Trucks & SUVs

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 Struggles to Compete With These Two Alternatives

Shut your eyes and envision a pickup truck. There is a decent chance that what you picture is a 2021 GMC Sierra 1500. Well, maybe not a 2021 model in particular, but the point is, the GMC Sierra is pretty much the archetypal truck in many ways. However, as the market changes, there seem to be better alternatives to this classic American pickup truck, like the 2021 Ram 1500 and the 2021 Toyota Tundra. 

2021 GMC Sierra 1500 towing a boat down a winding road
2021 GMC Sierra SLT | GM

Is the 2021 GMC Sierra a good pickup truck? 

Consumer Reports was not thrilled about the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500. CR gave it an overall score of 45/100. The road test really wasn’t all that bad; the thing that really killed it was the reliability rating of 1 / 5. For Consumer Reports, anything lower than 3 / 5 is dipping into some troubling territory. 

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 and Sierra Heavy Duty feature additional innovative trailering tech that helps drivers tow like a pro
2021 GMC Sierra 1500 | GM

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 has really struggled with reliability. It has already had three recalls, although those recalls pertained to seatbelts and tire issues. Those recalls aside; Consumer Reports says customers have reported a myriad of issues with previous model GMC Sierras and assume the same issues will affect the 2021 model. 

So far, the 2021 model has already suffered from braking, in-car electronics, and engine cooling issues. As a result of these older issues and the current ones, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is ranked dead last for reliability on Consumer Reports. 

The 2021 Ram 1500 and 2021 Toyota Tundra are excellent alternatives for the GMC Sierra

Consumer Reports only recommended two full-size trucks for 2021, and these are they. The 2021 Ram 1500 is not a reliability superstar, but it is one rung higher than the GMC Sierra. However, it still got an overall score of 63/100, as did the 2021 Toyota Tundra. 

A 2021 Ram 1500 pickup truck seen towing a boat
2021 Ram 1500 Limited | Stellantis

As far as reliability is concerned, the 2021 Toyota Tundra is miles ahead of the others. This is what Toyota does. The 2021 Toyota Tundra follows suit with other Toyota 4x4s; it is sturdy as hell but is a bit outdated. Each of these trucks has a clear advantage and disadvantage. 

RELATED: Why Did Consumer Reports Give the 2021 Ram 1500 and Toyota Tundra the Same Score?

The 2021 Ram 1500 comes with a long list of motor options, but the two most common are the gas-powered 3.6-liter V6 and 5.7-liter V8. CR tested the 395-hp V8 pulling 410-lb-ft of torque with the meager hybrid system to assist with smoother starts and low end.

As tested, the Ram can tow 8,150 lbs but tops out at 12,750 lbs, which is pretty on par with the Sierra’s 9,400 as tested with the 5.3-liter V8 and 12,100-lb max. 

On the other hand, the Toyota Tundra has only one engine option; the 381-hp, 5.7-liter V8. This engine has been around for a long time, and although it isn’t the most fuel-efficient at 15 mpg, it is rock solid. Not only is this engine reliable, but it is also pretty strong too. The Tundra is good for towing a 10,000-lb max, which is good but not as good as the Ram and GMC. 

Which is the best truck to be in? 

The GMC Sierra nor the Tundra are looking great in this department. Consumer Reports says the Sierra’s interior is spartan and slathered in hard plastics. There are little to no upscale elements to the 2021 GMC Sierra cabin. The Toyota Tundra is slightly above the GMC by being “par for the course,” as Consumer Reports calls it. 

a 2021 toyota tundra trd pro in Lunar Rock shoing up its aggressive stance in the desert
2021 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro | Toyota USA

The 2021 Ram 1500 is the real outlier here. CR says this cabin is upscale and even “dressier” than the other pickup trucks tested by CR. There are still plenty of plastics to be found, but generally speaking, the Ram outpaces the other trucks in the category.

Overall the 2021 GMC Sierra just isn’t going to stack up well against the 2021 Ram 1500 and the 2021 Toyota Tundra. They all have their pros and cons, but customers will likely be happier with either the Ram or the Toyota as complete packages.