Finding new roads with Chevy Silverado in remote corner of Northwest Territories
When you take the trip of a lifetime to the top of the world, it’s difficult to pick just one highlight.
It’s also tough to define why the Northwest Territories road trip on the new all-season 138-kilometre Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway, the first road in Canada to reach the Arctic Ocean, was so special.
North of the Arctic Circle, it’s dusty, muddy, cold and lacking in luxury. But the people are warm and welcoming, full of love, culture and community. It’s also truly truck country — the perfect place to launch the all-new 2019 Silverado 1500 pickup truck from Chevrolet.
Highlight #1 was working with the exceptionally passionate people of the Town of Inuvik and the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk to help showcase the incredibly hospitable area to 40 journalists.
Hosting media in this remote end of the Earth was an exercise in logistics but the destination is so worth the journey.
We had 10 trucks on the ground. When the administrative part of my job on these programs starts to die down once the event is rolling, I join in the vehicle cleaning fray. A demanding fray it was.
The only paved roads were in the town of Inuvik itself. South looms the notorious 700-kilometre Dempster Highway to Dawson City and Whitehorse, where the gravel is seemingly alive and your windshield will know it.
North of Inuvik, for the first time in history, you can drive to the Arctic Coast during the summer on the engineering gravel marvel, the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway.
All this gravel meant the trucks were dirty but so are all vehicles in the Northwest Territories. Like shoes, boots and pants. It’s a clean dirt, however odd that sounds. You get into it and accept it. It’s liberating.
We rented the Midnight Sun Complex Arena to wash and prepare the vehicles for each group of journalists. Long drive days meant our crew had many latenight washing sessions in the Arena while a speaker cranked out motivational tunes. It was here that Highlight #2 surfaced.
Wiping water off the front grille of the white Silverado LT Trail Boss, I fell in love. This was officially the first 2019 Silverado to reach the Arctic Circle, driven by yours truly. When it first came off the transport truck, it looked too clean and wholesome.
After its run up and down the Inuvik-Tuk Highway, it looked brawny and purposeful — mud spatters, road rash and all. Come to Mama.
All 10 trucks looked great. They would start every day clean, end every day dirty, job completed. Perhaps not the toughest job compared to the other working trucks in town, but the 2019 Silverado is ready to out-tough them all.
Chevrolet has been building trucks for 100 years, selling 85 million in that time. They know what they’re doing. The new Silverado is no exception. With over 11 million kilometres of real-world driving, it’s the mosttested GM vehicle ever.
It’s redesigned from the ground up. It’s bigger, with best-in-class cargo volume and more room inside. It’s faster (0.5 seconds faster from zero to 100 km/h).
Silverado is says the 2019 the best driving truck ever. It certainly took the tough 320-kilometre drive with aplomb. In four-wheel drive, it was composed in its handling on countless curves with loose gravel covering the washboard surface.
With all of these improvements in handling and efficiency, increases in size, speed and volume, you’d think the truck would be heavier. It’s actually 204 kilograms lighter. The segment-exclusive power tailgate is light and easy to use.
The new Silverado has higher payload (from 2,100 to 2,430 pounds) and tow ratings (from 7,200 to 12,200 pounds) than its predecessor, stronger tie-downs in the bed and more of them.
With up to four trailering cameras, an industry-first MyChevrolet mobile trailering app which lets you check trailer lights and monitor circuits on your smartphone, industry-first VIN-specific trailering label on the door jamb, electric park brake hookup assist and a customizable departure checklist, trailering is where Silverado shines.
To satisfy everyone and their dog, Silverado offers a plethora of models, from Work Truck, with blacked-out trim and 17inch steel wheels, to the top-ofthe-heap High Country with its exclusive front grille design and standard power tailgate (available also on LTZ).
In between there is the Trail Boss, on Custom and LT models, which adds two-inch lift suspension and the Z71 off-road package, and the RST, a street performance version of the LT with up to 22-inch wheels.
Chevrolet’s cornucopia of engine and transmission combinations includes four new engines and an expanded cylinder deactivation system, Dynamic Fuel Management, in three of them. Engines range from a 2.7-litre turbocharged inline four-cylinder that makes 310 horsepower and 348 lb-ft of torque to a 420-horsepower 6.2litre V8 with 460 lb-ft of torque. Transmissions come in six-, eight- and ten-speed.
These numbers and ratings were not important to the kids in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk. They just wanted to see Chevy trucks. Their unbridled enthusiasm was apparent at the Open House at the Inuvik Arena where kids of all ages crawled all over the trucks.
The vibrant Hamlet of Tuk pulled out all the stops. It looked like all 900 citizens attended the Community Feast held in our honour. Although the delicious home-cooked food and enchanting music and dancing (featuring the award-winning Siglit Drummers and Dancers, the youngest troupe in the Territories) may have been the draw, judging from the wonder on the children’s faces as the new trucks rolled into Tuk, the Chevy Silverado was a hit.
The final drive south on the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway was most definitely a highlight. The low light across the pristine land, the impossible blue of the sacred Husky Lakes, the burnt orange aqpiq berry patches, the green tundra, dramatic clouds in the azure sky — every turn elicited gasps. I can’t wait to go back.
Winter road trip anyone?