I pitted a Ford F-150 against a Chevy Silverado in the ultimate pickup-truck showdown - here's the verdict
Matthew DeBord/Business Insider
- The Ford F-150 and the Chevy Silverado are the two most important trucks in the pickup truck-crazy US market.
- I tested a $57,000 version of the newly redesigned Silverado and and $74,000 edition of the F-150, which was redesigned several years ago and refreshed for the 2018 model year.
- The F-150 was more overtly luxurious, but the Silverado was a lot of truck for the money.
- I gave the edge to the F-150, thanks to an incredibly potent, high-output turbocharged V6 engine under the hood.
- Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
America might be widely regarded as the Land of the Car, but the truth is that pickup trucks rule the market here. Specifically, full-size pickup trucks - vehicles that occupy a vast and lucrative segment between smaller, midsize trucks and the hulking, heavy-duty haulers that are required for towing big boats and horse trailers.For decades, the King of Trucks in the USA has been the Ford F-150. The F-Series was introduced right after World War II ended and ever since the Reagan administration, the F-Series full-sizer has been been the bestselling vehicle in America.Advertisement
Close behind - Avis to Ford's Hertz, Pepsi to Ford's Coke - is the Chevy Silverado. (And in point of fact, when sales of the Silverado and its mechanical sibling, the GMC Sierra, as combined, the General Motors' products sometimes beat out the F-150.) Brand loyalty is important; there are longtime Ford owners who wouldn't cross a gully to clamber into a Chevy cab, and vice versa.
But that doesn't mean the segment isn't ferociously competitive. Ford and Chevy have to contend not just with each other, but with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' RAM 1500, as well as backfielders such as the Toyota Tundra an Nissan Titan.
Matthew DeBord/Business Insider
The point is that Ford and Chevy must keep their full-size pickups competitive, if they want to capture the millions of vehicle sales that are up for grabs every year in the US. In 2014, Ford took a big risk by revamping the F-150 to use more lightweight aluminum in its construction, to boost fuel economy. For the 2019 model year, Chevy followed with its own update to the Silverado.I drove the new Ford back when its was rolled out, and I was impressed. For the 2018 model year, Ford refreshed the design, so although I had sampled the high-performance Raptor, I was overdue to revisit out the F-150. Ford was kind enough to loan me a well-equipped, 2019 $74,180 F-150 Limited. Meanwhile, I'd already tested a 2019 $57,000 Chevy Silverado.So who came out on top in this battle of giants? Read on to find out.Advertisement
Get the latest Ford stock price here.
Up first for our consideration is the mighty Ford F-150 — the reigning king, the bestselling vehicle in the USA every year since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. The champ. The legend. The icon.
My Ford F-150 4x4 SuperCrew was very well optioned, with an added Limited package that took the price above $74,000.Advertisement
The "Agate Black" paint job and shimmering chrome highlights gave this pickup a near-luxury vibe. As you can see, my tester came with a short bed. We generally don't get the longer box for our review vehicles.
The F-150's design refresh wasn't anything dramatic. The biggest difference are with the beefed up front grille, lending a more aggressive demeanor to America's favorite truck.Advertisement
To my eye, it's all a bit heavy, but it could also be called busy. F-150 owners don't seem to mind, however.
The Limited designation is called out on the hood.Advertisement
And it gets a more subtle nod under the F-150 badging.
Let's talk about what makes a pickup truck a pickup truck: the bed, or "box."Advertisement
The short box is more than adequate for most jobs that don't involve ranching, farming, or serious construction. The bedliner protects the metal from rust and corrosion.
The powered tailgate has a useful integrated step, as well a handle to assist with climbing in and out of the bed.Advertisement
It comes in handy!
The Limited package gives the F-150 a broad swath of chrome on the tailgate.Advertisement
The step bumper provides access to the bed with the tailgate closed.
While our F-150 tester was a higher-spec than what we'll see in a minute from the Silverado, the Ford also had a 3.6-liter EcoBoost V6 engine.Advertisement
Let's pop the hood and take a look!
This high-output variant of the 3.5-liter V6 is something: the turbocharged mill cranks out 450 horsepower with 510 pound-feet of torque. That beats the 5.0-liter V8 engine by a notable margin (395 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque).Advertisement
The power is routed to the four-wheel-drive system by a 10-speed automatic transmission.
The "Cameback Tutone" leather interior on my F-150 test truck was el primo.Advertisement
The front seats were heated, cooled, and exceptionally comfortable.
The F-150 has a multifunction steering wheel, leather wrapped ...Advertisement
... And also an analog-digital instrument cluster that can be customized to display a wide range of vehicle info.
