2021 Chevrolet Silverado Trail Boss Midnight Edition
– Tough-looking truck
– No shortage of space
– Stock offroad ability
– Side-steps aren’t standard
– Softer on-road handling
– Touchscreen could be bigger
Going up against the Ford F-150 isn’t easy. However, while the Ford is known as “America’s best-selling truck” for several decades now, it actually comes in second if you count the GM twins — the Silverado and the Sierra — as one model. Out here in the Middle East as well, the badge-engineered brothers from the same mother, and in particular the Silverado, are clearly the most popular. Extensively redesigned in 2019, it has been far better received than the model it replaced.
The crown jewel of the redesigned Silverado is the Trail Boss, an offroad-ready trim that’s not as aggressive as expensive Raptors and TRXs, but still robust enough for serious offroading. Our latest crew-cab tester is the Midnight Edition, although all Bosses come with an imposing darkened-face presence, dual exhaust tips and a serious lift for a factory model. The Trail Boss comes in single-cab form as well, which is exclusively for the Middle East due to the short body style’s local popularity.
Due to the lift, it can be tough to climb into for shorter folks due to the intentional lack of side steps, especially if there isn’t space to open the door wide. But it still comes with steps integrated into the rear bumper, so climbing onto the bed is actually easier.
The massive interior features the classic truckish Silverado interior, with upright surfaces, minimal brightwork, wide comfy seats and that legendary column shifter, but it’s been spruced up with padded stitched leatherette on the dash face and all the window sills. There’s still a lot of hard plastic panels, but you’d have to pick a higher-trimmed Silverado model to gain more premium features.
Aside from the massive bed, cabin storage spaces include a deep centre-armrest cubby, two gloveboxes, cubbies inside the rear seatbacks and space under the rear-seat bottom. Unlike the Ford F-150, our Silverado’s bed is free of gimmicks aside from LED lighting and bed lining, although options such as a “multi-flex” tailgate with steps and a “sports” roll bar do exist in the wider Silverado range.
The leather-clad cabin is laid out for functionality, with physical gauges and a smaller screen within the cluster. The 8-inch touchscreen housing the stereo, Apply Carplay etc. looks small and distant in that huge dash, but does the job. There are still lots of physical buttons for quick changes in settings for the stereo and auto a/c (both of which perform pretty well). And there are enough ports, including a USB-C one on the dash.
The standard motor in most Silverado trims is the 355 hp 5.3-litre V8, which is generally adequate on single-cab models, but can feel weighed-down in heavier crew-cab trucks. It’s the only engine available on the single-cab Trail Boss, but the crew-cab Trail Boss Midnight Edition comes with the monster 6.2-litre V8, which makes a solid 430 hp at 5600 rpm and 629 Nm of torque at 4100 rpm.
With the “6.2” discreetly displayed on the bonnet, our test truck mowed down the 0-100 kph run in 7.1 seconds, roughly in the same ballpark as the turbo Ford F-150 Raptor. The bigger V8 is a lazy engine, but it’s very torquey. Helped along by a 10-speed automatic, the enormous truck is quick, but doesn’t suffer from serious wheelspin like the wild EcoBoost F-150s.
Surprisingly, the Silverado is capable of competitive fuel economy figures thanks to cylinder-deactivation tech, managing 17.2 litres/100 km (5.8 km/litre) during our time, which is about the same as a Nissan Patrol LE. And we know we can do better with more sedate driving.
The Trail Boss rides with reasonable smoothness for a body-on-frame truck, although a mild “damped jitter” is always present due to its 275/65 all-terrain tyres on 18-inch wheels. It runs over larger bumps with hardly a jiggle, while being very quiet at highway speeds except for some tyre hum from the Goodyear Wrangler rubber.
Hustling on the corners, there is noticeable body roll, but body control is otherwise decent in sudden directional transitions. At-the-limit understeer is predictable and easy to explore, while the steering is light and lacks feedback, but perfectly fine for non-aggressive driving. Braking takes a bit of care, as stopping distances are longer than expected.
While crew-cab trucks aren’t ideal for our Middle East style of offroad driving due to the risk of scraping the long underbelly or ripping off bumpers, the Trail Boss is better suited for fun on the dunes. Aside from the Trail Boss’s low-range gearing, 2-inch suspension lift and better approach/departure angles, the standard Z71 package on our truck includes Rancho monotube shocks, hill descent control, skid plates, locking rear diff and even rollover airbag deactivation so that side-airbags don’t pop out when dune-bashing. With the power of the 6.2-litre, most dunes are tackled easily with some care taken for its size.
The Trail Boss is a very cool truck that brings real offroading capability within reach of those who want a stock pickup but can’t stretch their budget for a Raptor. Competition exists in the form of the less-powerful Ram Rebel and the less-lifted Ford F-150 Tremor, but the Chevy seems to be the best of the bunch in terms of specs.
Current Model Introduced in:
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