In the landscape of pickup trucks in America, there’s quite a perpetual war that’s taken place since the introduction of such vehicles. Chevrolet has made headway in capturing record sales for their light-duty Silverado 1500 offering a plethora of trim levels, including the mid-level LT Trail Boss that brings a few rugged off-roading traits to the table, and as many as four powertrain options, which some don’t necessarily break the bank.
The appeal of having four powertrain choices adds to the unique character of the Silverado 1500, which is to have something you want without much of a compromise. At the base end of the spectrum is a ‘Turbomax’ turbocharged 2.7-liter 4-cylinder engine that’s good for 310 horsepower and 430 lb-ft of torque, which is equipped in my Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss 4WD test vehicle. The turbocharged 4-cylinder is a respected engine, even in being the base powertrain for the new Silverado that was updated for the 2022 model year.
The turbocharged 4-cylinder has a substantial midrange of power output, giving the Silverado 1500 a good kick where it doesn’t necessarily feel inadequate amongst more powerful V8 champions, which you can find in either the 5.3-liter V8 or the formidable 6.2-liter V8. While the V8 engine options have more power overall, there’s a welcoming aspect of the turbocharged 4-cylinder with the lighter weight up front and its eagerness to wind up and give all it has to move the Silverado with some authority. Not to mention, the turbo-4 has substantially more torque, 430 lb-ft, over the 5.3-liter V8 with just 383 lb-ft.
Mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission, the turbo-4-cylinder performs well and does so to offer up just a touch of better fuel economy. However, opting for the LT Trail Boss trim, fuel efficiency suffers a bit but remains surprisingly consistent at 16 mpg city and 17 mpg highway. To my surprise, around town in slower traffic, I could easily best those figures to get just over 17 mpg and still get the same 24-gallon fuel tank from other Silverado 1500 trims. Not to mention, you still get to burn regular unleaded fuel – every dollar helps here!
Out on the road, the Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss rides shockingly good even with its all-terrain Goodyear Duratrac tires wrapping 18-inch wheels and the ZR1 off-roading package’s 2-inch lift that’s all includes as part of being a Trail Boss trim. Acceleration is strong with only a slight lag at lower RPMs, and there’s a rewarding lighter feeling over higher trim Silverado 1500s in terms of handling. Having the Autotrac 2-speed transfer case with the automatic four-wheel-drive mode is welcomed for having all-wheel-drive option out on the road instead of being ‘locked’ into a setup that only permits 4WD off-road. The 0-60 mph time comes in at 6.8 seconds, which is decent for such a truck having a 4-cylinder engine.
The Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss, with its included trailering package, is able to tow up to 9,100 pounds and max out with a payload of 1,950 pounds.
There are some obvious corners cut in exploring the Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss’ interior. There’s a surprising option to seat up to 6 by folding up the front middle seat back that doubles as a large armrest with cupholders and storage, which is a major plus for the versatility of the Silverado 1500. However, the interior, with its cloth seats, looks mostly cheapened but makes up for the dullness with a decent dashboard that highlights the large 13.4-inch infotainment touchscreen and a few upper-area soft-touch surfaces.
One major drawback of my test vehicle and an utter disappointment that later became a frustration that I could not overlook is the absence of side steps. Every time I had to literally jump into the Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss, I was reminded of it not having sidesteps, even if it was for the purpose of better off-roading ground clearance, making it difficult to get in and nearly impossible for someone like my 70-year-old mother to enter. Having a truck with a factory 2-inch lift and off-roading tires must have sidesteps, something that whoever configured such a truck should have a stern talking-to from their boss.
Apart from the oversight of sidesteps, the Silverado LT Trail Boss is accommodating with ample space up front and out back, and the base-level cloth seats prove to be mostly comfy with seat heating up front that came in handy during these early winter months. The heated steering wheel also comes in handy, as does the simplicity of the latest infotainment unit, which has a short learning curve but suffered from some minor response delays with some functions. There’s the welcoming integration of wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which can also be integrated via USB, which is necessary to charge your smartphone because there is no wireless charger here.
The 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster is another welcoming touch in the area of tech, which provides a wide array of vehicle information and customization options to view the information that you want. The steering column shifter is the feature that rounds up keeping the Silverado 1500 a rarity that many enthusiasts still want, other than having an affordable option that has some off-roading chops from the factory, all found in the Trail Boss trims.
Chevrolet includes the standard active safety features of the forward collision warning with an automatic braking system, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assistance. Otherwise, safety features like blind spot monitors, 360-degree surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, additional towing aids, are all reserved for the top-level LTZ and High Country trims.
In offering a smaller engine without much compromise in the area of overall power output, the turbocharged 4-cylinder Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss is a respectable choice starting at $58,000. Adding in just a few select options for my test vehicle, such as the Radiant Red Tintcoat paint, adding the required destination charge of $1,895, but subtracting a $1,500 Turbomax engine credit, you have an out-the-door price of $58,840.