|18,510||Max Towing Capacity (lb)||18,500|
|3,979||Max Payload (lb)||3,979|
There's a deep divide between heavy-duty pickup truck buyers that's rooted in unwavering brand loyalty. Historically it's been next-to-impossible to sway a loyal buyer away from the brand they love and trust. In fact, as much as they love their brand, they espouse an equally passionate dislike for other nameplates, and the 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 vs 2021 Chevy Silverado 2500 might just spark the most spirited debates of all.
The difference here is that GMC and Chevrolet are close cousins. They share the same parent company, General Motors, and have some overlaps with powertrains and other truck features. That's where the similarities end, though, as these are two totally different trucks. That tiny bit of overlap, though, might just be enough to crack open a window of opportunity for otherwise brand-loyal buyers to jump ship.
Both trucks offer class-leading features, capabilities, and performance, but which one has the overall edge? In every competition, there is always only one winner. Chevy fans might blanch at the thought of the Sierra 2500 HD coming out ahead, but our research indicates it's the early favorite. Are you a "Chevy guy" or a loyal GMC buyer? No matter your preference, learning a little more about both trucks will help you make the best and most well-informed purchase decision.
The 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 and the 2021 Chevy Silverado 2500 are both heavy-duty pickups designed for hard work. As such, their performance and capability specifications are unsurprisingly substantial. Because they share the same powertrains, their stats are essentially equal, with both offering a maximum towing capacity of 18,510 pounds, a max payload of 3,979 pounds, and available output of 445 horses and 910 lb-ft of torque.
Both trucks default to the same standard 6.6-liter V8 engine with an ample 401 horsepower and 464 lb-ft of torque. It's mated with a six-speed automatic transmission and has a choice of two-wheel drive or four-wheel drive on most trims. If you plan to scale – or move – a few mountains, then check out the optional 6.6-liter Duramax V8 diesel motor, paired with an Allison 10-speed automatic transmission; that's where you'll find the biggest output numbers.
If you're having trouble deciding between powertrains, a good question to ask is, exactly what do you need the truck for? If heavy-duty towing or hauling is in the cards, consider the more powerful diesel. Not only is the engine substantially more powerful than the standard gas V8: combined with the highly-rated Allison transmission, known for its longevity and quality, you won't find a better all-around performance.
The Allison 10-speed transmission also contains a factory-installed, engine-driven Power Take-Off (PTO), a feature that makes it even more flexible when adding accessories. PTOs play a big role in many aspects of heavy-duty truck performance, so getting one from the factory is a definite plus. Often, PTOs are aftermarket add-ons, which is always less desirable because third-party equipment adds a level of complexity to ongoing maintenance and repairs.
Both the Chevy Silverado 2500HD and the GMC Sierra 2500HD offer plenty of trim options for all types of buyers. A few special edition models are sprinkled across the Silverado's lineup, but most are appearance packages without any performance-oriented defining features. Overall, the Sierra is a more refined choice. More focus is centered on the balance between power and style, while the Silverado stays in its bare bones big truck lane even at the high end of the trim range.
Long known for its Denali version, the 2021 GMC Sierra 2500 continues the theme, offering a high-end, luxury-laden Denali trim in the lineup. It sits atop its siblings, the HD, SLE, SLT, and the off-road-ready AT4, as the most expensive option, with a starting MSRP of around $65,000. What you get for that is, well, just about every feature you'd typically find in a European luxury sedan.
Value-focused buyers will also appreciate the Sierra 2500HD. Its well-under $40,000 price tag is much easier on the wallet, but the HD still packs a punch with plenty of standard features. Your first decision is the cab and body configuration. Choose from a regular (two doors), double (smaller rear doors), or crew cab (four full-size doors), and either a long bed or standard bed. Note that the regular cab is only available with a long bed. The bottom line on GMC's base Sierra HD is affordability. Even with the option of adding a few extra equipment packages, it stays under $40,000.
The SLE and SLT trims add a bit to the price tag but unlock extra optional comfort and convenience features not available on the base model. The Multi-Pro Tailgate is standard on both, but if you want the latest towing technology, you'll want to opt for the SLT, which includes a ProGrade Trailering System. It's night and day in the cabin; the SLT has 10-way power heated front seats, 12-volt and 120-volt power outlets, a split-bench rear seat with under-seat storage, and dual-zone automatic climate control.
