2017 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country Is a Gateway-Drug Pickup
It's the perfect stepping stone for someone looking to move from an SUV to a big rig.
Not everyone jumps into the truck scene ready for a heavy-duty pickup with dually wheels. Heck, most truck buyers probably don't need anything close to that, even if they buy one. Some overshoot because they think they need a factory-built monster truck. Other, however, might go low and buy something along the lines of a Toyota Tacoma or a GMC Canyon because they think they're not yet ready for a full-on full-sized rig.
But for those who want something similar to the SUV they're most likely getting out of—or just want something that drives rather like a big crossover with a bed (and pickup truck hauling capabilities)—the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country serves as a fantastic portal to the world of trucks.
Chevy loaned The Drive a High Country to haul my 1987 Subaru RX rally car from New York City to Maine and back for the American Rally Association's New England Forest Rally in July, using the same 21-foot trailer to tow the car as we previously did with a Ford F-250 Super Duty. The haul to Maine and back was around eight hours each way; in addition, we spent some time with the Silverado on the streets of New York City.
The Silverado we tested had a sticker price of $66,755. It was a crew-cab model optioned with the $2,500, 6.2-liter, 420-horsepower V8 engine, the $7,000 High Desert Package with the rather Chevy Avalanche-esque Sport Bar (no, not that kind of sports bar) over the bed, and a $1,000 sunroof.
It was almost shocking how SUV-like the High Country felt, even while towing the rally car. The High Country package is the top trim level for the Silverado 1500—it starts at $56,570 with the crew cab, and adds all of the features from the LTZ package, as well as a few more tricks, like Chevy's MyLink navigation system, heated and cooled leather seats in the front, 20-inch chrome wheels, LED headlights, wireless charging, and a bunch of USB ports. The truck felt like Chevrolet's best attempt at a premium quarter-ton truck, without any true compromise for those who just jumped ship from a well-equipped Tahoe.
On the trip to Maine, the Silverado carried me and my rally co-driver through New York City rush hour traffic, along Interstate 95—the most loathed highway in the Northeast—and through the back roads of America's northeastern-most state. But with help from the High Country's leather seats, the magnetic ride suspension, and SiriusXM's "The Bridge" channel, the trip was made in comfort the whole way through.
In fact, the only issue that remained in the back of my mind during the trip was the lack of trust I had when braking with the trailer. I'm not exactly the most experienced hauler, and it's possible that the gain for the trailer's brakes wasn't high enough—hell, maybe I'd just been spoiled by the F-250's exhaust brake—but it would've been a bit more confidence-inspiring had the truck had more braking power, both with the trailer and without.
Otherwise, the Silverado didn't skip a beat. Though the interior had the comfort of a Tahoe—at least in the front seats—there were no worries when we tossed all of the rally gear (spare wheels, parts, tools) into the truck's enclosed bed for the trip. Unlike in an SUV, where you might be worried about ruining carpets or scratching interior panels, the High Country's bed was purpose-built to hold whatever you wanted to toss there.
It's easy to be turned off by trucks, if you don't actually need them for your day-to-day life or aren't infatuated with them. They can be harsh, loud, uncomfortable, basic, large, and seemingly unapproachable to the unknowing. The Silverado, at least in High Country trim, isn't any of those things. In fact, like the Avalanche used to be (we just can't get over that bar over the bed), it feels very much like an SUV with a bed instead of a cargo area. For some people—basically, those who don't a diesel-chugging, raised-up, heavy-duty pickup—this Chevrolet is the perfect amount of rig.
By the Numbers:
- Price as tested: $66,755
- Powertrain: 6.2-liter V8, 420 horsepower, 460 pound-feet of torque; eight-speed automatic; four-wheel-drive
- Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city, 20 mpg highway
- SUV comfort in a pickup: Yes