As far as full-sized trucks go, nothing is more American than Chevrolet’s iconic Silverado in my eyes. Despite not doing battle with blue-badged rivals in this part of the world, the Silverado feels like America as ever, and I mean that in every sense of the word.
In the past, sales of the Chevrolet Silverado were handled by HSV, but now that those three letters are only in our memories, GMSV (General Motors Special Vehicles) has taken over.
In New Zealand, the Silverado is currently offered in two guises starting with the LT Trail Boss, and the LTZ Premium. Both trucks are powered by a 6.2-liter V8 petrol engine, but if diesel power is more your thing, GMSV recently launched the massive Silverado 2500 HD.
For DRIVEN time on the Silverado, we’re on the entry-level LT Trail Boss which starts at $119,990, and is the more rugged option of the two. Unlike the LTZ Premium which sported a chrome-plated front fascia, and chrome wheels, the Trail Boss removed all the bling, and instead sported a black look. The tough upgrades don’t stop at aesthetics, with big all-terrain tires and suspension lift as standard. The auto-lock differential, Z71 slip plate and monotube shock absorbers are other factory-installed upgrades that help when the going gets tough.
At less than six meters long, over two meters wide and weighing over 2.4 tonnes, the Silverado is a rather bulky package, and features an engine that is more than capable of getting the job done. It’s an impressive 6.2 liter petrol-powered V8, which makes 313kW and 624Nm. Even in America, it’s the biggest engine on offer with the Silverado 1500, but it’s better suited for low-rev jobs than high-rev driving.
To keep fuel consumption under control, a 10-speed automatic transmission takes care of power delivery, and like most vehicles, the Silverado is a part-time 4WD. But this brings us to a sensitive topic with respect to the Silverado. Equipped with an engine that is three times larger than most modern passenger car engines, fuel economy is always a compromise here. Chevrolet claims a combined 12.8L/100km figure, which is impressive for a 2.5-ton V8-powered truck, but still very high by modern standards. On the open road, I couldn’t get the savings far below 12L/100km, whereas the 1500-assisted by the Ram hybrid would easily sit at 10L/100km during the same driving.
In terms of towing capacity, the Trail Boss’ 4.2 tonne is slightly lower than other American trucks sold in New Zealand with a 4.5 tonne capacity, but we can imagine that this depends on the special off-road suspension. Opting for the Silverado LTZ Premium gets you a full 4.5 tonne capacity, but the extra 300kg may not be a deal breaker for most people.
As the name suggests, the Trail Boss is right at home when it leaves the runway, but that’s where it ends. The all-terrain tires and 4WD system are right at home on dusty dirt/gravel roads, but as soon as you start proper off-roading, the incredible 3.7-meter wheelbase will blow you away. With a break-over angle of just 21 degrees, underbody protection will get a workout over traditional off-road trails, so tackling it side-by-side is probably the safer bet.
On the inside, the Trail Boss is good, but misses some of the glitz compared to the LTZ Premium. It gets fabric seats instead of leather, a regular six-speaker sound system compared to a Bose system, and it loses the LTZ sunroof. Another big difference is in the infotainment system, where the Trailboss features a 4.2-inch touchscreen compared to the 8-inch screen on the LTZ. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, but Trail Boss buyers will be satisfied with the wired connection compared to the wireless on the LTZ.
Even though it’s a specialty vehicle in this part of the world, the Silverado Trail Boss feels right at home in New Zealand (if you can afford to refuel it). Driving in the city isn’t the problem, but once you get to the open highways and wide State Highways it’s easy. Realistically, it might not be as off-road friendly as the ‘Trail Boss’ name suggests, but I can imagine that it would make light work on soft sandy beaches and muddy farmlands.
In New Zealand, you only have 1500 RAM to compare, and while you can tow more, and use less fuel with a Dodge-derived truck, you’ll find yourself having more fun in a big bad Chevy.