Ford has been dominating the light-duty pickup segment for ages with the F-150. A robust selection of powertrains and fuel-efficient propulsion has kept them in the upper echelon of the competitive market. However, Chevy’s Silverado 1500 has always been close on the heels of the F-150, upping the tow ratings as necessary, offering better fuel economy with each new generation, and experimenting with new powertrain configurations. That design philosophy has carried over into the promise of bigger and better things with the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500.
Chevy’s half-ton pickup for the new model year is being billed as a redesign, and rightfully so. An all-new trim line-up, all-new powertrain upgrades, and boost to performance ratings help articulate some of what the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 brings to the table. But it’s not just a numbers game; it’s also how these implementations affect the overall Silverado package and what it will mean for the competition. So we decided to take a look at how the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 is raising the bar in some much-needed ways.
3: ZR2 Off-Road Trim
By now, most truck enthusiasts know that the Chevy Silverado 1500’s 2022 model year is being headlined with the inclusion of the ZR2 off-road trim. It joins the other models, including the Work Truck, Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country. The ZR2 is specifically designed for off-road enthusiasts, providing a more robust cache of performance features and exterior visual stylings to help set it apart from the other options.
This is essentially Chevy’s answer to Ford’s F-150 Raptor, the blue oval brand’s off-road half-ton. However, where the Raptor is powered by Ford’s 3.5-liter high-output EcoBoost V6, the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 is powered by the massive 6.2-liter L87 V8. Of course, arguments will continue to rage over the horsepower and torque output, but the real comparison will be with the off-road performance. How well will the ZR2 be able to handle wheel travel? How well will the ZR2 be able to handle articulation? How well will it be able to crawl? And will it be able to ford like its competitors?
Horsepower and torque are just a part of a much larger equation. As many already know, the Wrangler doesn’t have the highest output of torque or horsepower, but it’s designed to make full use of its capabilities for rock crawling, uphill climbs, and lots of water fording. The ZR2 could be a nice little intermediary between behemoths like the Ram 1500 TRX and the Wrangler Rubicon. It doesn’t have to reinvent the wheel to be a worthwhile addition to the Silverado 1500’s line-up; it just has to be good enough to stand out from the competition and give enthusiasts a little something extra. With the excellent towing and payload capabilities, you have good looks on top of a very capable light-duty pickup with the ZR2.
2: Quicker Low-End Torque
Whenever we hear about torque, there’s a common comparison between an engine’s overall horsepower and the torque it puts out at a certain number of revs. Even if a vehicle has a lower horsepower rating, with a good amount of low-end torque, it can easily make up for that, giving drivers some hot off-the-line performance capabilities and a lot of grunt and heft when it comes to towing and trailering. The Chevy Silverado 1500 has had a very durable Duramax turbo-diesel option for years now, but the engineers at Chevy decided to go back to the drawing board and cook up something a little different for the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500.
Assistant chief engineer Kevin Luchansky rolled out some interesting details to Muscle Cars and Trucks about the re-tuned and improved 2.7-liter L3B 4-cylinder inside of the 2022 Silverado 1500. It’s not just that they managed to get better performance out of it; they made sure it’s quieter than ever before and that it’s more efficient than ever before. The big sell for the 2.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is that it “spools” torque quicker than ever before. Larger cylinders and more efficient compression mean quicker access to 420 pound-feet of torque. According to Luchansky, you’re able to utilize much of the Silverado’s torque at just 1,500 RPM.
While Ram and Ford can boast about having more overall torque, it’s just as important to actually have access to the torque when you need it, especially in the lower ranges, as having a total amount of torque. This is what makes the Wrangler so attractive to so many enthusiasts; lots of quick access to low-end torque. Here, we have the Silverado taking a similar approach; only instead of being fine-tuned for off-road performance, the 2.7-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder is making use of that torsional output for improved towing.
According to Luchansky, the Silverado gets off the line faster while hitched to a trailer and manages much better fuel economy than some of its nearest competitors because the engine isn’t working as hard to maintain the truck’s load capacity. Basically, it’s about better utilization of what’s there, rather than simply trying to push the numbers up higher and higher. This could end up making the 2.7-liter L3B a very popular power plant for the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500, and it’s certainly going to get a lot of enthusiasts excited about comparing the trailering performance against the market competition.
1: Super Cruise Semi-Autonomous Driving
Is there anything more futuristic than a self-driving vehicle? We’ve seen it time and time over again in all sorts of sci-fi films from the ’80s and ’90s, where self-driving cars take characters from one destination to the next with simple voice-over commands. What was once considered science fiction of the most fantastical order is now a reality for a lot of drivers, including light-duty pickup drivers.
The 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 joins the growing list of other vehicles out there with a semi-autonomous driving system known as Super Cruise. While the powertrain improvements for the Silverado are well worth noting, the ability to allow the truck to drive you to your destination without actually having to drive is next-level awesome. This neat feature is available exclusively on the Silverado 1500 High Country trim.
With Super Cruise, you have access to over 200,000 miles of compatible roads for the Silverado 1500 to traverse across North America, including the United States and Canada. The feature taps into existing safety technologies and driver assists that have already been made available for the Silverado, including lane-centering and lane-departure assists, as well as the Adaptive Cruise Control with distance monitoring. Much like the Chevy Bolt EV, the Super Cruise feature for the Silverado makes use of the Chevrolet Connected Services to utilize LiDAR map data so that it can navigate the roads, including straightaways, turns, and curves.
As competition continues to accelerate in the ever-so-intense light-duty truck market, the 2022 Chevy Silverado seems to be holding its own with some unique features aimed at specific truck shoppers while also raising the bar in other areas. If the low-end torque and ZR2 don’t strike your fancy, maybe the Super Cruise feature does. And barring all of that, let’s say none of these three major features are your cup of tea…at least there’s a larger 13.4-inch HD touchscreen being added to the mix. Easier access to apps, higher-resolution display, and integration for smart devices is still an attractive feature in a full-size pickup, right? Who doesn’t love a bigger, better, and more improved touchscreen? These are all just some of the many new features fleshing out the 2022 Silverado 1500’s large list of improvements.