If it's luxury and all the trimmings you're seeking, choose the Sierra Denali. Handsomely and individually styled on the exterior with chrome accents, the Denali also takes luxury to a new level in the cabin, with a premium Bose Sound System, HD Surround Vision, a power sliding rear window, and perforated leather upholstery on the ventilated and heated front seats. Choose the available special Black Diamond Edition and add 20-inch gloss black wheels, a plethora of additional tech features, and a power sunroof. Off-roaders will want the Sierra AT4, with its tow hooks, mud-terrain tires, and high-clearance access step.
The Silverado 2500 comes in the base Work Truck, the Custom, the LT, LTZ, and top-of-the-line High Country, but there are also a few special editions, including the Midnight Edition and the Carhartt Edition. The Work Truck starts in the mid-$30,000 range and offers basic vinyl seating. The Custom adds a few extras, including remote start, a rear window defogger, and LED bed lighting, along with a handy power tailgate.
If you want a reasonable assortment of interior comfort features, your best bet is the LT. Unfortunately, Chevy confuses the trim lineup here, offering several versions bearing the LT name. There's the LT All Star Z71, an off-road-oriented version, the LT Duramax, which is basically the LT with the upgraded diesel engine, and then the LT Duramax All Star, a gussied-up LT with extra luxury features, like dual-zone automatic climate control, LED fog lights, and heated seats.
It's the same story with the LTZ. Drill down into the trim, and there are two options: the LTZ Z71 Plus and the LTZ Z71 Premium. It's unnecessarily complicated, but both feature 20-inch wheels and all the Z71 off-road features. The Plus gets you a handful of driver-assist systems and interior comforts, including a rear sliding power window, power tailgate, and heated and ventilated front bucket seats. The Premium offers more, including an upgraded infotainment touchscreen, HD Surround Vision, and additional driver-assist features.
The best way to describe Chevy's flagship Silverado High Country is that it's a blend of every other trim. It features a High Country Deluxe Package, which is mostly driver-assist features, and a Technology Package, adding a head-up display and rear camera mirror. A Gooseneck trailer package is also offered, along with the Z71 Off-Road package and a power sunroof.
The Silverado's trim range is a lot less straightforward, and because several trims are modified with select features, it's not immediately apparent which one offers what and why you should choose one over the other. It's especially confusing with the LT and LTZ trims because nearly all of them can be identically equipped, causing a lot of feature overlap and unnecessary confusion.
Bottom line: The GMC Sierra 2500 offers a more straightforward trim lineup. If you're seeking luxury and the most refined styling, go with the GMC.
The GMC Sierra Denali is the most popular luxury truck on the market and has been forcing other brands to step up their game to match its level of features and capabilities. Chevy's answer to the GMC's top dog is the Silverado High Country, but does Chevy's luxury trim compete with the king of the segment?
Line the Denali and the HIgh Country up side by side, and their looks couldn't be more different. While both of them are unmistakably powerful three-quarter-ton trucks, the Denali takes its looks to the next level. The signature Denali high-gloss mesh grille dominates the front of the GMC truck, while plenty of chrome details bring an upscale look to the exterior. Even functional additions like the six-inch assist steps and front recovery hooks are finished in chrome for a decidedly premium feel.
While the Chevy High Country also sports its share of chrome, the overall look tends more towards rugged than luxurious. The sloping horizontal chrome bars of the grill comes across as slightly retro and more down-to-earth than the Denali grille design. The more crowded front headlight and foglight placement also contribute to the truck's more modest look, and the almost woodsy High Country badging finishes the impression. While no one will mistake the Sierra Denali for anything other than a luxury truck, the casual eye will likely pass over the Silverado High Country without a second thought.
The styling differences between the two trucks continue in the interior. Where the GMC Denali offers high-end dark-finish aluminum trim and open-pore wood accents, the Chevy High Country employs more pedestrian bronze trim. Another nice touch to the Sierra is the squared-off gauges in the instrument cluster, a styling choice that gives GMC's truck a more modern feel than old-fashioned round gauges in the Silverado. When you step into the cabin of a Denali, there is no doubt that you are climbing into the market's original luxury truck.