The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and the GMC Sierra 1500 stand proud as two of the best-selling vehicles in the United States. They look less alike in 2019 than they have in recent years, but they’re still closely related under the sheet metal, and they continue to overlap in several key areas. If you’re not sure which one to choose, whether it’s for work, for play, or both, read on to learn about how these two popular picks are similar, and how they’re different.
Don’t let the emblem on the grille fool you. Broadly speaking, the Sierra and the Silverado are essentially the same truck. They’re largely developed by the same people, and they’re both part of the General Motors family. The difference is in the details; Chevrolet’s positions the Silverado as a people’s truck, while GMC aims the Sierra at premium buyers.
Both trucks are offered in a dizzying number of configurations. The range includes a regular cab with a long bed, a double cab with a standard bed, a crew cab with a short bed, and a crew cab with a standard bed. From there, Silverado buyers have eight trim levels to choose from called WT, Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country. Sierra buyers are limited to five trims: base, SLE, SLT, AT4, and Denali. In both cases, the lineup ranges from a relatively basic, workhorse-spec truck to a posh cruiser with more upmarket features than a German luxury car.
GMC offers two cool features that haven’t trickled down to sister company Chevrolet yet. The MultiPro tailgate (pictured above) standard on some variants of the Sierra opens in six different ways. It notably doubles as a step, and features integrated speakers. The CarbonPro cargo box is made with carbon fiber, so it’s lighter than a comparable steel box, and it doesn’t rust.
Once you’ve picked a trim, you need to select an engine. Here again, both trucks offer a wide panoply of powertrain options. The Silverado’s entry-level unit is a 4.3-liter V6 that delivers 285 horsepower at 5,300 rpm and 305 pound-feet of torque at 3,900 rpm. It shifts through a six-speed manual transmission. Buyers who need more power can step up to a 5.3-liter V8 rated at 355 horsepower and 383 pound-feet of torque. It shifts through a six-speed automatic, too. Alternatively, Chevrolet surfed the downsizing wave by offering a turbocharged, 2.7-liter four-cylinder that delivers 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque. The turbo four — the first of its kind offered in a Silverado — is bolted to an eight-speed automatic.
That’s not all. The top two trims can be ordered with a mighty, 6.2-liter V8 that puts 420 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque under the driver’s right foot. It’s connected to a 10-speed automatic. Finally, buyers seeking maximum torque and efficiency can pay a little bit extra for a 3.0-liter straight-six turbodiesel rated at 277 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque.
Every engine is compatible with rear- or four-wheel drive, some the rugged, off-road-focused Trail Boss trim is four-wheel drive-only. Fuel economy ranges from to 14 mpg in the city and 18 mpg in the highway for the Trail Boss model with the 5.3-liter V8, to 23 and 33 mpg, respectively, for a rear-wheel drive turbodiesel model.
The aforementioned specifications apply to the Sierra, too, though the thirstiest Sierra (the 5.3-liter V8-powered model) returns 15 mpg in the city and 19 mpg on the highway, so it’s slightly more efficient than a comparable Silverado. Maximum towing ratings vary between 9,800 pounds with the V6 to 12,200 pounds with the 6.2-liter V8.
Speaking of towing, both trucks use similar tech features to facilitate the task of pulling a trailer, whether you’re moving forward or backward. Properly equipped, and note that many of these features are optional, the pickups combine high-resolution cameras, the infotainment system’s touchscreen, and the user’s smartphone to show where the hitch is in relation to the trailer, and let drivers check whether the trailer’s lights are operational without asking a helper to stand behind it.
If you haven’t driven a pickup truck recently, you’re in for a surprise when you step inside either model. While entry-level trucks are basic, upmarket models boast 10-way power-adjustable front seats, a 4G Wi-Fi hotspot (though a data plan is not included), an 8.0-inch driver information screen, Bluetooth connectivity, a Bose sound system, and Chevrolet’s latest infotainment system. They’re not nearly as basic as they used to be.
The Safety Package bundles rear parking sensors, lane change alert with blind spot detection, and rear cross-traffic alert. It’s optional on LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, and LTZ models and standard on the High Country trim. The Safety Package II available at an extra cost on LTZ and High Country variants adds lane departure warning, forward automatic braking, front pedestrian braking, automatic high beams, a following distance indicator, and a safety seat alert.
Expect to find the same level of equipment as you navigate the Sierra portfolio. Base models don’t even come standard with carpet, which is fine considering the conditions they’ll likely operate in, while the Denali feels like a million bucks inside.
The cheapest member of the 2019 Silverado range is the regular cab, long bed model with rear-wheel drive and a 4.3-liter V6. In WT configuration, it’s a basic truck fitted with steel wheels and unpainted bumpers. It starts at $28,300 before a mandatory $1,595 destination charge enters the equation. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the crew cab, standard bed Silverado starts at $60,690 when buyers select the High Country trim, the 6.2-liter V8, and four-wheel drive.
Shop GMC, and the Sierra lineup stretches from $29,600 for an entry-level model to $62,390 for a fully-loaded, four-door Denali with the 6.2-liter V8 and four-wheel drive. GMC also set its destination charge at $1,595.
The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and the GMC Sierra 1500 compete in the same segment, so they naturally have the same rivals. Both are positioned as alternatives to the Ford F-150, which is the best-selling vehicle in the United States, and the Ram 1500 (pictured), which recently surpassed the Silverado to claim the number-two spot on the sales charts. Buyers can also consider the Toyota Tundra and the Nissan Titan.
The 1500s are both positioned at the bottom of a similar hierarchy. Chevrolet and GMC make Heavy Duty-badged versions of the trucks badged 2500 and 3500; those are the big, six-wheeled pickups you see towing fifth-wheel trailers for miles on end. Alternatively, the smaller Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon twins are positioned below the 1500s for truck buyers who prefer to think small.
- 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning: America’s bestselling vehicle goes electric
- President Biden drives Ford F-150 Lightning electric-truck prototype
- The best convertibles
- The best commuter cars for 2021
- The best cars for camping