(Disclosure: After much discussion between PRNDL and manufacturers, this author scored his first-ever press vehicle. The only available dates fell on a leisurely trip to Salt Lake City, Utah, for SharkFest, a small motorsports festival, but I wasn’t about to say no to the trip nor to my first press vehicle. That said, off I went on one hell of a working vacation stretching this truck’s legs over a thousand miles.)
I’m not the biggest truck person on the planet, and there’s a solid chance neither are some of you reading this. While I wholeheartedly respect them, a truck’s place in my life withered away as I aged and my lifestyle changed. There were no more dirt bikes to haul and no more trailers to tow. Family trucks gave way to crossovers and subcompacts, while my old Ranger eventually passed on its mantle of transportation to my Mustang and clapped-out Nissan.
And that’s a damn shame to have abandoned the way of the body-on-frame. To hell with sensibilities. This 2022 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country, bestowed upon PRNDL by the Bow Tie itself for seven days, is a genuine, honest-to-goodness masterpiece in practical grand touring and is the greatest apartment building I’ve ever driven.
My one-week excursion to Salt Lake City for the SharkFest car show highlighted the High Country’s abilities as the rancher’s muscle truck, a spritely tourer for utilitarian families with a bit of taste for refinement.
What Is It?
Unless you’re from across the pond or have been living under a rock since the Cretaceous Period, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is one of North America’s perennial favorites, forever locked in a battle to be the favorite child with the Ram 1500 and Ford F-150. It’s a burly studio apartment on wheels with room for the whole family (or job site crew) and, in High Country form, enough amenities to entertain the neanderthals among us for eternity.
No different from its fellow half-ton trucks, you’ve likely seen a million Silverados in your lifetime, either Carolina-squatted in the fast lane tailgating minivans or parked at the local Chili’s, where its owner prepares to harness the power of all ten of their Coors Lights against the bar staff.
- MSRP: $60,300 (As tested: $68,800)
- Powertrain: 6.2L direct-injected V8 // 10-speed automatic
- Horsepower: 420 horsepower @ 5600 RPM
- Torque: 460 pound-feet @ 4100 RPM
- Seating Capacity: 5
- Cargo Volume: 62.9 cubic feet
- Towing Capacity: 9,100 pounds
- Payload Capacity: 2,284 pounds
- Curb Weight: approx. 5,580 pounds
- Fuel Economy: 15 MPG city // 20 MPG highway // 17 MPG combined
This High Country trim sits atop the Silverado 1500 line as the top-shelf flagship, shedding simplicity and bare basics for wood-trimmed technology. It’s the plush truck you might want to keep away from job sites but closer to the cabin in Mammoth. It’s the luxury yacht your boss probably drives – unless you are the boss. If so, then what are you doing? Go get one. You’re making me look bad.
Inflating the $60,300 base price of this luxo land barge is a $1,870 Technology Package, which rolls in a rearview camera mirror, a crystal-clear heads-up display, emergency braking, and adaptive cruise control.
Retractable side steps tack on an extra $1,195. At the same time, a Max Trailering Package throws in a 9.76-inch rear axle, beefier 220-amp alternator versus the standard 170, improved engine cooling, revised shocks, and heavier-duty rear springs for $850.
Chevrolet’s new signature party piece, their Multi-Flex Tailgate, is a comparatively meager $445, making it a no-brainer box to tick. It transforms your tailgate into a multi-stage piece of origami, allowing the tailgate to fold into various configurations. This includes a nifty job site desk as well as a practical bed step that doubles as a cozy bench for flexing on “sensible” fools who’d rather spend their $445 on boring things like groceries and taxes.
The fattest yet raddest addition to the price tag is a hulking monstrosity, the 6.2L Ecotec3 V8. For $2,495, you can imbue this otherwise sedate beast with 420 horses and 460 pound-feet of neck-aching motivation. Said grunt routes to the AutoTrac four-wheel drive system through the now-famed Ford-Chevy 10-speed automatic.
As for the rest of this tuxedoed-up brute, it’s fairly standard for kit for most of the Silverado range and middle-grade compared to how far you can push a Silverado High Country – loaded trucks can kiss eighty grand. It has the same comprehensive, landscape-oriented touchscreen with wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, flanking the driver’s high-resolution digital gauge cluster. There’s no upgraded 22-inch wheel package, no sunroof, and no Super Cruise like in superior Silverados.
Standard wheels are 20-inches, yet this press truck came shod in some handy Bridgestone all-terrains.
