One of the joys of this job is when work takes you to a scenic off-road park like Barnwell Mountain for a day of vehicle testing. In this case, we are following up on our last full-size pickup (a 2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro) with the latest (and not even the greatest) off-road option from the Bowtie Brand.
Revised for 2022 but delivered to us as a 2023 model this Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss features a revised version of their 3.0L Duramax turbodiesel engine. The Trail Boss was the best off-road version of the Silverado platform you could get until they introduced the even more robust ZR2. Trail Boss models take what is great from the Z71 off-road package and add a 2-inch factory suspension lift and more aggressive off-road tires, among other enhancements.
Level setting our testing, we took both to the same off-road obstacles at our favorite off-road park just outside of Gilmer, Texas. Barnwell Mountain is a dedicated dream location for testing trucks like this one. With 1,850 acres of trails for all skill levels, this has been our go-to test site for vehicles meant to play in the dirt.
Remembering that terrain will change over time, and it has been four months since we had the Tundra TRD Pro here, we found the off-roadability of this rig far superior. Thanks in part to better approach and departure angles than the TRD, the Chevy felt like the entire park was open for our exploration. The TRD’s long nose had us constantly worried that the elevation changes would result in a busted panel.
The immense size of both rigs came into play, limiting the trails we could explore, but that is a downside of the entire field of competitors in the full-size pickup market. My last daily driver pickup was an ’07 model and this 2023 model has grown a lot since then. It is not a terrible thing, but we were not able to head down our favorite trail at the park.
While the Tundra ditched the V8 in favor of a hybrid powertrain based on a 3.5L twin-turbo V6, the Chevy took a more traditional truck choice with a diesel. While the Toyota is geared and prepped more for power than fuel economy, the Hybrid easily overpowers the Chevy, but that does not mean the Duramax is weak. With 305 horsepower and 495 lb-ft of torque and mated to an excellent 10-speed automatic transmission, we never wanted power or a lower gear in any driving situation in this Chevy. If power numbers are just a measuring stick for bragging rights, the Tundra wins out. In practicality, both powertrains are more than enough for both big trucks.
Where you would expect the hybrid to win out in fuel economy, Toyota engineers really focused on the power numbers. While we have a full road trip test of the Duramax’s fuel economy coming tomorrow, the diesel proved most true to the EPA numbers posted to the window sticker. We saw 22 miles per gallon in our 530 miles of testing which was a mix of highway, Downtown Dallas city traffic, and all of our off-road escapades. That number alone had me on the build-and-price site of Chevrolet.com configuring my Trail Boss.
Pickups are used as family rigs here in East Texas, and this Trail Boss excelled at that too. Again, stay tuned to the channel for more coverage on fuel economy as well as Holli’s take on this beast. It is safe to say, however, that the compromises one usually makes for a supremely capable off-road rig usually overtakes its daily livability. Not so with this one.
If you are only comparing specs, the Tundra’s powertrain wins out for brute force, but in all other metrics, the Trail Boss is boss. In our testing, both off-road and on, the Chevy is the clear winner between the two.
2022 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro (tested last year)
i-FORCE MAX 3.5L Twin Turbo V6 Hybrid
1.1-inch front, 2.5-inch rear lift
10.9 inches of ground clearance
26.2-degree approach angle
24.2-degree departure angle
EPA Fuel Economy 18/20/19
Starting MSRP (TRD Pro): $69,420
Price as tested: $71,640
2023 Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss
LM2 3.0L Duramax® Turbo Diesel Inline-6
Refined, second-generation Duramax 3.0L Turbo-Diesel engine delivers 10 percent more horsepower and 7.6 percent more torque. Updates include a new steel piston design, revised turbo compressor, new fuel injectors, and improved temperature control features
10-speed Automatic Transmission with Electronic Precision Shift
Autotrac® 2-speed Transfer Case and Automatic Locking Rear Differential
18-inch High Gloss Black-painted Wheels
33-inch Goodyear Wrangler DuraTrac® Mud Terrain Tires
2-inch suspension lift from the factory
10.9 inches of ground clearance
28.7-degree approach angle
27.2-degree departure angle
3.23 Rear-axel Ratio
10-way Power Front Bucket Seats
Heated Front Seats
Cloth Seating Surfaces
Dual-zone Automatic Climate Control
12.3-inch Color Driver Information Center
13.4-inch Chevrolet Infotainment 3 Premium with Google Built-in
Wireless Apple CarPlay® and Android AutoTM
120-volt Center Console Power Outlet
3-piece Folding Hard Tonneau Cover
High-Clearance Off-Road Steps
Chevytec Spray-on Bedliner
120-volt Bed-mounted Power Outlet
Starting MSRP: $56,300 (LT Trail Boss)
Price as tested: $69,315