Chevrolet began its ZR2 line with its smallest truck, the Colorado, which became known for its “Multimatic DSSV dampers,” among other off-road features. Then came the Colorado ZR2 Bison, which added armor to crank the off-road capability up a notch. Then came the Silverado 1500 ZR2, an off-road version of the brand’s most popular truck, and a vehicle I myself have off-roaded recently (expect a review soon — it’s good). Now it’s time for Chevy to expand that ZR2 line into the heavy duty world to take on the Ram 2500 Rebel and Ford F-250 Tremor. Here’s a look at the new Chevy Silverado HD ZR2.
It’s time for the Colorado ZR2…
…and the Silverado ZR2….
…to get a new sibling.
Right away, I’ll mention that, for those of you about to click “control-F” and then start typing in the word “locking differential”: The Silverado HD ZR2 gets a rear electronic locker. I’m sure the next thing you’re wondering is tire size: They’re 35s, and they’re mud terrains (Goodyear Wrangler Territory MTs, to be specific), spaced out from the bodywork via a 1.5-inch lift when compared to other four-wheel drive Silverado HDs.
Here’s a look at those tires:
And here’s the switchgear on the center stack — you can see the locker button just to the left of the hill descent control switch on the right:
The ZR2 version of Chevy’s Silverado 2500 HD, which comes with either a 6.6-liter gas engine or a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel, adds to the standard Silverado 2500 HD special upper and lower control arms up front (remember, the Silverado HD has independent front suspension, whereas Ford’s and Ram’s HD trucks have solid front axles), as well as “specific steering knuckles,” per Chevy’s press release. In addition, the transfer case skid plate is apparently a bit bigger:
And there’s an aluminum skid plate up front (aluminum, eh?):
The Bison version of the Silverado HD ZR2 gets gloss-black wheels, special front and rear bumpers, and exclusive steel skid plates for “the front of the vehicle, steering rack, exhaust and transfer case.”
I could go on about the unique badging on the ZR2 and ZR2 Bison, and Chevy’s press kit has plenty of additional info about the vehicles’ cabins and infotainment features, but the big takeaway here for truck enthusiasts, especially those considering a Ram 2500 Rebel or a Ford F-250 Tremor, is that you can now get a heavy-duty Chevy with a rear locker, 35s, a 1.5-inch lift kit, some badass Multimatic shocks, and plenty of armor.
You may be wondering how the Silverado HD ZR2 — whose production begins this summer — compares to its competitive set, and while I can’t know that without driving the truck, I’ll note that the Silverado has independent front suspension, while its rivals offer a solid-front axle. A solid axle is typically preferred for hard-core rock crawling, as it tends to offer better durability and overall articulation, keeping the tires on the ground (meaning more grip/stability). But for higher-speed off-road conditions, and definitely on-road, independent suspension is king.
We should also have a look at the truck’s geometry compared to the competition, as geometry is the most important attribute of any off-road vehicle. Here’s the ground clearance, in addition to the approach, departure, and breakover angles:
That 30+ degree approach angle is great, the 25.7-degree departure angle is also excellent in this class, and the 22-ish degree breakover angle is fairly par for the course. Nearly a foot of ground clearance is also solid.
For comparison, the F-250 Tremor has just 10.8 inches of ground clearance (I’ll note that ground clearance should be taken with a grain of salt, since the location of minimum ground clearance is critical off-road), a similar 31.65 degree approach angle, and a lower 24.51 degree departure angle, while breakover is about the same at 21.5 degrees (per The Drive — I couldn’t find the breakover angle on Ford’s site).
As for the Ram 2500 Rebel, The Drive says it offers a good 13.1 inches of ground clearance, a low 22.9 degree approach angle, a solid 25.8 degree departure angle, and a solid 23.9 degree breakover angle.
The Silverado HD ZR2’s figures actually stack up really nicely against even the mighty Ram Power Wagon (stats shown above), which — with a disconnecting front sway bar and front locker — is likely a tick higher in the off-road hierarchy than the other HD trucks mentioned here.
