Chevy’s Silverado Trail Boss is …almost good

Everyone wants a tough, off-road primed truck right now. Ford started fired up this desire train when it launched the first-generation Raptor. Yes, other people drove off-road trucks before that, but this time it was a larger audience eager to express a love of mud and dirt. Toyota’s been serving up such machines for years. Ram has its Rebel. Now Chevrolet is here with the 2019 Silverado Trail Boss.

No, the Trail Boss is not a Raptor competitor. Most of you know this, but it’s the sort of phrase that needs to be restated. If you don’t say it, people ask why you didn’t talk about the Raptor. When you bring up the Raptor, people complain about the unfair comparison. With that out of the way, let’s dive into what the Trail Boss is all about.

Rather than applying off-road bits to its top-trim trucks, Chevy has wisely opted to turn lower-level machine into denizens of dusty trails. The Trail Boss is built up on the back of the LT and Custom Silverado pickups. This is a smart move because it helps to keep the cost down. Or, it should help. A major problem with the Trail Boss is that it does not. Sure, the base price of a Trail Boss is about $43,000. The one we drove, which has all the options you’re likely to check and not every option available, stickers for about $57,000.

So you wind up with a nice, tough looking truck with the lower-trim interior at a very non low-spec price.

Yes, the cabin space of the new Silverado is nice. But it’s not on the same level as the one found in the new Ram. Nor do you sit in it and go “Sweet, this is totally worth the almost $60,000 I just spent!”

What are my options here?

Another problem for the Trail Boss also lives on the order form. Since you’re dealing with a lower spec truck to start, you can’t choose the engine you might actually want here. Custom Trail Boss customers have a choice between the 5.3-liter V8 and the ready-to-just-die already 4.3-liter V6. If you buy an LT Trail Boss, your only “choice” is the 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8.

We’d love to see the option to spec both the new 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine or the 6.2-liter, 420-hp V8. Pretty much no one should buy the 4.3-liter and the 5.3-liter is best described as …fine. It’s alright here. But if you’re buying a fun, off-road truck you want more than fine. Especially for the asking price. There needs to be a great exhaust note, on-demand throttle response, and proper power for the given mil.

The rest of the truck, however, is well done. Chunky Goodyear off-road tires wrap around a set of 18-inch wheels. That means real-deal sidewall. Under the skin, the Trail Boss gets skid plates, a two-inch lift, Rancho monotube shocks, a transfer case, and a rear locker. You can take this truck off-road, and you’ll have fun doing so.

Until you remember that the 6.2-liter V8 exists and it’s not under your hood. And every time your monthly truck payment arrives in the mail.

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14 responses to “Chevy’s Silverado Trail Boss is …almost good”

  1. 0A5599 Avatar

    “Chevy has wisely opted to turn lower-level machine into denizens of dusty trails.”

    That didn’t turn out too well for Plymouth.


  2. P161911 Avatar

    The current 4.3L V-6 is finally 3/4 of a LS based V-8 as opposed to the old 4.3L that was 3/4 of a 1980s based Vortec Gen 1.5 V-8 from the 1980s. The Vortec boat anchor is what I have in my 2011 Silverado. The “new” 4.3L came out in 2014. We are talking 285HP vs 195HP. I wish my truck had the new 4.3L.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      The SBC based 4.3L should have been relegated to government fleet vehicles.

    2. Jeff Glucker Avatar
      Jeff Glucker

      Sure, but the turbo4 makes 310 hp – and that should be the base engine.

  3. Ross Ballot Avatar
    Ross Ballot

    The Silverado would be at the bottom of my list if I were shopping for a new fullsize pickup.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      I think my realistic list would include only the F150 and the Ram 1500, but if I made a full hypothetical list, I too think the Chevy would be at the bottom.

      1. neight428 Avatar

        Mentioning the unmentionables here, but the Toyota Tundra is getting awfully long in the tooth, but is a very solid platform. The Nissan Titan sounds like the Chevy with less corporate importance placed on it.

        1. Zentropy Avatar

          I agree, the Tundra really just needs a new body on the existing frame– maybe with just a few suspension tweaks. The Titan is only bad in the sense that it’s not really significant enough to be part of the conversation.

  4. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

    I just wish the styling department would stop using the “fierce face” design language of French Pre-Dreadnought battleships and go back to making them look like trucks.


    1. outback_ute Avatar

      Just imagine all the things you wouldn’t be able to see over an offroad crest! Did they swap designers with Tonka Toys or something?

      1. SlowJoeCrow Avatar

        Yeah, if they want to borrow big truck design cues, how about the sloped hood and low profile fenders of a medium duty Kenworth T170, specifically designed to help the driver see stuff.

      2. Preludacris Avatar

        I’ve had my gmt400 for 8 months and I still can’t confidently park the front end really close to anything. That’s a significantly lower hoodline, too. I picture crawling down the trail just waiting for the start of an obstacle you thought you were going to hit 10 seconds ago. Considering the top of the engine probably sits no higher than the bowtie on the hood, this is a crazy sacrifice in the name of style.

        As a work truck it’s no better. I know pickups have had tall beltlines and high hoods for a long time now, but I would want to be able to grab my tool bag out of the bed without climbing in!

        This has been Preludacris, from the Department of Misplaced Outrage. You can expect to hear from me again in 2034, when I expect to be able to afford a 2019 Silverado.

  5. onrails Avatar

    The truck market is weird. It seems almost like how people vote. Regardless of what reasonable or maybe better trucks are out there, some people are Ford people, some are Chevy/GMC. And the independents, tea partiers, green, progressive, etc. are the rest of Ram, Titan, Tundra, etc.