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Auto review: Conquering the Mojave in the burly Chevy Silverado ZR2

Henry Payne, The Detroit News on

Published in Automotive News

The ZR2 is a latecomer to the performance truck game. Notably, it lacks the steroid-induced power (Ram TRX has a supercharged, 702-horse powerplant), width (Raptor is 86.6 inches wide) and tires (37s on Raptor) of its more ripped competitors.

Its 6.2-liter V-8 is not supercharged, but it’s a welcome voice in the choir. Raptor long ago abandoned its V-8 for a twin-turbo V-6. More torque, more applause from the Prohibitionists. But less enthusiasm from enthusiasts. Many Raptor owners held on to their gen-one V-8s, and Ford is expected to bring a supercharged V-8 back in the Raptor R.

GM felt the eight-holer’s 420 horses were enough for desert sprints and Michigan off-road parks like Holly Oaks and The Mounds. Chevy’s engineers have augmented it with a sport exhaust that’ll wake the neighbors on start-up — BRAPPPA! — and upshift with authority — BRAP! BRAP!

Like its competitors, the ZR2 has killer off-road shocks.

Sophisticated Multimatic shocks and 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territorial MT tires absorb the brutal washboard bumps and dips of the Joshua tree mining road like Kong shrugging off arrows. They are the same Formula One-inspired shocks pioneered by the midsize Colorado ZR2, which I punished on an off-road race course in 2017.

Truck expert and Muscle Cars & Trucks scribe Manny Katakis rates the supertruck segment this way: “I’d take the ZR2’s shocks, Raptor tires and TRX engine.”

 

The ZR2’s interior shines, too. Embarrassed by Ram’s upscale living quarters, ZR2 introduces an all-new dash for 2022 that brings rich 12.3-inch instrument cluster and 13.4-inch console digital displays. My driving experience was aided by comfortable bolstered seats, a head-up display the size of Oklahoma and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The latter is a must for when you take the big dog for a run.

At about 5,500 pounds — 40% lighter than the $112,595 Hummer EV! — my $72,560 tester was easy to drive at high speeds even if it lacked Raptor’s insane 14-inch front/15-inch rear suspension travel (ZR2 clocks in at 9.6 inches front/10.6 rear). Chevy’s target is to make the ZR2 an all-around athlete with on-road manners, off-road macho (thus the Multimatics), 8,900-pound towing capability (thus the V-8) and low-speed rock crawling.

To achieve the latter, ZR2 is armed with a 32-degree approach angle, camera views and class-exclusive front-and-rear locking differentials (like little brother Colorado ZR2) compared to the high-speed focused Raptor and TRX's rear-only lockers.

Tight canyon-crawling is usually the domain of narrow Wrangler Rubicons — but the Silverado defies the stereotype. Like 6’10” Kevin Durant, dude wants to shoot threes and dunk.

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