2024 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison Is Prince Of The Hammers


2024 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison Is Prince Of The Hammers

If you enjoy off-roading or other activities that need a car to venture into the wilderness, there’s something exciting going on at Chevrolet. We’ve had the opportunity to experience the ZR2 lineup of trucks over the last few months, beginning with initial drives of the massive Silverado HD ZR2 and the Colorado ZR2. After testing the Colorado ZR2, which is the smallest and most maneuverable of the three, and the Silverado HD ZR2, which is a true beast that could tow nearly anything into the desert, we finally get the standard Silverado 1500 in ZR2 configuration for a full week of testing. The Silverado ZR2 should fit most people looking for a balance between work and play with their truck.

The Silverado ZR2 is powered by a 6.2-liter V8 that makes 420 horsepower, paired with a 10-speed transmission, all-wheel-drive, Multimatic damped suspension, and bodywork designed to avoid getting caught by rocks or tree stumps.

Exterior: Cut The Corners
Although the Silverado 1500 ZR2 has a grumpier countenance than other trims, the real work begins beneath the grill. To help with the approach angle (32.5 degrees), the corners of the bumper are trimmed back; the rear receives the same treatment for the departure angle (23.4 degrees). In order to lessen the possibility of the exhausts becoming snagged on objects, the rear bumper has exhaust outlet holes removed and red tow eyelets added to it. Although there is additional protective wrapping around the edges, the fenders are no wider than those of a standard Silverado.
The ZR2 comes standard with 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory mud-terrain tires, which not only increase ride height but also aid in grip. With 11.2 inches of ground clearance, the Silverado ZR2 has three inches more than the normal Silverado. The ZR2 Bison Edition, our tester for the week, has gloss black 18-inch wheels, steel skid plates for the front and rear differential, transfer case, and fuel tank, and steel AEV stamped-steel bumpers fore and aft. A Multi-Flex tailgate is another feature of the ZR2 Bison Edition.

Interior: Very Chevy

While the interior is very Chevy, the brand has upped its game, and inside, the Silverado ZR2 is a pleasant place to spend time. The materials are mostly par for the course in a higher-trim truck but somewhat let down by the cheap-feeling electronic console-mounted drive selector. It’s not a deal-breaker and made up for with an intuitive 13.4-inch infotainment screen that’s quick to respond to inputs and a slick and configurable 12.3 digital gauge cluster.

A wireless charging pad and wireless Apple Carplay and Android Auto are standard, along with ZR2-specific seats. The Bison trim gets a few aesthetic updates, including AEW brand stamps on the seat headrests and branded floor liners.

Under The Hood: All Of The V8
Although the 3.0-liter Duramax Turbo Diesel engine was made available to the ZR2 for 2024, our tester had the familiar V8 under the hood. The Silverado’s 6.2-liter naturally aspirated pushrod engine has been tried and tested and not found wanting, so we were glad to find it fitted to our ZR2, providing a hefty and reliable 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It doesn’t read as impressively as the Ford F-150 Raptor or the RAM 1500 TRX, but it’s a workhorse delivering more power than the majority of buyers will ever need, particularly when it comes to off-roading that isn’t desert-running, where the torque matters.

When we first drove this generation of Silverado ZR2, we beat it up on a first drive into the trails of Joshua Tree in California. For this test drive, we ventured out to the home of the now legendary ‘King Of The Hammers’ in Johnson Valley to find some different terrain. We knew the truck and torque could eat rocks and spit them out, but how would it deal with twisting trails with sections of deep sand and higher-speed areas? After all, if you go to Johnson Valley, it would be a crime not to do a little hurtling around one of the dry lake beds.

Off The Road: Sometimes You Need A Hammer

When we attended the first drive event organized by Chevy, the highlight of the day was getting to test the truck’s rock crawling and rock climbing ability. The engineering highlight of the ZR2 is the adaptation of the Multimatic DSSV dampers. We say adaptation as they were originally developed for open-wheel race cars and have since made their way into all sorts of racing and road cars, including Chevy’s epic Camaro Z/28. For off-road use, the dampers feature three spool-valve chambers with newly designed seals, and they work in conjunction with new springs that add to the ZR2’s ride height.


We just hit a fast sand route in a Bronco Raptor during our maiden run in Johnson Valley. Even though the Silverado ZR2 won’t be as stable at the same high speeds as one of the desert runners due to its increased breadth, you can still make people grin without running the risk of losing an arm or their lives. There was no danger of getting bogged in the sand even without slightly inflating the tires for that portion because the suspension and diffs maintain everything incredibly smooth and predictable.

Further out, the sand gets softer, and the hills rise steeper, which is where sensible people will air down. We weren’t feeling particularly worried and had made friends with some close-by off-road campers who could pull us out if we needed it. Still, nobody wants that embarrassment, so we kept up the momentum and put our trust in the torque available when it got steep. We powered through and up to some exceptional views and only needed to lock the diffs once – a function that’s just a button press away at all times.

We don’t want to harp on about the desert trucks from Ford and RAM, but the comparisons are natural, and it’s worth noting that we were able to slip through gaps in rocks and explore areas that a Raptor or TRX wouldn’t fit through.

Then, just for fun and because it would be impolite not to, we played around on the dry lake bed. Our goal was not to prove anything. It turns out that these make for amazing and fascinating pictures. Running the sand whoops parallel to the track that led out of that portion of Johnson Valley was our last, true test. Once more, the suspension caught us off guard by enabling us to roll through at a high speed without causing any collisions within the cabin.

Finally, we got the perfect end to a day in the desert just as the sun started to dip below the horizon. We weren’t planning to get any more photos, but the setting sun dropped light perfectly while illuminating the clouds behind. It was as if California wanted to show off that this was a natural home for the ZR2.

On The Road: It’s A Truck

On the trip home, we covered a good amount of highway miles, and the ZR2’s ride quality is really better than the standard Silverado’s. The tires create additional road noise inside, but that’s because they’re meant to cushion shocks and uneven surfaces. They don’t even pick up on the odd pothole or the cracked pavement of the worst paved roadway in California.

We realized throughout the course of the week how pleasant the ride is and how the additional road noise is still well within our tolerance. We also enjoyed the regular width throughout town, especially parking, having done the same thing with a Bronco Raptor not too long ago.

Verdict: Done Right
Chevy isn’t playing the headline-grabbing trophy-truck game Ford and Dodge are with their F-150 Raptor or the RAM 1500 TRX, meaning there’s a no-nonsense approach to building the best off-road trucks the brand can put into production. The Silverado 1500 ZR2 doesn’t suffer from excessive width that hampers off-road and garage parking ability or over-the-top power figures, yet it can tow big loads without fuss.

The Silverado ZR2 doesn’t sacrifice everyday usability while delivering exceptional off-road performance. It’s as much the tool a truck needs to be and makes the F-150 Raptor and the 1500 TRX look like the toys they are – amazing toys, yes, but they’re far from ideal for double duty as daily driving trucks.

In 2023, the price of $80,035 for a vehicle at the top of its range with that much capability and utility isn’t shocking, which makes it a more reasonable and cost-effective option than supertrucks. It’s also a very strong off-road vehicle that can travel long distances and withstand a lot of abuse without complaining.

However, the Colorado is more maneuverable due to its smaller weight and shorter wheelbase and offers a generally more comfortable ride if you’re searching for an off-road vehicle and don’t require something larger for towing. In any case, it’s easy to suggest any of the smaller ZR2 vehicles as an off-factory off-road vehicle that can compete with the majority of trucks that have been modified.