Unlike Ford and Ram that have standalone off-road performance trucks, Chevy seems to be content selling off-road packages for the Silveradoby Sidd Dhimaan, on LISTEN 09:52
GM has been quite active in the pickup truck space since the beginning. It has even bifurcated its trucks between two brands – Chevrolet and GMC – and combined, both of them rake up pretty good numbers. Chevy brings in more sales as opposed to GMC and has managed to keep up with Ford and Ram in terms of models and trim levels on each of them. It even announced an electric Silverado that could arrive in a couple of years. However, the automaker has lagged in the case of a performance off-road truck. There are Silverado trims with off-roading prowess, but there’s no standalone model like the Ford F-150 Raptor and the Ram 1500 TRX.
There were rumors of Chevy working on one such product, but there’s still no concrete detail. It was rumored to be called the ZRX, but those were mere speculations. Chevy had trademarked the ‘ZRX’ moniker sometime back, but there seems to be no development on that front thus far. Is the automaker missing out on something big by not offering a performance off-road truck to the market? We sure think so.
What Is The ‘ZRX’?
Chevrolet filed a trademark for the ‘ZRX’ in August 2019 under “Motor land vehicles, namely, automobiles, sport utility vehicles, trucks, vans, engines therefor and structural parts thereof.” It isn’t a new badge for the automaker, per se. GM has used this nomenclature on the GMC Sonoma pickup truck back in 2003. Less than 500 copies of the same were made in its entirety. It was a sporty iteration of the standard Sonoma pickup truck. It was sold under Chevy’s umbrella as the S-10 Xtreme. Although it sounds very similar to ‘TRX’, ‘ZRX’ also has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
ZRX – A Missed Opportunity?
Performance trucks have been there for a long time. Trucks like the GMC Syclone, Ram SRT-10, or the Ford SVT Lightning were present in the 20th century and were highly impressive. But, none of them could live for long just because the market wasn’t mature enough to accept pickup trucks as anything but work vehicles.
But, things changed post-2000 and Ford was quick to tap into the segment realizing the potential. It debuted the F-150 Raptor in 2010 and has been a consistent seller for Ford. It even entered its third generation this year. Ram, too, figured out it needs its share of the pie and introduced the TRX concept back in 2016. Four years later, it rolled out the production-version called the Ram 1500 TRX.
Chevy, on the other hand, has nothing to show for. Wishful thinking and optimistic speculations led to some rumors flying around, but there was still no sign of a TRX and Raptor rival from the bowti
e. There were two instances, however, where things started to look bright. One was Chevy trademarking the ‘ZRX’ nomenclature, and the other when TFLtruck received an anonymous tip from a source that claimed to have inside knowledge of GM’s powertrain development and reported the automaker is working on a 6.2-liter, supercharged V-8 mill for it.
There were no details on the power output, but the supercharged version of the 6.2-liter V-8 engine was seen in the Camaro ZL1 and the Corvette C7 ZR1 where it makes between 650- and 755 horsepower. Given that a similarly displaced engine in the TRX makes 702 horses, we speculated it making around 700 horses in the ZRX.
Chevrolet Should Tear A Page Out Of Ford’s Playbook
Ram threatened to go after the F-150 Raptor and came out all guns blazing. The Ram TRX is a stellar package, albeit a bit too expensive to take on the Ford F-150 Raptor. This was the case when compared to the second-gen 2020 F-150 Raptor. There was a price difference of over $15,000 between the two models which reduced the chances of cannibalization. Instead of staying happy with the situation, Ford went on the offensive.
The 2021 F-150 Raptor was announced as a SuperCrew-only model and the starting price was barely a few thousand dollars less than the TRX’s. The 2021 F-150 Raptor came with a whole lot of new stuff like an improved suspension setup, a better exhaust system, and even 37-inch tires from the factory! However, it still featured a twin-turbo V-6 as opposed to the TRX’s supercharged V-8, which was enough to tout the Ram truck as the bang-for-buck option.
