Chevy and Ford have been rivals of the truck industry for decades, a seemingly unending battle of which truck is the best. While many would argue Ford has clinched the topmost spot for trucks, GM sales for its entire truck lineup has been making headway into the first place slot. Sales for GM trucks topped out above Ford in the first quarter of 2020, with recent years being close or outselling Ford. The game is changing again, with a newly-designed F-150 hitting dealerships for 2021. Chevy’s Silverado receives new features for 2021, with a recent redesign in 2019. A comparison between the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 vs the 2021 Ford F-150 will be an interesting reveal.
Ford is claiming best-in-class features for some of its new design, but there is one concerning aspect of the new plan going forward: data. While technology makes its inevitable way into every avenue of our lives, it’s almost surprising that it took this long for car manufacturers to realize they are sitting on a data goldmine when it comes to their vehicle owners. Unfortunately, Ford seems to have come to realize the potential in the face of flagging numbers against both GM and Ram sales.
In general, both the Silverado 1500 and the F-150 are being upgraded in terms of towing capability, payload, and functionality features like tailgates and technology. Each truck has singled out certain features to improve, with Chevy upgrading its max towing capability and offering a new set of tech features to assist with easier trailering. A new multi-functional tailgate promises to add several positions for multiple uses, including steps and a work station. Ford also claims to be adding more power to its engine lineup to increase towing capacity and is adding a multi-function tailgate to the F-150.
Features to Look For
While Ford scrambles to get back the lead, Chevy has an advantage in pricing and fuel efficiency for the moment. Right now, the Silverado 1500 holds the best-in-class spot for best fuel efficiency with its diesel engine. America does love its pickups, but fuel efficiency has not been good on many trucks. The 2021 Silverado with a 3.0-liter turbo diesel engine can get 23 MPG in the city and 33 MPG on the highway with rear-wheel drive.
Both trucks come with lots of options for bed, cab, and engine sizes, as well as plenty of options for exterior and interior features. Basic work trucks are the base trim level with the fewest features, though both trucks have infotainment screens loaded with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Upper trims will have the most luxury in both trucks, including leather upholstery, heated seats, and an extensive list of options available only with the most expensive trim level.
Chevy’s 2021 Silverado High Country will come with features like driver’s seat memory, a premium Bose audio system, the upgraded HD infotainment system, heated steering wheel, heated front and back seats. The trailering package includes the hitch guidance system, while wireless charging and wireless phone projection add even more ease. Options like power-retractable assist steps and a power sunroof are available for the High Country, among many other fun or useful extras.
Ford’s upper trim is the Limited, and it offers features like a Bang and Olufsen audio system, leather upholstery, heated seats and steering wheel, a moonroof, and driver’s seat memory. Ford has included new features like a generator, zone lighting for working at night, a fold-flat work station for the front seat, and a multi-function workbench tailgate. As for towing, a trailering system will be extra, as well as the hitch and a tow package.
The 2020 F-150 pricing for the Limited begins at $72,520, which is a far cry from the Silverado’s most expensive trim. The generator, which does look like it could be a great feature, is extra for even the Limited trim on the F-150. Zone lights are at least included for the uppermost trim on the F-150, but no bedliners. As it stands, the Chevy Silverado is far less expensive and has arguably the same capabilities as the Ford F-150, with many of the same luxury features. Cargo is actually better on the Silverado, and trailering needs are included in upper trims.
Infotainment and Technology
Chevy has updated its camera system for more angles all around the truck, added more standard safety features, and offers wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as an option. Chevy MyLink will allow certain features to be accessed through an app on your smartphone, and every trim level has access to OnStar.
Ford is updating its infotainment system to the SYNC 4, which will be standard for all trims. Features for upper trims will include adaptive cruise control and voice-activated navigation, with the FordPass Connect allowing the use of an app on your cell phone to access certain features of the truck. While new features like Active Drive Assist are promised, buyers will need to purchase the prep kits and wait until its release later in the year, then spend more dough on the actual installation.
Towing, Cargo, and Capability
Chevy is updating its towing features for 2021, and a group of driver-assisted tech for trailering is available for the Silverado 1500. Several of these features are exciting, like trailer sensors that can be installed as indicators for safe lane changes and following distance and a cargo-bed camera system with better views of the hitch and fifth-wheel hook-up for easier guidance and control when backing up to your trailer. With upper trims, a camera system will allow the driver to view the trailer as “transparent” so you can see what’s behind you.
The 2021 Silverado is the only truck to have 12 tie-downs for cargo in the truck bed, a handy feature when traveling with odd-sized loads. Also convenient is the corner step built into the bumper to make it easier to step up into the bed, a standard feature on all trims. In-bed storage is also available for all trims as a handy rail-side box that sits over the wheel well and has a cover that snaps shut. Under-seat storage can be found in the extended cabs, as well as the storage in the center armrest of the front seat and the center stack.
Five engine choices are available for the 2021 Silverado, the most formidable being the 6.2-liter Ecotec 3 V8, which has the highest tow ratings of up to 13,300 pounds with the proper equipment. Even the standard engine—the 4.3-liter V6—still offers up a decent 7,900-pound capability for towing. In comparison to the Ford F-150, the most powerful Ford engine for the F-150 can tow up to 14,000 pounds with its 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. With that number, Ford rises to best-in-class tow ratings. Ford offers six engine options in the F-150, an impressive number of choices, except that this most powerful engine does not come standard. It’s an option, which means it’s extra.
In terms of cargo and trailering features for the 2021 F-150, cargo space for the interior of the cab can be found in the foldable storage under the rear seat in extended cabs, in the center stack, and in the center armrest. Alas, there is no mention of in-bed storage options for the F-150, and cargo tie-downs for the 2021 version are still limited to four. Specs for towing require the purchase of the trailer tow package, which includes features like trailer brake control, a receiver, a “smart” connector, and a hitch lamp. All these features are included in upper trims for the Silverado, without needing to purchase the optional package.
Silverado 1500 or F-150?
Overall, while the 2021 Ford F-150 has a lot of flashy new features that sound cool, they are likely to come with a hefty price. On the other hand, Chevy has shown great strides in making their advanced technology available for lower trims and standard on the higher ones. Ultimately, the 2021 Chevy Silverado has most of the same luxury features in upper trims, more cargo and trailering features included, and has a much lower price point for every trim level available. Chevy made some smart choices to bring buyers a truck with lots of options and a starting price below $30,000 to keep it in an affordable range. Chevy seems to have the upper hand again with the Silverado for 2021, but only time will tell.