As you may have heard, General Motors has big plans to electrify its fleet. By 2035, the company aims to have a fully electric lineup. Or by 2030, in the case of its Buick division.
GM has announced a slew of new electrified models over the past two years – even a full-size pickup! That’s right, a fully electric Chevrolet Silverado pickup will arrive in 2024. The revolution has begun. Yes, but here’s the thing: the internal combustion engine (ICE) trucks GM currently sells still rule the sales roost.
The Silverado and its corporate cousin, the GMC Sierra, have accounted for 46 percent of GM’s sales in Canada so far in 2022, according to a recent Q2 sales report. To be sure, the Silverado EV is a sea-change vehicle, but its presence alone won’t mean the end of its ICE siblings, at least in the short term. Not so long as ICE trucks drive GM’s annual sales and profits.
With that as backdrop, the 2022 Silverado rolls out with a slew of changes, including a new off-road-focused model, the ZR2. I’ll get to it in more detail below, but first the model-line updates.
All trims, including the base Work Truck, receive a new front fascia with a revised grille and lowered headlights. For LT models and up, wing-shaped daytime running lights receive animating light sequences that engage when approaching, starting, or walking away from the truck. Three new exterior colours are available: Dark Ash Metallic, Sand Dune and Glacier Blue Metallic. All carry a $495 paint charge.
The cabin, for LT models and above, has also been freshened. Key among the changes are two standard digital displays: a 13.4-inch horizontal multimedia touchscreen and a 12.3-inch configurable instrument cluster.
Other changes include an instrument panel with a more horizontal design, along with the availability of a console gear selector. The latter applies to models with bucket seats. Silverado designers have also increased the amount of premium trim materials, especially for the top-level High Country.
On the tech front, all Silverado trims LT and up have standard Google built-in, which allows users to awaken the system with a ‘Hey Google’ voice prompt to perform a range of functions, including calling and texting and adjusting stereo and climate settings with voice commands. A ‘push to talk’ button is also located on the steering wheel. The multimedia system supports wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and is available with Alexa Built-in.
As for powertrains, there are notable changes for two of the four Silverado engines. The base 2.7-litre turbocharged four-cylinder has a new, more rigid cylinder block and a crankshaft that is 30 percent stiffer. Noise and vibration have been reduced and torque is up by 24 percent to 430 lb-ft. Horsepower is rated at 310. The 3.0-litre Duramax turbo diesel now has a max tow package available for 2WD models that is rated at 13,200 pounds, which is 3,800 greater than the previous model.
Another big development for the ’22 Silverado is the introduction of the first-ever ZR2 off-roader. Like the mid-size Colorado ZR2, the Silverado variant comes loaded for bear with serious off-road kit starting with Multimatic 40 mm DSSV spool-valve dampers, uniquely tuned springs, front and rear electronic locking differentials, 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler all-terrain tires, terrain mode – one-pedal driving in 4LO, unique skip plates and more. The ZR2 is powered by a 6.2-litre V8 (420 hp / 460 lb-ft.) paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Other unique ZR2 features include removable bumper end caps for easier replacement in case they become damaged and a dual exhaust that’s hidden under the rear bumper.
The ZR2 receives a black hood insert, unique grille, with integrated lighting and an open Chevy bow tie emblem, which is called a “flow tie”, for improved engine cooling. Unique black 18-inch wheels, wheel mouldings ZR2 badges and Jet Black /Graystone leather trimmed interior are also standard as is the new multimedia system and digital instrument cluster as noted above.
A media drive event for the ‘22 Silverado staged by GM Canada provided seat time in several Silverado models, but the ZR2 was the one I spent the most time driving.
Our trek from the Toronto Airport Marriott to Haliburton in cottage country took the better part of a day and my drive partner and I drove most of the route in a Sand Dune ZR2 tester. I have to say the ZR2’s on-road manners surprised me somewhat, but in a good way. Despite riding on 33-inch all-terrain tires, its cabin is quite hushed at speed, and the ride quality wasn’t by any means punishing. And, of course, the 6.2-litre V8 delivers loads of power throughout the rev range.
While its looks might suggest it’s ready for the zombie apocalypse, the ZR2 interior is downright luxe, with rich leather seating, lots of soft-touch trim materials and two gorgeous pin-sharp HD screens. I’ve long thought the Silverado
to be a fine truck in need of a more modern interior, especially on the tech front and I’m pleased to see it so well addressed here.
On day two, our group put a fleet of ZR2s through their paces on a challenging off-road course consisting of grassy, muddy, rocky and suspension-articulating terrain that proved to be an excellent test bed for not only the ZR2, but its fancy Multimatic dampers as well.
Both performed impressively. Multimatic’s DSSV (Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve) dampers, which use three separate spool valves to control damping provide a high degree of control and predictability over challenging terrain, while the ZR2 itself handles anything thrown at it. The presence of front and rear e-lockers, combined with a dedicated Terrain mode make foraging through deep mud ruts and over rock piles feel much less daunting.
In all, the ZR2 benefits from the updates made to the entire Silverado lineup, while also delivering the off-road goods. It has the rugged off-roader looks buyers in the segment want, but also the capability for serious off-road trekking. GM Canada is aggressively pricing the ZR2 with a starting MSRP that is thousands less than that of the Ford F-150 Raptor and RAM TRX, indicating a confidence in what the ZR2 package offers.Its rivals should take note.
2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2
full-size off-road pickup
Front-engine, four-wheel-drive, 10-speed automatic transmission
6.2-litre V8 (420 hp / 460 lb-ft.)
(Regular 87) 16.7 / 14.1 / 15.5 L / 100 km city / highway / combined
MAX. PAYLOAD: 653 kg (1,440 pounds)
MAX. TOWING: 4,037 kg (8,900 pounds)
$79,698 base / as tested, excl. freight and taxes