The long-awaited 2022 Chevy Silverado ZR2 is finally here. This is Chevrolet’s take on a traditional V8-powered off-road pickup truck. It’s a worthy bigger brother to the popular Colorado ZR2, and it is very good off-road. Still, one big question remains, is the new ZR2 enough to fight against the Ford Raptor and Ram TRX? I take it for an on-road and off-road drive to find out.
Chevy Silverado ZR2
Any premium off-road pickup truck must bring the following to the table in order to compete. It must have a healthy dose of power, excellent suspension, great tires, plenty of ground clearance, a premium interior, and lots of latest technology. Does the new ZR2 deliver? Let’s start with the power.
Under the hood is GM’s tried and true 6.2-liter gas V8 with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. It’s mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. It is an excellent power plant, but it’s not unique to the ZR2. You can find this engine under the hood of other Silverado 1500 models. This is good because you know this engine has been proven over and over again. It’s bad because it does not elevate the ZR2 to a higher level – above the rest of the GM pickup truck lineup. Enough complaining, just one start-up of this V8 engine is enough to forget about the power numbers. It breathes out through a Borla exhaust system, and the sound is amazing. I would put the sound of this truck on par with the mighty Ram TRX – minus the supercharger whine.
I did an impromptu 0-60 MPH test near Palm Springs, CA (about 300 feet above sea level). The truck returned a 6.5-second time with a glorious exhaust note. It’s good for a larger off-road pickup, but it’s slower than a TRX or a Ford Raptor (on 35s). I found that the best way to launch a ZR2 is in AWD mode with traction control disabled.
You listen to the performance Borla exhaust system in this Silverado ZR2 story (or watch the video below).
The Silverado ZR2 uses bespoke DSSV Multimatic spool-valve dampers. These cannot be found underneath any other Silverado. This suspension is race-proven and it is very good. I sampled it on the highways around Palm Springs, CA, and on nearly 70 miles of off-road desert trails. It’s compliant and comfortable on pavement and great in the dirt. At slower speeds, the suspension is controlled enough to minimize side to side “head toss”. Naturally, this makes any off-road excursion more enjoyable. However, high-speed driving is where this suspension really shines. It offers enough precision in order to reach highway speed while in the desert, and it has superior bottom-out protection.
I was driving at over 50 MPH on one of the desert trails with a wash-out fast approaching. I started to slow down and brace for impact. This 5,700-lbs truck just soaked up the impact and kept going. I thought I would bottom out the suspension and hit hard, but it was not the case. This is a testament to the quality of the suspension and its tuning.
This is not a semi-active or live/adjustable suspension system. There are no dials to turn to buttons to push in order to change the shock performance, but I didn’t feel like I needed to adjust the suspension. I would put the ZR2 suspension performance on par with the Ram TRX Bilstein and Ford F-150 Raptor FOX shocks. Although, the ZR2 does not have nearly as punch suspension travel as the flagship trucks from Ram and Ford. The Silverado ZR2 has around 9.8 inches of front suspension travel and 10.6 inches of rear travel. The TRX and Raptor offer at least 13 inches of travel.
The ZR2 is riding on 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires. These tires are quickly taking the off-road truck and SUV industry by storm. While each manufacturer tire is specifically developed for the weight and requirements of each vehicle, here is a short list of some other vehicles that are using the Territory AT or MT tires from the factory: GMC Hummer EV, Ram TRX, and Ford Bronco.
GM decided to go with 33-inch tire size. These tires feel good underneath the ZR2, but it’s nothing to brag about when you consider that the F-150 Raptor offers 37-inch, the Ram TRX rides on 35s, and the GMC Hummer EV can be optioned with 35s or 37s. ZR2 owners will also not be able to brag about their truck’s top speed. It’s limited to 98 MPH. The TRX and Raptor are both limited to 118 MPH.
While driving the ZR2 in the desert and over rocks, I scraped the side rock-sliders once. The truck had adequate clearance for the trails we were on during the first drive. If you want to brag to your friends, the ZR2 is the only full-size half-ton pickup truck with selectable rear and front locking differentials.
The ZR2 features a redesigned Silverado interior with premium materials and a ZR2-specific color scheme. It’s a big step up from the previous year’s interior design. The ZR2 seats have larger bolsters and good comfort. The dashboard is well laid out with a large digital gauge cluster and the center infotainment screen. The latest interface includes Google assistant and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The Silverado ZR2 is rated at a maximum payload of 1,440 lbs and a maximum towing capacity of 8,900 lbs. This is more towing capability than offered by the Ram TRX or the F-150 Raptor. (8,100 lbs and 8,200 lbs respectively).
When all said and done, the new Silverado ZR2 is a very good all-around off-road pickup truck. It does some tasks just as well as a TRX or a Raptor. It’s narrower than those trucks, so it’s a little easier to drive every day. The starting MSRP of $69,245 is nearly the same as a 2022 F-150 Raptor ($70,370). However, it’s not a true Raptor or TRX competitor. The TRX has way more power and acceleration. The TRX costs a lot more. The F-150 Raptor costs more and it offers superior clearance with its 37-inch tires.
I think the closest Silverado ZR2 competition includes a new 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, an optioned 2022 Ford F-150 Tremor, or a 2022 Ram 1500 Rebel GT. All four of these trucks cost around $70,000 and offer a similar capability.