An update to the great American pickup brought a new design, more technology and a new ZR2 version focused on traversing rocky trails and soft sand.
The entry-level Trail Boss is gone, leaving the more aggressive ZR2 to fill the void for those who want to venture off-road. Design cues include black highlights and a unique grille.
The chrome-rich LTZ continues in the lineup with a more luxurious focus. It has also been tweaked with new LED lights, bumper and grille.
But it’s inside that the biggest changes have been made. Gone is the dated analog display and small center screen and in its place is a customizable digital instrument panel and 13.4-inch center screen.
The update also brings a higher price. The most affordable Silverado LTZ is a few thousand dollars more, with prices starting at around $140,000 drive-away.
Add around $5000 for the ZR2, which has suspension that rides 68mm higher, high-performance shocks and knobby mud-terrain tires to fend off punctures and bite through gravel and rocks.
Standard equipment includes wireless phone charging, smart key entry, wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, power front seats with heating and cooling, and safety systems such as blind spot warning and autonomous braking up to 80 km/h.
Expensive items that are standard on the LTZ — a sunroof, head-up display, power steering column adjustment, front parking sensors, digital rearview mirror and seven-speaker Bose audio system — have been removed from the ZR2.
The ZR2 also lacks side steps, making it more difficult to access the cabin.
It’s about cutting weight to protect some of the payload, which lags the smaller double-cab utility vehicles that now account for about one in five new-vehicle sales.
The ZR2 is designed to carry only 717 kg, which includes people and whatever else you throw into the wide bed.
He makes up for that with some towing muscle. The LTZ can carry 4500 kg and the ZR2 4200 kg. But max out that towing capacity and you can only haul 117kg of people and cargo in the LTZ and 68kg in the ZR2.
Limit towing to 3.5 tons and the numbers look better, while Chevy offers a heavy-duty version with larger payloads.
However, you will have no problem shifting the weight.
Both models are powered by a 313 kW/624 Nm 6.2-litre V8 mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. While the electronics can temporarily disable up to six of those eight cylinders, it stays very thirsty, using a claimed 12.2 liters (it prefers premium) every 100km.
The V8 never feels underpowered, though, and there’s a hearty roar when you fire it up.
Inside, the Silverado lives up to its gargantuan proportions. There are acres of legroom and headroom and those in the back have plenty of sprawling space.
The huge turning radius and high driving position are constant reminders of its size, as is the black bulge in the ZR2’s bonnet that occasionally reflects the sun.
Technology helps; a camera can be added to the trailer to provide unobstructed rear vision and the Silverado can measure vehicle and trailer weight to warn if you are overloaded.
The suspension handles big undulations well but slams on small bumps.
The mud-terrain tires on the ZR2 have a slight rumble at highway speeds, but it’s generally a serene and pampering experience. The LTZ has grippier on-road rubber, but its 20-inch wheels aren’t as good for off-roading.
The hefty hood makes near-field visibility a challenge. Luckily, there are cameras on all sides to help spot obstacles, which comes in handy off-road.
Once in the hard, the ZR2 is really impressive. Goodyear Wrangler rubber sets a fantastic base and the towering 296mm ride height reduces the chance of underbody scuffs. The suspension also adapts well to the terrain while the locking front and rear differentials maximize traction when the going gets really tough.
The delicate shocks also control the wheels beautifully over bumps, further aiding traction.
The result is a highly accomplished truck that takes on big challenges, although its dimensions demand respect in tight sections.
Consider the same caution for narrow city streets and navigating the supermarket car park.
Obviously, towing a boat or trailer on the open road is the Silverado’s happy place.
Three and a half stars
The ZR2 brings impressive off-road capabilities and more technology to a ute that’s still big, brash and muscular.
Chevrolet Silverado ZR2
PRICE From around $145,000 drive-in
WARRANTY/SERVICE 3 years/100,000 km, approximately $3,800 for 5 years/60,000 km
SECURITY Six airbags, low-speed autonomous emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, 360-degree camera, blind-spot monitoring
ENGINE 6.2 liter V8, 313 kW and 624 Nm
THE THIRST 12.2L/100km
SPARE Full size
#Driving #Chevrolet #Silverado