How the GMC Sierra 1500 and the Chevy Silverado 1500 are Similar… and Different

November 9th, 2021 by

A blue 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 ZR2 is shown on a dirt path after visiting a Farmington GM dealer.

If you’re shopping for a new full-size pickup, we are the Farmington GM dealer with the truck you need. As a GMC and Chevrolet dealer, we stock both the Sierra 1500 and the Silverado 1500. But how do you know which truck is right for you? These two nameplates may come from the same automaker – General Motors – and have many shared features, but that doesn’t mean they are identical.

The Chevy Silverado and the GMC Sierra may seem very similar at first glance, but they’re actually designed for completely different buyers. In general, GMC trucks feature more premium equipment and are priced a bit higher, especially at the entry-level. Chevy Silverado models, on the other hand, fill a value gap at the low end while still satisfying luxury buyers at the high end.

Which truck is right for you? We will review a few features here to demonstrate some of the ways each nameplate stands out so you can zero in on the truck that fits your lifestyle and budget. The good news is, whether you choose the Silverado or the Sierra, you’re driving home in a high-quality full-size truck that will last for years.

What They Have in Common

From a pricing standpoint, you’ll find the GMC Sierra 1500 is a little more expensive than the Silverado 1500, even at the entry trim level. The least expensive 2022 Silverado starts at just over $30,000, while the base 2022 Sierra 1500 will cost you about $1,000 more. It’s close, but the Sierra is a bit more. That pricing difference continues across the entire trim range.

Both the base GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado come standard with two-wheel drive, a two-door regular cab body style with a long bed, and a 2.7-liter turbocharged engine mated to an eight-speed transmission, and both trucks offer standard 17-inch tires. Inside is a 7-inch infotainment touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, Bluetooth, and a color display. With such a small price difference, entry truck buyers will find them pretty interchangeable if looking at the spec sheet.

Additionally, these two trucks share the same platform and parent company – General Motors. While GMC was the first truck brand to debut the now-famous MultiPro six-function tailgate, a similar offering, called the Multi-Flex tailgate, is now available on the Silverado pickup. It can be reconfigured into a portable workstation, a cargo stop, and even a stairway to the truck bed. The Sierra will always have bragging rights for being first to the market, however.

Lastly, both trucks offer the same powertrain options, from a base 310-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder to a powerful Duramax turbo-diesel that delivers 460 lb-ft of torque. Two transmissions, an eight-speed and a ten-speed, are offered with various engine configurations. There’s also a 355-horsepower 5.3-liter V8 and a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8.

A close up shows the headlight on a black 2022 GMC Sierra 1500 AT4.

Where They Differ

The GMC Sierra stands out at the upper trim levels. The legendary Denali trim embodies high-end luxury and anchors the Sierra lineup as a premium truck brand. The Silverado is generally considered more value-oriented, though it is offered in upper-level trims like the High Country. Even mid-range Sierra trims offer a bit more luxury-level equipment, which is where the two lineups differ.

What about exterior styling? Here’s where the two trucks are dramatically different. The GMC Sierra is boxier and features a more vertical grille, while the Silverado features a slanted nose and more angular lines. The differences are most apparent in the front end. GMC makes ample use of chrome on the grille surround and features distinctive C-shaped LED headlights. Some believe it’s more aggressive-looking than the Silverado.

The Silverado, on the other hand, favors a horizontal, body-colored grille design that’s less boxy, along with flush-mounted headlights and the distinctive Chevy bowtie displayed prominently in the middle. Not every Silverado trim has LED headlights, but you’ll find them across the Sierra’s trim range, which hints at the latter’s greater focus on premium features.

The 2022 Chevy Silverado lineup is vast, with eight different trims to choose from. It’s helpful for budget-minded buyers because moving up the range gradually unlocks extra features without substantially increasing the price. At the highest trim level, the High Country, the Silverado features plenty of luxury features, but overall the result is more rough and ready than what you’ll find on the Sierra.

Meanwhile, the 2022 Sierra comes in six trims, but they’re more distinctive. The basic Sierra Pro is GMC’s work truck, while the SLE, Elevation, and SLT trims make up the mid-range. Choose the AT4 for the most off-roading features and a more monotone body-colored trim appearance. At the top of the lineup sits the luxurious Denali, equipped with every imaginable luxury feature.

High Country vs Denali

Comparing these two luxury trims is difficult because each offers an impressive array of valet-ready premium features and finishes. It’s not really about comparing to see which is better: rather, it boils down to personal preference. If asked to assign an adjective to each truck, we’d call the Silverado High Country rugged and the Sierra Denali refined.

The High Country starts with heated bucket seats covered in premium perforated leather in either all-black or a two-tone black and walnut color scheme that seems at home on the ranch. The Denali favors black leather with real dark walnut and ash grey trim, and the headrests are embroidered with the Denali logo. Both are plush and handsomely appointed, but the Sierra seems more at home in its most high-end form.

Until you have a chance to sit inside both cabins, it isn’t easy to understand how they’re different. Overall, the Sierra Denali seems to have a more natural premium feel, which is exactly how the brand differs from Chevy’s Silverado. Sure, the High Country is loaded with upscale features, but there are so many other selling points for the Silverado (e.g., value) that luxury seems like an afterthought.

An article published by the aficionado website Driving puts it this way: the Sierra and the Silverado are “fraternal twins” and suggest that the Silverado High Country is a “tuxedo-clad cowboy” and the Sierra is a “tuxedo-clad oil baron.” That’s the essence of what’s different: one is more ruggedly luxurious while the other is more effortlessly refined.

A dark blue 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country is shown from the rear parked in a field.

Which Truck is Right For You?

When you’re considering these two models, the decision boils down to personal preference. All things being equal, you’ll find the same platform and powertrain options on both the Silverado and the Sierra, along with a range of trims at various price points to dial in the one that best fits your budget.

Appearance and nameplate are the two biggest differences. Pickup truck buyers are extremely brand loyal, so if you’ve owned a Chevy pickup, you’ll probably buy another one, and the same holds true for GMC. It’s not always a tangible difference that draws us to one brand over the other; instead, it’s an emotional connection. Some people are Chevy people, and others favor GMC.

Chevy is synonymous with value and dependability, while GMC tends to conjure images of stylized exteriors and plush appointments. As both trucks are under the General Motors umbrella, you can count on quality and durability, as well as plenty of utility. Ask most truck buyers, and they’ll tell you that these qualities are more important than just about anything else.

You’ll find small differences, like slightly more towing capability on the Silverado and an available carbon-fiber composite bed on the Sierra, but they share the same basic architecture, which means you’re getting quality craftsmanship where it counts. Which one is right for you? It’s best to test drive both so you can see which one fits your individual personality and style best.