It’s a good time to be in the market for a new truck. The market is the hottest it has ever been. There are currently 11 models and seven brands to choose from, with Ford and Jeep adding two more models to the list later this year. While the collection may be intimidating, the intense competition between brands has put trucks at the leading edge of technology, efficiency, and capability – all to the benefit of the buyer. Despite all the competition, the final decision for many buyers will come down to 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 vs 2019 Chevy Silverado. While these two trucks may seem similar at first, one is bound to have the right combination of features to come out on top.
When looking at the GM family of trucks, it’s hard to decide if the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado are twins or brothers. At first glance, the image of fraternal twins seems like the best metaphor. The trucks are developed jointly and produced at the same Indiana factory. A deeper dive, however, will reveal a more brotherly relation – although similar in many ways, the two trucks are marketed to different buyers and contain slightly different features. Although not a disservice to the Silverado, the Sierra is the older brother; a truck that appeals to slightly higher-end clientele, especially in Denali trim. That doesn’t mean the Silverado is the prodigal son; it’s merely a truck that has its aim set on a larger pool of buyers with different needs than the Sierra. Both are great trucks, but which one is the favorite child? In examining power, fuel economy, technology, and price & warranty, we will hopefully be able to see which brother wins.
A Family Affair
The GMC Sierra and Chery Silverado were introduced in August 1998 as 1999 models. Since then, the trucks have gone through three full redesigns, with the latest coming for the 2019 model year. Both trucks, for the time being, come in three configurations:
- Crew cab with short bed (5’ 8”)
- Crew cab with standard bed (6’ 6”)
- Double cab with standard bed (6’ 6”)
Chevy plans to release a single cab version of the Silverado in Spring 2019. The reason behind its late arrival is customer preference – only 12% of the combined 2018 Sierra and Silverado sales were single cab models. GMC has not yet announced a single cab version of the Sierra. When it comes to seating, the Sierra and Silverado can fit five or six, depending on trim choice. The Sierra has been a commercial success – sales numbers have exceeded 100,000 every year since 2010 and 200,000 from 2014 forward. On the other hand, the Silverado has been a powerhouse for Chevy. Sales have never dropped below 300,000/year and nearly 600,000 were sold in 2018.
It’s not hyperbolic to say that power and towing are the lifeblood of the truck industry. You’d be hard-pressed to find a truck ad that doesn’t feature a combination of horsepower, engine size, payload, or towing capacity. Although many of the trucks flying off of lots will never be pushed to the limits of their ability, there’s a never-ending battle among the top brands to see who can produce the most powerful truck.
The Sierra and Silverado come with five matching engine choices:
- 4.3-liter V6 – 285 horsepower
- 2.7-liter 4-cylinder – 310 horsepower
- 5.3-liter V8 – 355 horsepower
- 5.3-liter V8 with dynamic fuel management – 355 horsepower
- 6.2-liter V8 – 420 horsepower
The Sierra’s 6.2-liter V8 will haul 12,200 pounds. For highway cruisers, the 5.3-liter V8 with dynamic fuel management will fit the bill. Payload across the Sierra spectrum ranges from 1,500 to 2,543 pounds. The Silverado will tow 12,500 pounds with the 6.2-liter V8, and although its starting payload is higher at 1,745 pounds, it tops out at 2,543 pounds as well. Although the Silverado’s tow capacity is slightly higher, most buyers won’t be selecting their next truck based on a 300-pound difference. Therefore, this round is a draw.
While the power discussed above is important, gas mileage a more practical concern for most drivers. In the past, the fun of bragging about a brawny truck was balanced out by the decidedly un-fun amount of money spent at the gas pump. Luckily, both of these trucks have efficient options that won’t make every pit stop a downer.
For the both Sierra and Silverado, those who don’t plan on towing or hauling heavy objects regularly should look to the 4-cylinder, which achieves a commendable 20 highway and 23 city miles per gallon. The dynamic fuel management technology in the 5.3-liter V8 constantly monitors accelerator input (up to 80 times per second) to decide which of the 17 different cylinder patterns will optimize power delivery and efficiency. The result is an engine that acts like a V8 for hard acceleration and towing but can use a few at two cylinders when all eight aren’t needed. Because these trucks hit the same efficiency marks, a winner here would probably come down to individual brand preference.
Inside, both vehicles offer the best in modern tech. Both come with award-winning infotainment systems and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. Both also include trailer tech that helps drivers keep tabs of what they’re hauling at all time. While both trucks offer one of the most advanced features on the market, a 15-inch diagonal HUD (head-up display), the GMC’s is in full color. The Sierra also has the unique rear-view camera, which fills the rearview mirror with an unobstructed camera on the back of the truck. The result is a 100% clear view of what going on behind the driver – neither headrests nor large objects can block the view. Those who prefer a traditional rear-view mirror can simply flip the switch at the bottom of the mirror to return to the conventional mirror. Another all-new feature found in the Sierra is the six-way tailgate. Whether being used to expand the bed, provide a step up or serve as a workspace, this new tailgate creates a tool out of what was previously just another panel. This round goes to the Sierra.
Price and Warranty
Both trucks cover a wide range of price points. The Silverado beats the Sierra on the low end, with a basic Silverado and Sierra coming in at $28,300 and $33,500, respectively. Top-of-the-line trucks from both brands will come in over $70,000 – a well-optioned Silverado High Country can reach up $72,000 and Sierra Denali will retail for about the same. The Sierra, with the added tech mentioned above and the reputation of the Denali name, is the better deal for the money. The majority of trucks are not bought at the low end of their MSRP – the Sierra takes this round.
When it comes to warranties, it’s a straight wash. New Sierra 1500 and Silverado owners would get 3 years/36,000 miles basic and 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain.
We don’t necessarily believe that it is up to us to push you towards either truck. Both are quality vehicles made by respected manufacturers. Both have attractive combinations of features that appeal to slightly different buyers. What we covered here is by no means the exhaustive list of standard or available features for either vehicle. However, based on the attributes examined here, the Sierra 1500 is the better truck. While similar is powertrain to the Silverado, it’s technology and pricing make it the clear winner.