Having recently driven a Silverado 1500 ZR2 off-road, I’m excited to get behind the wheel of this bigger machine. Size is the enemy off-road, so I’m sure it won’t quite measure up to its smaller sibling, but the geometry seems decent for its class, there’s a locker, there’s armor, there are grippy tires — this thing should do some decent work off-road, especially for a pickup truck.
Here are a few more images of the new biggest off-roader in the Chevy truck lineup:
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The Colorado ZR2 Bison is a great little off-road truck. Not so sure this one will be worth the money when I can grab an old Raptor for 1/3 of the money. In other words…see you in 10 years, Silverado ZR2!
In a few years after I retire, I was planning on getting an F-250 Tremor to carry a Scout slide-in camper so that I can tour the less-beaten paths of the west. I’d really rather have a smaller truck, but even a lightweight camper will put an F-150 or Tundra well over maximum payload. My current adventure mobile is a stock 2004 4Runner, and I love it, but there’s something to be said about the convenience of having a camper, stopping out in the desert or forest or ski area parking lot and just opening the door to your temporary home.
Anyway, I’m intrigued that the Silverado HD has IFS, but how much does that matter on the road compared to the solid front axle F-250 when both have recirculating ball steering?
Soon to be seen doing 55 in a 30 on my street while the nearest cop ignores it, because it’s his brother.
Dont forget the FJB decal on the back window.
Around here it’s no longer an acronym. Spelt out, all caps, often on a flag, or better yet, a rear window decal where all of the letters are spelt out in an array of different guns.
A tangent: Did anyone years ago predict that flags would become such a rip-roaring business? I’ve got to imagine there haven’t been this many flags sold since, I don’t know, WWII? Some of these people must have a line item for flags in their budget.
Whoever makes them has got to be making a killing. Those flags are all paper thin and ruined within months so the rubes have to keep buying them.
Don’t forget, before the Colorado ZR2 there was the S-Series ZR2. First introduced way back in 1994 on the S-10 and Sonoma, added to the 2-door (S-10) Blazer in 1996, watered down for the Tracker in 2001, and killed in 2005 before resurfacing 12 years later.
We are going the wrong direction when it comes to off-roading. When 35 inch tires are required to get decent angles, you know you are getting too big to wheel.
I get that the trucks are the size they are and that people have been embiggening trucks for a long time but this is just getting silly. Everytime I see old TJ’s and such off-roading on 29 or 31 inch tires and absolutely killing it, it makes me think that there is room in the lineup to go smaller, not bigger.
Being a Jeep Guy, I think that the TJ is about the perfect size for off-roading. My CJ5 is way too cramped to be comfortable on road, and I feel that the JK and JL are getting a bit hefty. Especially the 4-doors. As the Wrangler slowly evolves to a Wagoneer with a removable top, there may be space to make a small, agile offroader again.
Especially if they are going to legally browbeat the company that is making the vehicle they should be (Mahindra)
A few years ago I did Lockhart road in Utah in company with a nearly stock 2.5 TJ manual. 30 inch tires, no lockers. We had to stack rocks from time to time but it did the same trail my triple locked land cruiser on 33’s did. Small is mighty off-road. Even the SxS’s are getting a little portly.
Agreed. Like David Tracy, I love my XJ for wheeling. With 33’s I feel no need to go bigger and have done some pretty intense trails.
I’m always entertained seeing full size trucks struggling on easy 4wd roads, digging into loose rock and having zero maneuverability, followed by a Subaru that makes it look easy. At least the skid plates should offer some protection on the interstate from stray bbqs and other debris that falls out of the pickup truck in front of them.
“Right away, I’ll mention that, for those of you about to click “control-F” and then start typing in the word “locking differential”:”
You know me too well.
I’ll pass. Tool long and too heavy. I understand what kind of truck is best for the desert and this misses the mark by a mile. On top of that it is ugly.
