Review: 2022 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss vs ZR2

The 2022 model year Chevrolet Silverado 1500 comes in two off-road-centric options, the Trail Boss package edition and the ZR2 trim level. There is a large price difference between the two and the capabilities change, and we think one is better than the other.

The Trail Boss package is available on both the nearly base model Custom trim level and on the higher up LT trim level. The ZR2 is its own trim level, but is itself based on the LT trim as well. Regardless of which Trail Boss is chosen, though, the off-road content is the same. So either can be compared in that regard to the ZR2.

At a Glance

  • In either trim point, the Trail Boss is significantly cheaper.
  • Both packages add the Z71 off-road gear to the truck as a starting point.
  • The ZR2 is billed as significantly more off-road capable.
  • The Trail Boss models can be had with any of four engine options.
2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2
The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2 was able to go down this hill without issue, but did not have the ground clearances to go back up

Aaron Turpen / New Atlas

The most significant difference between the two off-road packages is cost. The 2022 Chevrolet Silverado Custom Trail Boss has a starting price of US$49,500 and the LT Trail Boss has a starting price of $55,300, while the Silverado ZR2 starts at $68,400. That’s a lot of difference in price points, but some may find it justified given the mechanical differences between the packages.

The Silverado Custom Trail Boss has few amenities when compared to the LT-based Trail Boss and ZR2. But it’s worth noting that the lower-cost Custom Trail Boss model, while having fewer gadgets and amenities, has the same off-road gear as the LT Trail Boss model and so is comparable in actual capability on and off the road. It just lacks the more refined interior, higher-end electronics gear, and creature comforts.

Mechanically, the Trail Boss and ZR2 begin at about the same point, with the Z71 off-road suspension package. This adds Rancho shocks, a 2-inch ground clearance upgrade, 18-inch wheels, and an automatic locking rear differential. Along with hill descent control, a two-speed transfer case for four-wheel drive, and skid plates at the front and middle of the truck for undercarriage protection. Significantly, however, the Custom Trail Boss and LT Trail Boss models also allow access to all engine options for the truck, including the turbocharged four-cylinder, the 5.3-liter V8, and the six-cylinder diesel. The LT Trail Boss can optionally have, and the ZR2 comes standard with, the 6.2-liter V8. The ZR2 has no other engine options.

The ZR2 package also adds larger 33-inch tires, off-road-adaptive dampers, larger skid plates, a full-sized spare (optional on the Trail Boss), and an electronic locking front differential. Both the LT Trail Boss and the ZR2 have a more aggressive transmission cooler as well, which isn’t available on the Custom Trail Boss. The ZR2 package also adds more angular bumpers, which improve approach and departure angles a bit.

Interestingly, the Custom Trail Boss can be bought with either the extended or the crew cab and with either the short or standard-sized bed. The LT Trail Boss can likewise be had with either bed size as well. The ZR2, however, is a crew cab with a short bed and has no other cab/bed configuration options.

When comparing off-road capability, we had both a ZR2 model and an LT Trail Boss model as test drives and took both to the same off-road area. On most off-road tasks, the two were equals, though the LT Trail Boss had a diesel engine and 10-speed transmission that proved much more fuel efficient and smoother-to-drive by comparison. The ZR2 was able to do more hardcore off-roading than the LT Trail Boss thanks to its larger skid plates, and its added bumper clearances meant that we could maneuver the ZR2 down a rocky hill that requires good articulation and high clearance to maneuver.

We could not take either truck up that hill, however, as doing that requires a lot more front body clearance (specifically in the front approach and axle). This wasn’t surprising as we’ve only been able to easily go up that hill with the Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and small wheelbase trucks like the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2. The Ford Raptor in its current rendition was also able to do it, though the jumpy turbo’d engine did make it a little harder to control.

The interiors of the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 and LT Trail Boss are very similar
The interiors of the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 and LT Trail Boss are very similar

Aaron Turpen / New Atlas

And no, we’d never call the Silverado ZR2 comparable to the Raptor or the Ram TRX. Those trucks are a different league of off-road capable altogether. The Silverado ZR2 essentially has no competition as there is no middle ground off-road truck on the market. That said, however, we also note that nearly all off-road driving is actually just glorified dirt road going with the occasional mud puddle, steam fording, and soft dirt bouncing. For all of that, the Trial Boss model more than covers the bases. The people who tend to do more than that as a regular thing, such as the rock climbing hill we mentioned, are usually doing so in custom modified rigs and specialty equipment. The Jeep Safari and Magruder Road vehicle sets are not often found off the shelf from any manufacturer.

After spending time in both, we’d recommend going with the Trail Boss model over the ZR2. The added costs aren’t justified in real-world capability gains and most of those added capabilities are not make-or-break for most off-road needs anyway. Plus, with the Trail Boss, you can opt for the diesel engine and get a much more efficient, smooth-driving powertrain in the bargain. The diesel adds about $3,000 to the Trail Boss’ price point. For reference, the Trail Boss package itself is about $4,000 added onto the Custom or the LT’s price tag.

Product Page: 2022 Chevrolet Silverado

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