New for 2019, the Trailboss!
I grew up playing with toy trucks in the dirt, and pickups still spark a childlike fascination for operating heavy machinery. Which is a long way of saying that I get excited whenever I get a chance to drive one. Test time it was the all-new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado with the Z71 off-road package in its newest edition, the Trailboss.
The 2019 Chevrolet Silverado is offered in 8 different trim levels:
• Work Truck
• Custom Trailboss (new for 2019)
• RST (new for 2019)
• LT Trailboss (new for 2019)
• High Country
Each trim level is designed with a lifestyle in mind; this review will focus only on the 2019 Silverado Custom Trailboss. Newly introduced for 2019, the Custom Trailboss is meant to be the entry level for the Trailboss spec of Chevy’s Silverado. Usually, media vehicles used for reviews are often top-of-the-line trim levels, which allow journalists to test the majority of the features offered in that vehicle. This, however, was my first time reviewing an entry-level vehicle. The Custom Trailboss is the base model of an off-road pickup truck. Is it enough? Do you need to upgrade to feel like a boss? And importantly, what comes as standard?
What you get with the Custom Trailboss is:
• Z71 Off-Road Package
• Factory 2 Inch Lift
• Meaty Goodyear Off-Road Tires
• Rancho Monotube Shocks
• Auto-Locking Rear Differential
• 2-Speed Transfer Case
• Trailer Package (Hitch Guidance using backup Camera)
The 2019 Trailboss is meant to give the Silverado an off-road, weekend warrior appearance. The term “trail boss” dates back to Marlboro (before Marlboros or their billboards) cowboys driving cattle across the American West. The trail boss was the foreman in charge of driving 2,000 head of cattle across 1,300 miles – true grit. The Silverado Custom stands tall in Trailboss mode with beefy off-road tires, red tow hooks, and black-painted bumpers to accent a duster coat of Shadow Grey Metallic.
Wherever I showed this truck, people said they liked the way it looked – they thought it looked “tough” – and it does, with a face longer than Stallone’s. Approaching the 2019 Silverado Trailboss you become focused on the massive front end that towers over you, thanks to a redesign of the Silverado’s face.
The truck has jowls much like you would see on the face of a bulldog. Air vents on the side of each fender, allowing air to slice through, make the 2019 Silverado look like a bulldog just snapping out from a snooze. Pickup trucks and dogs run along similar lines of sentiment with their caretakers. The 2019 Silverado Custom Trailboss exterior warms up to you like a big, shadow grey Bulldog.
As stated earlier, the Silverado Custom Trailboss is the entry level to the Trailboss lineup. Higher trims follow with the Trailboss LT and the summit being the Trailboss High Country. With the entry level Trailboss Custom you get a real bare bones interior, similar to a fleet truck. A rough texture plastic dashboard is filled with blank spaces, reminding you where options would have been if it wasn’t for your reduced circumstances. Underseat storage in the back, which is a dealer option at $255, felt cheap and flexible, like storage bins you’d find at a Wal-Mart.
The seats are cloth, which is fine and often desirable for off-road trucks. However, you do not get electric controls, lumbar support, or (even) a lever to raise the driver’s seat. That is a problem, since the 2019 Chevy Silverado is a big truck that requires you to see out over the front end, a front end taller than most 8-year olds. I’m 5’7”, and caught myself driving with a strained neck several times while maneuvering this light duty pickup.
Yet, the biggest elephant in the room with the 2019 Silverado Custom Trailboss interior is the center console, which does not open for storage. And there is no storage under the middle seat, either. I actually took this truck to the biggest Chevrolet dealership in my town to see if this was standard. Daniel Colchado, a sales consultant at Family Chevrolet, confirmed that the Custom Trailboss is the base trim spec in the Trailboss line up. With that, you get a basic interior, and that’s why the center console does not open for interior storage.
All these features (or lack thereof) could be rationalized; this Custom Trailboss offers buyers a “blank canvas” on a Z71 chassis for the aftermarket artist. There are people who prefer the base model with no bells or whistles. But that idea is hard to reason when this base model Trailboss starts at over $40K. The one good thing I liked about this truck was the rubber floor mats, which were useful and appreciated.
SPECS AND PERFORMANCE 2019 CHEVY SILVERADO CUSTOM TRAILBOSS
Standard engine on the Custom Trailboss is a 5.3 liter V8, giving you 335 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque to play with; it drives through a 6-speed automatic transmission. A higher-spec Silverado Trailboss, like the LT and High Country, are spec’d with the 6.2 liter V8, making 420 horsepower and 460 pound feet of torque. The LT and High Country Trailboss also get GM’s new 8-speed automatic transmission.
On the dusty back roads near home I was able to blaze the trails at speed without spilling coffee into the cup holder. The Trailboss’ Goodyear Wrangler Dura Trac tires and Rancho Monotube shocks absorb much of the back-breaking bumps for me. All I had to do was keep it between the ditches and bounce through the Texas brush. While driving over soft dirt the truck’s Stability Control would pull on the reins by applying braking power to individual wheels, slowing me down and staying in control.
One of the features I like on the new 2019 Silverado is how light the tailgate is. You can bounce the tailgate on your hand like a soccer ball. My petite mother was able to lift the tailgate using one hand. Also, the LED lights inside the truck bed proved to be extremely useful when I was unloading cargo under a moonless sky and didn’t have a spare hand to hold a flash light.
Fuel efficiency is decent for a lifted truck with big tires. I drove the 2019 Silverado Custom Trailboss 735miles and averaged 14.4mpg. Starting MSRP for the Custom Trailboss is $44,890 – this test vehicle was just over $46K.
I lost sleep thinking about how this center console was even approved by the higher- ups at GM. Forget trim levels! Who approved putting a giant center console in a 2019 pickup truck that offers no storage? In my lifetime, pickup trucks have been transformed from two-tone bench seat beasts of burden into gigantic Family Trucksters that juggle work, family, and play. A center console with no storage only holds misery.
Not to dwell on it, but the center console is tall, which means that when you fold it up your arm will crash into it when looking back in reverse, or when you reach over to the passenger seat to rest your arm. The cup holders work well for putting my phone, but it slides off anywhere else I placed it. This interior actually angers me because it is a waste of potential, and insulting to the modern truck buyer. I could not live with this interior. If I really wanted a 2019 Silverado Trailboss I would opt for the higher LT trim level. This made me think of a world where vehicles are becoming more expensive, new car leases are over 6 years, and people are being forced to pay for equipment they assumed would be standard. (But that would never happen!)
The only daydream scenario I could think of to rationalize the excuse for this was picturing a board room of faceless suits. Ivy League-educated sharks who never owned a truck and wouldn’t think of the value of interior storage in a utility vehicle. They were the ones that approved this bench seat in 2019. The idea of an entry level off-road Chevy truck is great, but you can’t expect people to pay nearly $50K for a base trim level with no lumbar support.