Truck fans have bashed Chevrolet since 2010 for not building a Ford Raptor rival, and that gets old. With the 702-horsepower Ram TRX now in play and Ford readying its V8 Raptor R, who's to say if there's even room for a third performance truck with ungodly power levels. Instead, I think it's fair to say that GM has played it right by dropping the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 now with front and rear e-lockers, those fantastic Multimatic DSSV dampers, and a still-respectable 6.2-liter V8 with plenty of oomph to have a blast off-road.
Also, it just looks tough. Design is always a divisive subject but there's no mistaking the ZR2 for a lowly work truck with its Camaro ZL1-like grille, 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires, and widened fenders. In some ways, it's a more traditional pickup for the V8 crowd that'd rather not deal with the complexities of forced induction, or drive something with a V6.
The powertrain is a familiar one with Chevy's 6.2-liter V8 making 420 hp and 460 pound-feet of torque. Those figures are the same as they are in any other application, and the 10-speed automatic transmission remains largely unchanged, too, save for a bit of strengthening here and there. While not quite as potent as the regular Raptor's EcoBoost engine, which makes 450 hp and 510 pound-feet, the ZR2's setup is appropriately punchy for trail wheeling.
What's more, when asked during the truck's reveal if the 3.0-liter Duramax diesel would ever be an option on the Silverado ZR2, Chevy essentially said it's not counting anything out. Take that as you will.
Truthfully, the powertrain is secondary in making the ZR2 an off-road performer. Chevy developed it by running Best in the Desert races for roughly two years ahead of launch, and a lot of the parts you see here were first tested on the race truck. The same modifications have been made to the production model's frame, and the two-speed transfer case is rally-proven as well. As for those Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers, their reputation precedes themselves.
The long and short of it is Multimatic's been working with dampers like these for years, dating back to its collaboration with the Newman-Haas Indy car team in 2002. Since then, they've become standard-issue on race cars of all sorts, and they were first adapted for off-road truck use on the Chevy Colorado ZR2. Now, these components that allow for Position Sensitive Damping (PSD) have found their way onto the Silverado, properly beefed up for duty on a full-size pickup.
There could be an entire lecture dedicated to Multimatic and its unparalleled suspension smarts. Just know that these triple-spool-valve units combine with a remote nitrogen-charged reservoir to provide improved suspension travel and cooling capacity versus the Silverado Trail Boss and what have you.
With all this in mind, the Silverado ZR2 also features better off-roading angles with a triple-slash of 31.8 degrees for approach, 23.4 degrees for breakover, and 23.3 degrees for departure. Ground clearance is rated at 11.2 inches, which is lower than the normal Ford Raptor's listed figure of 12 inches flat. Remember that the Raptor rides on 35-inch tires and even has 37-inch BF Goodrich rubber as an option; in turn, the discrepancy here can be attributed to the Silverado ZR2's smaller Goodyears.
With Terrain Mode engaged, the Chevy can complete off-road obstacle courses by way of one-pedal driving. This slows the truck when off the throttle, allowing the driver to worry more about the line they take than brake applications. The steel front bumper helps when the going gets hairy, as do the underbody skid plates that protect vital components like the transfer case.
Handily, these features don't keep the Silverado ZR2 from being able to work like a normal truck. Max payload capacity comes in at 1,440 pounds, and it can tow 8,900 pounds—both higher than Ram or Ford. I doubt many people will be hauling equipment with one of these, but it could pull one heck of a boat.
Chevy says 2022 Silverado ZR2s should start popping up on dealer lots in spring of next year, though pricing is yet to be announced. Don't be surprised if it comes in around $60,000 or more, putting it close to the non-R Ford Raptor. Y'know, the one you can actually buy right now.
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