2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Review and Test Drive

Halfway through 2022, a substantially better Silverado arrived.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

Review QuickTakes:

Chevrolet is fighting a battle that has significant implications not only for its image but also for its bottom line. Long the second-best-selling model in America, the Silverado pickup truck slipped to third place in 2021, overtaken by the Ram family. This annual sales finish was the second of its kind. It was a repeat performance of 2019 when a redesigned Ram toppled Chevy as it was trying to launch a Silverado 1500 redesign during a labor strike that crippled General Motors production.

This second slip into third place is only partly related to the supply-chain problems wreaking havoc across the auto industry. From an industry expert’s point of view, the Ram family, from the affordable Ram 1500 Classic to the expensive Ram 3500 Heavy Duty dressed out in a Mega Cab dually configuration with four-wheel drive and Limited trim, is mighty appealing. Comparatively, in some respects, the latest Silverados seem phoned-in.

With the refreshed 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, that’s starting to change. All 2022 Silverados get revised exterior styling, and most have an updated interior with upgraded materials, new Google-based infotainment technology, and a more sophisticated look and feel. Chevy also kicked the old V6 engine to the curb, improved the turbocharged four-cylinder engine’s output, raised the towing capacity for the turbo diesel inline six-cylinder engine, and added more standard and available driver assistance technology.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

Last but not least, Chevrolet expanded the 2022 Silverado model lineup with the all-new ZR2 trim level. The Silverado ZR2 is designed and engineered for serious off-roading and is base-priced in the same neighborhood as the Ford F-150 Raptor. The Chevy is a few grand more than a Toyota Tundra TRD Pro and almost $9,000 less than the Ram TRX.

For this 2022 Chevrolet Silverado review, I test-drove the new ZR2 in Southern California. It came with extra-cost paint, a MultiFlex tailgate, a power sunroof, a hard tonneau cover, off-road high-clearance side steps, and the Technology package. These options brought the Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) to $76,095, including the $1,795 destination charge to ship it north from GM’s Silao, Mexico, assembly plant. Chevrolet provided the vehicle for this Silverado ZR2 review.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Review: The Design

Chevy took some criticism for the most recent Silverado redesign. While I like the truck’s squared-off, short-nosed, and cab-forward design, many people don’t. Mainly, the criticism relates to the distinctive front end, so with the 2022 Silverado, Chevy takes another stab at the styling. The result is different but not necessarily better.

Lower trims have CHEVROLET block lettering in place of a Chevy bowtie badge, but either way, the letters or the emblem move higher to reside just below the edge of the truck’s hood. Starting with LT trim, narrow LED headlights and C-shaped running lights with animation are standard. In addition, Chevy attempts to differentiate the trim levels through grille texture and finish, bumper detailing, and other modifications.

The ZR2 has an exclusive appearance. The truck sits two inches higher on a lifted suspension, and the steel front bumper is cut to provide a 31.8-degree approach angle. Red recovery hooks, unique skid plates, 33-inch mud-terrain tires, a steel rear bumper, and hidden exhaust outlets are also standard. In addition, the ZR2 gets exclusive moldings around the wheel openings and a raised hood design with an unfortunate black center bulge that looks like a glued-on piece of plastic. Nevertheless, the Silverado ZR2 looks the part of a serious off-roader, finally giving Chevy something to sell against the Raptor, TRX, and redesigned TRD Pro.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

If the exterior mods don’t move the needle for you, the updated interior will. That is where the magic happens for the refreshed 2022 Silverado, but the trick is to skip the Work Truck (WT) and Custom trim levels, which continue with the previous model’s plastic fantastic cabin. Instead, starting with LT trim, the new interior instantly elevates the Chevy Silverado in terms of perceived quality, refinement, and sophistication. It’s a game changer and should help Chevrolet to stem customer defections to rivals from Ford, Ram, and Toyota.

With the ZR2, it can be difficult for the driver and passengers to climb aboard, even with the substantial grab handles on the windshield and middle roof pillars. Also, the test truck’s optional off-road high-clearance side steps live at rocker panel height, so they’re as much a hindrance as a help.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

Once you’re settled in, the ZR2’s leather-wrapped, 10-way power-adjustable front seats provide comfortable positions with proper support. In addition, no matter the weather, the ZR2’s cabin is an excellent place to be, thanks to its fast-acting dual-zone automatic climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated outboard rear seats, and heated steering wheel. For longer journeys, the front and rear upper door panels offer padded, rubberized material for added comfort.

The Silverado crew cab’s back seat is exceptionally roomy, supplying plenty of legroom, headroom, and foot room. On the back of the front center console are cup holders, air conditioning vents, USB ports, and controls for the heated seats. A center armrest folds down to add two more cup holders.

