Seeing the Real Differences of the Chevy Silverado Trail Boss vs Silverado Z71

February 14th, 2020 by

A red 2020 Chevy Trailboss and a silver 2020 Chevy Z71 are parked in a large parking lot with mountains in the distance.

In the world of full-size pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado has an undeniable reputation as one of the most popular, most powerful, and most highly-respected vehicles in its class. The Silverado 1500 first appeared on the market in 1999, and quickly gained attention for its towing capacity, high payload limits, quickly surpassing the C and K line trucks it replaced. Just over twenty years later, Chevy has refined the Silverado 1500 into a model that meets the needs of nearly every driver shopping the segment, with eight different trim packages. On top of those trim levels are custom option packages, allowing drivers nearly complete control over the vehicle they design and purchase. Not only does each trim package have a slightly different appearance, with specifically designed grille, fascia, and wheel, but each Silverado trim has a distinct range of capabilities and purpose. For example, the Chevy Silverado Trail Boss vs Silverado Z71 might be of the same model, but they are very different.

The Work Truck was designed as a truck that can get any job done with a no-frills sensibility, while the LT is a daily driver with a classic appearance. RST is the sportiest Silverado, designed to get attention wherever it goes, while LTZ and Custom trims lean towards comfort and luxury paired with that workhorse outlook. High Country tops the line with premium everything. But when it comes to off-road, rugged design, the LT Trail Boss, Custom Trail Boss, and Z71 are all terms that those in the market for an all-terrain beast might hear thrown around. So what’s the difference? What makes someone choose one over the other? Let’s take a look at the Trail Boss and Z71 models in further detail.

A Tale of Two Trail Bosses

The 2020 lineup of Chevrolet Silverado 1500 trucks includes not one but two trim packages with the “Trail Boss” designation. According to Chevy marketing, the LT Trail Boss is “the boss of bosses,” while the Custom Trail Boss “shows the trails who’s boss.” With monikers like that, it’s easy to see why Trail Boss models would be an instant attraction to those who navigate the road less traveled.

All Trail Boss models feature engineering that proves helpful when roads get wild and winding. Both include a two-inch suspension lift, giving the more clearance, and Rancho monotube shocks that maintain balance when the going gets tough. The LT Trail Boss includes dual-outlet exhaust integrated into the rear bumper, a feature that is available on Custom Trail Boss models. A high capacity air filter, Hill Descent Control, skid plates, and automatic rear locking differential help both Trail Boss models maintain their composure in mud, rain, rock, and more.

The differences between the two are primarily focused on size, power, and features. The LT Trail Boss is available in crew cab only, matched with a short bed or standard bed. Custom Trail Boss is available as crew or double cab, but the double cab is only offered with the standard bed. While each model features the rolled-steel Durabed construction, the LT Trail Boss short bed offers 2,185 lbs of maximum payload, while Custom Trail Boss short bed can accommodate 2,085 lbs. Both models include 62.9 cubic feet of cargo space inside the bed, as well, with seating for six.

A red 2020 Chevy Silverado 1500 LT Trail Boss is parked on a flat salt land.

As far as power supply, the LT Trail Boss comes equipped with a standard 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine with Dynamic Fuel Management, paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission. This combination offers 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. The Custom version, on the other hand, includes a standard 4.3L EcoTec3 V6 engine with Active Fuel Management, which is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. This engine offers 285 horsepower and 305 lb-ft of torque. Drivers looking for a bit more power can opt for the 6.2L EcoTec V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management, which is an available engine for both models. This engine is paired with a ten-speed automatic transmission and features 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft—a best in class feat for a V8 engine.

Inside, both the LT and Custom Trail Boss models feature 40/20/40 split front seats; however, the LT adds under-seat storage for smaller items. While the LT includes 4G LTE WiFi, drivers of the Custom will have to add this as an option.

When it comes to optional packages, the LT Trail Boss offers far more than the Custom Trail Boss. The Convenience Package adds automatic climate control, as well as heated and power-adjustable seats, and a heated steering wheel. The Convenience II Package includes a premium Infotainment system, power rear window, extra USB ports, and premium audio features, including a Bose sound system. The Advanced Trailering Package provides cameras and monitoring systems that can assist in hitching and maintaining trailer safety on the road.

Z71: An Off-Road Package Above and Beyond

One common misconception is that the Z71 is one of the available Silverado 1500 trim levels. In fact, it’s an option package that is available on the Work Truck, LT, RST, LTZ, and High Country models. As a result, the features available included in the Z71 package differ slightly between models.

All Z71-equipped models feature the off-road suspension and Rancho twin shocks included on the Trail Boss models, as well as the Hill Descent Control feature, heavy-duty air filter, and protective all-terrain skid plates. All include Z71-branded all-weather floor mats to handle any of that rough road that makes its way into the cab. All models except the High Country Z71 models include a special badge and two-speed AutoTrac transfer case.

An off-road capable vehicle needs all-terrain tires, and Z71 is no exception. LT and RST models equipped with this package include 18-inch aluminum wheels and all-terrain blackwall tires. They are also accompanied by the Protection Package, which offers the Chevytec spray-on bed liner and specialized rear wheelhouse liners. The LTZ models feature 20-inch polished wheels with all-terrain blackwall tires, and also include the Chevytec bed liner.

Silverado 1500 LT and RST trims paired with the Z71 off-road package receive a few extras, including automatic locking rear differentials and a dual exhaust. The Z71-style differential is also available on Work Truck trims, while the exhaust also appears on the LTZ models.

A silver Chevy Silverado Z71, which is a color you'll see when shopping for the Chevy Silverado Trail Boss vs Silverado Z71, is parked in front of an office building near Bethlehem, PA.

Making Tough Choices

When it comes to selecting the perfect off-road capable Silverado 1500, drivers will need to carefully consider the options. If you’re looking to build the perfect vehicle with one of the Silverado’s capable and powerful trim models, including the Work Truck, LT, RST, LTZ, or High Country, the Z71 package will add the features and protections that transform these trucks into an all-terrain beast. You’ll get the best of both worlds with this option, with all the features of the chosen trim as well as the off-road features of the Z71 package.

Alternately, the Custom Trail Boss and LT Trail Boss are specifically designed with many of the off-road features of the Z71 package, including a suspension lift, shocks, and rear locking differentials. Building off the features of the Custom and LT trims, Trail Boss trims allow drivers to choose additional options to customize their vehicle, which is already equipped with off-road capabilities. While the Z71 is the equivalent of adding off-road features to an existing truck, the Custom and LT Trail Boss models are off-road-ready vehicles that can have additional features added.

Finding Your Chevy Silverado

When choosing a 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the plethora of options on the table. From extra comfort and convenience to increased safety, to trailering and off-roading packages, Chevy seems to have considered every possible scenario you could need a full-size truck for. If off-road capability is at the top of your list of considerations, the Trail Boss trims and Z71 packages will add the necessary features. For those who live off the beaten path, a Trail Boss model might be the first option to consider, while the Z71 package might be the best option for truck drivers who might need the extra features that make occasional or frequent all-terrain driving possible. Either way, Silverado drivers are guaranteed a safe, comfortable, powerful ride. Check one out today at Raceway Chevrolet in Bethlehem, PA. Our sales team is ready when you are!