Mountain Wheels: Chevy Silverado’s Trail Boss edition highlights a much-updated pickup
A 500-mile super-transit voyage across ski country a few weeks back was a great opportunity to try out the all new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado, gussied up and tweaked for off-road duty in the LT Trail Boss trim, one of literally dozens of variants of the new pickup. Look on your coffee table — you’re likely seeing my very truck pasted to the front of your favorite magazines this month, part of a wide promotional campaign.
The LT Trail Boss combination meant a full crew cab configuration, 18-inch wheels and massive Goodyear Duratrac off-road tires, plus a two-inch suspension life, Rancho shocks, skid plates and a locking rear differential, all part of the Z71 Off Road package. You also get carbon fiber-look, aerodynamic running boards, a blacked-out grille highlighting the new Silverado’s distinctively undersized headlamps, plus Corvette-worthy aerodynamic slots on the bumper corners.
All of that, powered by a new, 355-horsepower 5.3-liter Ecotec3 V-8, one of six different powertrain choices in the new models, made a very positive impression and even with those gigantic tires, offered a safe and sturdy platform for travel between Summit, Park and Eagle counties.
Curiously — and replicated again on a new Ford F-150 I will soon profile — the oversized, 60/40 split-to-lift-for-storage, headrest-dropping rear seat in the crew cab Silverado was the absolute most popular spot in the truck. Despite being optioned up to $57,285 from its $48,300 base, my truck was strangely austere in spots (rear seat passengers get only two very rudimentary air vents in the back of the center console, a couple of USB plugs and a swath of faux wood trim) — but the sheer scale and leg room back there, plus a set of absolutely heavy-duty floor mats, made it a mountain Uber driver’s dream. The 2019 Silverado’s most basic rendition starts at just under $30,000.
My biggest takeaway, besides a not terrible 18.8 overall mpg, was the utterly undramatic highway ride, despite those extremely deep-lugged tires. Unlike other purpose-built off-road editions (TRD/Raptor/Power Wagon/etc.), I got exactly zero percent bounce on regular pavement, and a vehicle that could cruise steadily and unscathed at downvalley Eagle County freeway speeds. It also had reasonable stickiness on black ice and deep slush — a combination I would call an engineering miracle.
Depending on the model you get, the new Silverado sports a wheelbase that’s up to 3.9 inches longer, but the entire truck has lost approximately 450 pounds from its last model, thanks to new lightweight materials — the hood and doors, and the absolute lightest tailgate I’ve ever experienced.
Silverado offers the 5.3-liter and a 6.2-liter V-8, both with cylinder deactivation for improved fuel economy, plus a Duramax inline-six 3.0-liter turbo-diesel engine. Alternatively, there’s a new 2.7-liter turbo that’s standard on LT and RST trim levels, putting out 310 horsepower. Or you can still get the holdover 4.3-liter V-6 or the 5.3-liter V-8.
My 5.3 was matched with an eight-speed automatic that was especially helpful on hills and could be thumb-shifted for speed control — there’s also a trailering mode/sport mode switch to slightly reconfigure the power, and haul up to 9,500 pounds of trailer. Both the diesel and the 6.2-liter will feature 10-speed automatics.
Those controls are just part of the pleasant updates both inside and out, with key features now located in an easy-to-access pod on the upper left section of the dash, with shift-on-the-fly 4×4 and an electronic parking brake.
Cabin design is cubic but still organic, with a soft-touch, stitched-look dash and blessedly limited tomfoolery. Like the Mercedes I recently drove, the smaller USB3 outlets have curiously appeared, so you’ll probably need to order some dongles on Amazon to charge your phone.
Silverado’s maybe-just-a-little polarizing looks are certainly accentuated in the darkened-out Trail Boss edition, and you can easily see the Camaro influences and the gently contoured body panels, in addition to all of that massive articulation room under the oversized wheel wells.
In the back, the scratch-resistant Durabed, ringed with LED lights, 12 serious tiedown hooks and a built-in 120-volt power outlet, provides 63 cubic feet in even its short box form.
In the future, apparently there are no longer lift handles on a truck tailgate – they’re gone here, replaced with a touchpad button or remote control on your keyfob. Built-in steps in the rear bumper are helpful in accessing one very tall box.
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