Expert Reviews

2022 Chevrolet Silverado First Drive Review

There’s no denying that the Chevrolet Silverado – as well as the mechanically identical GMC Sierra – has fallen behind its rivals in recent years.

Well, everywhere except in the sales charts, that is, with this half-ton still selling in huge numbers despite being decidedly dated compared to the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500. Where its rivals took massive leaps forward a few years ago to integrate modern technology and attractive materials, the Silverado felt a generation or two old and stayed that way – until now, that is.

While stopping short of new-generation status, the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado has been significantly updated in all the ways that matter. The mechanicals weren’t the problem before, so they remain mostly unchanged, with the brand instead bestowing upon this truck the style and substance it needs to feel sufficiently up-to-snuff in the segment.

More Torque on Tap

The bad news first: there’s no hybrid or electric powertrain to pick from here, with a pair of V8s on offer, as well as a turbocharged four-cylinder gas engine and an inline six-cylinder diesel. (An all-electric truck bearing the Silverado name is expected to arrive sometime next year.) The 2.7L turbo has been tweaked slightly as part of the Silverado’s updates, with a helpful torque boost to 420 lb-ft. For a bit of context, that’s quite a bit more than this truck’s 5.3L V8 generates.

Despite not sounding all that impressive, a brief test of a four-cylinder Silverado proved perfectly pleasant, with acceleration that’s competent and competitive with rivals that use larger engines to get the job done. Of course, those looking to access a more traditional truck experience through the pedal on the right will find it in the 6.2L V8 that’s standard in the all-new Silverado ZR2 and is available elsewhere in the lineup, including the luxury-leaning High Country trim.

With 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, this naturally aspirated unit is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission instead of the 2.7L’s eight-speed, and there’s an entire theatrical performance that accompanies prods of the accelerator. The exhaust note isn’t quite as invigorating as the Ram 1500 GT’s sublime sound but it adds to the sensation of forcefulness the 6.2L provides.

Dressed to Impress

While the exterior has been updated at least a little, it’s the cabin that deserves all the praise for its enhanced aesthetics and features. While the base trim is stuck in the past, both literally and figuratively, the rest of the lineup gets a much-needed new look and feel. Materials and controls have been swapped out for stuff that’s a little more refined, while a 13.4-inch touchscreen acts as a centrepiece of form and function.

According to the automaker, Canadian software teams were behind much of the development of the Silverado’s new infotainment interface, which was good before but inches closer to outstanding status. While wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connections are included, as they were before, a new built-in Google assistant can be used to control various functions including climate, phone, or audio, plus Google Maps takes the place of a traditional onboard navigation system.

Working in conjunction with the infotainment system is a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster that’s crisp and configurable, while a whole host of new controls are a massive step forward in both form and function. Where the switchgear of old was cheap and chunky, this stuff is nicer to look at while remaining simple to use and understand. There’s no more tune knob on the centre stack, which is a shame, but there’s a button, toggle, or dial for just about every other function in the truck.

New Tech at the Top

It’s probably fair to describe the Silverado High Country as a short step behind similar Ram 1500 and Ford F-150 models as far as luxury goes (there are still no massaging seats available, for instance), the availability of the brand’s Super Cruise driver-assist system nearly makes up for it. Part of a pricey $9,000 package that also adds a power sunroof and retractable side steps, the system functions on vetted stretches of divided highways for completely hands-free driving.

It’s also been updated to include lane-change capabilities, with both automated and on-demand options. The former responds by automatically changing lanes to get around slower moving traffic ahead, while the latter does so when prompted by the driver via the signal stalk. It all worked seamlessly over the course of about 32 km of testing in California, responding well to the truck’s surroundings and keeping up with the flow of traffic just fine.

Still a Superb Ride

Those are the ways the Silverado has been improved for 2022, but where it remains very much the same as before is in its ride and handling – and that’s because there was nothing wrong with it in the first place. The lack of available air suspension is only a footnote, as the combination of coils and leaves works just fine across the lineup. Adaptive dampers are offered with the High Country package but they’re not explicitly necessary, as the Silverado (and, of course, its Sierra cousin) might well be the best-riding half-ton on the market.

Final Thoughts

While the Silverado has long been a fundamentally sound half-ton with competitive towing and payload capacities and impressive drivability, it’s been sorely lacking the stand-out features offered by its rivals. Likewise, the cabin has long felt a step or three behind – even in range-topping High Country trim, where cheap plastics and effective-but-unattractive controls manage to mar the atmosphere at least a little.

Those concerns have been mostly vanquished with the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado – a truck that’s been fitted with the right stuff to keep up with its peers in all the ways that matter these days. The basics that form the Silverado’s foundation didn’t need to be touched, so they weren’t. Instead, a focus on improved infotainment and technology makes it far more competitive than it’s been in years.