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Not standard? 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 4LO option creates confusion

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This may sound surprising, but for the 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500, 4LO is not standard on 4WD models. It’s an option. Furthermore, there is just one trim that offers 4LO and the Max Trailering Package — but be prepared to shell out the big bucks if you want both more off-road capability and the ability to tow heavy stuff.

If you want 4LO and the Max Trailering Package without the high trim level, well, then you’re just SOL. And don’t even think about getting the Z71 and Max Trailering packages on the same truck. It’s just not possible.

Since 4LO trim and package availability is murky at best, we’re taking a stab at clearing some of the mud.

The 2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 4LO confusion

The 2023 Chevy Silverado is offered in two different transfer case options:

  • 2-Speed Autotrac Transfer case offers: 2WD, 4WD Auto, 4HI, 4LO, Neutral
  • 1-Speed Autotrac Transfer case offers: 2WD, 4WD Auto, 4HI, Terrain mode

According to Chevrolet.com, Terrain mode combines 4HI and “provides improved low-speed traction and vehicle control during off road driving.” However, this is not a replacement for 4LO. Instead, it just changes the transmission shift points and throttle response to keep the tires from spinning and maintain traction. 4LO is actually an additional gear in the transfer case allowing for more direct control on how the truck operates.

In a way, Terrain Mode is meant to counter the need for 4LO. However, a lack of awareness on what it is and what it does makes long-time truck customers frustrated they can’t have the tried-and-true 4LO gear.

So, how can you quickly tell if your 4WD vehicle has Terrain Mode or 4LO? Look at the transfer case selector knob, and you’ll see a vehicle instead of the “4 with arrow down” text.

2023 Chevy Silverado 1500 4LO

Which trucks come with 4LO?

Another irritating thing for new buyers is trying to figure out which trim and engine configuration can provide them both 4LO and the Maximum Trailering Package.

The need here is for those who use their trucks for off-road as well as trailering. Think of those owners who trailer snowmobiles to a trailhead, haul cattle through muddy fields or camp off-grid and want to pull a camper with them. These people would need 4LO if the road or weather conditions got bad enough like I wrote about a few years ago.

When looking at the Chevrolet build-and-price tool, it is hard to determine if the truck can come with both 4LO and the Maximum Trailering Package without clicking back and forth on different package options.

Sean Szymkowski, senior manager for Chevrolet Trucks Communications, helps us break through some of this confusion. 

He said the Max Trailering Package is available on: LT, RST, LTZ and High Country. However, the Z71 Package, which includes the two-speed transfer case and off-road suspension, cannot be bundled with the Max Trailering Package since these two packages aim to accomplish different things — trailering vs. additional off-road gear.

Outside of the Z71 package, Szymkowski said the two-speed transfer case comes standard on: Trail Boss Custom, Trail Boss LT, ZR2 and High Country.

So, only the High Country trim can have both 4LO and the Max Trailering Package — you just can’t also bundle in the Z71 Package at the same time.

Z71 vs. the Maximum Trailering package

What do you give up by picking one over another? Quite a bit.

Looking at the LT trim, the Maximum Trailering Package comes with a 3.42 rear axle ratio (normally 3.23) integrated trailer brake controller. This system, integrated with the antilock brake system will:

  • Provide measured brake force signaling to electric-controlled trailer brake systems
  • Display trailer gain and output are in the Driver Information Center
  • Provide a 220-amp alternator

You also get a 7,300 pounds Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) up 200 pounds from the standard 7,100 pounds. This allows you to carry more weight.

In contrast, things you get with the Z71 Package include:

  • Hill Descent Control
  • A heavy-duty air filter
  • Dual-outlet exhaust mounted into the bumper, which improves ground clearance
  • A 2-speed transfer case
  • Skid plates
  • 18-inch all-season tires

The bottom line

If you opt for the off-road Z71 Package, you get 4LO but no max trailering. If you opt for the Maximum Trailering Package, then you can have 4LO but not the off-road suspension or other goodies. It is an either or situation that’s unfortunate for Chevy Silverado 1500 customers who can find this combination available on other full-size trucks.

 

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Tim Esterdahl

Automotive Journalist Tim Esterdahl has been a lover of trucks and SUVs for years. He has covered the industry since 2011 and has pieces in many national magazines and newspapers. In his spare time, he is often found tinkering on his '62 C10 pickup, playing golf, going hunting and hanging out with his wife and kids in Nebraska.

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1 Comment

  1. Brian December 11, 2022

    This barrier to get what I want might be a deal breaker
    Is there a work around?

    Reply

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