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A blue 2023 Ford F-150 STX is shown from the side at an angle.

The Battle of the Trucks, 2023: Ford F-150 vs GMC Sierra 1500

What is it about the truck that makes us feel like we need to flex our proverbial muscles and bare our metaphorical teeth in a display of dominance? Are trucks simply a virile display or is it deeper than that? Perhaps it is because trucks are a tool that allows us to push our boundaries and explore our capabilities. Every truck has something to offer, but what exactly is it? For this experiment, let’s look at the 2023 Ford F-150 vs 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 and see which one better epitomizes the truck experience.

First Impressions

Our first impressions matter, whether you like to believe it or not—it’s simple science. Within a second, we decide if someone is trustworthy, lazy, bold, aggressive, etc. Now, while this science may be directed at meeting someone for the first time, doesn’t it stand to reason that our first impression of anything—in this case, a vehicle—also matters? After all, we are in a situation to form our initial judgment.

When you look at a truck, the first thing you notice isn’t the motor or the suspension. The first thing you will notice about any particular truck is most likely how “truck-like” it looks. Take, for instance, the Ford F-150. For 2023, there are eight trims available, each with enough unique features to distinguish it from the others.

Overall, the Ford F-150 is a bit blocky in the front, with a thick lower fascia that butts up against the varying grille styles. The sides have deep sharp scoops but, overall, the edges are rounded so that the truck doesn’t seem overly aggressive. One of the most interesting things is that the Ford F-150 Raptor has a different appearance compared to all the other trims, making it stand out as the most rugged option. Its grille has a larger, more dominant appearance thanks in part to the way it waterfalls into the lower fascia. The Ford nameplate is stamped loud and proud across both the front and rear of the Raptor trim.

The 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 has a similar front end to the Ford, but the side scoops are way less pronounced. The grille, which is a large toothy smile that takes up the entire front end, seems to stay fairly consistent across all eight GMC trims. One of the main differences between the Ford and the GMC is that the GMC has a lot of chrome accenting. That, combined with the more mellow sculpting, makes the GMC appear ritzier.

Comparing the two, the Ford seems to appeal more to the “everyman” and has a few rough edges that indicate it can handle its own on trails or rough terrain. The GMC is aggressive but also refined, suggesting it would be a good fit for those who don’t plan on hitting the mud anytime soon. This toss-up could go either way, but since I believe that trucks are meant to take some spins in the dirt, I think the Ford F-150 epitomizes a truck a bit better here.

A black 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Ultimate is shown from the front at an angle.

Under the Hood

Throwing science to the side, as most logical people would do when discussing trucks, the next thing to consider is what’s under the hood. The truck is bred for power, and that power comes from whatever lies beneath its exterior. Both trucks have an assortment of options, with the Ford F-150 having just a few more than the GMC.

Ford F-150

Choose from six impressive engines when you go with the Ford F-150. The first two trims come standard with a 3.3L V6. This V6 is a direct injection engine for better fuel efficiency and faster response times, and it has twin independent variable cam timing for optimized performance. Producing 290 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque, it’s surprising this build is the runt of the litter.

For the same two trims there is an optional 2.7L EcoBoost V6 that is also direct injection but with a twin intercooled turbo charge twist for power as you want it. The EcoBoost V6 bumps up the output to 325 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. One rung up on the power ladder is the 3.5L EcoBoost V6, yet another option available on all but two trims. 400 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque give this engine a best-in-class tow rating.

Next in line is the 5.0L V8 with similar stats to the previous motors. It is standard on three trims and optional on two more, and it pumps out an exciting 400 hp along with 410 lb-ft of torque. The next engine comes out swinging as a full hybrid, available on most trims and standard on one. This 3.5L PowerBoost V6 uses the dual power of gas and electricity to dominate with 430 hp and an eye-popping 570 lb-ft of torque.

Now if you thought that was it, you’re wrong. The Raptor exclusively hosts a 3.5L EcoBoost High-Output V6. Twin turbos and modified cooling mean you can play all day, stretching the 450 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque as much as you want.

