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CHEVROLET SILVERADO ZR2 COULD BE THE FIRST GOOD HALF-TON OVERLANDING TRUCK

But For The Price, You Could Have A Raptor

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 First Drive Off Road Palm Springs
Image copyright Manoli Katakis, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

If there’s ever a reason why somebody would choose an off-road performance truck or SUV over a street/track performance car, and use them fully for their intended function it’s this: track days can be a bloody hassle. They’re expensive, you have to sign waivers, you usually need safety equipment, they can be crowded, and you have to worry about what everybody else is doing on the track with you. And when things go wrong, they can go horribly, violently wrong. That’s not necessarily the case with exploring your local western American outback. There’s a whole lot of absolutely nothing out there in the desert. And it calls for exploration at varying levels of pace and preparedness. To do so, several automakers provide competent solutions of varying shapes and sizes that adventure-seeking individuals can choose from. And that space continues to grow, while the street/track performance car market is decidedly shrinking. Most recently, the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 finds itself among that list of well-qualified off-road truck candidates.

In short, the first-ever Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 takes the winning formula that we introduced with the small Colorado ZR2, and turns it into a premium deluxe package that looks to tackle the trails in much of the same way. The key attributes are 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory MT tires, a two-inch lift, improved approach/breakover/departure angles, a steel bumper with an enlarged front skid plate, followed by more underbody skid plates protecting some of the mechanical vitals, rock sliders, a superbly decked-out interior that makes for hours of comfortable off-roading, a tucked away exhaust system, and of course, the signature Multimatic DSSV shocks. Now, this formula has absolutely worked for the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, where the competition is thinner, customer budgets tighter, and priorities different. The Silverado ZR2 enters a far more bloody arena, where a duo of dinosaurs delightfully devour disputants deemed damnable. We’re talking about the F-150 Raptor and Ram 1500 TRX, of course. Well, not necessarily them, but the people that hold them as the overall standards. Both trucks represent the bulk of what performance customers are looking for on the top-end of the half-ton pickup segment.

The folks on the Silverado ZR2 team are aware that some of the comparable equipment offered on the Raptor isn’t available on the Chevy. Hardware such as 35-inch-plus tires, long travel shocks, and higher output engines, to name a few. But where it’s missing in those departments it makes up for in class-leading towing and payload, which is largely because that brodozer hardware isn’t present, ironically. So for those hauling/towing their toys to the trailhead, or for those looking to build a more competent overlanding rig, the ZR2 might be your best bet relative to an F-150 Raptor or Ram TRX. The standard interior in the ZR2 is also decked out from the get-go, where Ford and Ram customers could find themselves paying thousands more for comparable interior content at the end of the day.

Silverado ZR2 Sounds Like A Squadron Of Bald Eagles

More importantly, the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 delivers on something that will make current-generation F-150 Raptor owners green with envy: a big ole’ V8 engine with 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Yes, this L87 V8 is less powerful than the Raptor’s EcoBoost V6, but a simple cold start in the ZR2 is all one needs to make their point, as evident in our video below. If you look closely, you may see a bald eagle or two fly out of the tucked-in tail pipes.

Image via Chevrolet.

This raucousness is brought to you by a dealer-installed Borla exhaust kit, which can be ordered with the Silverado ZR2. Any louder and this thing could probably start an avalanche out there on our dusty trail route, which combined low-speed mountain paths, and high-speed dirt roads leading to and from an abandoned gold mine. Yes, the ZR2 can do high-speed stuff, too. In fact, the chassis of the truck was even validated in motorsports through Chad Hall Racing, and took home a Best In The Desert racing series title last year in its class with a mostly-stock truck. To that end, Ford doesn’t appear to be racing a stock F-150 Raptor in the Mint 400. Nor is Ram fielding a factory TRX in Vegas to Reno. It could be argued that more power, bigger tires, and Baja-style shocks make a very loud point. But winning races with factory hardware makes for an even louder one. Alas, it may fall on deaf ears.

An Uphill Marketing Battle Requiring Locking Differentials

The biggest headwind facing the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 isn’t that it takes a step into a segment of one, but rather that it will be measured against and compared to the Ford F-150 Raptor by a majority of truck enthusiasts, whether Chevrolet likes it or not. The internet is already full of memes that demean the ZR2 and Trail Boss trucks, and those memes gain steam with each sudden price hike of the 2022 Silverado. As it stands, the Raptor and ZR2 are now within a couple hundred bucks of each other in starting MSRP. For nearly $70,000 as it stands, that price is not exactly something to shrug about.

With creature comforts galore, and superior towing/hauling metrics (8,900 pounds/1,440 pounds, respectively, and a 7,100 pound Gross Vehicle Weight Rating), the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 may catch the eye of the deep-pocketed and ever-expanding overlanding community, and could test the waters on whether or not there’s a market for half-ton expedition vehicles. We’ve been told once or twice that the bulk of this segment seems to prefer something like a Raptor, but there also hasn’t been a factory offering quite like the Silverado ZR2. And with GM looking to further expand its collaboration with overlanding experts AEV into this space, and considering the sheer breadth of the half-ton truck market, we may see the Silverado ZR2 find traction in ways that the Raptor and TRX can’t.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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    1. It is a fair comparison. It is GM’s halo off road oriented ice pickup with a huge price tag. Why wouldn’t it be fair to compare it to the Raptor and TRX, which are also halo vehicles?

      • They take the formula that creates something slightly different from the standard bearers. The interior being more loaded and having slightly better payload/towing than the Raptor. Being a bit more rounded than the Ford entry of a similar price, Chevrolet would like to box it in as a white space truck, but that’s hard for me to accept. It’s a bit of a gamble, really. I’d be less concerned if it was a $60k truck instead of a $70k truck.

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