The heavy-duty truck market is known for both its amazing vehicles that perform like workhorses and its fierce competition. Ram, GMC, and others all have a stake in the heavy-duty truck game, and each and every one of their offerings are quite impressive. In 2020, the Ram 2500 and the GMC Sierra 2500 have been two of the top performers. They both can tow a lot of weight, have very high payload capacities, and boast outstanding engines that produce tons of power. Like most things, they aren’t entirely equal. If you take a closer look, one of them has a slight edge over the other. To help identify which of these heavy-duty work trucks is really the better buy, let’s examine the 2020 Ram 2500 vs the 2020 GMC Sierra 2500.
Engine and Performance
The size and strength of an engine matters, especially when it comes to heavy duty trucks like the Ram 2500 and Sierra 2500. In fact, as any heavy-duty truck owner will tell you, the engine and performance of that engine are some of the most important factors to consider when buying a new truck.
In this category, the Ram 2500 scores extremely well. It comes standard with a 6.4L HEMI V8 engine that is capable of generating 410 horsepower. That is plenty of power, even for a heavy-duty work truck, and equates to an incredible towing capacity. It is also worth noting at this point that the Ram 2500 comes standard as a rear-wheel drive vehicle, but all-wheel drive is available. As for the transmission, an 8-speed automatic transmission is standard.
What puts the Ram 2500 on a different level though, is the available 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel I6 engine. When configured with the Turbo Diesel, the Ram 2500 is an even more fantastic rig and can tow a ton (and more).
The GMC Sierra has two engine choices as well for the Sierra 2500, the first being a 6.6L V8 engine that can generate 401 horsepower and a 6.6L Duramax Turbo Diesel V8 that has an even more powerful 445 hp. Unfortunately, because of its heavier build, it can’t match the Ram 2500’s peak towing capacity.
Towing capacity is another one of the most important factors when it comes to those who are interested in buying a heavy-duty truck. And it should be. Whether you need a heavy-duty truck for work or recreation, if it can’t haul your tools or toys, it is pretty much useless.
That is what is so great about the Ram 2500. With the standard 6.4L HEMI it has a proficient towing capacity either in the mid-14,000-pound range or low 15,000-pound range depending on the trim, cab, and bed configuration. But if you plunk the 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel inside, the towing capacity skyrockets and gets as high as 19,680 lbs.
The nearly 20,000-pound towing capacity should be more than enough to tow what you need, and it outpaces the GMC Sierra 2500 by over 1,000 pounds. For that very reason, the Ram 2500 edges out the Sierra 2500 when it comes to towing.
Payload capacity is another extremely important metric to keep in mind when buying a heavy-duty truck. The more weight your truck can handle in the bed, the easier it is to do your work.
Just like with towing capacity, the Ram 2500 sets the standard when it comes to payload capacity. The Tradesman trim, for example, tops 4,000-lbs and makes for one of the strongest heavy-duty trucks available today.
The GMC Sierra 2500, however, is again a step behind the Ram 2500. Even with its most capable configuration, the Sierra 2500 can only get up to just over 3,900 pounds. That extra weight adds up over time, and it means you will have to take more trips and waste more time if you are hauling with a Sierra 2500 than if you have a Ram 2500. The point again goes to the Ram 2500 for payload capacity.
For heavy-duty work trucks, everything after the engine, towing capacity, and payload capacity, is the icing on the cake and the Ram 2500 has plenty of icing. Especially when it comes to the interior. Its spacious layout and available 100% leather upholstery are second to none. Additionally, the available 12” touch screen is huge and makes a host of functions easier to perform. On top of that, the Ram 2500 comes with a long list of technologies and features that put it over the top, such as a 120-volt outlet, rear backup camera, and much more.
The GMC Sierra 2500 has many of these same great features, though definitely not all of them. The touchscreen on the Sierra, for example, maxes out at 8”, and overall the look and feel of the interior fails to match that of the Ram 2500.
In terms of safety, both the Ram 2500 and the GMC Sierra 2500 have an impressive suite of features that make either of them a very safe ride. Some of the available features include LaneSense for the Ram 2500 and Lane Departure Warning for the Sierra 2500, both of which do a great job of making sure you keep your truck on the straight and narrow.
One feature exclusive to the Ram 2500, though, is the Adaptive Forward Light System, which turns the LED headlights up to fifteen degrees to help with night time vision. With advanced safety features like that, it makes you feel as though the Ram 2500 has just about everything you could ask for in a heavy-duty work truck.
There is one more aspect of the Ram 2500 that gives it a slight edge over the GMC Sierra 2500, the Gross Combined Weight Rating (GCWR). For the Ram 2500, the GCWR, depending on the configuration and engine, typically lands in the low 20,000-pound range. However, for the GMC Sierra 2500, some trims and configurations can get up to and over 26,000 pounds. While that might not seem like a big deal, it has some regulatory implications that are worth noting.
If you buy a GMC Sierra 2500 that has a GCWR over 26,000 pounds, you need a commercial driver’s license to drive it. The extra headache of getting a commercial license is a significant factor and is one more strike against GMC Sierra 2500.
With a better max towing capacity and higher payload capacity, the 2020 Ram 2500 gets the nod over the 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 as the better buy. In addition to its great engine and superior performance, the Ram 2500 also has an interior that is a step above the Sierra 2500 and safety features that are at least as good, if not a shade or two better.
When you add the commercial license headache that comes with some of the Sierra 2500 trims and configurations, it makes it pretty clear that the 2020 Ram 2500 is the better of these two heavy-duty work trucks. If you want the best, you’ll have to go with the Ram 2500 in this case.