What is a Trail Boss?
The Trail Boss is a Chevrolet Silverado kitted out with a plethora of off-road features including skid plates, a mechanical locking rear differential, hill descent control, a two-inch factory suspension lift over the Z71, Rancho shocks and high gloss black painted wheels shod with Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac tires. Outside you get a black grille with no Chevy bowtie, black bumpers, red tow hooks and “Trail Boss” decals on the rear fenders.
For bragging rights you’ll want to know that the 6.2-liter is the largest engine offered in a half-ton pickup!
What’s under the hood?
Choose the Trail Boss spec and you have 3 choices of power plant (unfortunately not the turbo-diesel), a 4.3-liter V6 making 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque, a 5.3-liter V8 for an additional extra $1,395 with 355hp and 383 lb-ft. Having tested a 2019 Trail Boss last year and found the 5.3 V8 to be slightly lacking in power I was very happy that the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss tester I received had the optional 6.2-liter V8 with a stonking 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque for an additional $2,495.
For bragging rights you’ll want to know that the 6.2-liter is the largest engine offered in a half-ton pickup. For added pleasure it’s mated to the excellent 10-speed transmission which if you stomp on the go pedal from a standstill, rattles of the gears effortlessly and gets you to sixty in 5.4 secs.
In normal driving everyday driving, the Trail Boss is well well-mannered and easy to maneuver and can move at a quick pace if needed. I surprised a few with its acceleration on a couple of occasions. Having stiff suspension is a big advantage since the Trail Boss doesn’t roll much in corners and if it had some grip would corner with real verve. That said, that stiff suspension can cause it to bounce around on rough pavement and pot holes, so concentration is required since the big V8 picks up speed so fast you need to always evaluate the road ahead. It’s easy to get up to license losing speeds too, such is the ease at which it accelerates on the freeway, but the limiter kicks in at 98 mph to remind you shouldn’t be going that fast. Well we had to test it.
The steering is great, very precise and responsive, which is particularly surprising considering the huge squishy off-road tires. The brakes do a good job of stopping the Trail Boss but given the larger off-road tires I feel bigger ones are in order here.
Off the beaten path
This is where we find out why it’s called the Trail Boss. We headed out East to Sheep Mountain Road which sits to the North of the 8 Freeway and winds its way to nearly the top, a metal barricade prevents you from continuing North due to it being private land, however, the views are great. The road is dry now despite heavier than normal rainfall this year, so dust is the only issue. At the start the going is easy until to start the climb and the road narrows and you hit some quite large water bars, like huge speed bumps. The suspension provided great body control over these big dips and ruts, and not once did we ground or bottom out the suspension. Traction was never going to be a problem and we powered up very easily in 4 wheel high.
Half way up it gets a little tricky, not because of the Trail Boss’s technical ability but because of its sheer size. There are a couple of very tight hair pin turns to negotiate and I had to back up on one occasion to make it around. On the descent we used four-wheel-drive low since we wanted to test the Hill Descent Control, and it works great controlling the vehicle’s speed and forward motion while the driver can concentrate on seeing the terrain in front. All in all, the Trail Boss did a great job.
There isn’t a lot of luxury inside the Custom Trail Boss so if that’s what you’re looking for you may want to upgrade to the LT Trail Boss, I say that because the biggest single problem is the lack of seat height adjustment for the driver, I felt like I was sitting in a hole I was so low down and there’s no telescoping steering wheel to get a good seating position This is something that’s important for off road excursions where you need to be able to see obstacles in advance. It needs a hand cranked height adjuster at the very minimum.
Other than that, the basics are there, my tester had a 7-inch touchscreen, blue tooth connectivity, Apple Car Play and the Infotainment package which includes Sirius radio. Seats are heavy duty cloth so should last a lifetime and dogs nails. If you want the extra features of the LT then you need to spend at least $50,095, whereas my tester’s base price was a bargain at $39,500 and $44,510 with the optional 6.2 liter.
I liked my second drive more than the first simply because of that glorious 6.2-liter V8, no it’s not economical, I averaged 13.2 mpg for the week I had it, but it’s just so good. It’s great on road, even better off, but it’s size can be an issue in tight narrow situations. If you are looking for a cool off-road truck that will do almost everything then the Trail Boss will work for you. If you need to get all technical then there’s some very stiff competition from Chevy’s own stable, yes, the excellent Colorado ZR2, a much more serious off-roader, and fantastic on road as well.
2020 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss Custom Numbers
BASE PRICE: $39,500
PRICE AS TESTED: $44,510
VEHICLE LAYOUT: Front-engine, 2/4 wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door pickup
ENGINE: 6.2 liter pushrod 16-valve V-8 with direct fuel injection
POWER: 420 hp @ 5,600 rpm
TORQUE: 383 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 10-speed automatic with manual shifting mode
CURB WEIGHT: 5,105 lb
0-60 MPH: 5.4 sec
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON: 17/15/20 mpg
OUR OBSERVED: 13.2 mpg
PROS: Excellent on and off road manners, good looking, great steering
CONS: Somewhat plain interior in Custom spec, no seat height
2020 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss Custom