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Recently, General Motors revealed some major changes to the 2022 Chevy Silverado, and one exciting addition is the first-ever ZR2 trim.

Hot on the heels of the launch, GM’s engineers got right to work creating a pre-production version of the Silverado ZR2 to compete in the Best In The Desert King Shocks Laughlin Desert Classic. Thus, this new off-road halo vehicle for Chevrolet made its racing debut over the weekend. The result: It didn’t finish last — and in desert racing, that’s a big deal when several trucks don’t finish at all.

Off-road racing champion Chad Hall has been part of the development, along with engineers, to create the Silverado racing truck. Hall has been competing in the full-size stock production class with a prototype Silverado ZR2 since 2019. Through the initial prototype and testing in actual races by Hall, the Chevrolet engineers took the feedback to help validate the truck’s off-road performance.

Testing the Silverado ZR2 in some of the most grueling conditions, by a driver who will push it to the limit, helped the team that worked on the 2022 Silverado ZR2. What they learned was used to develop components for production vehicles and performance parts.

“At Chevrolet, our motorsports philosophy is ‘sell what you race, and race what you sell.’ Competing in off-road racing puts our trucks and performance parts through extreme levels of abuse that most trucks will never encounter,” said Dom Lester, General Motors chief engineer for Performance Variants, Parts and Motorsports Engineering.

From prototype to production

As a prototype, the Silverado ZR2 competed in 10 professionally sanctioned off-road races. For the pre-production version at the King Shocks Laughlin Desert Classic, very few changes were made. Basically, there was new ZR2 sheet metal added to match the look of the 2022 production truck.

According to Chevrolet, all other major chassis, suspension and powertrain components are the same between the original race-test prototype and the new pre-production ZR2.

Links between the production truck and the race truck are significant as they share most of the major chassis and drivetrain components, including the ladder-type frame, a high-output 6.2-liter V-8 engine, 10-speed automatic transmission, transfer case, front and rear differential, front skid plate and transfer case skid plate.

2022 Silverado ZR2

With pre-production work and input from racing legends built into the Silverado ZR2, it becomes the flagship truck of Chevy’s factory-lifted off-road lineup. There is only one engine option available, which now is essentially one step above the TrailBoss trim in the lineup. The 6.2-liter V-8 engine with 10-speed automatic transmission will crank out 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.

Some of the off-road ready improvements exclusive to the ZR2 include Multimatic 40mm DSSV spool-valve dampers and specially tuned springs. There’s also a 2-inch lift with 18-inch wheels and 33-inch tires.

Aesthetically the 2022 Silverado ZR2 has a black hood insert, a unique grille with integrated lighting and a “flow-tie” emblem, ZR2 badges and Jet Black/Graystone leather-trimmed interior, with complementing dark trim.

The Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 goes on sale in spring 2022.

The bottom line on Silverado ZR2

Seeking input from end users like Chad Hall is smart. Working with engineers to make tweaks and improvements with his feedback can only make for a great final product.

As we mentioned, we are a little befuddled the Silverado ZR2 doesn’t have more horsepower and appears not to be a true Ram TRX competitor. While we are sure the ZR2 is capable and rugged and will be worthy of the ZR2 badging, it seems like there’s not enough of a difference between the ZR2 and the TrailBoss.

We love the philosophy of “sell what you race, and race what you sell.” And perhaps, out in the elements of the desert, racing through various conditions, the Silverado ZR2 will win some races while also winning over any skeptics.

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Jimmy Dinsmore

Jimmy is News Editor for PickupTruckTalk with an expertise in new vehicles. He is also a Ford Mustang historian having authored the book Mustang by Design (available on Amazon). His second book, about the history of Ford's F-Series truck comes out next year.

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