Trucks are an American tradition. So too are Day Two mods on stock vehicles.
Those facts aren’t lost on the auto manufacturers. There’s a good reason every automaker sells a line of aftermarket add-on products through their dealer network. That same reason is why you’ll usually find at least one lifted, modded truck with no miles on the clock parked out front of most dealerships with one tire up on a curb. That worked-over rig will draw in customers, and eventually, one of them will pay well over MSRP to drive it home, towering over all the traffic along the way — and over the neighbors as well. Fuel economy? Who cares? This is about image.
Money is made, the sales team and mechanics get working on another stocker off the lot, and the program starts all over again.
Every so often, manufacturers take hold of these Day Two dreams and bring them in-house. That’s where special editions are often born, particularly in trucks — but there’s one major difference. When the factory gets involved, they bring with them serious engineering prowess and focus, along with the benefit and limitation of a warranty. These trucks are equal parts capability and image.
With that, I give you the 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Trail Boss.
Building a Boss
Chevrolet has a number of high-profile trucks in the works, including the all-new Silverado ZR2. The Trail Boss is among the simpler options — the main features here include a two-inch lift over a factory Z71 and Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac tires on special blacked-out wheels. There are other things as well as part of the Trail Boss Premium package, including a spray-in bedliner, LT trim with a nice leather interior, a special blacked-out hood and a lot of tech, all of which make the overall setup desirable from a daily use standpoint.
That said, daily use and off-road tires don’t always go hand-in-hand. Tread with big voids will get you out of a rut, but it will also sing to you — whether you like it or not — out on the highway. Tires like these tend to be heavy and large, which saps fuel economy. The price we pay for capability, no?
But here’s where the story changes. This truck was fitted with Chevrolet’s Duramax 3.0L inline six turbodiesel and 10-speed automatic, which as a combo has a good reputation for both economy and power. I wanted to see just how different this setup was compared to a similar gas truck, so I loaded up my own ’16 GMC Sierra Denali (fitted with the 5.3 gas engine and 8-speed auto) and this Trail Boss and headed for the mountains with the pair.
Over the course of a 200-mile drive on the highway through several mountain passes, the GMC averaged about 25 mpg. The Trail Boss? 32 mpg. The range on a tank of diesel was over 650 miles. That’s a lot of range.
On top of that, the Duramax offered a lot more power than the 5.3. It easily pulled away from the gasser both from a light and at speed.
All that is with a two-inch lift and aggressive off-road tires — albeit comparatively small ones. Not bad.
GM’s newest half-ton trucks are more refined than you might think. Humming tires aside, these trucks are extremely quiet inside, and the crew cab models offer a lot of room in the back. Cell phone integration with the large 13.4-inch center touchscreen is wireless, and the interface keeps getting easier to use and more responsive. Even the dash is all screen now — 12.3 inches across. But unlike some of the competition, there are still buttons and dials here where you need them, which is a serious plus.
Looking to tow? The diesel gives you a 9,000-lb limit. Not the best, not the worst. Plenty capable for car trailer duties.
Off-road, the Trail Boss is competent but not extreme. The added clearance due to the lift is helpful, as are a number of skid plates and other stiffening measures. DuraTracs are formidable in most any terrain, so there’s little to slow you down here, assuming you’re not trying to crawl up a rock face. But if you’re the type who believes that special vehicles earn their stripes by being extreme in one way or another, you’ll likely be looking at a Ram TRX or F-150 Raptor pretty hard here. That said, you’ll pay more for either.
With complexity comes cost, and GM’s new trucks are no exception. Price as tested here was over $62,000. Still, for a daily-driver truck with both edge and economy, that’s not outlandish. As a special edition, this will always have some sway over a standard truck, at least among car people.
So how long before the dealer starts lifting these further and parking them on the corner?
High Point: A special edition with realistic, real-world benefits.
Low Point: Slab-side styling. Special — but not that special.
Final Word: If you’re looking for off-road fun, wait for the harder-core ZR2.
Fun factor/appearance: ***
(***** is best)