Payne: Burly, high-tech, 2022 Chevy Silverado fills in the holes
Farmington Hills — The Silverado remake is complete.
The launch of Chevy’s fourth-generation, 2019 full-size pickup set segment benchmarks for chassis light-weighting and rugged bed construction. But the sleek truck was dogged by questions about the uninspired interior and lack of a performance truck model. With the 2022 Silverado, the bow-tie brand has filled in the holes with a state-of-the-art, digital interior and flagship, terrain-gulping ZR2 warrior.
Due in spring of next year, the Chevy Silverado ZR2 will go head-to-head against Ram and Ford competitors with a standard (on LT models and up), 12.3-inch digital instrument display and Tesla Model 3-like, 13.4-inch horizontal console screen.
With Formula One-inspired Multimatic shocks, twin-locking e-differentials, and two-speed transfer case, ZR2 will draw comparisons to the Ram 1500 Rebel and Ford F-150 Tremor and Raptor — though Chevy resisted going after the Ram TRX and Ford Raptor R super trucks by equipping its mule with a supercharged, 700-plus horsepower mill. ZR2 is motivated by Chevy’s familiar 420-horsepower, 460-torque. 6.2-liter V-8.
The new interior — combined with significant tech upgrades like the available, hands-free Super Cruise driver-assist system — signals an attempt to make Silverado a more premium player in the Detroit truck wars.
“For the new 2022 model, we’ve enhanced the Silverado lineup giving customers more choice, a refined design, and new technology options,” said Kelly MacDonald, director, Chevrolet Truck Marketing.
The flagship, off-road ZR2 — like the Corvette sportscar for on-track enthusiasts — is a showpiece for Chevrolet technology and performance.
Lifted over 11-inches off the ground on huge, 33-inch off-road tires, the ZR2 — in stock form — has been flame-tested in the brutal Best in Desert racing series. Its sophisticated Multimatic shocks are race-proven to go up against similar performance variants like Fox (Raptor, Tremor) and Bilstein (Rebel).
The black front grille and hood menaces, underbody skid plates protect against hard hits, and the V8 is a monster. But there is beauty inside the beast.
“We applied what we learned in racing and Moab testing to the new ZR2, but (it) doesn’t beat you up on the highway with its ride quality. It’s equally capable and comfortable,” said Dom Lester, GM chief engineer of Performance Variants.
The truck gains digital 12.3-inch and 13.4-inch screens now standard on all trucks above base, fleet-focused work trucks — major improvements over the dated interior of 2019-2021 models. The stalk shifter is replaced by a console T-shifter backed by the usual, bottomless console storage space.
Out back, the ZR2 can be optioned — on Silverado LT and up — with the Multi-Flex tailgate that first appeared on '21 models. The six-way tailgate dropped jaws (literally, see the TV ads) of Truck Nation when it was first introduced on the GMC Sierra in 2019. The tailgate can be variously used as a stand-up desk, bar, or stairway into the bed.
The tailgate caps Silverado’s roll-formed high-strength-steel bed (available as 5 3/4-foot or 8-foot) that already offered a class-leading 89.1 cubic feet of standard volume.
ZR2 will headline a lineup of lifted, off-road models coveted by Silverado customers. Indeed, in 2021 lifted variants like the Trail Boss and ZR1 trims accounted for 60% of sales.The Silverado ZR2 follows the acclaimed Colorado ZR2 that accounts for nearly 12% of midsize Chevy pickup sales.
ZR2 is sure to approach those numbers as it improves on the Trail Boss trim with bigger tires, removable bumper endplates, two-more skid plates, and superior suspension and 31.8-inch approach angle.
“We race what we sell and sell what we race,” said Jaclyn McCaid, chief engineer for Silverado.
Chevy has resisted Ford’s much-ballyhooed move to turbocharged V6 engines and aluminum bodywork with its 14th-generation F-150. Analysts say the fuel economy benefits of V6s are overblown and that sticking to cheaper steel body parts has proven beneficial for profits and durability. The steel Silverado is up to 450 pounds lighter than its aluminum Ford competitor.
The 2022 Silverado carries over its 6.2-liter and 5.3-liter V8s and 3.0-liter diesel turbo-6 powerplants from the previous generation. But the standard, 2.7-liter turbo-4 engine gets major structural upgrades.
As a result, the 4-banger gains 20% torque over the previous model — 420 pound-feet — for a best-in-class rating. The 3.0-liter diesel offers maximum,13,300-pound towing grunt.
The premium, High Country trim is the first Chevy truck (following the Chevy Bolt EUV electric hatchback) to option GM’s Super Cruise drive-assist system. It allows hands-free driving — and automatic lane changes — on divided roads and interstates.
Chevy has partnered with tech giant Google to offer Google built-in2 compatibility. Passengers can control certain vehicle functions by saying, “Hey Google” followed by commands to text friends, listen to music, and set car temperature. Wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are also standard.
The 2022 Silverado is now offed in nine trims — Work Truck, Custom, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, ZR2, LTZ and High Country. While pricing won't be announced until closer to launch next year, expect prices to range from the $40,000 LT to the $55k High Country.
Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at email@example.com or Twitter @HenryEPayne.