No Frills: 2020 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss

Have you noticed how expensive full size trucks are these days? Here at Limited Slip Blog, the last two full-size trucks we reviewed, the 2019 Ford F-150 Limited and GMC Sierra Denali 1500 Ultimate, both rang in with as-tested prices over $68,000! But that’s not just our findings. JD Power determined the average new truck price in 2019 was $51,700. Clearly, we haven’t gotten a true truck experience with the loaded-up top trim models. We set out to change that, requesting a truck with an as-tested price below that 2019 average. Chevy answered the call with the Silverado 1500 Custom Trail Boss, a full-size truck that checks all the critical boxes without too many frills. We planned a long weekend in the Adirondacks to see how this budget-friendly model would hold up in the real world.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss 6

The Silverado Custom is really just one step above the basic Work Truck trim. But add in the Trail Boss package, and this Silverado delivers on everything you want in a truck. For starters, the Crew Cab and Standard Bed mean there’s plenty of space for people and cargo. The Trail Boss includes the Z71 Off-Road Package with a 2″ factory lift. With Rancho monotube shocks, 2-speed Autotrac transfer case, automatic locking rear differential, skid plates, a heavy duty external oil cooler, plus a high capacity air filter, this truck is ready to work on and off road. Visually a unique black grilles, black bumpers, and black wheels help the Trail Boss stand out. Those gloss black wheels are wrapped in aggressive Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac mud-terrain tires for the better traction off road. And the Custom Trail Boss is the lowest trim in which the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 is available. It’ll cost you nearly $2,500 alone, but with 420hp and 460 lb-ft torque on tap, it’s hard to argue with the big V8 and Chevy’s fantastic 10-speed automatic transmission.

Just look at this truck. Visually, the square front end with its sinister black Chevrolet script is mean and imposing. Painted in fire-engine Red Hot, there’s no losing sight of this truck in the Adirondack wilderness. The raised stance, chunky tires, and lack of side steps gives it a towering appearance. Around back, the exhausts are integrated into the rear bumper below the stamped tailgate, focusing on preserving ground clearance. We found it interesting that the only Chevy bow ties to grace this exterior design are in the wheel center caps, however. Inside, classic truck features like the front bench and cloth seating surfaces are a reminder of this trim level’s positioning. But do you really need ventilated, massaging leather seats, electronic screens simulating real gauges, or a sunroof in your truck? We don’t think so. Android Auto and Apple Car Play integration is standard, and our truck featured options packaged that added SiriusXM satellite radio, remote start, LED cargo bed lighting, and the EZ Lift power lock and release tailgate. With an as-tested price of $47,665, and likely some dealer incentives, there’s a lot here to like.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss 4

The low-tier trim level does come with some drawbacks, however. The 40/20/40 front bench means there’s no center console storage. While the Silverado does have two glove boxes, a dash-top cubby, and several storage bins on the center bench, we found ourselves wanted a bit more enclosed storage space. And while the Infotainment 3 System had phone integration for navigation, the overly simplistic radio has a complete lack of audio controls on the steering wheel, not to mention no physical seek buttons on the dash. Some customers might also expect park distance control, LED headlights, blind spot monitoring, or more than a single USB port on a truck at this price, but no dice here.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss 2

Captaining this behemoth is an invigorating experience. Sitting as high as most heavy duty trucks, like the GMC Sierra HD Denali we drove over the winter, you have a clear and commanding view over the square hood. Large mirrors and folding rear headrests provide an unabated 360-degree view. The big V8 provides a satisfying rumble on start-up, but largely keeps to itself unless you dig deep into the throttle. Chevy’s 10-speed automatic transmission is fantastic, shifting seamlessly and making sure the power is ready on command even as it skips more than a gear or two at a time. There’s a delightful heft in the controls and ride of this Trail Boss. The steering and pedals require real input to function. The taught ride is balanced out by substantial sidewall, though the tread blocks on the tires do create excessive noise at highway speeds. In our back-road adventures, we sought out every gravel road and dirt by-pass we could find. When it came to real back-woods driving, the Trail Boss could go where the droves of Subaru Foresters and Toyota RAV4s couldn’t. It did cost us, however. In 582 miles of mixed driving, the Trail Boss returned 17.4mpg.

2020 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss 7

The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Trail Boss delivers on everything you could possibly want in a pickup truck. The big V8 delivers towing and hauling, the Custom trim gives function and capability without the frills, and the Trail Boss feature set will let you take this truck nearly anywhere with the ability to get home again. Let’s face it, less tech and less fancy appointments mean you can be harder on this truck with less consequence. And while we will argue that a lack of steering wheel audio controls is a bit egregious, we won’t argue with a bench seats and a column shifter. For some context, the as-tested price of this Trail Boss is $20,000 less than the fully loaded GMC Sierra Denali Ultimate we mentioned in the opening. And underneath, they’re essentially the same drivetrain and frame. So after a week, we’re convinced you don’t need to overspend on a truck, and this Trail Boss proves it.

-Christopher Little

2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Custom Trail Boss 4WD Crew Cab
6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine $2,495
Custom Convenience Package $800
Infotainment Package $275
Single-zone manual, semi-automatic climate control $100
Destination Charges $1,595
As Tested MSRP $47,665

Related: Making Waves: 2019 GMC Sierra Denali

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