The truck is fine but a bit subtle for my taste. If they can make a truck that’s manly and tough looking, maybe I’d buy it.
This is just what I needed to traverse the grassy overflow parking at the mall. Thanks Chevy!
How much more will these monsters grow before requiring CDLs? I have very, very little use for anything this enormous. And, since I don’t do any off-roading these days, I wonder how much Goodyear would ding me for replacement rubber….
For those who can actually make use of such ground-pounders, I say “Good on ya.” But for the majority of buyers, I see zero reason for them beyond the massive profits they generate for the manufacturers.
If they weren’t so giant – not as many people would get to see the FJB decal displayed on back window.
As the owner of a Colorado ZR2, which has never seen the mall parking lot but sees off-road mountain trails weekly, I both like this new HD ZR2 and question its reason to exist. I briefly considered a Power Wagon before I bought the Colorado, but quickly realized that short of forest roads that could be conquered by a Subaru Forester, the Power Wagon is much too large for nearly all the trails in my area. At least the HD ZR2 doesn’t suffer from the same abysmal towing and payload rating as the Power Wagon, though I suspect that will come at the expense of off-road prowess (though my Colorado ZR2 can almost keep up with my older Jeep Wrangler Rubicons in most situations, so GM has some idea what it is doing).
Thats my 2 cents. These big trucks are just too big to be useful off road. I think the use case for the PW, Tremor and this are all the same: You want/need the payload to be able to carry a decent sized slide-in camper for part-time or full-time adventure travel. You won’t be hitting the hard trails, but you want the lift, clearance and nicer suspension along with the traction aids to make sure you don’t get yourself in trouble.
That column shifter is beautiful. There is zero reason to have a console shifter. They just take up room and get in the way.
The rest is OK.
Im setting the over/under on the percentage of these fragile masculinity compensation devices to Own The Libs (TM) every seeing actual off road duty at 5%.
Great, another behemoth whos headlights will blind me at eye-level. And driven by an inexperienced driver, while towing an equally bigger camper. Great job GM! And Bison?? Rhinoceros would have been a better name.
These names are hilarious. Tremor. Rebel. Bison. All ” Manly-man” sounding names. It’d be better if they called it the “It makes my dick look bigger” model because that’s what these ridiculous things are bought for.
Rebel has always struck me as a dog whistle for the stars and bars crowd
I find the Longhorn/Bighorn/Texas/any other state editions even cringier. I can’t look at a Ram Bighorn without thinking “Big Horny”.
It seems funny to me that the only people who ever mention genitalia in automotive comment sections are invariably opposed to trucks, never owners.
If I had to guess, I’d say those commenters are the ones obsessed with some idea of “manhood” rather than truck owners who (with rare exceptions, just like any vehicle’s owners) go about their business without bothering anyone. But that’s just conjecture of course…..
Welllll when climate change is escalating rapidly around all of us as we Americans drive on what are some of the deadliest roads in the developed world, these 6,000 pound behemoths become a problem for all of us. I think that’s what you consistently miss. It’s not exactly the same as someone rolling around in, oh I don’t know…a Fiesta ST or something
I don’t see what that has to do with “penis extenders” pejoratives or whatever.
The projection is just humorous to me.
Maybe I should elaborate a bit. First of all, I do own a truck. But its a small truck. And its old. A 1996 Tacoma. But that said I am not necessarily opposed to larger trucks. People can buy what they want.
I’ll try to explain my opinions about the kinds of trucks like this and others. So about two years ago we drove from California to Portland, OR. The drive there reminded me of the drive from most anywhere these days. Just a literal shit-ton of jacked-up trucks with the most abdominal, tacky, cheesy mods. Sprinkled in of course with lots of Punisher skull, “Blue lives Matter”, don’t tread on me, and other “scary” stickers, occasionally with a YUGE, over-the-top Murican’ flag mounted to a flag pole sticking out of the bed. These things are like the equivalent of a peacock walking around with its tail feathers spread. Except in this case these are grown adult men driving trucks they all think makes them look all scary and manly. And its not for attracting women. Its to puff out their chests to the other men who drive exactly the same lifted F-250 with the same stickers, the same wheels, the same Yeti coolers, and wearing the same mossy oak outfits with the same RayBan sun glasses. Not one original thought ever goes into these things. They are ALL the same.
