Buying a truck is a totally different ballgame than purchasing a car. If you’re a truck person, you know that it’s not just for traveling. You’ll be towing, moving, and storing heavy items, and you’ll probably be driving places that cars just can’t go.
You need a truck that will hold up under pressure, like a GMC Sierra or a Chevy Silverado.
These two trucks are often compared against each other as the best in their class. They’re both light-duty trucks that have been consistently popular since their release by General Motors.
You can’t go wrong with either, but how do you pick which one is better for you? It really depends on what you’re using it for.
Here we delve into the pros and cons of each to help you make your final choice. Will you be a Chevy Silverado owner, or will your next truck by a GMC Sierra?
Let’s Start with the Similarities
GMC and Chevy are not the same line, so why do these two trucks constantly get lumped together in the same category? Well, since they are both manufactured by General Motors, it’s an easy mistake. Combined with the other many similarities they have, a distant look has these two trucks confused with each other by amateurs regularly.
Looking at the 2019 models of each of these trucks, you’ll see that both versions are identical in quite a few ways:
- Both are full-size pickup trucks
- Both can be found in a basic work truck version all the way up to a high-end luxury upgrade
- The drivetrain in both models is basically identical
- They’re almost mirror images of each other when it comes to body shape
- The reputation of both models is comparable as far as reliability and resale value
- They come in regular cab, crew cab, and double cab options, as well as two-wheel and four-wheel drive
- The interiors have many of the same standard features and upgrade options like leather seats, hidden storage compartments, and wooden trim
- Each has 4.3-liter V6; 285 horsepower, 305 lb-ft of torque, while the fuel efficiency nets you about 16 miles per gallon in the city and 21 mpg on the highway in both
- In the 2.7-liter turbocharged inline four model you get 310 hp, 348 lb-ft of torque with approximately 20 mpg city/23 mpg hwy
- With the 5.3-liter V8 there’s 355 hp, 383 lb-ft of torque and a fuel efficiency of 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy
- The 6.2-liter V8 engine comes with 420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque and a fuel efficiency of 16 mpg city/20 mpg hwy
- The final option for both is the 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline six with 282 hp and450 lb-ft of torque that gives you a fuel efficiency of 28 mpg hwy
With so many similarities, it’s no wonder these two trucks are always neck and neck in comparisons. But there are some differences that make them two completely unique pickups.
So What Sets Them Apart?
They may seem like clones, but comparing the Sierra and Silverado is like comparing apples to oranges. Sure, they’re part of the same family. But everyone has their preference, and not everyone likes what both have to offer.
The nuances are subtle, but they’re strong enough to make a difference when you’re choosing the truck that’s right for you. This detailed guide will help you understand the unique features that make the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado totally individual vehicles, so you can decide which one you prefer.
It all starts with the outside, of course. While these two trucks appear nearly identical as far as the body contour, the beauty – and difference – is in the design and details.
Starting with the front end, you’ll notice very distinct differences. The Silverado grille has the Chevy emblem separating the classic grille design, which spreads across most of the front end. The Sierra’s grille is has subtle differences, with the GMC emblem taking pride of place on the slightly smaller grille.
Beneath and adjacent to the grille, you’ll find a difference in the headlights and foglights, setting the two vehicles apart. The Sierra’s headlights are the more modern C-shape, while the Silverado’s are a typical fixture.
Chevys also have a classic boxy look that is emulated in the Sierra. This gives it a square look, as opposed to the Silverado’s sleeker curves. The Chevy bumper is also straight edges while the GMC uses a zig-zag pattern.
Since both of these models offer the regular, double, and crew cab options, you can’t use that feature to tell them apart.
If one pulls up behind you at night, the C-headlights will give it away as a Sierra, but the Silverado and Sierra both offer LED head and foglights, as well as IntelliBeam technology to turn those high beams on when it’s dark. But the intelligent aspect of the feature turns those same high beams off when the truck senses headlights or taillights getting close.
If you’re using the exterior as your deciding factor, it’s simply a matter of choosing whether you prefer the boxier look of the Sierra with the bolder grille, or the sleeker style of the Silverado.
At first glance, climbing into the Silverado is like getting in the Sierra. There’s not a lot of blatant difference, like you’d see in a Mercedes versus a BMW.
Both come standard anymore with a wireless charging system, an 8-inch touchscreen, voice navigation features, a Bose sound system, USB ports, WiFi hotspots, and other creature comforts.
The main difference isn’t really seen; it’s more in the overall atmosphere. Silverados are marketed more as the truck you use when you’re working hard, and that no-nonsense feel is noticed as you’re sitting in the driver’s seat.
The Sierra is the truck you head for when you want the benefits of a rough and rugged work truck with a touch of luxury. The interiors are muted down, curved versus lines, and in general more comfortable than the Silverado’s cabin.
