The GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevy Silverado 1500 are two of the best-selling full-size pickup trucks in the US. The Sierra 1500 started in the late-1980s while the Silverado 1500 began in the late-1990s. Both are produced by General Motors and they share the same four engines, cab sizes, bed lengths, base platform, and transmissions. While more alike than different, there are some key differences in the personalities of each truck.
The Silverado offers more variety with nine available trim levels and tends to be viewed as more utility-focused, while the Sierra typically offers a more refined interior, with a few more features on comparable trims – at a slightly higher price point. Slight differences on max trailering and payload amounts do exist, with the Silverado winning out by a few hundred pounds.. This article will take you through the differences and to better help you decide which truck is best for you.
Both trucks come with one of four gas engines, although EV models are in the works. There is a 2.7L Turbomax 4, an efficient 3.0L turbodiesel, a more powerful 5.3L V-8, and at the top of the range, a monster 6.2L V-8. The four cylinder comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission, while the other engines are paired with an automatic 10-speed transmission. Rear-wheel drive is standard on most trims and four-wheel drive is an available upgrade for the majority of trims on both trucks – an upgrade that usually runs between $3,000 - $6,000. Four-wheel drive is standard on the Silverado Custom Trail Boss, LT Trail Boss, and ZR2. The Sierra gets it standard on the AT4, AT4X, and Denali Ultimate.
2.7L TurboMax I-4 that outputs 310 hp and 430 lb-ft
5.3 V-8 (with Dynamic Fuel Management) that outputs 355 hp and 383 lb-ft
6.2L V-8 (with Dynamic Fuel Management) that outputs 420 hp and 460 lb-ft
Duramax 3.0L Turbo Diesel I-6 that outputs 305 hp and 495 lb-ft
Both brands offer a few off-road focused trims with a better and best option. The Trail Boss and AT4 being the better for off-road trims with a 2-inch factory lift, off-road suspension, better shocks, skid plates, and a few other upgrades. The top-of-the-line off-road trims are the Silverado ZR2 and the Sierra AT4X with additional upgrades such as front winches, rear electronic locking differentials, spool dampeners, and better tires. The ZR2 pulls ahead slightly with more skid plates and better factory tires.
Towing Capacity by Engine (Silverado / Sierra)
2.7L I-4: up to 9,500lbs / 9,500lbs
5.3L V-8: up to 11,300lbs / 11,300lbs
6.2L V-8: up to 13,300lbs / 13,000lbs
3.0L Turbodiesel: up to 13,300lbs / 13,200lbs
Payload Capacity by Engine (Silverado / Sierra)
2.7L I-4: up to 2,260lbs / 2,240lbs
5.3L V-8: up to 2,180lbs / 2,240lbs
6.2L V-8: up to 1,980lbs / 1,820lbs
3.0L Turbodiesel: up to 1970lbs / 1,890lbs
Fuel Economy by Engine (city/highway/combined)
2.7L I-4: RWD version gets 19/22/20 mpg, and 4WD gets 18/20/19 mpg
5.3L V-8: RWD Silverado gets 17/21/19 mpg; RWD Sierra gets 16/20/18 mpg; 4WD gets 16/20/17 for both trucks
6.2L V-8: 4WD Silverado gets 16/20/17 mpg; 4WD Sierra gets 15/19/17 mpg; Off-road variants get slightly less
The small variations seen above are largely due to the comparable Sierra models having a slightly higher curb weight.
Interior and Exterior
The Sierra and Silverado have spacious and comfortable interiors. The front seats are supportive and well-cushioned, and the rear seats offer plenty of legroom and headroom. The larger cab sizes offer plenty of room to make both trucks good at hauling people as well as cargo. The interiors are also well-appointed, with features like leather upholstery, heated and cooled seats, and a Bose sound system. The Sierra, in general, wins out in interior comfort, stylings, and features.
Each model individualize themselves in different ways based on the style each one brings to its exterior. The Silverado simplified the front of the vehicle. The Sierra utilizes the boxed wheel style instead of the Silverado’s rounded wheel profile. The Sierra sports a blockier style, which is complemented by daytime running lights and broad grilles.
The overall cabin quality on the Silverado trails behind the Sierra, which sports wood and leather stylings on the higher end models. Of course, the added quality comes with a higher price tag.
Cargo Space, Bed Sizes, and Cabin Storage
Both trucks offer three bed sizes with plenty of quality-of-life enhancements. Some of the added features include 12 adjustable tie-downs, LED bed lighting, 120-volt power outlet, and corner bumper steps to ease access. GMs patented 6-way power adjustable tailgate is a nice addition on both trucks. The short box is 5’ 10” long, the standard box is 6’ 6”, and the long box is 8’ 2” long. The various bed sizes are not available on all cab options, with the general rule of the larger the cab, the smaller the bed options are. However, the bed sizes are more than competitive versus other full-size trucks.
Both models offer spacious interiors with a well thought out layout that makes good use of the available space. There are large center console bins, expansive door pockets, double glove compartments, rear underseat storage that offer plenty of interior storage.
Technology and Safety Features
Both trucks offer similar features in this department, with the Sierra model generally offering more features. They come standard with a 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system. The system is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it offers all the features you would come to expect in a new vehicle such as Bluetooth, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and a rearview camera. The higher trim levels offer a larger 13.4-inch touchscreen, navigation, and a Bose sound system. Top of the line Sierra trims offer extra niceties like 16-way power front seats with massage, a 12-speaker Bose sound system, and heads up display.
Safety features on both trucks are largely the same. They both come packed with of features such as a Following Distance Indicator, IntelliBeam auto high-beam control, Front Pedestrian Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, and Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning. Additionally, both include the brands regular safety package GMC Pro Safety vs Chevy Safety Assist. If you are looking to base your decision solely on safety features alone, the only major difference is the branding around the safety packages (GMC Pro Safety vs. the Chevy Safety Assist).
And the better truck is…?
The Sierra wins out slightly versus the Silverado but is a bit more expensive. Both trucks offer a ton of utility, lots of technological, and safety features. The Sierra wins out versus the Silverado in cabin quality and features. The Silverado offers slightly stronger performance due to its lower curb weight. The exterior differences are slight and the winner mostly comes down to personal choice.
Ultimately, the two pickup trucks are so incredibly similar that the decision will likely come down to the personality of the truck and which trim offers the features you need.