Off Road

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Takes On Raptor, TRX

  • New 2022 Silverado ZR2 is the king of the Chevy truck line, just as the Raptor rules Ford trucks and the TRX rules the Rams.
  • Drivetrain is the same, but suspension, wheels, and tires are beefed up.
  • Price undercuts competitors, at $69,295.

    So there we were, my buddy Ricardo and I, senior gentlemen of the motoring press, going off-route and unsupported, banging and crashing across hundreds of miles of burning, windswept desert pockmarked with sharp, sidewall-puncturing rocks aimed at our tires like little daggers planted there by Mother Nature, not entirely sure if the “road” we were on went through or washed out. Would we make it?

    Of course we would make it. We were in the new 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2, with locking front and rear differentials, almost a foot of ground clearance, more skidplates than an aluminum armadillo and, most importantly in this case, Goodyear Wrangler Territory M/T tires with Durawall Technology and knobbies on the sidewalls. Nothing could stop us.

    And indeed, nothing did. Not only did we complete our circumnavigation of Pinkham Canyon in Joshua Tree National Park, but we’d earlier scaled Berdoo Canyon and several gnarled miles of the Old Dale Mining District on the Park’s east end and, after that, the hardest of all: Interstate 10.

    See, the new Silverado ZR2 is made to not only conquer tough terrain, but to be survivable as a daily commuter in the roughest conditions suburbia offers.

    “We’ve positioned it in a place where we thought there was a hole (in the market), which was the premium end of the market, for somebody who really wants the capability to go fully off-road but not lose any of the on-road capability,” said chief engineer Niki Meyers.

    The ZR2 is at the top of the Silverado lineup.


    The obvious competitors are the big gorillas in the room: the Ram TRX and the Ford Raptor. How does the ZR2 fare against those? It fares well. If you look at the spec sheets, you can find advantages to each of those mighty desert stompers. In general I’d say the Raptor does best blasting over long-distance desert dirt, the TRX can launch itself off jumps and land the best of the bunch, and the ZR2, while highly capable off-road, can also fit in your garage easier and drive to the grocery store without damaging most of the rest of the cars in the parking lot.

    On our full-day’s desert drive of the new 2022 Chevy Silverado ZR2, we got to try out all of its best features. Among the most impressive highlights were:

    • The electronic locking differentials front and rear. Push a button and these stop any hint of slip at all four wheels and push and pull you up and over any uneven obstacle with ease.
    • The approach and departure angles of 31.8 degrees front, 23.3 degrees rear with a breakover angle of 23.4 degrees, combined with ground clearance of 11.2 inches and wheel travel of 9.84 inches front and 10.62 inches rear (about two inches more than the Trail Boss Silverado) and you can feel very confident heading out into the wilderness.
    • Goodyear Wrangler 33-inch tires with M/T or Mud Terrain treads and what Goodyear calls Durawall Technology to resist side punctures, the most common form of flat tires out in the desert.

      In addition to those features, the Silverado ZR2 gets: a new bumper grille fascia, including a cool take on the “flowtie” logo that allows cooling air into the engine bay; a new steel bumper helps achieve that nearly 32-degree approach angle, too; 33-inch tires that may be smaller than, say, the Raptor’s 35s and optional 37s, but which help with a slight increase in ride height and ground clearance; ZR2-specific aluminum skid plates under the front and under the two-speed transfer case as well as covering an area crossmember-to-crossmember behind that; ZR2-specific spring rates and customized Multimatic DSSD dampers of the kind we loved on the Colorado ZR2 that “give you both on-road comfort and the off-road control,” Chevy said.

      Then, under the kinda-awkward bulging hood (which can reflect sunlight direct into your eyeballs at certain times of day) is the standard GM 6.2-liter V8, making 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. While that’s certainly more than adequate for the task, the engine was not beefed up at all for the ZR2. Both Raptor (450 hp) and TRX (702!) make more. It’s attached to the standard ten-speed automatic transmission and a “true two-speed transfer case.” You can switch transfer case speeds via a button on the dash. Another button engages 4WD.

      A new feature is what Chevy calls terrain mode, which holds the brakes when you lift off the gas when you’re crawling up or down steep hills. It’s not a hill descent control of the type you see from other manufacturers, that feature is available via a separate button on the dash. Terrain mode is another feature unto itself.

      ZR2 out in the wilds of Joshua Tree.

      Mark Vaughn

      Inside, the ZR2 gets the same all-new interior as all the other Silverado trucks, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country. The sweeping horizontal instrument panel now includes a new 13.4-inch color touchscreen and new 12.3-inch configurable digital instrument cluster. Among the cool off-road-helping items on the new screen is a series of camera views for when you’re cresting a rise. Like the other Silverados, the ZR2 gets Google Assistant, Google Maps and Google Play that works with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The new seats are mighty comfy and kept us complacent and in place during almost 200 miles of off-roading on our day’s drive.

      Indeed, Chevy tried out the new ZR2 in real desert racing, including most of a BITD season as well as completing the Mint 400, just to see how it would do.

      “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 in 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.”

      We would have to agree. As to whether you should pick this or a Raptor/TRX, well, try them all. You might find this one meets all your needs both during the week and on weekends with the fewest drawbacks.

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