2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT AWD Crew Cab 147” Trail Boss
- Lots of off-roading gear
- Great on the open road as well
- Room for everything out back
- More hard plastic than expected in a $70,000 vehicle
- Small infotainment screen
- Much ado about nothing
Pickups have joined crossovers as the new alternative to minivans. Many consumers have cottoned on to the fact a pickup offers the same high seating position as an SUV or Crossover, with winter-tackling 4-wheel-drive a given, as is the much roomier second row of seats. The cargo-hold can be voluminous, and there is a wide array of weather-proof covers readily available.
Toss in the fact that the “big three” are constantly tossing in thousands of dollars in incentives as they slug it out for sales, and you have a very attractive proposition.
Not your traditional-truck pickup
I don’t have all the facts, but would guess that fewer than half of pickups sold today are used for truck-like purposes. Certainly, they get the occasional workout hauling stuff to the dump, helping friends or neighbours move or towing a trailer with adult toys aboard. But mostly they perform family duty — check out the local grocery store or mall parking lot, or the pickup area near schools.
Manufacturers are well aware of this growing trend and are only too happy to equip a pickup to fit your needs. And why wouldn’t they? Pickups are the most profitable vehicles to develop and produce. Throw a body on top of a ladder-type frame (it can be a pickup or a full-size SUV) and the same platform, with its rudimentary front suspension and ancient solid rear axle, can serve for decades with no need to update or modernize. Just keep cranking them out and make some subtle but comparatively inexpensive updates to the body.
Base prices start around $30,000, but get carried away with the option sheet or trim level, and you can approach $100,000 for the same basic body on frame. How much of that extra $70,000 do you suppose is profit?
FCA, Ford and GM have all perfected the art of creating or trying to fill pickup truck niches. The sheer number of trim levels, engines, transmissions, option packages and choices boggle the mind. Pity the poor dealership trying to stock a representative sample of available models, let alone selecting colour choice.
Meet the Trail Boss
All this backstory, by way, is meant to introduce you to the Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss, Chevrolet’s latest volley in this war.
Essentially an LT on steroids, the Trail Boss starts off with the Z71 off-road package. This brings a unique suspension with Rancho shock absorbers, hill descent control, an automatic locking rear differential, 2-speed transfer case, skid plates to protect vital components and a bigger air filter in case your ventures include lots of dusty roads. Nothing new here, that package is available on a number of Silverados.
You could go off road and far off road, but I suspect the majority of the owners of these big 4-door trucks will never even approach the truck’s capabilities. What they do appreciate, though, is the added height and ability to see over the masses.
Room to move people and their stuff
The monstrous rear seat will curry the favour of any who enter there. The seat is also easily converted into a massive dry storage area — the seat bottoms lift up to reveal storage areas for small items and storage inserts in the seats themselves are also available. There is head, leg and shoulder room for three really big people, even if they’re wearing helmets, shoulder and/or knee pads, but please get dressed for the game at home.
And all the accompanying gear? Toss it in the bed, along with that of the rest of the team (Chevy claims best-in-class cargo volume). If you’ve paid attention to the option sheet, there are as many as 20 tie-down hooks, each one capable of immobilizing up to 227 kg. There can also be a 120-volt outlet to plug in whatever needs to be powered, and a power-operated tailgate that can be lowered from the cab, or by using the key fob or the tailgate handle. On top trim levels it can also close itself!
When it comes time to retrieve the gear, use the steps built into the corners of the rear bumper.
There are eight trim levels of Silverado, including this Trail Boss, and your choice of six engine/transmission combinations. The test unit had GM’s venerable small block V-8, displacing 5.8 litres and pumping out 355 horsepower. It was coupled to an 8-speed automatic with power going through a 2-speed transfer case to all four wheels.
Extensive makeover for 2019
The Silverado received an extensive makeover for the 2019 model year. New from stem to stern, it is taller, longer, wider, lighter, rides on a longer wheelbase, has more interior room and a greater payload from a bigger box.
The fit and finish are excellent, but there is more plastic and hard surfaces than expected of a $70,000 vehicle, and a rather small touchscreen offering access to Wi-Fi and both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
This big truck is a silent partner on the pavement with neither road nor wind noise getting through to any degree, other than a tiny bit of wind noise around the big mirrors. The suspension soaks up major road blemishes with aplomb, though it can get a little busy over really rough roads and the solid rear axle becomes evident should you encounter a bump mid-corner (that end of the truck likes to skip sideways in those circumstances).
While the Trail Boss is equipped for off-road work, it is more likely to be found on terra firma, purchased for the appearance and resultant image.
Price: $54,500 base, $71,845 as tested, including freight
Engine: 5.3-litre, V-8, 355 hp, 383 lb-ft of torque, regular fuel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive wheels: 4-wheel drive
NRCan Fuel Consumption (litres/100km city/highway): 15.3 / 11.8
Length: 5,885 mm
Width: 2,063 mm
Wheelbase: 3,745 mm
Weight: 2,184 kg
Options on test vehicle: Power sunroof, $1,325; leather package, $995; Off-Road appearance package (black assist steps, roll-up tonneau cover, off-road sports bar), $3,555; Convenience package with bucket seats (heated front seats, tilt & telescope steering wheel, dual zone automatic climate control, 10-way power driver seat, heated steering wheel), $2,270; Convenience package II (Bose audio system, integrated trailer brake control, Infotainment system with 20-cm colour touchscreen, HD and satellite radio, power sliding rear window with defogger, two 120-volt outlets, HD rear view camera, universal home remote), $1,895; Safety Package,(rear cross traffic alert, front and rear park assist, lane change alert with blind spot alert), $1,095; advanced trailering package (trailer tire pressure and temperature monitoring system, advanced trailering system, hitch guidance with hitch view), $350; Performance upgrade package (air intake system, cat-back performance exhaust), $3,195; rear under seat storage, $320.