None of these guys ever grew up. They have lived their lives in their whatever suburban/rural enclaves, never really challenged themselves and never matured. And so they act like juvenile kids, thinking that surely their self image will be immediately improved driving a monster sized truck that looks cool to them and maybe the other bros but absolutely stupid, even embarrassing to everyone else.
Also, the reverse does not seem to hold true. Nobody talks about how large the genitals of MG Midget owners are.
I’ve got to imagine it’s because most of us have experienced a number of guys with these trucks who project their entire being onto it. Who doesn’t have a cousin who married a guy named Chad, who after double parking in the state park parking lot calls your Corolla a “cuckmobile”, thinks it’s funny to exhale a vape cloud into your kids face whilst using “woke” every third word?
After a while the behavior speaks for itself.
To be clear, obviously I don’t think every guy driving a giant truck is actively trying to be a douchebag to hide their insecurities. But boy oh boy does the giant truck tend to go hand in hand with this sort of behavior. Too many bad experiences for it to not be a trend.
And what the hell I’ll just keep editing and adding on:
I think if someone is genuinely excited and passionate for their big truck, that’s cool. For most cars I try to have a “you do you” attitude. But it’s harder to be game for that when every third vehicle is a massive lifted truck, that seem to be designed almost as a middle finger to any pedestrian, cyclist, regular car driver. If these were more rare, and hadn’t become so mainstream, I don’t think any of us would care.
What are the antonyms of these? That might be fun.
I’d drive a Chevy Marmot.
I drive something that could be seen as a masculin signaler and I would have no problem rebadging it something stupid.
I have a Suburban, which is innocuous enough for me (and primarily drive it to locations that are anything but suburban).
Like you, I’d absolutely drive a Chevy Marmot. I’d even drive a Ford Lake Placid Edition.
But the most fun would be a single-cab, 8ft bed Ram pickup with a Hellcat called the “Worker Bee”.
I would too but I already drive a hot crossover that looks like an alien and is named after a region of Hawaii so I’m already coming with similar vibes
I like Brachiosaurus for this one, actually.
Too many syllables for the target market.
How does it Wheel compared to the solid axle Tremor.
I think its probably a non-issue one way or the other. The only HD that will have a significant advantage off-road is the Powerwagon because of its unique articulink and sway bar disconnect. The design type of the RAM and Ford are relatively limiting on flex so they have good lateral stability for towing.
The reaction to this is going to be pretty predictable, but I like it. Even if GM inexplicably remains unwilling to sell a true Raptor or TRX competitor.
Yeah, I’m curious why they decide not to put something in market that competes head-on. Maybe there’s not enough money in it?
As much as I absolutely loathe this segment of vehicles, it does seem like it would be easy enough for them to do. The supercharged V8 and 10 speed from the ZL1 Camaro are right there…maybe it’s an issue with converting them to AWD.
My best guess is that they don’t think they would sell any more trucks, just cannibalize existing customers from other trims. And the marginal increase in revenue from the more expensive truck doesn’t justify the development cost.
The powertrain already exists in a truck chassis in the Escalade V. The suspension components could be adapted from other off-road models they offer. I realize it’s easy to preach from my desk chair, but everything about it leads me to think development costs should be minimal.
Considering people are willing to spend $100K or thereabouts on the Ford and Ram, I’d say the General should be thrilled at the idea of its current customers upgrading to one of these.
It seems like Ford and Stellantis go head-to-head in offroad categories and then GM slides in with something watered down. You have the Wrangler and Bronco and Chev makes the Blazer. Raptor vs Ram, and Chevy comes out with the ZR2. GM just doesn’t commit to a hardcore offroader in any segment.