The F-150's infotainment system runs on what is by contemporary standard a modest 8-inch central touchscreen.Advertisement
The SYNC 3 system is generally superb, with excellent navigation, easy Bluetooth device pairing, USB integration, and a SiriusXM introductory subscription. Bonus points for the wonderful Bang & Olufsen premium audio setup.
The interior is rather lovely and appointed with a few call-outs for the Limited package.Advertisement
That's real wood — and Ford didn't salvage it from a vintage Jaguar!
As with all full-size pickups, the F-150 has oodles of storage, including this cavernous compartment under the front armrest.Advertisement
There's also a useful tray on the dashboard.
The dual-pane moonroof floods the cabin with natural light.Advertisement
Ford continues to use its coded entry buttons to lock and unlock the doors.
The Limited designation appears again on the door sill.Advertisement
This step retracts once the doors have been closed ...
It completely disappears!Advertisement
The SuperCrew configuration provides limo-like seating capacity in the back.
One thing about this F-150 that isn't especially luxurious or high-tech: the time-tested and reliable leaf-spring rear suspension!Advertisement
To summarize, the updated Ford F-150 has improved on greatness. Yes, for $72,000 the F-150 could be a bit more plush. But as a full-size pickup, it has almost no flaws. The brilliance of the high-output V6 is tough to overstate.
Now for the challenger — the Chevy Silverado. Last year, Chevy redesigned and relaunched the perennial aspirant to the full-size pickup throne in the US. Can it threaten King Ford?Advertisement
My Chevy Silverado tester arrived in a "Summit White" paint job. It's the fourth generation of the nameplate, but it's a full-size pickup that can trace its lineage back to the early 1960s.
Before we get too far along here, my Silverado 4x4 LTZ Crew Cab stickered at $57,000, well above the base work truck ($30,000) but far below the $74,000 F-150 Limited 4x4 SuperCrew. The Silverado simply wasn't as fancy.Advertisement
This Silverado isn't a huge departure from the previous generation. But with that massive grille and bow-tie badge, it retains road presence.
If I had to choose, I'd say that the F-150 wins the war of the slablike front ends, but ...Advertisement
... the Silverado's Camaro-esque headlights are pretty cool.
The Silverado badging is prominent, crafted in chrome.Advertisement
And unlike the Ford, the Silverado shouts its off-road cred.
My tester featured a tonneau cover.Advertisement
Even when I left it closed, the short bed could swallow up a six-foot Christmas tree without effort.
The cover folds back and is secured with these straps.Advertisement
The spray-on bedliner is a $500 extra.
Throwback-y Chevrolet lettering is recessed into the sheet metal.Advertisement
The Silverado's step bumper has a pair of recessed extra steps to aid in climbing into and out of the bed.
A closer look.Advertisement
So what's under the hood?
Let's have a look. The Silverado could be outfitted with a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, a 4.3-liter V6, a 5.3-liter V8, a 3.0-liter inline-six-cylinder diesel — or, in the case of my tester, a 6.2-liter V8.Advertisement
At full bore, the 6.2-liter V8 makes 420 horsepower with a whopping 460 pound-feet of torque. That's 65 more ponies than the 5.3-liter V8 mill. It can propel the truck to 60 mph in about six seconds, sending the power through a 10-speed automatic transmission. The MPGs are actually respectable, at 16 city, 20 highway, and 17 combined.
The Silverado gets extra points for having a good old-fashioned column shifter!Advertisement
The "Gideon/Very Dark Atmosphere" interior is oddly named, but still quite pleasant, if a bit on the utilitarian side.
The Silverado's as-tested interior wasn't as flashy as the Ford's, but most of the same features were present, including a multifunction leather-wrapped steering wheel.Advertisement
The Silverado's controls for adjusting the drivetrain are conveniently located to the driver's left.
Ford's SYNC 3 infotainment system is good, but the Chevy's is better. The eight-inch center touchscreen isn't huge, but it is responsive, with a few buttons and knobs to fall back on.Advertisement
Again, as with the Ford, the Chevy has tons of storage.
The LTZ trim level is near-luxe, but not as snazzy overall as the F-150 Limited. This is where I must point out, however, that customers who seek a more magnificent truck can move up the GMC Sierra Denali.Advertisement
The Silverado's cab provides plenty of room for fully grown humans in the back seat, which is a simple bench design.
The F-150's cabin was gorgeous, but for the price, the Silverado's was pretty premium.Advertisement
The Silverado also has a step runner, making ascending to either the front or rear seats much less challenging.
In summary, the Chevy Silverado is a worthy redesign of the brand's most important vehicle.Advertisement
But the better truck is the Ford F-150!
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