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2022 Chevy Silverado 1500: Upgraded interior + ZR2 = success [First Drive]

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The biggest complaint I had about the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 was the interior. It was outdated at launch, with its tiny screen and cheap materials. This was the single biggest miss for an all-new vehicle.

Especially when Ram knocked its 1500 redesign out of the park that same year.

So, three years later, this refresh corrects the one of the worst things about the Chevy truck. With new materials, better dash design and digital displays, the 2022 Silverado 1500 finally looks like a truck from this decade.

Plus, there are some powertrain tweaks like the improved torque on the 2.7-liter turbo. We’ve already discussed the full range of changes for 2022, so we won’t focus on that here.

After spending two days with the refreshed 1500, I’ll say as much as I like it – and I love the ZR2 – it’s still not perfect.

What’s so great about the interior?

Everything. But let’s start with the digital screens. Starting at the LT trim, you’ll get a 13.4-inch digital infotainment screen and a 12.3-inch behind-the-wheel gauge cluster. Both have excellent clarity – especially when you look at the camera displays.

The digital gauge cluster is well designed and configurable. Plus, there’s a really cool intro graphic when you enter the 2022 Silverado 1500 that runs from the digital cluster to the info screen. There’s a separate, and dare I say cooler, one for the ZR2.

The interior materials are also much more up-level with the redesign. We had the Custom, LT, High Country and ZR2 trims on hand, and every single trim looks better – even though the Custom trim gets the carryover interior with the small info screen.

Another big update is to the gearshift. It’s a large handle-like shifter with forward-back motions for shifting into reverse and drive. But here’s the thing for all you truck diehards out there: You can still get a column shifter with the bench seats.

2022 Silverado 1500

Google stuff

Another big change for the 2022 model year will be the Google-powered entertainment system. We’ve already seen this in the GMC Hummer EV, so it looks like General Motors is going to be rolling out this new operating system to its entire lineup.

This system includes things such as Google Maps, Google Assistant and the Google Play store. So, you’ll have up-to-date traffic information and can download specific apps to the vehicle itself rather than needing to power it through your phone. All this Googliness comes with a subscription, but since the initial 3-year period is a free trial, you won’t have to pay for it in the beginning. But we’re not sure exactly what happens when the trial ends if you don’t re-up.

The good news, however, is both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard with this operating system (which wasn’t the case with the Volvo XC60 Recharge we drove recently). Even better: They’re wireless.

Let’s talk about the 2022 Silverado 1500 seats

We tend to make a big deal about seat comfort in our video reviews on YouTube, and specifically, we’ve given GM a hard time for its lack of seat comfort. So, the 2022 Silverado 1500 has some good and some bad news.

Because I’m a get-the-bad-stuff-out-of-the-way-first kind of a girl, you should know even with all the updates Chevy made to the interior materials and details, it did not update the seats. So, they are still on the firm side.

But here’s the good news: The ZR2 gets a completely new, completely different seat. We talked to Chief Engineer Niki Meyers about the seat changes, and she said in addition to the surface materials, the ZR2 seats get a new, wider bolster pattern on the bottom and sides. So, though they are designed to keep you in place with some aggressive off-road maneuvers, they also account for a more manly physique.

Both Publisher Tim Esterdahl and I noticed a huge difference. After about 8 hours in the front seats, we both thought they were (gasp) comfortable. Though Meyers said the center padding materials hadn’t changed, we still noticed a difference in how the seat felt on our butts. They were still firm, but there was a level of cushion that wasn’t there before. Whether it was the seating surface materials or the repositioning of the bolstering, something made these seats feel better.

Now, let’s talk about rolling them out to the rest of the lineup and, um, all GM products, please.


Getting dirty with the ZR2

Damn this truck is fun. We spent nearly 6 hours on rocky terrain, desert sand and gravely “roads,” and I was impressed with how well the ZR2 handled everything. Our first obstacle was a narrow rock crawl filled with mogul-like bumps, and the ZR2 fairly floated up the incline. There was a little wheel lift, but overall the suspension twisted and morphed to take the divots in stride.

When we hit some sandy roads with undulating bumps, the suspension was able to keep pace and provided a more comfortable flow – even when we did a little hop over one of the bigger bumps and caught some air.

As we flew at speeds up to 50 MPH over about 12 miles of gravel, I was certainly thankful for the extra skid plates as I heard the rocks flick up against the metal, but again, the suspension took it all in stride. This was after journalists beat these trucks up over the same terrain for a couple weeks straight. We didn’t hear any major squeaks and rattles.

The one thing we did note was the suspension felt a bit squishy when on solid, paved streets. We didn’t necessarily think that was a bad thing, considering what that meant for the off-road driving portions. It’s just a thing to know.

The ZR2 gets the 6.2-liter V-8 engine that delivers 420 horsepower and 460-pound-feet of torque. This is certainly enough power in any off-road situation you can conjure up, and it’s really good for on-road driving as well. We did notice the hard acceleration isn’t push-you-back-in-the-seat fast, but it’s more than enough to get the job done.

I had no problems merging with highway traffic or passing, it just didn’t make me giggle while I was doing it.

Is the ZR2 a Raptor fighter?

Yes, and no. While the ZR2 has less horsepower and torque, it’s in the ballpark. And the ability to tackle off-road obstacles with the extra lift and beefy 33-inch tires is also comparable. I’d be hard pressed to find an obstacle the Ford Raptor could manage that the Chevy ZR2 cannot.

But here’s the thing: The Raptor is very ingrained in the psyche of Baja off-road types, and the ZR2 is really late to the party. Your Chevy loyalist will flock to the ZR2, thankful they have a rugged off-road option, but your current Raptor owners are going to keep buying Raptors.

The one thing ZR2 has that Raptor currently doesn’t have: A V-8 engine. Yet. And that could be a huge selling point in some circles. Especially with that amazing exhaust note.

Another huge point in favor of the ZR2: At about $70k, it’ll cost you $10k less out the door than the Raptor you typically find on a dealer lot.

The bottom line on the 2022 Silverado 1500

There is a lot to love about this refresh of the 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500. The interior is finally up to par with the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 – and perhaps surpasses them. Plus, the ZR2 is amazing. It looks good, the seats are awesome, the “flowtie” is fun and functional, and the tech is solid.

I’m also glad Chevy has kept the column shifter with the bench seat option. There are a lot of folks out there who still want that.

Overall, this refresh is a huge win for Chevy.

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Jill Ciminillo

Jill Ciminillo is the Managing Editor for Pickup Truck + SUV Talk as well as a Chicago-based automotive writer, YouTube personality and podcast host, with her articles and videos appearing in outlets throughout the U.S. Additionally, she co-hosts a weekly radio show on car stuff for a local Chicago station. Previously, Jill has been the automotive editor for both newspaper and broadcast media conglomerates. She is also a past president for the Midwest Automotive Media Association and has the distinction of being the first female president for that organization.

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