Chevrolet provides lots of storage space inside the Silverado. Notable highlights include the tray tucked behind the infotainment screen on the top of the dashboard and the hidden compartments within the rear seatbacks. A disappointment is a small bin underneath the front center console armrest. If you need in-cab storage space for larger items, the back seat cushion easily flips up to create space.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

Equipped with a standard corner-step rear bumper design and available upgrades including Chevy’s MultiFlex tailgate, a spray-in bedliner, and a hard three-piece tonneau cover, our test truck was ready for hauling action. Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything to carry. With the high-riding ZR2, the MultiFlex tailgate is almost mandatory to help you climb up and into the cargo bed when necessary.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Review: The Technology

Depending on the trim level and equipment, the 2022 Silverado is loaded with helpful technology, from its 12.3-inch digital instrumentation panel and 13.4-inch touchscreen infotainment display to its head-up display and advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS). But the two big stories are the new Google Built-in infotainment tech and the available Super Cruise hands-free semi-autonomous driving technology.

With WT, Custom, and Custom TrailBoss trim, the 2022 Silverado has the old interior design and a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment display. Starting with LT trim, the truck gets a standard 13.4-inch touchscreen mounted in landscape orientation. It includes Bluetooth, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, SiriusXM 360L satellite radio, and access to connected services, including a Wi-Fi hotspot. But, aside from the large screen and new graphics, the significant change is Google Built-in natural voice recognition technology.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

Frankly, I don’t think Google Built-in is an improvement over what Chevrolet used before. During the past two years, I’ve been impressed with the Chevrolet Infotainment System 3’s voice recognition system, and the addition of Google Built-in is a mixed blessing.

For example, the new Google Built-in tech isn’t as quick to interpret what I say and can require second attempts to get the response I’m seeking. It also had difficulty understanding my Spanish-language street name, forcing linguistic calisthenics to get directions home from a Southern California off-road vehicle park. Also, when I told the system I wanted to listen to reggae music, it offered Apple Music and Spotify as potential sources for the genre. That’s a thoughtful response, but what I expected was “The Joint” on SiriusXM 360L.

However, I like the infotainment system’s new graphics and how when I requested directions to a local restaurant using only the name of the establishment and the street on which it is located, the Google-based infotainment showed a photo of the place in addition to providing directions. Additionally, when I told the system I needed to go to a hospital, the list of options was free of unrelated medical facilities.

Overall, the new infotainment system’s user experience improves in some ways and slips in others. For example, the large display is terrific. But the physical radio tuning buttons are gone now, leaving only a volume knob and a home button. At least the Bose premium sound system represents a leap forward in sound quality, even though it still uses seven speakers, including a Richbass subwoofer. Chevy must have rearranged the speakers because the imaging off the windshield is terrific, and the system doesn’t suffer the sizzle and muffled thumping of the previous one.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

With the optional Technology package, the ZR2 test truck added a color 15-inch head-up display and a rear camera mirror. The mirror dramatically improves visibility to the rear and is located far enough from the driver that switching focus from the road ahead to the image on the glass is a quick transition. The head-up display (HUD) is excellent, though I did not test to see if it remains visible to drivers when they’re wearing polarized sunglasses. Controls for the HUD are located on the dashboard to the left of the steering wheel instead of buried in some menu within the instrumentation or infotainment system.

It is worth mentioning that despite offering three different screens for referencing data — the digital gauges, the infotainment screen, and the HUD — I never got “lost” trying to find a piece of information. Chevrolet has done a great job of ensuring that information is readily available at a glance.

Switching now to the safety tech, Chevrolet is offering Super Cruise as an option on the Silverado High Country. Super Cruise uses adaptive cruise control, lane-centering technology, and a driver monitoring camera to allow hands-free driving on approved, limited-access highways in the U.S. and Canada. The ZR2 test truck did not have Super Cruise, but I’ve used it in the Chevy Bolt EUV and the Cadillac XT6, and it’s a capable system. However, it is not flawless and regularly reminds drivers that full self-driving technology is far from reality.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

The test truck had all of the other ADAS that Chevy offers for the Silverado, which works remarkably well. For example, the adaptive cruise control smoothly manages the following distance to traffic ahead, and when you signal to pass slower vehicles, the transmission kicks down without delay, and the truck accelerates at precisely the correct rate of speed. Furthermore, the lane-keeping assist is subtle and effective, so you’re inclined to use it rather than deactivating it. I thought it was beneficial on narrow, rural farm roads without a shoulder, adding a measure of safety to keep the broad-shouldered ZR2 on track.

