Way back when, Chevrolet Z71 models were the automaker's top off-road offerings. Nowadays, it's the ZR2 trucks that carry the flag as the Bowtie's best four-wheelers. We're already familiar with the Colorado and Silverado ZR2, but it doesn't end there as the 2024 Chevy Silverado HD ZR2 launched on Thursday. It packs what matters most—well, for the most part—like Multimatic DSSV dampers, 35-inch tires, an AEV-modified Bison trim, and the option to equip it with a gas or diesel engine. Plus, it just looks sharp.
The suspension is what really makes the Silverado HD ZR2 something special. It sports freshly redesigned upper and lower control arms up front that are tougher for desert duty. The magical Multimatic DSSV dampers are revised as well to support the three-quarter-ton truck at high speeds, helping it stand out amongst competition like the Ford Super Duty Tremor and Ram Power Wagon.
The Chevrolet comes standard with a 6.6-liter gas V8, which makes 401 horsepower and 464 pound-feet of torque. You can bet that most buyers will spring for the 6.6-liter Duramax diesel, though, as it's the more premium option with 470 hp and 975 pound-feet. Customers in this demographic care more about performance and panache than they do about keeping the budget low, and Chevy is happy to capitalize on that. Both engines are paired with the 10-speed Allison automatic.
When spec'd with the Duramax, the Silverado HD ZR2 can tow a max of 18,500 pounds. Interestingly, that's the rating for a conventional trailer; the fifth-wheel and gooseneck max tow caps out at 18,100 pounds. It's usually the other way around. When I asked why it's flippped, Chevy responded, "The heavy-duty truck segment bases figures on SAE J2807 calculations, which assume estimated figures for pin, passengers and cargo weight with reference to GVWR and GCWR. Thus, fifth-wheel and gooseneck trailering can become GCWR constrained, especially with the pin weight it assumes." Either way, the Silverado HD ZR2's 3,397-pound max payload is achieved by the gas model.
A rear electronic locker assists with traction on loose surfaces, along with the 35-inch Goodyear Wrangler mud-terrains that give the truck 11.8 inches of ground clearance. There's no front locker like in the light-duty Silverado ZR2, which is why I said it packs most of the features that matter. Chevrolet insists its Off-Road mode can do the job via careful throttle progression and transmission shifts, but it's hard to know without driving it.
Inside, Chevy has made the Silverado HD ZR2 a super-comfy place to be. It benefits big-time from the 2024 refresh that introduces a 13.4-inch infotainment screen as well as a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster that displays everything you need to monitor. You'll even find a 15-inch heads-up display in there, making this a seriously tech-forward cab. The leather is nice, too.
If all this and more sounds like something you'd like to own, Chevy will also sell you a Silverado HD ZR2 Bison at launch. It has everything listed here as well as gloss black 18-inch wheels, stamped steel bumpers, and steel skid plates. Those bumpers alter the truck's off-road angles to 29.8° of approach, 22.6° of breakover, and 25.7° of departure. Meanwhile, the non-Bison manages 32.5°, 21.2°, and 25.7° of approach, breakover, and departure, respectively.
The Chevy takes an approach that's unique from Ford and Ram. While it can be optioned with a gas or diesel engine like the Super Duty Tremor, it's only available as a 2500 series truck like the Power Wagon. It's more like the Ram HD Rebel, then, as it has most of the off-road and work capabilities without the most hardcore 4x4 features like a push-button sway bar disconnect.
It'll be available for purchase in Q3 2023, meaning you've got a few months to save your pennies. You probably need to because the Silverado HD ZR2 surely won't be cheap, likely topping out in the mid $90,000 range. That's what pickups like these go for in the current day and age, but when they look as good and perform as well as this one promises to, plenty will line up to pay the price.
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