vehicle that is always ready for the next corner, not trying to settle after the last one.

Overall, the Silverado ZR2 is a truck we could easily imagine ourselves enjoying as a daily driver, outfitting for overlanding trips, or chasing a local desert race in. It’s a jack-of-all-trades that is  competent and enjoyable in just about any situation. The performance exhaust reminds us of everything that is right with a V-8 pickup truck, and we can’t help but think that this might be one of the last opportunities to own a truck like this. With a starting price of $67,600, plus a $1,695 destination fee, it’s worth a look to get yourself one of the last of a breed.

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2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Specifications

BASE PRICE $69,295
LAYOUT Front-Engine, 4WD, 5-pass, 4-door truck
ENGINE 6.2L/420-hp/460-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8
TRANSMISSION Hydra-matic 10-speed auto
WHEELBASE 147.5 in
L x W x H 232.8 x 81.2 x 78.7 in
EPA FUEL ECON 14/17/15 mpg (est)
EPA RANGE, COMB 360 miles
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