Ford, however, threw a curveball by announcing a V-8 powered Raptor-based truck called the Raptor R. This meant offering a V-8 engine on a different model that will be solely targeted at the Ram TRX to nullify its biggest advantage, while the standard F-150 Raptor will continue to cater to the same segment, albeit as a better, improved product. There’s not much known about it aside from the fact that it will come with a V-8, but there’s enough to speculate what the truck could be all about. By the way, we’ve also heard how it sounds. In all likelihood, the Raptor R will be priced higher than the Ram TRX. This way, the TRX gets sandwiched between the Raptor and the Raptor R, thus fending off attacks from two Ford products at the same time. Masterstroke, isn’t it?
Oh, but where’s Chevy in all of this? No one knows!
Chevy Comes Up With A Watered-Down ZRX
While we had our eyes glued on a full-fledged, performance off-road truck that might have been called the Silverado ZRX, Chevy decided to spring a surprise that came out as more of a shock. The automaker recently introduced the ZR2, a Silverado trim with an off-road bias. Given how high our hopes were, this rather impressive model felt nothing more than a watered-down version of the ZRX; well, a watered-down version of hopes would be a better statement.
Instead of rolling out a Raptor and TRX rival, we got a model that takes on the F-150 Tremor and the Ram 1500 Rebel. But, if there still is a ZRX standalone model in the reckoning, then the ZR2 serves as a benchmark as to what to expect. There’s no word yet on what’s going to be offered as it has only been teased, we connected the dots to figure out what the ZR2 will be like.
The ZR2 isn’t a new moniker in the company’s lineup. There’s the Colorado ZR2, which comes with stuff like a 3.5-inch wider track, a two-inch lift kit, Multimatic DSSV dampers, front and rear locking differentials, etc. There’s no reason why this won’t be offered on the bigger ZR2. Also, the Silverado ZR2 was unveiled as a concept at the 2019 SEMA Show. It was based on the LT Trail Boss trim and came with stuff like:
- A 6.2-liter, V-8 engine
- 10-speed automatic transmission
- Long travel suspension
- Front and rear jounce shocks
- High-capacity DSSV dampers
- Front and rear locking differentials
- Improved off-road suspension
- New front and rear bumper designs
- Better approach and departure angles
- 35-inch off-road tires
- Revised interior
The ZR2 Could Serve As A Sacrificial Goat For Chevrolet
There’s no denying that Chevy is late to the off-road truck segment, and the only way to rectify it would be to offer one heck of a product with all the bells and whistles that make its rivals look underdressed. Since the ZRX isn’t on the horizon for the time being, Chevrolet could use the Silverado ZR2 to make a point.
The company has two ways to approach this. Offering goodies to match the F-150 Tremor and the Ram Rebel would be a defensive approach, but rolling out a wholesome package that makes the rival models look like a joke would be the offensive move that announces Chevrolet on the large stage.
Again some wishful thinking from me, but the ZR2 could be a glimpse of what to expect from the ZRX.
For all we know, Chevy is probably waiting for the Raptor R to also be rolled out so the ZRX can be that sweet spot that offers a potential owner the best of everything. Or, even better (or worse), an electric off-road performance truck? Automakers are tapping on that emotional aspect by offering powerful V-8 engines as the final hoorah before electrification takes over, but, if Chevy’s taking a different approach here, we would be keen to see how it goes. The automaker has the technical know-how, is established in the market, and has enough financial resources to come up with a standalone vehicle that could either have an internal combustion engine, or electric motors and batteries. A hybrid ZRX could also be in the reckoning since neither the Ram TRX, nor the F-150 Raptor has a hybrid powertrain on offer.
These big trucks might not rake in big numbers for a brand and perhaps that’s what keeping Chevy from being proactive about it, but it’s all about keeping the score and staying on par with the competition. Chevy doesn’t have to build the ZRX from the ground up either. We hope to hear more from GM about this, or at least see a concept version to know that the automaker has something in the works.
Do you think Chevrolet needs to bring on the ‘ZRX’, or should it let Ford and Ram fight it out while the bowtie focuses on electrification? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.