If you’re seeking a reliable pickup that can hold its own in challenging off-road scenarios, Chevy has you covered. With a host of powerful engine options to choose from—and the long-standing reputation for quality that’s made Chevy such a beloved brand over the years—the Silverado is ready for a little off-road adventure with a number of enticing trims and equipment packages to choose from. From the Z71 equipment package to the Trail Boss and ZR2 trims, drivers looking for a new Chevy Silverado for sale have no shortage of options for finding a new off-road pickup.
These trims and packages are the real deal—built with a generous complement of off-road equipment ranging from rugged all-terrain tires and protective skid plates to tuned suspensions, two-speed transfer case, automatic-locking rear differentials, and more—giving drivers all the heavy-duty components they need to find success out on the trail. Let’s take a closer look at these bold offerings and see how Chevy is leading the pack in off-road performance…
The Z71 Package
Introduced for the 2022 model year, the Silverado’s intriguing new off-road ZR2 trim has dominated the headlines as of late—but it’s not the only option available. First introduced along with the first-generation Silverado as far back as 1999, the Z71 package provides drivers with an easy and affordable way to bring a little heavy-duty off-road performance into the mix. While the name might seem like a random combination of letters and numbers, it actually has a rather interesting etymology that goes a long way in explaining the off-road package’s genesis.
The term “Z71” actually started off as what’s known as a Regular Production Code (RPO), a three-digit standardized code used by General Motors to specify different vehicle options and modifications. GM’s RPO system is categorized into different component groups, making it easy to tell what sort of specialty parts a vehicle might be packing. For example, RPO codes between A01 and E99 indicate components related to the vehicle’s body, while K01 through L99 would point to specific engine components. RPO codes Z01 through Z99 are reserved for special items not covered by other component groups, which is where the Z71 got its name.
In the early years of the Silverado, the Z71 RPO code referred to an off-road suspension package that was available as an optional add-on. The code was initially reserved for internal communications between the dealership and factory, but as Chevy fans got wise to the RPO system, the term Z71 was adopted by Silverado fans and started popping up across internet forums and garages across the country. Chevy leaned into the trend, turning Z71 from a little-known RPO code into its own full-fledged off-road equipment package—and the rest is history.
This generous package is reasonably priced, with an MSRP of $2,210, and it ticks nearly every box on the list of essential off-road equipment. From a tuned suspension with Rancho shocks that will go a long way in improving off-road comfort to grippy all-terrain tires, an automatic-locking rear differential for maximum traction, and Autotrac two-speed transfer case, the off-road package is a real bargain considering the boost in the utility it can provide.
The Z71 package also includes a metal underbody shield that will protect vulnerable components from damage when the going gets tough, as well as a high-capacity air filter that ensures all that dirt and dust you’re kicking up doesn’t have a detrimental effect on your overall performance. So how can you try out a Z71-equipped Silverado for yourself? This off-road package is available on almost every Silverado model fitted with a V8 engine, and it comes standard on the rugged Trail Boss trim.
The Trail Boss Trim
Speaking of the Trail Boss, Chevy rolled out this Silverado trim in 2019, gracing its pickup with improved shocks, wheels, and a beefy suspension designed to handle the rigors of off-road life. The Trail Boss is offered in two distinct forms: the Custom Trail Boss and LT Trail Boss. The entry-level Custom Trail Boss includes all the off-road equipment mentioned above, along with a 2.7L turbocharged four-cylinder engine that’s good for 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. While the Trail Boss might be more focused on off-road antics than towing, it’s still nice to know that this pickup can haul up to 9,500 lbs with ease.
The Z71 package lies at the heart of both Trail Boss trims, offering a full suite of burly off-road equipment that transforms this best-selling pickup into a true off-road contender. From the tuned suspension and Rancho shocks to the Autotrac two-speed transfer case, automatic locking rear differential, and Goodyear Wrangler Duratrac mud terrain tires, the Trail Boss is a case study in customization.
In addition to the equipment found in the Z71 package, the Trail Boss also receives 18-inch high-gloss black-painted wheels and a raised hood with styled black inserts—but it’s the trims’ two-inch factory suspension lift that marks the most significant upgrade over other Silverado models. As any experienced off-roader knows, you can never have too much ground clearance. With an extra couple of inches of lift, the Silverado Trail Boss is perfectly equipped for crunching through dense underbrush, rolling over downed trees, and navigating boulder-strewn trails.
Moving up to the LT Trail Boss brings some crucial upgrades that will make life behind the wheel a little more powerful, not to mention entertaining. LT Trail Boss drivers will enjoy a massive 13.4-inch full-color touchscreen display, a 12.3-inch reconfigurable driver information center, and a robust 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 producing 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The LT Trail Boss might have around 50 lb-ft less torque than the Custom Trail Boss, but it manages to beat it in the towing department with a total capacity of 11,000 lbs.
Off-road credentials aside, the Trail Boss provides Chevy with the perfect platform to create some alluring special edition Silverado models. For the 2023 model year, there are two enticing examples: the camo-inspired Realtree Edition and the moody Midnight Edition.
