I recently caught up with Scott Janson, Vehicle Performance Manager for Performance Variants, Parts & Motorsports, on the engineering behind the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2. During our discussion, we went in and out about the unique engineering that went into Chevy’s newest, biggest, baddest off-road truck. It was also disclosed why the ZR2 doesn’t feature hardware such as bigger tires or larger Multimatic DSSV dampers. And if it didn’t come down costs and complexity, it came down to undeniable performance data.
“We were worried about the perception of the dampers, because it’s similar in size to the Colorado ZR2. When you see some of our competitors and other damper companies they have really big off-road dampers on there. We worked some of that in but as we found out, it doesn’t need to be that big.”
It was the data from desert racing champion driver Chad Hall that determined Chevrolet didn’t need to integrate a bigger Multimatic DSSV damper into the suspension of the Silverado ZR2.
“We used a similar strategy (between Colorado ZR2 and Silverado ZR2). It’s got similar parts with the DSSV dampers, for us it’s one of the staples of the suspension. It was wildly successful on Colorado ZR2 so we wanted to continue with that. The biggest part with the race truck was getting the suspension dialed in. While that truck still different – different springs, damping tunes – we also tried different sizes of dampers,” explained Janson.
A Race Proven Conclusion
“We found out that Chad can race on the same dampers with a different tune, and therefore figured there’s no sense passing that expense onto the customer,” said Janson. “If we can make the ride as comfortable off road as on road with the same dampers, that’s what we’re doing.”
Ultimately, Chevy’s partnership with Chad Hall Racing yielded that all parties can save money, when it comes to the suspension.
“For me that was big, because without Chad I think we would have just went with a bigger and more expensive damper that we didn’t really need,” Janson continued.
Chevrolet and Chad Hall Racing have been officially working together since 2017, when the team debuted a special Colorado ZR2 built out for the Best In The Desert Racing Series. Its inaugural competition was the 550-mile Las Vegas to Reno desert race; the longest off-road race in the United States.
From there, it was an easy transition to integrate Chad Hall Racing into the development of the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2.
‘We already had Chad Hall on board… this time (with Silverado ZR2) what we did was we wanted to know a little more ahead of time,” said Janson. “So what we did was get Chad Hall a truck, upfitted it to be ZR2-like, and he’s been running it the past year and a half, so we learned a lot from him on the Silverado, before we developed (ZR2) and as we’ve been developing it.
Janson described the relationship between Chevrolet and Chad Hall to be a fruitful one.
“He’s really good to us, he doesn’t just go and beat up trucks. He knows we need feedback, so he’s excited to help us develop it. He’s had some things that have gone wrong that we fixed and put into our design. That’s been a big portion of it on the Silverado that we didn’t have on the Colorado.”
To conclude that the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 didn’t need a Multimatic DSSV damper size increase, the team monitored fluid temps within the dampers, which can lead to heat soak, or even equipment failure.
“Once we even decided to equip Chad’s (Silverado ZR2) with the same size damper (as Colorado ZR2) — and because he has different springs, he gets a different tune, but he drives it a little tougher than an amateur would — we made sure the damper fluid temps were good and they weren’t overheating, and that’s a big deal for the seals. Especially that top seal. If that rod gets too hot, it starts to spew fluid everywhere. That was the last thing we wanted, is to have that happen.”
To do something for the sake of doing it isn’t what Janson and team were looking for.
“We come up with ideas and we try to prove ourselves wrong. To go with something different, or bigger, this truck didn’t need it. The dampers we have with the suspension geometry works, so why change just to change? We had something that worked already, we were able to put a different tune on it, we made some adjustments to the spring rates, and away we were. We just dialed it in with ride and handling, and stuff like that.”
For those that still want to upgrade the suspension of the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2, look for a trickling of performance accessories that are bound to show face by the 2022 SEMA Show. Based on what we see offered on the Colorado ZR2, we should see a suspension lift kit, long travel shocks and dampers, long travel leaf springs, jounce shocks, and more.
2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2: Details
The design of the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 can be easily distinguished from the rest of the lineup thanks to a unique steel front bumper that’s been designed with removable end caps for easier replacement in the event of close encounters with rocks or other off-road objects. In the rear, the dual exhaust system has been placed before the rear bumper to eliminate potential damage.
The overall design of the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 helps the truck provide a class-leading 31.8-degree approach angle. These class-leading standard measurements continue with a 23.4-degree breakover angle, and a respectable 23.3-degree departure angle. By comparison, the F-150 Tremor has a 27.6-degree approach, 21.2-degree breakover, and a 24.3 degree departure angle. Even better, the Silverado ZR2 beats the standard Ford F-150 Raptor (35-inch tires) in approach and breakover angles (31-degree approach, 22.7-degree breakover, and 23.9-degree departure for the Raptor).
Silverado ZR2 ground clearance comes in just under a foot, at 11.2 inches. All of these measurements are accomplished with 33-inch tires.
Minor finishing touches on the Silverado ZR2 exterior are a black hood insert, a unique grille with integrated lighting and a “flow-tie” emblem, ZR2 badges, unique 18-inch wheels and a unique Jet Black/Graystone leather-trimmed interior.
The Silverado ZR2 is only available in crew cab configuration, with a short box. That might change later, but considering the take rates on crew cabs, we don’t expect it to.
2022 Silverado ZR2 Engine And Powertrain
As MC&T first reported, the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 will have just one engine choice out of the gate, the 6.2L L87 V8 engine producing 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. All of this pushrod goodness is sent to the wheels via GM’s 10-speed automatic transmission, which is now controlled via a console-mounted gear selector in lieu of a steering column shifter. Power is sent to either the rear wheels or all of them via an electronically controlled transfer case.
Following the same formula as the smaller Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, the Silverado ZR2 will also feature both front and rear locking differentials, which will help the truck excel in rock crawling. A low-speed one pedal drive mode is also a standard feature, which will help drivers during low speed events, which could be the difference between the truck overcoming an obstacle, or receiving a nasty battle scar from the trails.
Maximum payload for the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 is 1,440 pounds, and the conventional tow rating is 8,900 pounds.
Suspension And Chassis
T2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 will feature a set of Mutlimatic DSSV dampers and unique springs as the main suspension upgrade, measuring 40 mm in diameter. These dampers are fortified with three separate spool valves to control damping, and three connected chambers for fluid flow and thermal management. Chevrolet says that the maximum front and rear suspension travel is also increased compared to the Silverado Trail Boss. The underbody is also fortified with a unique skid plate package that protects the essential components of the truck, such as the oil pan and the fuel tank.
The Silverado ZR2 shares most chassis and drivetrain components with the Hall Racing truck, including the frame, transmission, 2-speed transfer case, and 6.2L L87 V8 engine.
The tire size of the Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT on the Silverado ZR2 are 33-inches. They are dwarfed by the Ford F-150 Raptor’s standard BFG KO2 35-inch tires, and even more so with the truck’s giant 37-inch tire package (a $7,500 option). And these big rubbers are great for low speed rock crawling, which is where the ZR2 would be most at home. Unlike the Hummer EV, the Silverado ZR2 does not have an integrated wheel-speed sensor calibration in the event that customers opt to upgrade their tire size.
The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 will be available in dealerships starting Q1 2022.