GM unveils new off-road Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 as flagship truck ahead of EV pickup

Dragoon

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DETROIT – General Motors will add a new off-road version of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 to its highly profitable truck lineup next year, ahead of the brand's push into electric pickups.

The automaker unveiled the 2022 Silverado ZR2 online Thursday as a new vehicle as part of an updated lineup for the Silverado that's expected to go on sale next spring.

The changes to the pickup come ahead of GM offering at least three electric pickups, including a Silverado, in the coming years. Officials with Chevrolet declined to discuss the electric version of the pickup, which the brand has confirmed but released few details about.

a close up of a car: 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2

"We are getting ready and coming very soon, we will be releasing more information. It's a tremendous product and we can't wait to share it with you soon," Kelly MacDonald, director of Chevrolet truck marketing, said during a media briefing.

Industry analysts expect the Silverado EV as well as a sibling electric pickup from GMC by 2023, following the arrival of the GMC Hummer EV pickup that's scheduled to be released later this year.

Chevrolet executives told reporters that they do not expect an ongoing semiconductor chip shortage to impact the launch of the 2022 Silverado. The parts shortage has caused sporadic plant shutdowns for automakers across the globe throughout this year.

2022 updates​

Updates to the 2022 Silverado trucks, including the ZR2, range from redesigned features to new safety and convenience technologies, including the addition of GM's Super Cruise hands-free highway driving system.

Super Cruise will be offered on the top-end High Country model of the 2022 Silverado, officials said. The system uses a host of sensors, radars and cameras to steer, accelerate and brake automatically within the vehicle's lane. GM is in the process of expanding the system to 22 vehicles by 2023.

The exterior design of the 2022 pickups evolves the look of the current Silverado models. They feature slimmer headlights and large refreshed grilles that more prominently feature the brand's bowtie logo. The designs are similar to GM's full-size Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, which share the same platform as the Silverado.

Inside, GM redesigned consumer-focused Silverados to include more technologies such as larger screens and an optional e-shifter instead of a traditional column shifter. The updates address some of the criticisms by industry insiders when the trucks were last fully redesigned in 2018.

GM has also added standard safety features to the 2022 Silverado such as forward collision alert, lane keep assist with lane departure warning and automatic emergency braking.

ZR2​

The Silverado ZR2 will be the second ZR2 model for Chevrolet. The trim was first introduced on the Colorado midsize pickup in 2017.

About 60% of Silverado's current sales are off-road focused pickups, according to MacDonald. She said that includes an even split between its "Trail Boss" models and a less-capable Z71 trim package

The looks and features of off-road vehicles have become more popular with mainstream consumers in recent years. Such models also typically boost profits.

The ZR2 adds to the Silverado's eight other models that range from three work-focused pickups to the top-end High Country that can surpass $70,000.

GM said pricing for the 2022 models will be announced closer to when the vehicles arrive in dealer showrooms. Current starting pricing for the Silverado ranges from about $31,000 to $62,000.

GM unveiled the 2022 Silverado ZR2 online Thursday ahead of the pickup making its nationwide television debut in an ad during the NFL's first game of the season between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Dragoon

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Similar to its chief rival, the Ford F-150, the 2022 Chevy Silverado is not a ground-up redesign. Rather, it's a substantial refresh that tackles some of the full-size truck's weak points, and expands the line-up a bit. And among the things improved are powertrain capability, interior design and the addition of an even more impressive off-road model.

Of course, the most noteworthy addition is the new 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2. Like its little Colorado sibling, it features Multimatic DSSV spool-valve shocks and matched springs. The truck has 2 inches of lift compared to a standard Silverado, just like the Trail Boss, but Chevy says the ZR2 has more suspension travel. And based on our experience with the Colorado, the Silverado ZR2 will likely be more comfortable on- and off-road than the Trail Boss.

Other off-road-ready equipment includes front and rear locking differentials, skid plates and 33-inch tires, slightly larger than the Trail Boss' 32s, that help give the ZR2 the best ground clearance of the Silverado range of 11.2 inches. The front bumper has been redesigned, too, for better approach angles, and the exhaust tips have been moved forward to prevent damage off-road. The ZR2 comes in only one configuration for now: crew cab with the short bed and the 6.2-liter V8 with a 10-speed automatic. That engine makes 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque. Finally, people will know the ZR2 by its Flow Tie badge, additional grille lighting, black hood insert and unique wheels. You can see how the ZR2 stacks up against the Raptor and TRX in our comparison post.

The most important update for the 2022 Silverado, though, is the completely revamped interior. The whole lumpen dashboard from before is gone starting with the LT trim. There's a crisp, tight-fitting dash with huge, well-integrated screens and stylish knobs and buttons. In fact, the 13.4-inch infotainment screen and 12.3-inch instrument display come standard in trims with this interior. A console-mounted electronic shifter is also introduced for trucks with five-passenger seating; six-passenger models maintain the column shifter. The High Country gets additional flair in the form of real open-pore wood trim, perforated leather and contrast stitching and embroidery.

What about trims below the LT? The Work Truck, Custom and Custom Trail Boss stick with the old lumpen dashboard and smaller infotainment system.

GM also didn't provide info or pictures of those lower trim levels, so I do not know if they too get the styling update applied to the LT and above trims. Those have new grilles that move the badge up and change the bars. I'm not so sure it works with the headlight design that's been relatively unchanged. The only tweak in that area is reworked running lights that have an illumination animation on start-up. Fog lights now have angular slotted covers over them.

There are also big capability improvements. The turbocharged 2.7-liter four-cylinder gets a stiffer crankshaft and reinforced engine block that have enabled Chevy to get more torque out of it. It now makes 420 pound-feet, which means it makes even more torque than the 5.3-liter V8. It's actually only 40 pound-feet away from the 3.0-liter diesel and the 6.2-liter V8. The eight-speed automatic it's paired to has also been tweaked for quicker downshifts and smoother shifting in general.

The diesel-powered Silverado is also updated. While the engine itself is unchanged, chassis changes allowed for the fitment of the Max Tow package. That allows a diesel Silverado to handle 13,300 pounds, a massive improvement over the 9,500 of the previous version. That also puts it tied with the 6.2-liter V8 for best-towing Silverado 1500 model.

There have been a few additional tech updates to the Silverado, too. All 2022 Silverados now come standard with automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, lane-keep assist and automatic high-beams. The High Country is available with Super Cruise, and is the only trim on which it's offered. It also operates with a trailer, and it can execute lane changes. You can read about our experience with the system in our prototype review. And of course, previous Silverado options such as its various trailering assist systems and multifunction tailgate will still be available.

The 2022 Silverado goes on sale next spring. Pricing and fuel economy numbers haven't been revealed, yet. We expect that information to become available closer to the spring.
 
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