Crash-test ratings for the refreshed 2022 Silverado improve, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The previous version of the truck earned a four-star overall rating, while the new one gets a five-star rating. However, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows no improvement, so the Silverado still earns a disappointing Marginal protection rating for the front-seat passenger in a small-overlap frontal-impact test.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Review: The Drive

Let’s address the elephant in the room, shall we? Regarding power output and performance, the Chevy Silverado ZR2’s 6.2L V8 engine falls short of the Ford F-150 Raptor’s twin-turbo 3.5L V6, the Ram TRX’s supercharged 6.2L V8, and the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro’s twin-turbo 3.5L V6 hybrid drivetrain. The ZR2 delivers 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque, while the Raptor supplies 450 hp/510 lb.-ft., the TRX whips up 702 hp/650 lb.-ft., and the TRD Pro generates 437 hp/533 lb.-ft..

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

Chevrolet pairs the ZR2’s V8 engine with an outstanding 10-speed automatic transmission with a new electronic gear selector on the center console. In addition, the 4WD system comes with a two-wheel-drive setting, automatic 4WD, and 4-Hi and 4-Lo transfer case speeds. Drivers can also select between Normal, Off-Road, and Terrain driving modes, activate the front and rear locking differentials, and use a hill descent control system when necessary. The Silverado ZR2’s towing capacity is 8,900 pounds, and it can carry a 1,440-pound payload.

To enhance the ZR2’s off-roading capability, the truck sits on 33-inch mud-terrain tires and a lifted suspension employing motorsports-proven, Multimatic 40mm DSSV performance dampers and revised springs that allow additional suspension travel. The cut steel front bumper improves the approach angle to 31.8 degrees, but Chevrolet hasn’t published breakover or departure angle figures. That’s strange, given the truck’s mission. Ground clearance measures 11.2 inches, a little better than a Silverado LT TrailBoss.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

To properly evaluate the Silverado ZR2, I deviated from my usual test-driving loop, heading instead to the northern edge of the Los Angeles suburbs for some off-roading at the Rohwer Flat off-highway vehicle park. On the way there and back, the driving included two-lane mountain roads, narrow farm roads, suburban streets, multi-lane divided highways, and L.A. freeways. In total, I drove the ZR2 127.7 miles, averaging 40.6 mph and getting 16.3 mpg. The official EPA fuel economy rating in combined driving is 15 mpg.

The V8 engine supplies good power and sounds terrific, and the transmission shifts flawlessly, but as the fuel economy result demonstrates, this powertrain has a cost. Then again, if you can afford a $70,000 truck, you can afford $5 per gallon gas. Unfortunately, unlike with the LT TrailBoss, you can’t get the far more efficient Duramax 3.0L turbo diesel inline six-cylinder engine in the ZR2.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

While running fast on poorly maintained rural roads, the ZR2’s suspension effortlessly soaked up the bumps, holes, cracks, whoops, and dips. It didn’t glide along, but it didn’t exhibit any of the typical skittishness or bounding that often characterizes a full-size pickup truck’s ride quality on lousy pavement. However, when a road sharply curves, the mud-terrain tires can let the ZR2 drift wide due to a lack of grip, so ensure you get enough braking done before turn-in.

On L.A. freeways, the ZR2 cruised at 75 mph without complaint, and while tire whir is evident, it’s also silenced to a large degree. Similarly, wind noise isn’t as much of an issue as I expected. But the best thing about driving the ZR2 through SoCal’s concrete jungle was how the suspension quells unwanted body motions when traveling over the region’s bridges, which are often slightly elevated from freeway level. However, note that when you’re driving away from the sun, that silly gloss black hood decoration can reflect a bunch of glare into your face. The ZR2 needs to lose that thing.

At the off-road park, we put that added approach angle to the test, as well as 4-Lo, Terrain mode, the front and rear electronic locking differentials, and the hill descent control system. Everything worked beautifully, and when you choose Terrain mode, the front camera automatically switches on to show you what’s coming up directly in front of the truck. However, the ZR2’s crew cab’s long wheelbase and the truck’s overall size discouraged tackling some of the more technical trails. Afterward, running in 4-Hi and Off-Road mode, we added some speed to the menu while driving deeper into the park, and the truck soaked up the unmaintained roads with ease.

2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2Christian Wardlaw

Overall, I enjoyed driving the Silverado ZR2. But unless you need its high-speed desert running and low-speed terrain-crawling capabilities, it’s mostly just for show, just like its rivals from Ford, Ram, and Toyota. And if you want the same package but with a GMC badge and a heftier price tag, you can get yourself a new Sierra AT4X.

Is the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado a Good Truck?

Undoubtedly, the refreshed 2022 Chevy Silverado is better than the previous Silverado. It offers more off-roading capability, improved technology, a significantly better interior (LT trim and higher), and additional standard safety equipment. However, rivals from Ford, Ram, and Toyota still outshine the Chevy regarding maximum payload, towing capacity, and outright power.

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.