If we have learned anything from the major surge in off-road capable vehicles, it is that we were in a serious drought of rugged vehicles that could go anywhere and do anything. Granted, trends change, and the super rugged all-terrain trucks and SUVs we loved in the 1980s and 1990s lost relevance amidst the strange financial frontier of the early 2000s. Now that we are solidly within the 2020s, some of the brands we loved are returning, and even better, some of the brands we’ve consistently loved are applying off-road readiness to certain models. Enter the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500.
An off-roading Silverado 1500 is not a new concept. The Custom Trail Boss, LT Trail Boss, and ZR2 trims have historically provided varying degrees of off-road capability, and the ZR1 package adds off-road-tuned suspension, skid plates, and a host of other goodies that can keep the Silverado 1500 from spinning in the muck and the mire. However, the 2023 model year introduces the ZR2 Bison, as well as a newly-returned diesel engine that has been described by experts as “an actual beast.” Between the Bison and the beast of a diesel engine, is it possible that Chevy is taking the Silverado 1500 in an increasingly feral direction? Only time will tell, but the 2023 Silverado 1500 has a lot to offer for drivers who like a little excitement with their daily commute.
Introducing the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison
Given the blossoming abundance of off-road-ready vehicles, is the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison worth getting excited about? The answer to that question is subjective, of course, but there are many nice things to like about the ZR2 Bison. The name may seem familiar due to the 2019 Colorado ZR2 Bison. Developed as a collaboration between Chevrolet and American Expedition Vehicles, ZR2 Bison editions are specifically developed to provide a truck capable of participating in all kinds of backcountry adventures. That is to say; these vehicles aren’t just helpful when crossing a little bit of mud; they’re designed to spend significant time outside, crossing all kinds of demanding terrain.
As a result, the Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison isn’t just a catchy name; it’s a purpose-designed off-road roamer. The unique AEV bumpers are created from high-quality, 3-millimeter thick steel, with a powder and e-coat for long-term durability. Incorporated into the bumpers are heavy-duty recovery points, vertical front tow hooks, and step pads. Similarly, the five underbody skid plates are constructed from press-hardened boron steel, three and a half times stronger than typical steel skid plates. The Silverado 1500 ZR2 Bison also has greater stats than the ZR2, with a front approach angle of 32.5 degrees, a departure angle of 23.4 degrees, and a ground clearance of 11.2 inches.
In addition to the AEV-specific features, the ZR2 Bison is equipped with a standard 6.2L V8 engine for 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. This powerhouse is accompanied by a specialized chassis and suspension system, which includes Chevy’s one-pedal crawling Terrain Mode. 40-millimeter Multimatic DSSV spool-valve dampers and off-road-tuned springs help keep things marching along with the front and rear suspension, as well. While the 2023 ZR2 Bison may not be the Silverado 1500 every driver needs, it is clearly suited to its purpose of being a backcountry wandering icon, just like its namesake.
Doubling Down on the Duramax Diesel in the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500
There are many divisive opinions regarding diesel engines in half-ton trucks, which is not surprising considering the many divisive opinions in the automotive industry alone. As fuel prices fluctuate and zero emissions initiatives grow in number and power, it might seem that the days of diesel engines in non-commercial vehicles may be numbered.
Or are they? For 2023, Chevrolet has fine-tuned its long-time favorite 3.0L Duramax diesel engine to provide not only more power but improved durability, as well. Now providing 10% more horsepower and 7.6% more torque, the Silverado’s diesel option just got mightier. With its 305 hp and 495 lb-ft of torque, the new and improved Duramax diesel can tow up to 13,000 lbs, which is just under the Silverado 1500’s maximum of 13,300 lbs. Furthermore, two-wheel drive versions provide up to 29 MPG on the highway, giving it a reasonable fuel consumption for an engine of its size.
To manifest this power upgrade, Chevy outfitted the engine with new steel pistons, combustion bowl, and fuel injectors and tinkered with the temperature control features. Paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission, the returned diesel engine is an available option for Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country trims.
The All-New 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 Has Plenty of Familiar Features, Too
Another divisive opinion in the automotive industry is that cars and trucks are just getting too new-fangled with all this technology. Again, the “too” part makes this a highly subjective and hotly debated topic, but for those who are hoping that “all-new” doesn’t mean a “steep learning curve,” the Chevy Silverado 1500 has you covered.
As in previous years, nine total trims are offered: the WT, Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, ZR2, and High Country. There are still four engine options; joining the 6.2L V8 and the 3.0L diesel engines are a 2.7L 4-cylinder that provides 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque and a 5.3L V8 that offers 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. Drivers can also select from a wide range of bed/cab configurations, including a regular cab, double cab, or crew cab, and a long, standard, or short bed, measuring 89.1, 71.7, and 62.9 cu.ft. of cargo volume, respectively.
Another grand tradition remains the nearly mind-blowing level of customization Chevy allows drivers. In addition to selecting the trim, engine, and configuration that best suit your needs, Chevy offers a myriad of packages to personalize your Silverado 1500 experience. From the characteristic black Rally stripes and black-tipped exhaust on the Rally Edition to the highly functional features of the Max Trailering Package and Snow Plow Prep Package, Chevy allows drivers to select bundled features that will help them get on the road to get the job done.
The ZR2 Bison Edition Is Ready to Venture off the Pavement
There are many reasons why drivers choose the Chevy Silverado 1500 year after year as their work, play, and drive-anywhere truck. Not only is it a reliable, beloved truck at its core, but Chevy’s many purpose-built features and optional packages make it a truck drivers can truly value, regardless of what the road ahead holds for them.
For the 2023 model year, the Silverado may be more feral than ever with the addition of the ZR2 Bison edition and a beast-tuned diesel engine option. But at the center of the Silverado 1500 phenomenon is a truck that gets the job done. Whether you’re shopping for an amazing backcountry-suitable truck, or looking for a truck that fits your budget and purpose, consider the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500. As the years go by, the changes are inevitable, but many experts, critics, and drivers would agree that the Silverado 1500 just keeps getting better and better.