Comparisons are a funny thing. We inherently carry some sort of bias that we need to discarded in order to remain objective in our analysis. Unless, of course, you’re comparing two offerings that really don’t do much for you; and that’s exactly what’s at play here, as I’ve been asked to take a look at the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 vs 2019 Honda Ridgeline.
To be clear, I am not blind to the favorable attributes of either the Sierra or Ridgeline, nor am I some sort of sycophantic zealot to a particular automaker. Simply put, my preferences tend to fall with RAM and Nissan, with follow-up placement going to the likes of Ford, Chevy and Toyota in no fixed order. So, yes, I’m here to dig deep on two trucks which exist almost exclusively outside of my buying radar. Think of it this way, I’ll be nothing if not critical (insert winking emoji here, if that’s your sort of thing).
Kicking things off, the 2019 Sierra is priced to start around $30,495 MSRP, and available in five different cab and bed configurations. Indicative of GMC’s approach, the Sierra lineup speaks to refinement, serving up four trim levels overall. In order, those trims are the (base) Sierra, SLE, SLT and Denali, with latter representing true aspirational luxury as one would expect. Across the board, four-wheel drive is optional.
The 2019 Ridgeline is priced to start around $29,900 MSRP and is deliverable in six trim levels, each of which builds upon the comparable offerings of the trims which precede it. In order, those trims include the RT, Sport, RTL, RTL-T, RTL-E and Black Edition. With the exception of the (base) RT, all trims include the option of All-Wheel Drive with the top two trims offering it standard.
That said, both are fairly aligned in terms of pricing, but the Ridgeline benefits from a nicely-tiered selection of trims. Granted the Sierra’s more modest offerings are intentional, so it’s hard to fault them for that. However, in terms of initial appeal, I have to throw up the first point in Honda’s favor.
(Honda: 1, GMC: 0)
I always like to preface any discussion of design with recognition of the fact that everything is subjective. Aesthetics are a huge factor in the purchase of any vehicle, and both the Sierra and Ridgeline offer a strong aesthetic indicative of a unique, on-brand design philosophy.
Of course the Sierra is the product of GM design, making it largely indistinguishable from its cousin, the Silverado. Enjoying a refresh this model year, the Sierra displays a more lithe and athletic feel, with many of its previously squared-off edges rounded, creating a more aerodynamic feel. With bold front fascia and a compelling grille design, it’s hard not to like the inarguable machismo of the Sierra. It’s big, beautiful and tasteful in its traditionalism.
On the other hand, the Ridgeline has boasted one of the more divisive appearances since it was introduced back in 2005. And while some of the questionable elements have been dialed back (if not eliminated entirely) the Ridgeline still summons visions of someone sawing the tail-end off a Pilot, and attaching a sport bed to it. While a distinctive appearance, for sure, it’s simply not that compelling of one. That said, GMC has the advantage when it comes to exterior design.
(Honda: 1, GMC: 1)
Depending on the configuration selected, the Sierra comes with one of the three powertrain configurations. The first is a 4.3-liter EcoTec3 V6 which delivers 285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque, along with a towing capacity of around 5500 LBS. The 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 serves up 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque, with a max trailering of around 9400 LBS. And finally, the 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 pumps those numbers up to 420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque and 11,700 max trailering, respectively. Each option features Active Fuel Management, ensuring that the selected engine works exactly as needed. In all fairness, it’s a great lineup.
With the Ridgeline we kick things off with a 3.5-liter V6 that wrangles 280 hp. And as you ascend the lineup, that engine remains the standard making the entire lineup slightly less compelling. Granted there’s nothing wrong with the Ridgeline’s numbers. They’re confident and on-par with the Sierra, off the line. But if you’ve out-refined GMC and still choose to not compete with their number of engine offerings, that means something. And thus, I give this one to the team at GMC simply for being the surprising front-runner in terms of diversity.
(GMC:2, Honda: 1)
Recalling the subjective nature of the design, this one is actually a pretty easy pick. Obviously, both automaker’s lineup of trim options allows for an ascension from barebones to luxury-inspired. And in that regard, both make some strong choices in terms of material choices. However, the Ridgeline comes out slightly on top, which only strengthens the fact that it offers a slightly more appealing aesthetic. Eschewing the blocky truck-like design of the Sierra, the Ridgeline feels on-par with the Pilot in terms of overall cabin experience. And while I may not be a fan of a crossover feel on exterior design, I like it just fine when I step inside a spacious cabin with ample seating for five. In other words, the Ridgeline takes this one…tie-ing things back up.
(Honda: 2, GMC: 2)
Technology & Amenities
We have reached a point where almost every automaker can be counted upon to have made standard such features as: Bluetooth connectivity, Smartphone Integration for both phone and music streaming, and even optional 4G LTE WiFi. Combined with sound configurations and the assumptions of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, most vehicles have everything that you could be looking for in terms of infotainment. This also includes the incorporation of built-in navigation and proprietary safety features. And with all of this I mind, both the Sierra and Ridgeline score well, delivering yet another tie that keeps both trucks neck-in-neck as the comparison ends.
(Honda: 3, GMC: 3)
I can’t say that this exercise has done much to enamor me to either truck so, with a tie in place, where does that leave me in terms of choosing a victor. Well, I suppose that it comes down to that subjectivity I’ve alluded to a few times before. I simply can’t imagine myself driving around in a Ridgeline; and with both trucks ranking fairly consistently with one another, I have to side with the one that I find more pleasing. So, congratulations to GMC whose Sierra is far more compelling (on its worst day) than the Ridgeline could ever hope to be.