The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 have always asked buyers which GM badge they’d rather have in their driveway. Mechanically, the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 offer the same powertrain options and similar interiors, but the GMC offers slick features that simply can’t be optioned in the Chevy. The Silverado is capable of better diesel fuel economy thanks to slipperier aerodynamics. Wants and needs, people. Wants and needs.
The 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 ekes out the win on paper with a TCC Rating of 5.3, narrowly beating the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 with a TCC Rating of 5.2, but that’s where the story starts, not ends. Which is right for you?
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 diesel
Both of these pickups can be had with a 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder engine and a 6-, 8-, or 10-speed transmission. The engine lineup is identical. Base trucks are powered by a 4.3-liter V-6 with 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed automatic transmission. For better fuel economy in either truck, GM offers a 2.7-liter turbo-4 with 310 hp and 348 lb-ft with EPA ratings of 20 mpg city, 23 highway, and 21 combined. In the real world, the turbo-4 only gets about 1 mpg combined better than the V-8. Advantage? Not GM.
The miles per gallon champ is the 3.0-liter inline-6 turbodiesel with 277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque and EPA fuel economy ratings of 23 mpg city, 33 highway, and 27 combined. Note: The turbodiesel option is nearly $5,000 and it will take a lot of miles to recoup that cost in fuel economy at today’s gas prices.
Most 2020 Silverado 1500s and 2020 GMC Sierra 1500s will be powered by a 5.3-liter V-8 with 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque rated up to 19 mpg combined with 4WD.
Those looking to tow will want to opt for the 6.2-liter V-8 with 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. In towing wars the Silverado 1500 beats its GMC brethren with a towing capacity of 13,400 pounds to 12,000 pounds with the 6.2-liter V-8, four-wheel drive and double cab configuration; the difference is attributed to different equipment that affects the mass of the trucks. The Silverado also wins in an even more important metric: the 6.2-liter V-8 can be had for $7,925 less than in the Sierra.
Both trucks ride on ladder frames with coil-over shocks in the front and leaf springs in the rear, though the lux Sierra Denali models get adaptive dampers that help smooth out the choppy ride.
Visually both the trucks feature bold, upright front ends, an upkick in the cab’s windowline, and tall, deep beds, but the Silverado’s more in-your-face with its front end than the Sierra.
2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 diesel
Inside the trucks are more similar than the exterior. The switchgear, available 8.0-inch infotainment system, and the cheap plastic column-mounted shifters are the same. The GMC Denali models are slightly nicer with some wood trim, but neither interior is something to brag about against the 2020 Ram 1500 or even the aging 2020 Ford F-150. While nearly identical, the GMC wins by a hair for the lux Denali trim, but it’s still not a winner due to cheap plastics, simple design, and merely competitive technology.
The GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 are both offered in regular, extended, and crew cab configurations with 5-foot-8, 6-foot-6, and 8-foot bed lengths. The extended cabs don’t have a ton of leg room for adults while the crew cabs are fit for a king with plenty of stretch-out room for a 6-footer behind a 6-footer. The interiors feature good interior storage with a larger center console on upper trim trucks that can swallow a laptop.
2020 GMC Sierra 1500
Both trucks feature nifty corner steps in the rear bumper to make getting into the massive bed easier, but the Sierra can be had with a trick six-way folding tailgate that is the definition of creativity. It can be used as a tailgate seat, a lower step, a cargo extender, or a cut-in to allow easier access to items in the bed without having to climb in. A carbon-fiber bed is available on the GMC and it seems nearly indestructible while optional power running boards can switch positions at the touch of a foot. This is slick stuff and none of it can be optioned on the Silverado. The Sierra can also be equipped with a 15-inch head-up display. When it comes to available features, the Sierra 1500 has equipment that simply can’t be optioned on even the most expensive Silverado 1500.
Neither the Silverado 1500 or Sierra 1500 come standard with automatic emergency braking as GM walls it off to more expensive trims. The good news is both trucks can be had with camera systems with up to 15 angles.
The 2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is priced from $31,490 while the 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 costs $32,790. The sweet spot of the lineups are nicely optioned mid-trim Silverado 1500 LT and Sierra 1500 SLE models with a short bed and full four-door crew cab setup. Opt for the 5.3-liter V-8 engine, but the Silverado only nets an 8-speed automatic while the GMC nabs a 10-speed. GMC’s going to upcharge a few hundred dollars for any color other than white while Chevrolet will sell a Silverado in most colors without any charge.
The Silverado’s a better value in the mid to lower trims with similar content and features, but the Sierra has more available features than the Silverado. The Silverado makes the most sense in work-spec or mid-spec trucks, and the GMC Sierra 1500 is best in upper trims for more tech and innovative features.