The Leather-Clad Pack Mule
As some Gen Z squirt working from home, I had nothing with which to test the Silverado’s mettle truly. Sorry to disappoint the hardcore utilitarians out there. But suppose the experiences of my dad, who owned a previous-generation Silverado RST Duramax, and countless other owners are anything to go off. In which case, you’re not likely to stretch thin this truck’s capabilities.
A payload of 2,284 pounds in this specific spec is more than enough for the landscaper’s mulch run, and desert rats will find it to be plenty for their motocross escapades. Built-in bed tie-downs make securing your load a cinch, and the spray-in bedliner, standard to the High Country, keeps the cargo hold safe from whatever you have to throw at it – or rather on it.
At the very least, the High Country shuttled a sizeable rolling luggage case and a portable cooler in its bed on a week-long trip to Utah. At most, it held nearly a thousand pounds of humans for a group photo op with hardly an inch of sag, if any at all.
As for towing, I sure as hell was never able to test that, despite occasional thoughts of towing my Nissan Be-1 to attend SharkFest with my friends, who were attending as show cars. 9,100 pounds in this current spec is more than enough for a small camper trailer or even a bed-mounted camper, as my dad had once done. 460 pound-feet of torque and an unwavering rear suspension will make short work of most things.
Evangelists may laud the Chevrolet for reportedly having better towing capacity than a comparable Ram Limited, while haters criticize it for undercutting a comparable F-150 King Ranch. But ultimately, who is really pushing their half-ton’s capabilities to the absolute limit to justify a difference of hundreds of pounds?
Off The Beaten Path
Because why shouldn’t I off-road the press truck?
Unfortunately, it didn’t have the Z71 package nor any sort of Trail Boss or ZR2 goodies; just some mild all-terrains and a determined jackass (i.e., me) behind the wheel.
Okay, admittedly, I wasn’t going to send my first press truck to Valhalla, but it did see a dozen or so miles of washboard roads, whoops, bumps, and gravel, which it dispatched with surprising ease. For the entire week, dirt or road, we never had to take the four-wheel drive system out of Auto. Instead, we just let it sort itself out, and the Silverado never misstepped once.
The suspension was unfathomably compliant for a truck lacking any off-road package and destined mainly for highways. The most Chevrolet had probably anticipated this truck to do was traverse the dirt driveway to your backwoods rental cabin, yet it proved to be a competent sweetheart. There was no need to air down from the factory 40 PSI, and the digital gauges and heads-up display fed readouts of angles at which we had the truck canted.
Even with the firmer Towing Package rear suspension, my passenger and I had little issue bombing down fire roads at 20 to 25 miles per hour, whereas his heavy-duty Ram 2500, despite its 4×4 Off-Road pack, would nearly jitter itself to death at 15 miles per hour. My dad’s previous Silverado RST rocked and bounced as well, despite being on a similar 20-inch wheel package, and it only got worst when it received modifications to better uphold the payload of his bed camper.
We didn’t rock crawl by any means, and this truck was definitely no Raptor or ZR2, but it will satisfy the hordes of owners using these things for ferrying friends to campgrounds. Stick to the smaller wheel package with the beefier sidewalls, and mind your approach angle with the low-hanging air dam, and you’ll be in more than capable hands.
The Utilitarian’s Grand Tourer
Now, we get on with that a majority of these trucks will be doing for most of their ownership: devouring infinite stretches of pavement. It’s a monotonous task that any car can do, from the lowliest of Mitsubishi Mirages to the glitziest of Bentley Continentals, yet it’s where the Silverado High Country impressed the most.
In short, damn, this truck is good.
It’s a grand tourer in the truest sense. Whether you’re touring interstates, taking in vista after vista, or exploring distant cities, a vagabond in a concrete jungle, the High Country always coddles. Its well-sorted suspension kept occupants free of headaches and queasy stomachs over a thousand miles round-trip between Vegas and Salt Lake, even after consuming questionable gas station burritos.
Wireless CarPlay was a godsend with plenty of easy-access storage for devices, including the wireless charger beneath the center console lid, which you’ll need because wireless CarPlay also drains batteries like crazy. The touchscreen was crisp and positioned perfectly for an arm’s reach or an eye’s glance, although the touchscreen response had just the slightest delay.
Dark blue leather seats beautifully contrasted with the brown saddle stitching, evoking thoughts of European GT cars, albeit with a few cheap plastics and chintzy buttons to remind you it’s a Chevy. Just a few.
Thankfully, what isn’t cheap is the almighty rearview mirror camera. Praise be to Chevrolet! The mirror has a premium stiffness to ensure it’s never knocked out of place on the trail, but it’s shamefully tiny and best used to monitor younglings in the rear. Flip the switch that’s met with a satisfying springiness, however, and the mirror presents crystal clear, real-time footage of the tailgaters riding your ass. Brilliant!