This may be an unfair advantage for the Ford F-150, but technically there are two more F-150s worth mentioning for the 2023 lineup. The Ford F-150 Raptor R and the Ford F-150 Lightning are two models that will have you gasping at first sight. The new Ford F-150 Raptor R is equipped with the mother of all engines, a 5.2L Supercharged V8, designed to blow you away with speed and power. This V8 spews out 700 hp and a whopping 640 lb-ft of torque. The Ford F-150 Lightning is another variant, and this exciting spin-off is a fully electric truck, instantly producing 775 lb-ft of torque, letting you hit the road in the blink of an eye. Both the Raptor R and the Lightning have their own set of trims, so, for the time being, we will consider these in a category all their own.

GMC Sierra 1500

The GMC Sierra 1500 has the same number of trims but with fewer engine options. This can be both good and bad depending on how you view it. The first engine option comes standard on the first three trims. It’s a 2.7L Turbo High-Output Engine, cranking out 310 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. Thus, GMC’s base engine beats out the Ford F-150’s base engine.

Next up is a 5.3L EcoTec3 V8. This V8 is standard on two trims and available on many others, producing 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. The EcoTec3 holds its own, yet this is where the scale begins to dip in favor of the Ford, edging out the GMC.

The Sierra 1500’s top trims sport the 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 engine, which cranks out 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. The GMC and the Ford may be equal here, splitting the difference down the middle, but what about GMC’s final motor?

GMC has an optional 3.0L Duramax Turbo Diesel engine that produces 305 hp and 495 lb-ft of torque. Unfortunately, this diesel option flames out, not holding up against Ford’s EcoBoost options. Although GMC’s base Sierra 1500 options are better than those of the Ford F-150, the GMC lead ends here, and Ford pulls ahead with more power as you climb higher up the trim trail.

Comfort, Convenience, and Safety—Oh My!

Just because it’s a truck doesn’t mean it should lack the modern conveniences we have all grown to expect in new vehicles. In comparing the Ford F-150 to the GMC Sierra 1500, it seems it is a relatively even race. Each of the two has some great features available, primarily among their upper trims.

On lower-end trims, spanning to the upper trims, the Ford F-150 offers features such as Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking, Lane-Keeping System, and a Reverse Sensing System. Other features like BLIS with Cross-Traffic Alert and Trailer Tow Coverage with Pro Trailer Backup Assist get added as you move up. The top of the food chain is the Raptor, which comes equipped with features like Trail Control with Trail 1-Pedal drive and Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0.

The GMC Sierra 1500 is decked out with safety features from the bottom tier to the top, which is definitely a point in its favor. Features like Buckle to Drive, Following Distance Indicator, and Forward Collision Alert keep you safe along the drive. Middle-of-the-road trims see luxuries like a heated steering wheel added, while the Denali Ultimate is equivalent to the Raptor with features like a Bed View Camera, Trailer Side Blind Zone Alert, and Safety Alert Seat.

A silver 2023 Ford F-150 Rattler is shown from the front at an angle.

Who Comes Out on Top?

Determining which truck comes out on top is not as easy as it seems. The Ford F-150 comes in at a lower price point, making it a more accessible option for buyers, and—offering best-in-class towing and payload—the rough-and-tumble-looking F-150 has plenty of power to get the job done.

On the other side of the spectrum is the GMC Sierra 1500. The GMC matches its higher price point with more refined trimmings. In fact, the GMC is one of the most luxurious pickups in its class; while it’s stacked with safety features, it doesn’t quite match Ford’s variable engines.

If you are looking for a truck with a refined air about it, then the GMC Sierra 1500 is your better bet. But, if you’re looking for a vehicle that hits the ground rolling and knows how to treat the rocky road ahead, then the Ford is what you want. A proper truck should be a “true truck,” and that’s why the Ford F-150 is what we believe comes out on top.

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