When it comes to the interior of the two, the deciding factor won’t be the amenities or room. It’s the answer to the question: Do you want to use the truck for work, or for pleasure?
The Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra both have similar performance ratings. The most recent US News and World Report released their findings on the 2020 models, helping us see the big differences in the upgraded rollouts.
With an overall rating of 8.3 out of 10, the Chevy Silverado scored high in performance. It also netted the coveted “Best in Class” for towing capacity of 13,400 pounds, making it the ultimate work truck. Fuel economy has increased to above average with the Chevy’s new, optional turbodiesel engine.
As far as ride performance, the Silverado consistently scored well with easy, smooth handling and a balanced ride. Extra upgrade options for those who want improved power can be found in the 10-speed automatic transmission with the V8 engine.
The 6.2-liter V8 engine can accelerate from 0 to 60 in 5.4 seconds; a pretty powerful and bragworthy statistic for a pickup truck. And if you’re looking for a truck with a mega masculine look, the Trail Boss model has added lift and bigger, rugged tires to show off.
Most drivers don’t expect great fuel economy from their pickup trucks. The Silverado nets you an average fuel efficiency of 19 mph city and 22 mpg highway with the 4-cylinder gas model. For a bit more efficiency, the diesel will get you about 23 mpg city and 33 mph highway.
Safety features on the 2020 model include the forward-collision warning and auto emergency brake, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts, and the auto lane-departure warning.
Not one to stay in the shadows, the 2020 GMC Sierra falls just slightly behind with an overall performance rating of 7.9. It can’t beat the “Best in Class” of the Silverado, but the Sierra has its own standalone perks.
The 4.3 liter V6 engine standard in every 2020 Sierra is powerful enough to handle just about any environment, on and off road. But the default six-speed automatic transmission makes towing or hauling difficult. If this is your goal, an upgrade to the V8 takes care of the problem for you and gives you the maximum towing capabilities in this truck.
With the optional 3.0 liter turbodiesel and the 10-speed automatic, you’ll notice an obvious smooth ride with powerful acceleration. This doesn’t do a lot for the EPA fuel estimates, keeping the Sierra at about 16 mpg city/21 mpg highway as a base engine.
It’s an average number for most full-size pickups. But if fuel economy is your focus, the diesel engine is a better bet, netting you 23 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
The Sierra has upgrades you may want to invest in, like the multi-function tailgate and towing assists, the 15-camera system for automated warnings, and an app that controls your trailer.
Both the Sierra and the Silverado are great work trucks, capable of offering smooth rides on rough rides. Real-wheel drive is standard on both vehicles with four-wheel drive upgrade offered.
But when it comes to off-road driving, the Sierra is the better outdoor vehicle. The AT4 trim is tough and able to handle the beating that comes with outdoor terrain. It also has hill descent control for heavily inclined areas. Skid plates and an off-roading optimized suspension take the Sierra to the top of the list for rugged handling.
The final deciding factor of performance is whether you’re looking for major towing capabilities or a truck that can stand up to the constant demand of offroading and outdoor use.
The two trucks are top in their categories of best pickups, but they vary in price ranges. Since the Sierra is classified as a bit more of a luxury truck, it comes with a slightly higher price tag.
Car and Driver has the 2020 Sierra starting at an MSRP of $37,195 for the Sierra 2500HD Regular Cab Long Box 2-Wheel Drive. This includes the rear wheel drivetrain, a gas V8 engine, and 6-speed automatic transmission. 4-wheel antilock brakes and 14,500 maximum towing capacity make this model a strong competitor of the 2020 Silverado.
To help you cement your decision, the MSRP of the Silverado, according to Car and Driver, starts at $29,895 for the basic work truck. You can customize it for around the same price of the Sierra’s starting point, or go for the gusto with a High Country style at $54,595.
The Convenience package is a comfortable compromise between the two extremes, offering a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, the coveted dual climate control, remote starting key fobs, and heated options for the front seats and steering wheel.
If price is your final determining factor, you can get more bang for your buck with the Chevy Silverado. However, it all depends on the standard package offered and what you’re willing to compromise on.
Choose Your Winner: The Silverado or the Sierra?
Ultimately, the final decision depends on which of these criteria really flipped your switch.
Are you all about the boxy versus curvy exterior?
Does the idea of being able to tow just about anything rev your ignition or would you prefer the ability to go offroad without worrying about damaging your truck?
Or does your budget get the final say in your next pickup?
The truth is you can’t go wrong with either of these vehicles. They both have great ratings with U.S. News and World Report and excellent consumer reviews on Car and Driver and other Google searches.
You’re going to notice smooth rides and high performance in both trucks. They each have roomy interiors, comparable exteriors, and are the most popular styles of each brand.
The final choice is down to you. Which of these in-demand trucks will you walk away with? The Best in its Class Chevy Silverado with high towing capability? Or the equally popular GMC Sierra with its slightly more comfortable interior?
Either way, you made the right decision.