2021 GMC Sierra 1500 vs 2021 Toyota Tundra

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  • 2021 GMC Sierra 1500

    A silver 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is angled left.

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    2021 Toyota Tundra

    A black 2021 Toyota Tundra SR5 is angle right.

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    420Max Horsepower (hp)381
    23/30Fuel Economy (cit/hwy mpg)13/17
    2180Payload (lbs)1730

    Trucks remain the most popular vehicle in America, and with so many to choose from, it can feel a bit daunting to do research on the topic. It can be helpful to get started by making a direct comparison between two popular models to start narrowing down your choices. For example, it might do you well to compare the 2021 GMC Sierra vs 2021 Toyota Tundra to see what both can offer the average truck buyer in terms of powertrain options, hauling capabilities, and safety.

    It's easy to look at raw data and compare numbers, but it can be harder to understand what those terms mean for your everyday life. What does it mean that the GMC Sierra offers you five engine choices while the Toyota Tundra only offers one? What does it really mean to have a 2,250 lb cargo rating with the base model Sierra against the 1,730 lb cargo rating that is offered in all versions of the Tundra? This comparison should help put these aspects and others into perspective and help give you an idea of what you'd like to find in your next truck purchase.

    The Toyota Tundra is a great truck, without a doubt, and has been known for its near-legendary longevity since its introduction back in 2000. However, the Sierra has the backing of nearly 60 years of constant development, starting all the way back in 1962 when it was still known simply as the GMC C/K pickup. While the 2021 models of these two trucks have little in common with their first incarnations, the Sierra has had more time to evolve and gives you more for your money, plain and simple.

  • Powertrain

    A black 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 is shown kicking up dirt while off-roading.

    2021 GMC Sierra Engine Choices

    The 2021 GMC Sierra offers buyers a wide range of engine choices, of which these are some notable examples, starting with the 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. A turbocharger allows a smaller engine to do the work of a larger one without added fuel consumption and remains a popular choice for the economically minded, and this four-cylinder can tow an impressive 9,100 lbs.

    Next up is the 4.3-liter V6 engine, which can trace its roots back to the incredibly durable and exalted 350 cubic inch V8 (introduced in 1968) simply missing two cylinders and upgraded with modern fuel-efficient technology. It's incredible to think that such an old design was made so well that it could be brought up to modern standards without changing the same basic platform from decades ago.

    For those that want the ultimate in power, buyers can opt for the 6.2-liter V8 that puts down a road ripping 420 horsepower and can tow up to 11,800 lbs. While not everyone needs muscle car levels of power in their everyday drive, those that do will not find that kind of oomph just anywhere. There is also a slightly smaller 5.7-liter V8 that provides a good balance of power and efficiency at a more affordable price.

    Transmission choices vary with engine options, but GMC offers everything from a six-speed automatic for their base models, all the way up to eight and ten-speed transmissions for the top trims. The Sierra simply gives the truck buyer options the Toyota Tundra doesn't.

    2021 Toyota Tundra Engine Choices

    The Tundra offers buyers the choice of only one engine: a 5.7-liter V8. While this engine is perfectly serviceable, it does not allow buyers to have the fuel economy of a turbocharged four-cylinder or the rugged simplicity of a V6. For those that want or need heaps of power, the Tundra's engine only puts out 381 horses and its tow rating tops out at 10,200 lbs.

    These numbers are nothing to shake a stick at, but they are lower than those of the Sierra, and that's all that buyers of the Tundra can ever expect regardless of trim chosen. You will also find the buyer of the Tundra can only expect a single option when it comes to the choice of transmission, with an older six-speed automatic in every variant.

    Spoiled For Choice

    By looking at both pickups, you can see the Sierra offers truck buyers choices that the Tundra doesn't, allowing them to build the truck they want to suit their needs. The buyer of a 2021 Toyota Tundra is left with a one-size-fits-all approach, which may leave them wanting in the end.

  • Cargo

    The MultiPro tailgate is shown on a blue 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali.

    2021 GMC Sierra

    Tailgate technology has come so far in the last few years, and that may seem like an odd statement at first blush, but it's worth exploring. The Sierra offers something called the MultiPro tailgate, and it allows for different configurations to allow many different types of cargo to be hauled. For example, you can flip a portion of the tailgate up while the rest of the gate remains down, acting as a cargo stop for longer items, such as sheets of plywood or even a motorcycle, without the worry of anything sliding out. In addition to this, that same part can be dropped and folded down, making it much easier to reach items in the back of the bed without the need to climb in. The bed also offers several sturdy metal tie-downs to tie ropes or hook ratchet straps into.

    2021 Toyota Tundra

    The advancement of tailgate technology has yet to catch up to the Toyota Tundra, it would seem, because it offers the same style of tailgate found on pickups since their inception. It is a large, heavy piece of metal that folds on a set of hinges, kept up with flexible cables. While competent, the Tundra doesn't offer the same amazing flexibility of the Sierra at any price.

    Which Truck Offers the Better Cargo Management System?

    The Sierra, naturally. The available MultiPro tailgate system, not offered on any other make of truck, is the clear winner for providing buyers with a seemingly unending array of options for hauling cargo in the bed, which is what a truck is ultimately for. The Tundra is clearly capable, but it has a long way to go to catch up to the Sierra.

  • Safety Features

    A black 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is shown with a lake in the background after winning the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 vs 2021 Toyota Tundra comparison.

    2021 GMC Sierra

    The Sierra gives buyers many available safety technology options that the Tundra doesn't offer, such as a heads-up display. This feature allows you to monitor vehicle speed and performance while still keeping your eyes on the road. Another option not found in the Toyota is the following distance indicator, which shows in seconds and feet how far away you are from the car in front of you so that you can determine if you need to give them more room.

    If you are someone who doesn't like their vehicle to beep at them but still wants to be warned of traffic hazards, the Sierra offers rumble technology in the driver's seat. A certain part of the seat cushion will vibrate slightly to warn you of danger on the corresponding side of the truck. This feature is not offered in the Tundra.

    2021 Toyota Tundra

    Both trucks offer a type of automatic cruise control, blind spot monitoring, and lane keep assist technology. These are handy, no doubt, but Toyota offers just about the same technology that is becoming standard across the board with little variation. Toyota boasts about the Tundra having a standard backup camera, for example, when such technology was made a legally mandated safety item in the United States in 2018. Mentioning that in today's day and age seems to make about as much sense as mentioning that your vehicle comes with seat belts.

    Safety in Mind

    The 2021 GMC Sierra is pushing the envelope of safety technology by offering new and unique ways of keeping drivers safe, while the Toyota Tundra is offering much the same types of technology one can find offered in just about any other full-size truck. Safety technology is one area that never stops evolving, and automakers must remain on the cutting edge, or they risk being left behind.

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