One little tidbit I didn’t expect: it’s pleasantly straightforward to place in its lane. Multi-view surround cameras and acres of glass aside, the slab-sidedness of this rolling Lego brick makes it easy to predict where the edges are. Maneuvering through urban centers and past trees on trails never proved to be a heart-pounding affair, either.
Overall, the Silverado High Country is brainless to drive and easy to love. If you can stomach the ho-hum fuel economy – I saw a respectable 23.1 miles per gallon on the freeway but an abysmal 12.0 in the city and 18.4 on average – it’s very easy to love. If it still hasn’t evoked premium touring cars just yet, wait until you get a taste of the power beneath your right foot.
The Most Practical Muscle Car
The High Country isn’t just a cruiser. It’s a cruise missile.
Those kicking themselves that they had to pick the practical workhorse versus a Challenger or Charger shouldn’t be too downtrodden behind the wheel of a 6.2L Silverado. Of course, Chevrolet never advertises it as such, but six-two Silverados are proper muscle trucks with the spirit of a Camaro.
Based on the same small block architecture underpinning the Camaro and Corvette motors, the Silverado spews out 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet. That puts it a smidge beneath the Mustang GT and Camaros SS, beats out Mopars with the 5.7L Hemi, and obliterates non-V8 pony cars. Standing among its peers, it’s more powerful than the F-150 5.0L Coyote and the Ram 1500 5.7L Hemi. The Silverado has bar stool drag racing in the bag.
Colleague publication and renowned instrumented testers, Car And Driver, caned a similar Silverado to 60 miles per hour in 5.4 seconds and down the quarter at 14.0 at 100 miles per hour. I believe in every tenth of that. The numbers say it’s fast, and the ass dyno says it’s fast.
Did I mention it’s fast? No? Well, it’s pretty damn fast.
It has steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters like a TRX or Raptor! Who else does this? Their response is laughably slow, however, and they’re better for assisting with towing, but I appreciate their existence and dream of reprogramming them with a quick tune. Just imagine it cracking off gear changes like a ZF eight-speed, the blaring V8 blatting on every upshift.
The suspension I love oh-so-much was merely competent when zipping along mountainous backroads en route to a photo spot. The truck obviously pitches, rolls, and dives as any truck would, but it was never excessive in its motions, nor did it feel scary. Paired with direct, shockingly car-like steering, among the best I’ve ever felt in any truck, the Silverado felt, dare I say, sporty. This truck won’t just be a handy chariot for weekends in Tahoe but will be genuinely fun to drive too.
A quick trip to the Chevy website’s car configurator reveals there are ways for this big rig to drive even better. The specced Max Trailering Package of this test truck already includes what’s called the Handling/Trailering Suspension Package. But also available to the High Country is Adaptive Ride Control, basically adaptive shocks tailored to add “refinement and responsiveness,” according to Chevrolet.
No more lollygagging, Chevrolet. Turn up the wick and give us a PowerBoost-killing Silverado SS. And while you’re at it, how about a supercharged ZR2? Pretty please?
A Formidable Fighter In An Endless War
After nearly a week of travel, as the truck prepared to depart the greenery of Utah to return to the Vegas sand pit, I concluded that I could take this truck any day of the week for anything that didn’t involve hunting apexes.
It’s cozy enough for a 400-mile excursion to Utah with comfort to spare for another stint all the way to New York. It’s pleasant to drive and a joy to live with, thanks to its abundance of tech and simple dimensions. The Chevy even scratched the gearhead itch just slightly thanks to gobs of power backed by commendable steering.
Is it the end-all, be-all of its class? No, I wouldn’t say so, especially when companies like Ford and Ram seem a tad more willing to take greater gambles on batshit niches and groundbreaking technologies. Chevrolet has Super Cruise, which I’ll have to sample in another go around, and their upcoming Silverado EV. Other than that, they rest on their laurels of a tried-and-true design encasing comparatively simple yet highly-effective powertrains.
If not headline-grabbing, that makes the Silverado family as a whole dependable and robust, which many would argue is the most essential attribute of a truck, period.
The leviathan in a bow tie has shown why swarms of fans continue to clamor for one in the wake of hybridized and Tesla screen-laden rivals. The Silverado 1500 High Country feels like one of the most honest and genuine vehicles on sale, proud to showcase the latest and greatest it has to offer while still embracing the tried-and-true, all while not trying too hard to brush off its mild shortcomings. It’s livable and reliable, and with that godsend of a small block tucked behind that machismo mug, you could arguably say it’s the most unabashedly American truck. That should be more than enough of a sales pitch to keep the fans coming.Published in