CHATHAM, Mass. – Allowing the customer to find just the right full-size pickup to meet his or her needs has been the cornerstone of this segment for generations, so when the desire is for a value-oriented, four-door, five-or-six-passenger pickup to live out one’s adventuresome spirit, the 2023 Chevrolet Silverado Crew Custom Trail Boss can satisfy the need.
In a world where pickups often approach six-figure prices, the Silverado Trail Boss includes carefully selected equipment to provide the means of leaving the pavement in a truck carrying a list price just north of $50,000 – real value in today’s market.
This means a truck with off-road-tuned suspension, 2.7-liter turbocharged engine, automatic four-wheel-drive (4WD) system and trailering package with hitch guidance.
Powertrain moves the Silverado
Chevy built the Silverado Trail Boss around its 2.7-liter, high-output turbocharged engine with active fuel management which puts 310 horsepower and 348 pounds-feet of torque through the eight-speed automatic transmission. Aft of the transmission is the standard Autotrac automatic transfer case which allows for set-and-forget driving while the Silverado decides whether to switch from rear-wheel drive (RWD) to 4WD. The driver can select 4Hi or 4Lo as well if the road conditions dictate.
The engine power translates into 9,300 pounds of towing capacity and 2,140 pounds of maximum payload, plenty of capability for all but the most ardent outdoor types.
The Trail Boss goes about its business while returning, according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, 19 miles per gallon in overall driving, a very reasonable figure for a full-size pickup, especially one with this truck’s capabilities.
Greater capability can be achieved by opting for either a V8 or diesel engine, but then fuel efficiency comes crashing down – again, customers can tailor the Tral Boss to their needs.
A specially engineered platform
Beginning with the basic Silverado underpinnings, the Chevrolet engineers applied the Z71 off-road tuning to the front independent coil-over twin-tube shocks – Rancho off roaders in this configuration – suspension.
In the rear, the Z71 designation meant a solid axle with semi-eliptic, variable-rate two-stage multi-leaf springs and splayed twin tube Rancho shock absorbers.
GM’s Stabilitrak (with trailer-sway control), hill-start assist and hill-descent control further help the driver keep the large pickup (242-inches long, 5,010-pounds) under control.
This setup also includes a two-inch lift to enhance ground clearance which means 11.3 inches versus 8 inches in a standard 4WD Silverado.
Bringing the Trail Boss to a halt is an electro-hydraulic, power-assisted, anti-lock (ABS)-equipped brake system featuring vented DuralifeTM 13.5×1.18-inch rotors up front and 13.6x.78-inch ones in the rear.
The 20-inch black-gloss-painted aluminum wheels ($500 option) are fitted with P275/60R20 all- terrain tires.
I cannot attest to the Trail Boss’s off-road capabilities; I drove on some gravel roads, but could not put the Silverado through any real stressful off-road challenges. The ride was a bit stiffer than I was used to, but not one which would shake the fillings from my teeth. And my significant other did not object to being in the front right seat, a testament to the Silverado’s ability to be an everyday conveyance.
The basic ADAS
The Trail Boss advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) begins with automatic-emergency braking (AEB) and continues with forward-collision alert, front pedestrian braking, lane-keep assist with lane-departure warning, Intellibeam auto high beam and rear-vision camera.
The truck also has a tire-pressure monitoring system and brake-pad wear indicator.
Inside basic, comfortable and some surprises
I mentioned the crew-cabb Silverado Trail Boss offers five or six passenger seating, a trick of the truck’s multi-functional front-center seat/console. In six-passenger configuration, three adults fit across the front seat, all with fully functional three-point seat belts.
A simple tug on a fabric loop allows the middle seatback to fold down revealing a cupholder-and-storage-compartment-filled center console. All it takes to convert back to a three-across bench, is flipping the console up into its seatback position.
Technology/amenities include power windows, a power driver’s seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, air conditioning, two dash glove boxes (one locking), multiple power outlets including USB-C and 110Volt (household), and an infotainment system built around the standard seven-inch LCD touchscreen with satellite radio, Bluetooth streaming/smartphone connectivity and AM/FM radio.
A second surprise beyond the convertible front seat system is the wireless Apple CarPlay/Android Auto capability of the infotainment system. Anyone with either an Apple iPhone or one of the myriad Android-running smartphones, can turn the simple Silverado system in a full blown, navigation-equipped powerhouse.
The interior is basic, but comfortable and extremely roomy.
A quick word on another surprise, though this one is on the outside. The multi-flex tailgate ($445 option) transforms from a standard, rectangular, single-plane tailgate into a multi-level set of steps, complete with hand grab, to allow for easy access into and out of the rear bed. This makes utilizing the bed’s large capacity much more useful than on other full-size pickups.
Living with the Silverado Trail Boss
When I asked Chevrolet why a Trail Boss, its representative replied, “Trail Boss provides increased choice for Silverado customers for a truck that suits their needs best, while remaining strong on value. Overall, this model taps into our strong foundation in capable, factory-lifted trucks. It’s for those customers who want something even more rugged and off-road capable.”
His words echoed my thoughts on the truck. It provides the capabilities needed and wanted by outdoor enthusiasts without any frills, thus the ability to keep its price under control.
The base 2023 Chevrolet Silverado Crew Trail Boss is priced at $51,800. As I reviewed it, with limited options (aluminum wheels, multi-flex tailgate and spray-on bedliner) and destination charge, the total on the window sticker was $53,410, the least expensive full-size pickup I have tested in four years.