The Realtree Edition sees Chevy collaborate with an iconic outdoors brand to style a Trail Boss that’s perfect for the hunting season, with camo graphics and a variety of off-road equipment that should make that early-morning drive to the tree stand just a little easier to stomach. The Realtree Edition is fitted with red recovery hooks, available Goodyear Wrangler Territory mud terrain tires, high-intensity discharge LED headlamps, and a Chevytec spray-on bed liner complete with the Realtree logo.
For those seeking the most sinister-looking Silverado on offer, look no further than the Midnight Edition. This blacked-out pickup isn’t afraid to blend into the night, with black badging, recovery hooks, bumpers, bed decals, and more. It also features the same LED headlamps and mud-terrain tires as the Realtree Edition, giving it some off-road cred of its own.
The ZR2 Trim
Last but certainly not least is the Silverado ZR2. First hitting the streets in 2022, the Silverado ZR2 was the first time Chevy extended the off-road label to its flagship pickup, having previously reserved it for some of its smaller off-road-focused trucks and SUVs.
It all starts under the hood, where you’ll find a 6.2L V8 paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission that churns out 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. That sort of torque can come in handy in challenging off-road scenarios, allowing drivers to power over even the steepest grades and obstacles with ease—not to mention the impact it has on the Silverado’s towing ability. While we’re not going to complain about a pickup with a 13,300-lb towing capacity, it’s the ZR2’s off-road features that make it such a notable addition to the Silverado lineup.
As the Silverado’s most off-road-ready trim, the ZR2 pulls out all the stops for its toolbox of hardy off-road equipment. Like the Z71 and Trail Boss, the ZR2 features a two-speed transfer case that can prove vital when trying to gain traction in wet, muddy conditions by transferring power between the axles. The ZR2 adds an electronic-locking front differential to the rear differential found on the other two off-road models, allowing drivers to use every bit of the pickup’s available torque to chew through the trail.
Of course, you can never have too much traction in an off-road vehicle, which is why Chevy has graced the ZR2 with an aggressive set of 33-inch Goodyear Wrangler Territory tires. These tires are consistently rated as some of the industry’s best off-road skids, with a unique hybrid design that places the tread blocks at diverse angles to increase the amount of rubber that makes contact with the road at any given time. These tires are mounted on 18-inch aluminum machined-face wheels out of the factory, but those seeking a little more in the way of customization can opt for 18-inch Gloss Black wheels instead.
The ZR2’s most impressive off-road feature might be its Multimatic DSSV spool valve dampers. Engineered with off-roading in mind, these unique shock absorbers are a major improvement over the traditional setup found in most vehicles, employing a cutting-edge design to allow for greater articulation in each piston. We’ll spare you the mechanical engineering lesson, but—suffice to say—they provide a dramatically smoother, more comfortable ride when you leave paved roads in the rearview mirror.
The ZR2 is protected by all the skid plates and cladding a driver could ask for, and it features a high-mounted steel bumper with a generous 31.8-degree approach angle that outshines every other Silverado model on offer. The ZR2 is also the only Chevy pickup to come with Terrain mode, a one-pedal driving mode that’s not dissimilar from the sort of one-pedal driving models found on many of today’s electric vehicles. Terrain mode can be engaged when traveling at low speeds, automatically engaging the brakes when the throttle isn’t in use and making it easy for drivers to navigate dangerous, hazard-filled terrain without having to focus on what their feet are doing.
Chevy has upgraded the ZR2 for 2023 with a new take on the attention-grabbing off-road package. The ZR2 Bison is a one-of-a-kind trim developed in collaboration with Montana-based off-road aftermarket equipment company American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). Featuring improved approach and departure angles, AEV-stamped front and rear steel bumpers, extra underbody skid plates, 18-inch AEV wheels, and more, the ZR2 Bison is the Silverado at its most rugged.
Getting Out There
Between the Z71 equipment package, Trail Boss, ZR2, and ZR2 Bison trims, the Silverado lineup is full of adventure-seeking pickups perfect for a little off-road adventure. The ZR2 might not offer the same sort of mind-bending power as the new generation of so-called “super trucks” like the Ford F-150 Raptor R or Ram 1500 TRX, but it also doesn’t cost almost $110,000 (or $84,355 in the case of the TRX).
We’re not saying there’s anything wrong with either of these models, but a six-figure price tag is a little hard to stomach, no matter how you look at it. Chevy also wins some serious points for not nickel-and-diming drivers on off-road equipment, including a number of cutting-edge features that maximize off-road enjoyment at no additional cost.
Given their role as a job site workhorse, Chevy has seen fit to equip several Silverado trims with convenient tech like Hill Descent Control, which takes the guesswork out of conquering steep grades by automatically engaging the pickup’s anti-lock braking system. With Hill Descent Control, burnt-out brakes and white knuckles are a thing of the past, allowing every driver to tackle even the most intimidating obstacles without having to worry about how they’ll get down afterward. It’s just one example of Chevy’s commitment to building the best, most versatile truck on the market—an approach that has done the Silverado well for the past quarter of a century.