There Are Cheaper Options Than the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500

For years, people have asked why in the world has the GMC Sierra always been priced higher than the Chevy Silverado. To put it simply: the GMC Sierra holds the GMC brand name—a brand name representing slightly more luxury. Other than that, nothing significant differentiates the two full-size pickup trucks. Staying true to form, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 slightly outclasses the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500. In MotorTrend’s list of the cheapest trucks on sale for 2021, the new Sierra costs around $2,800 more than its “mechanical twin.” 

It should be noted that we readjusted the price difference based on offerings found at both manufacturers’ websites. MotorTrend gave a price difference of $1,100, which is far below our adjustment. According to MotorTrend, the price gap between the two full-size pickups “can be chalked up to the GMC’s less basic-looking exterior.” But is that the main reason for the Sierra costing more?

Why GMCs are pricier than Chevys despite both sharing the GMT T1XX platform

How can “mechanical twins” like the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado differ in price by nearly $2,800? Does the GMC possess something particularly special that the Chevy is lacking? Is shiny plastic trim that more valuable than dull black plastic trim? Or does the Chevy offer more than meets the eye?

While shinier trim and slightly prettier paint add a little value, the variations in price boil down to how one was marketed over the other. Generally speaking, GMC vehicles have long been targeted toward a luxury-minded market.

Perfect examples are the Chevrolet Tahoe versus the GMC Yukon; the Chevrolet Suburban versus the GMC Yukon XL; the Chevrolet Equinox versus the GMC Terrain. Each Chevy model was marketed to a wider market while the GMC models offered slightly more exclusive touches and luxurious vibes. Let’s not forget the GMC Hummer which is in a class all its own. Nevertheless, stripping most GMC and Chevy trucks and SUVs down to their frame, it would be difficult to tell them apart.

With all that said, when considering whether you should go with the Sierra or the Silverado, remember the Pepsi versus Coke challenge. With the brand labels stripped from the containers, tasters barely could differentiate between drinking Pepsi or Coke. This is why the marketing/brand building industry in the United States is worth hundreds of billions of dollars—it’s all about who can win public opinion.

Comparing the GMC Sierra 1500 to the Chevy Silverado 1500

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The base Chevy Silverado has long been among the leading workhorses in the United States, comprising armies of commercial and governmental fleet vehicles. This is why the exterior quality of both trucks somewhat differ: the Sierra featuring more body-color and silver elements while the Silverado has a rather plain black plastic trim and grille design.

But MotorTrend pointed out that’s where the differences end, with their interiors equally bland—manual door locks, windows, side-mirror adjustments, no carpeting, and barely a sound system. Good ‘ol fleet vehicle material if there ever was.

The Chevy Silverado offers you a nice list of powertrain options: a standard 4.3-liter V6 (285 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque); a Duramax 3.0-liter turbo-diesel (277 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque); a 2.7-liter turbo with active fuel management (310 hp and 348 lb-ft of torque); 5.3-liter EcoTec3 V8 with dynamic or active fuel management (355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque); 6.2-liter EcoTec3 V8 with dynamic fuel management (420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque).

Its highest towing capacity is 13,300 pounds with lower trims models offering a towing capacity of 9,000 pounds. Not only is its payload capacity maxed out at 2,280 pounds but it also offers a few trailering packages featuring a 360-degree trailer camera and hitch guidance. The Sierra just can’t compete in that space (probably the most important space).

Even though the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 shares identical horsepower, it doesn’t share the same high towing capacity as the Silverado. Only with certain packages will you reach 11,800 pounds of towing capacity and 2,250 pounds hauling capacity. On the positive side, the Sierra boasts innovative towing technologies that can be operated from the pickup’s cabin. Another similar feature the Sierra has to the Silverado is a multifunctional tailgate.

Both the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado seat the same number of passengers, but the Chevy has slightly more cargo space for tools, lumber, or anything else you want to haul. Both the Silverado and Sierra have essentially the same basic warranty program.

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 ranked below average by U.S. News

The 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 seeks to set itself apart in the highly competitive full-size pickup truck segment. Nevertheless, the results tend to be a mixed bag. Along with being a great looking truck, you can equip it with a durable carbon-fiber bed.

It comes in second place to the Silverado 1500 in terms of power with a 420-hp 6.2-liter V8—making it the second most powerful truck on the market. The GMC Sierra 1500 is headlined by the popular off-road-oriented AT4 and Denali trims. And while both of these top tier trims look awesome pulling up to the valet lane or out in the wilderness, the AT4 struggles to compete against the Ford F-150 Raptor. Rather, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 is a fashionable and competent option that lacks the excitement and refinement of its competitors.

In a review published by U.S. News, the 2021 GMC Sierra 1500 finished toward the bottom half of its full-size pickup truck rankings. In other words, it’s below average compared to its competitors. Despite being powerful and well capable of working just as hard, as well as having a spacious interior, there are cheaper options that offer more.

Both the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500 have been touted as being way better in basically every aspect, with the Ford “best in the class” and the Dodge finishing “well ahead of the Sierra” in rankings. The two-wheel-drive Regular Cab, Long Box Sierra has an MSRP of nearly $31,700. However, not only is the 2021 Chevy Silverado priced below $29,000, but the 2021 F-150 XL also has a starting MSRP of $29,000, according to the manufacturers.