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Texan in LA: We Test the 2023 Chevy Silverado ZR2

Last year at the LA Auto Show we got our first peek at the most capable Silverado to ever roll off the assembly line. This year, we were blessed to have one provided to us by Chevrolet while we were in the city of stars for the 2022 LA Auto Show.

Rolled out as a 2022 model alongside sweeping exterior and interior upgrades for a mid-cycle refresh, our 2023 Silverado ZR2 definitely feels more upscale than previous generations of the pickup. The interior received the biggest updates with a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster, a 13.4-inch center infotainment screen powered by Google, and a whopping 15-inch color Head-Up Display.

Interior redesign and materials took a step up as well. Design elements seem to have been stolen straight from the C8 Stingray Corvette, arguably the best overall interior of any modern General Motors product. Storage options abound, from the dual glovebox to the large center console big enough for hanging file folders.

However, what makes our ZR2 special is nothing on the inside, but rather what is underneath. The ZR2 features the first application of Multimmatic 40mm DSSV spool-valve dampers that increase off-roadability while improving overall ride as well. Engineers added unique springs to work in conjunction with the dampers for increased and improved wheel travel, front and rear electronically controlled locking differentials, unique skid plates and steel bumpers, off-road drive modes that enable one-pedal rock crawling, and 33-inch tall MT tires.

Unfortunately, we did not get to test all the off-road goodies in our time in Southern California, mostly sticking to paved surfaces, but we got a sense of the sacrifices (or lack thereof) that engineers had to make to the pickup’s on-road characteristics in order to achieve these new off-road capabilities. Let me tell you, this truck is just as comfortable on-road as many other vehicles for sale today. Everything the engineers did to improve this truck for high-speed off-road action also translates to a calm on-road presence. In fact, taking this truck down the 405 and through LA gridlock traffic is perhaps more of an opportunity to show off the work engineers did to this vehicle than it would be if I went racing through Baja. Don’t get me wrong, I STILL WANT TO TAKE THIS THING OFF-ROAD, but driving it through LA was not the beating many would imagine in a vehicle this purpose-built for getting dirty.

Emergency stops did not result in dramatic nose dives, uneven pavement did not send the body into uncomfortable gyrations, and highway speeds did not come with a floaty/boaty feeling. I might as well have been driving my Chevy Cruze around versus a large, capable half-ton pickup. With that said, having a large half-ton pickup in LA did also come with some unexpected perks. Merging in traffic was easier not only due to my great visibility through the large windows and large rearview mirrors but also because I was the largest vehicle around. In the sea of Prius and Tesla drivers surrounding LA, I stood out and above everyone. Pair that with blindspot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, 360-degree camera systems, and follow distance indicators on the HUD that actually displayed the following time between myself and the vehicle in front of me in seconds, and you have a very comfortable daily driver that is supremely capable in ‘most’ situations.

Driving this thing up the winding neighborhood roads in the Hollywood hills to see the famed Hollywood sign was the only instance I was supremely aware (in a bad way) of this vehicle’s massive size. I am sure that if I spent more time driving in downtown LA I too would have found some inadequacies with making this pickup my daily if this were home base for me. But I live in East Texas where the pickup is our family vehicle of choice and, in this instance, this ZR2 ranks pretty high on this year’s Christmas list.

2023 Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 Specs:

  • 6.2L V8Engine

  • 420 Horsepower

  • 460 lb-ft of Torque

  • 10-speed Automatic Transmission

  • Four-Wheel Drive Selectable Drive Modes

  • Multimatic 40mm DSSV Spool-valve Dampers

  • Rear Leaf Springs

  • 2-inch Lift

  • Front and Rear Electronic Locking Differentials

  • One-Pedal Rock Crawl Mode

  • Unique Skid Plates

  • Steel Front Bumper

  • 31.8-degree Approach Angle

  • 18-inch Gloss Black Aluminum Wheels

  • 33-inch Tall LT275/70R18 Mud-Terrain Goodyear® Wrangler Territory® Blackwall Tires

  • Heated & Ventilated Front Leather-Trimmed Seats

  • 13.4-inch Center Infotainment Screen Powered By Google

  • 12.3-inch Digital Gauge Cluster

  • 15-inch Color Head-Up Display

  • Dual-Zone Automatic Climate Control

  • Proximity Key with Push Button Start

  • Best-in-Class 89.1 Cubic Feet of Bed Volume

  • Chevy Safety Assist

  • EPA Fuel Economy 14/17/15 (city/hwy/combined)

  • Starting MSRP $69,800

  • Price as tested: $77,400


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