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A red 2020 Chevy Silverado is parked on a flat salt land while facing forward.

Off-Roaders: Prepare for the Chevy Silverado ZRX

For a long time, Chevy has been one of the leading names in off-road vehicles, thanks in large part to the impressive Chevy Colorado ZR2, which is a dedicated off-road trim on their best-selling midsize truck. Larger, more powerful Chevy trucks can still be great off-road machines, and the Silverado has a pair of current off-road trims: the Custom Trail Boss and the LT Trail Boss. What more could you want, right?

Well, you could want a Chevy Silverado with an even more off-road focused trim that includes a host of features that really push the limits of off-road functionality from the factory. And if that’s something you do want, then I’ve got good news for you. The much-rumored and discussed upcoming Chevy Silverado ZRX is that very thing: a Silverado 1500 with an off-road focus that will surpass what you can get right now. While concrete details are yet to be released, there are plenty of rumors and spy reports to give us a good idea of what we can expect from the ZRX.

It’s a ways off yet, but if you’re interested in getting an off-road, full-size pickup in the next couple years, then this needs to be on your radar.

The Colorado ZR2

First off, let’s talk a little bit about the kind of off-road options you can get right now on Chevy trucks – starting with the Colorado ZR2. The Colorado is, as I’m sure you know, Chevy’s midsize pickup, so it’s a bit smaller than the Silverado series. That makes it perfect for off-roading where you’re on narrower trails and in areas where a large truck can be a problem.

The ZR2 is the Colorado’s dedicated off-road trim, and it is famous for the incredible performance and functionality it delivers for that purpose. It has an available turbo-diesel engine, which is great for handling rough trails, and Multimatic shocks that can handle even the roughest and most intense terrain. Plus, it comes with both front and rear electronic locking differentials and a 48mm factory-installed lift for greater clearance, not to mention numerous skid plates and rock sliders to help protect the underside in harsh, rocky conditions.

A dark grey 2020 Chevy Colorado ZR2 is driving on a dirt trail and is popular among Chevy trucks.


Current Off-Road Silverado Options

If you want a Chevy Silverado 1500 right now with off-road functionality, then you have two options: the Custom Trail Boss or LT Trail Boss trim. Basically, they are both off-road versions of the standard Custom or LT trims. Just as the LT trim has more features than the Custom, so too does the Trail Boss version of them.

The LT Trail Boss can have either a 5.3L or 6.2L V8 engine, but there’s no option for a diesel like there is in the Colorado ZR2. It has a 2-inch factory-installed lift and an automatic locking rear differential with 4WD as you would expect. The LT Trail Boss also comes with 18-inch Mud Terrain Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires for excellent off-road performance and a pair of frame-mounted tow hooks. It’s a good option for going off-road with the Silverado, but it cannot quite match what the Colorado ZR2 has to offer.

That’s where the ZRX comes into the picture.

The ZRX Difference

From what we’ve seen and heard, the Silverado ZRX is being designed as a bigger version of the Colorado ZR2. Everything that the ZR2 does right to make it a fantastic off-road machine is being carried over and then some. First and foremost, the Silverado ZRX is expected to get its own upgraded version of the ZR2’s Multimatic Dynamic Suspension Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers to offer fantastic handling while on rough trails.

In fact, Chevy recently entered a custom Silverado in the “Best of the Desert” off-road races that featured current LT Trail Boss looks with prototype Multimatic DSSV dampers. This certainly supports the idea that they will be available to consumers in the not-too-distant future. Since the ZR2 also has a factory-installed lift, it’s not unlikely that we’ll see that in the Silverado ZRX too, which gives you great off-road functionality without the hassle of installing a lift yourself – along with both front and rear electronic locking differentials.

Right now, as we pointed out above, you only have your choice of two conventional gas V8 engines for the Silverado 1500 Trail Boss trims. Since the ZR2 for the Colorado includes a turbo-diesel option, and the ZRX seems to be designed as the ZR2’s older sibling, then it’s possible we’ll see something like that carried over for it too. Other trims of the Silverado 1500 offer an available 3.0L Duramax turbo-diesel engine, and having that as an available option on an off-road model would be amazing.

We would imagine that the Silverado ZRX will also feature skid plates and tow hooks like the ZR2 does. In other words: the ZRX should have everything you might like about the Trail Boss right now, plus features that make the ZR2 one of the most popular off-road trucks around. And all of this would make it among the best Chevy trucks to ever hit the road.

A silver Chevy Silverado 1500 ZRX is shown parked next to a house.

Just in Time for a Model Refresh

Of course, Chevy isn’t about to just toss the ZRX out there and let the rest of the Silverado lineup wither on the proverbial vine. The rumor going around is that the ZRX will be introduced as part of an overall mid-cycle refresh for the Silverado 1500. This isn’t supposed to be a new generation, but a major overhaul and facelift for the award-winning pickup to update numerous features on the truck. A huge part of this refresh, then, would be the introduction of the Silverado ZRX and a new era for off-road Silverado performance.

And now the bad news: this refresh is not scheduled to happen until 2021 for the model year 2022. Yeah, that’s right – if the idea of the ZRX tickled your fancy and you’re looking at Chevy trucks to buy something right now (or even in the next few months), then you’re out of luck. Although we will probably get some more concrete details about what the ZRX will have to offer this year, we’re not going to actually see these models until sometime next year – perhaps even in the summer or late 2021.

While a lot of what we’ve heard about the Silverado ZRX and other upcoming Chevy trucks is based on rumor, there is some solid ground for this. Late last year, General Motors filed for a trademark of the term “ZRX” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for use with a motor vehicle, which we can assume is the Silverado off-road model we’ve all heard about. So yeah, we don’t have any pictures to prove the ZRX will exist (there are some spy pics out there, but they look more like test models right now than proof of a new trim) or an official Chevy announcement, but companies don’t usually file for a trademark on something they don’t plan on using.

Would You Like to Know More?

So would we! With any luck, we’ll get some official information, maybe even a reveal or two, at the major auto shows this year. So stay tuned (yes, we know you don’t tune into the Internet like an old TV, just go with it) for all the latest news about the ZRX and other Chevy trucks to find out more.

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