2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2: First Drive Review
Chevy’s standout Silverado offers the best in V8 power and terrain-conquering capability.
The newly added ZR2 is the Chevrolet Silverado’s crown jewel trim, offering the popular pickup’s best in raw power and capability on all terrain from hills and rocks to rivers and dunes.
Priced at $69,295, Silverado ZR2 brings plenty of value. It comes with the fourth (and most powerful) engine in the lineup: 6.2-liter V8 good for 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.
The same eight-pot is offered in standard Silverado 1500, which is a testament to how good this engine is. Power gets delivered to all four wheels via a 10-speed automatic transmission. For proper on- or off-roading capabilities, the automatic is aided by a 2-speed transfer case with 2-Hi, 4-Hi, 4-Lo and automatic 4WD.
It’s not just the power transfer that makes this pick-up truck a proper trail monster. Compared to the Silverado Trail Boss, the ZR2 rides at 0.3 inches higher. The uniquely shaped front end allows for a 31.8-degree approach angle. The 23.4-degree breakover angle and 23.3-degree departure angle allow the ZR2 to simply pass over plenty obstacles it may encounter.
Still not bumpy enough for your taste? There’s more. Probably the main off-road selling point of the Silverado ZR2 is the Multimatic spool-valve shocks. Unlike regular dampers, Multimatic shocks switch the internal shim for variable-rate spring valves.
Thanks to Multimatics, the ZR2 can quickly adjust bump and rebound rates. Furthermore, the shape of the oil opening was adjusted so that the dampers soften up instantly when switching from tarmac to dirt. Basically, you get a system comparable to electronically adjusted dampers – it’s just that you don’t have to bother switching drive modes.
Packed together with the potent V8 and 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler mud tires, ZR2’s suspension does wonders on and off the asphalt. The independent suspension provides a masterclass experience on the trails.
Unless you’re getting windshield-deep into a swamp, there’s hardly anything that the 2-speed transfer case and the front and rear locking differentials can’t conquer. Big boulders, sand dunes, scary inclines – Silverado ZR2 keeps traction through everything you throw at it at most speeds.
However, it shows its engineering limitations when it comes to really high-speed cruising through the desert. It will put a smile on your face when you step on the throttle, without throwing you around the cabin. Still, at 60 mph-plus, the ZR2 shows its limitations by feeling unsettled, especially in the rear. Mind you, most can’t stomach these speeds off-road.
Given the rough exterior and rock-eating features of the ZR2, the rather refined and tech-filled interior may come as a surprise. The 13.4-inch infotainment screen is bright and quick to respond to touches. The center console features a wireless charging pad. The steering wheel sits in front of a 12.3-inch customizable digital gauge cluster. Seats are extra bolstered for when the bouncing begins.
The 2022 Silverado ZR2 gets an EPA fuel economy rated at 14 mpg in the city and 17 mpg on the highway. Those figures are superior to other top-trimmed pickups in the segment, such as the RAM 1500 TRX’s combined 12 mpg. Regardless, this is not designed as an everyday hauler.
Overall, the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 checks all the boxes and puts the bowtie-badge on high ground.