In the typical cadence of the pickup market, we might expect a handful of minor tweaks for the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado, but the bowtie brand has an unusually extensive list of updates coming for the pickup when it reaches showrooms early next year.
Chevy hopes to win back those who sharply criticized Silverado when the fourth-generation pickup hit market just three years ago — and, in the process, win back buyers who’ve been migrating to its archrival Ram.
While some of the updates are cosmetic, starting with a new grille design, the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado also gets more substantial updates, starting with an all-new off-road model, the ZR2. Two popular powertrain options are upgraded, as well, delivering more torque and towing capacity. And, but for base “work” trucks, buyers will find significant upgrades in the interior, including more upscale materials and a switch to all-digital displays. The 2022 Silverado also gets a special version of General Motors’ hands-free Super Cruise technology.
“We’ve enhanced the Silverado line-up to build on its success, giving customers more choice, a refined design and new technology options,” said Kelly MacDonald, director of Chevrolet Truck Marketing.
Satisfying the critics
The biggest challenge for Chevy was to address criticism about Silverado’s design, especially the front air vents that some have likened to sideburns. The vents and grilles are revised for 2022, with new, lower headlamps that give the truck a broader, more planted appearance.
Each trim package has a distinctive front end look and that’s particularly noticeable on the new ZR2 trim, where the front skid flows up into the grille.
The ZR2 is likely to be the big headline for many potential Silverado buyers. According to MacDonald, fully 60% of the current Chevy line-up is “off-road capable.” And, if current industry sales are any indication, demand is likely to grow as more and motorists look for ways to explore nature — or just look good rolling up to their summer vacation homes.
Chevy’s ZR2 is its most capable off-roader yet
The ZR2 becomes the third “lifted” model in the Silverado family. It offers a range of off-road enhancements including not only that skid plates but:
- Multimatic 40mm DSSV spool-valve dampers,
- Uniquely tuned springs, and
- Front and rear e-lockers and other features designed to attack the roughest and rockiest of trails.
The ZR2 is powered by a 6.2-liter V-8 making 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.
While there’ve been off-road-oriented trucks around for decades, buyers no longer seem willing to sacrifice rock-crawling capabilities for on-road manners, said Jaclyn McQuaid, the chief engineer on the 2022 Silverado.
“This is a customer who wants everything: great off-road capabilities and they also want great on-road (manners) and handling and comfort and premiumness.”
And that’s the other bogey Chevy set out to meet this coming year.
While “work truck” trims remain largely the same inside, the LT series and above see significant upgrades in the cabin.
That starts with a switch to a 12.3-inch, reconfigurable gauge cluster complementing the new 13.4-inch, landscape-oriented touchscreen. Drivers will notice the new digital technology immediately upon entering their Silverado as it fires up an animated greeting on the two screens. The gauge cluster can be revised depending on how the truck is being used. The touchscreen can handle not only the normal infotainment functions but also display a variety of different views from the optional camera packages the truck will be offered with.
A head-up display and a rearview camera mirror also are on the option checklist.
High Country adds more luxury
You’ll be most likely to see the push upmarket with the top-of-the-line High Country model which adds the sort of detailing once reserved for luxury sedans and coupes. Start with double-stitching on the seats, as well as open pore wood trim on the console, glove box and doors. All models equipped with bucket seats now get an upgraded center console with an electronic shifter that frees up space for storage.
“What we’re seeing in this market is more luxury,” said Interior Design Director Chris Hilts. Buyers, he added, “are looking to drive these vehicles upscale.”
The High Country also becomes the first Chevy truck to get GM’s Super Cruise system — which also will debut for 2022 on the updated GMC Sierra. First introduced on Cadillac’s old CT6 sedan, the latest version of the technology now operates in more places — about 200,000 miles of limited-access highways — and adds more functionality.
With Silverado, the pickup can automatically change lanes, as long as the system deems it safe. It won’t even require driver input. When it approaches a slower vehicle it automatically executes a pass and then moves back over again. Auto lane change doesn’t operate when hauling a trailer. But the Chevy truck’s optional camera system will show you if there’s a vehicle in a trailer’s extended blind spot.
The tow factor
For those looking to tow larger loads, Chevy added several powertrain upgrades for 2022.
That includes the 2.7-liter Turbo High-Output option which gets a 20% bump in torque, at 420 lb-ft. The engine retains its 310-hp rating, however.
Then there’s the high-mileage, 3.0-liter Duramax Diesel. For 2022, its tow rating jumps to 13,300 pounds in two-wheel-drive configuration. That’s a full 4,000-pound increase thanks to upgrades in cooling, a revised gear set and other changes.
Chevy clearly hopes that all the upgrades pay off in the showroom. While Silverado has never been able to take down the full-size segment’s big dog, the Ford F-Series, it traditionally held a solid lead over the Ram 1500. But the fourth-generation Chevy truck got off to a stuttering start, falling into third place, with U.S. sales of 575,659 falling nearly 60,000 short of its Ram rival. Chevy bounced back in pandemic-plagued 2020, but just barely, regaining the second spot by a mere 30,000 trucks.
It’s fallen behind Ram yet again this year – though it’s harder to fault the Silverado or credit the Ram in a the market hammered by the shortage of semiconductors. That’s severely disrupted production, leaving dealer inventories bare.
The real test should come next year with the debut of the 2022 update. But Chevy will get off to a late start, only launching production of the new Silverado during the first quarter. And there’s still the question of whether it will have enough chips to get production back on track. For her part, marketing chief MacDonald said the automaker is hopeful.
“We don’t expect the chip shortage to impact the timing of this launch,” she said during a media background briefing. But she acknowledged that “It’s a very fluid situation. Nobody expected the (shortages) to go on this long.”
At the earliest, look for the first of the 2022 Chevrolet Silverados to start rolling into U.S. showrooms by late in the first quarter. Pricing will be released closer to that launch.