Trucks & SUVs

GMC Sierra or Ram 1500: Which Is the Better Truck for off-Roading?

When you’re looking for the perfect truck for off-roading, you’ve got a lot to choose from. The 2020 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4 and the 2020 Ram 1500 Rebel are among the top off-roading options in today’s market. So, Motor Trend looked at both to determine which is the better truck for off-roading.

A tale of two off-roading trucks

RAM isn’t new to producing off-roading trucks. Its Heavy Duty Power Wagon has been around for 15 years now. Just a few years ago, RAM introduced the Rebel based on the light-duty RAM 1500. When it came to off-roading packages, it offered a nice compromise.

The RAM 1500 Rebel was more aggressive than your typical 4×4 off-road package but not too extreme. With its blackout grille, big tires, off-road shocks, manually-locking rear differential, air suspension, and skid plates underneath, the Rebel’s popularity grew quickly.

Other automakers wanted to get in on the action, and one of them was GMC. Having studied the Ram 1500 Rebel, GMC designed the Sierra 1500 AT4 with slight differences. The AT4 has Rancho shocks, an auto-locking rear differential, and a two-inch lift. Now, the Rebel had a rival.

Both offered something off-roading enthusiasts wanted: diesel engines. In the past, you couldn’t get RAM’s V6 EcoDiesel in the Ram 1500 Rebel. Now you can. Wanting to keep up, GMC made the Duramax I-6 turbo diesel available with the AT4. When it comes to fuel economy, both get a combined 24 MPG.

The performance of Sierra 1500 AT4

When it comes to performance, according to Motor Trend, one truck has the edge. The GMC Sierra 1500 AT4’s Duramax simply performs better. Responding instantly to the throttle, it puts out greater power quickly and easily pairs with the 10-speed automatic transmission. While the EcoDiesel is powerful, it’s less athletic, particularly at lower speeds.

The Ram 1500 Rebel’s eight-speed automatic transmission is just as efficient as GMC’s. It even manages downshifts under the braking to help decrease the truck’s speed without sacrificing power in case you need to speed up quickly. Even so, the Rebel is heavier and slower, which showed up in collective testing. 

While both trucks stop from 60 miles per hour at the same distance, the Ram 1500 Rebel’s brake has more give and you have to work harder to get a response, according to Motor Trend. The GMC Sierra 1500 AT4’s steering is more responsive and accurate than the Rebel’s. 

The 2020 GMC Sierra AT4 off-roading
The 2020 GMC Sierra AT4 off-roading | Courtesy of GMC.com

Off-roading in the Rebel takes a basic approach with a two-speed transfer case and manually-locking rear differential. There’s no off-road mode here, so you’re navigating old school.

The AT4, on the other hand, has an off-road mode that changes throttle, stability control calibration, and transmission. It has an auto-locking rear differential that the system activates without the driver having to worry about it. Unlike the Ram 1500 Rebel, it has a handy surround-view camera system along with an information screen.

The comfort of RAM 1500 Rebel

When it comes to comfort, Motor Trend says the advantage goes to the RAM. Sure, the GMC Sierra 1500 AT4’s cameras would make you feel more confident in your navigation. But the ride quality offered, including Rancho shocks, is exceptional.

The AT4’s Achilles’ heel is its interior. Sierra’s sort of updated cabin design disappointed the team. The materials are mediocre and the seats aren’t the most comfortable. There’s a conspicuous lack of USB ports and storage space. Still, the cab is quiet and the ride is smooth. It’s loaded with great technology and features.

The Ram 1500 Rebel’s interior is well designed and way ahead of the AT4. Sure, there’s a lot of colors and accents to choose from. That’s just window dressing.

The true excellence of the Rebel interior lies in its execution. The materials are swanky for a truck, and few vehicles can match the optional 12-inch infotainment screen it offers. The seats are incredibly comfortable and the ride is smooth. It makes better use of space for storage. The only drawback is that it’s not as quiet as the AT4.

Which is the better off-roading truck? It depends on your priorities. For those who want upscale comfort in their cab, the RAM 1500 Rebel is the one. When it comes to going off the pavement, hauling, and towing, the AT4 is the better choice. If the AT4 fixes its cabin, the Rebel may have to step up its game.