Auto review: Conquer Mojave in the mighty Chevy Silverado ZR2 | national news

Joshua Tree National Park, California – At 4,200 feet above sea level here in the arid Mojave Desert, not many have survived. The landscape is rough, rocky, brown. Except for the perennial Joshua tree. As if taken from the pages of a Dr. Seuss book, its hydra-like branches extend from the trunk – surmounted by a head of sharp needles. With a deep root system and the ability to go months without water, an intruder is uniquely equipped to survive in this hostile environment.

Kind of like the 2022 Chevy Silverado ZR2 performance truck I’m driving.

Armed with bold Goodyear Wrangler Territorial MT tires, multiple shocks, three bash plates, a two-speed transmission, dual-lock differential and a powerful 6.2L V-8 engine, this stubborn pickup is well suited for the rocky desert.

Among the verdant groves of Joshua’s trees, a media-guided caravan of red, blue, sand and white ZR2s added a welcome color to the scorched landscape. A winding dirt road stretched before us to extract gold from a solitary mine.

Four-wheel drive transmission tray. Terrain mode selected. Wrangler tires are ventilated up to 25 psi. I nailed the throttle and the monster woke up. WAAAUUGGHHHRGH!

I tested a GMC Hummer EV in similar desert terrain in Arizona a few weeks ago, and its silent engine was creeping through the low brush at Boulders ORV Park. Hear the crack of rocks below. murmur. SSSHHHHH.

The ZR2’s V-8 engine is a different sensory experience. WAAAAUURGH! You want to keep your shoes on it to hear its heavy metal beat. Carbon bans, of course, are despised. it is fun. Aloud. Ban it.

But like Brian Johnson’s “Hellbells” scream, the ZR2 sends chills down my spine. The windows are closed. Open sunroof. I hit 65 mph on the open road, and pushed through the dust cloud created by the ZR2 in front of me, another link on our speeding truck train.

It’s an experience Liana Prieto and her crew Dirt Days share with customers off-roading in Joshua Tree, Salton Sea, and the Baja Peninsula, home to some of the world’s greatest off-roads in thousands of acres of desert wilderness. Welcome Dirt-Kickers: Super Trucks, Wranglers, and Broncos.

Before organizing trips like our ZR2 train for Chevrolet, I drove a Tesla Model S in Los Angeles. Then lived the joy of the F-150 Raptor super trucks in the desert and was addicted. Goodbye EV, hello 4WD.

ZR2 is one of the latest high performance truck games. Notably, it lacks the steroid-induced power (the RAM TRX has a supercharged engine, 702 hp), width (the Raptor is 86.6 inches wide) and tires (37 seconds on the Raptor) than its more shredded competitors.

The 6.2-liter V-8 isn’t supercharged, but it’s a welcome sounding in the chorus. The Raptor has long since abandoned the V-8 for a twin-turbo V-6. More torque, more applause from the exhausted. But less enthusiasm than enthusiasts. Many Raptor owners have kept their first-generation V-8s, and Ford is expected to return the supercharged V-8 to the Raptor R.

GM felt the 420 horsepower was enough for sprints in the desert and Michigan off-road parks like Holly Oaks and The Mounds. Chevy engineers augment it with a sports exhaust that will wake the neighbors up at startup – BRAPPPA! – A power-up – BRAP! BRAP!

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

Advanced Multi-Purpose Shocks and 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territorial MT tires absorb the harsh bumps and drops of Joshua tree mining trail like Kong shrugging off the stock. They’re the same Formula 1-inspired shocks that the Colorado ZR2 mid-size bumper created on an off-road racing course in 2017.

Truck expert and Muscle Cars & Trucks writer Manny Katakis assessed the super truck class this way: “I’ll be up against ZR2 shocks, Raptor tires, and a TRX engine.”

The interior of the ZR2 also lights up. Embarrassed by Ram’s upscale living quarters, the ZR2 introduces an all-new dash for 2022 that offers a rich 12.3-inch instrument panel and 13.4-inch digital screens. My driving experience was bolstered by comfortable, bolstered seats, an Oklahoma-sized head-up display, and wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The latter is a must when you take your big dog for a run.

At about 5,500 lbs – 40% lighter than a $112,595 Hummer EV! -My $72,560 tester had it easy to drive at high speeds even if he lacked the Raptor’s crazy 14-inch/15-inch rear suspension (the ZR2 clocks in at 9.6 inches front/10.6 rear). Chevy’s goal is to make the ZR2 all-around sporty with off-road etiquette, masculine off-road (hence Multimatics), 8900-pound towing (and thus V-8) and rock-crawling at low speed.

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

Usually, crawling canyon crawling would be the narrow field of Wrangler Rubicons—but the Silverado defies stereotype. Like 6’10” Kevin Durant, the guy wants to shoot three people and then dip them in water.

I climbed to reach the high Joshua Plains, crawled through narrow rocky canyons and ascended into crooked valleys cut by the rainy season floods. With the tanks activated and one-pedal driving enabled (think one pedal, driving a Tesla), the Bugley crawled effortlessly over rocks and poles.

Grouch! The front bash panel absorbs a quick landing. PFISHZZZ! The plant’s winding branches flake along ZR2’s muscular shoulders. The sounds might make the owner cringe after setting aside $70,000 for this digger truck — but the pickup is built for durability.

The tough topcoat absorbs relentless “stripe lines” across all the trucks on our train. Bash panels are made of steel just like the signature Silverado bed. The ZR2 creates a three-piece bumper for cheaper repairs if any part is damaged.

Washed and waxed after my adventure, the ZR2 looked as good as new.

Pick-up is the new luxury. Basketball player Durant can relax comfortably in the back seats of my ZR2 flat. Aft, the 6-way Multi-Flex tailgate opens up steps for easy access to the bed (if you’re not nimble enough to use the corner bumper steps).

Like a supercar, this giant truck must be taken for off-road driving. So call Dirt Days, or your midwest buddies. Then he headed to Outback, put on U2’s “Joshua Tree” album, and played a V-8.

This is a small country (and Joshua Tree).

2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2

Vehicle type: front-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, five-passenger pickup

Price: $69,295 including $1,695 destination fee ($72,560 as tested)

Engine: 6.2L V-8

Power: 420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Performance: Towing, 8900 lbs.; Payload, 1440 lbs.

Weight: 5500 lbs. (EST.)

Fuel Economy: EPA: 14 mpg city / 17 highway / 15 combined

report card

heights: major interior improvements; multi magic

Dips: No option for 35 or 37-inch tires; becomes the price

Overall: 3 stars


Henry Payne is an auto critic for the Detroit News. You can find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne.

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