Can you imagine what it would be like if every pickup truck cost the same? It would be a nightmare, both logistically and from a competitive standpoint. Competition keeps this industry alive – if you don’t believe me, then ask yourself why that is. Think about it: If it were not for competition, there would be more monopolies than your grandfather’s game closet. That’s the key to any industry, and there are already some monopolies that I will not mention, but if you know anything about conglomerates, you may have an idea. That’s beyond the scope of today’s discussion, however, because at AutoInfluence, we care about vehicles, and today, I have an exciting discussion for you and me: the 2023 Ford F-150 vs. 2023 GMC Sierra 1500 – who wins, and why?
You do not need proper introductions if you know anything about the F-150 and Sierra 1500. However, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the Sierra 1500 is already the underdog for one stark reason: the Ford F-150 is the best-selling vehicle in the United States. Do I mean best-selling pickup truck? Yes, but I also mean out of any vehicle class. Americans love their Ford F-150s, and can you blame them? Meanwhile, GMC – one of America’s most prolific manufacturers – often has a red-hot rivalry with Ford, so the Sierra 1500 is their response to Ford’s best-seller, and it manages to throw some heavy punches Ford’s way. This is an exciting topic I have thought about, and I would like to share my findings with you, so let’s begin.
One Manufacturer Wants Deeper Pockets… And For What?
Sometimes, when you are shopping, whether at Best Buy looking at TVs, shopping for cuts of steak at the grocery store, or at a vehicle dealership looking to buy a pickup truck, your eyes may be drawn to something spectacular. You stare in awe until you look down and realize it’s way out of your budget, so you settle on the smaller TV, the thinner steak cuts – I say buy the great steaks anyways – or the truck with a smaller price tag. However, this whole philosophy can be turned on its head with one simple phrase: the 2023 Ford F-150 is cheaper than the 2023 GMC Sierra 1500. As I will discuss, the GMC Sierra 1500 has some valid reasons for its higher price, but with the Ford F-150 sporting an MSRP of $33,695 and the Sierra 1500 with a starting price of $37,200, the question is: is the GMC Sierra 1500 packed with over $3,500 more truck? Not exactly. Let’s discuss why.
Something Doesn’t Add Up
A price difference of over $3,500 shines the Ford F-150 and GMC Sierra 1500 in a new light. Drivers who prefer saving money are drawn to the lower starting price of Ford pickup trucks. But now, the question: Does the F-150 have an experience that makes a $3,500 difference less than the Sierra 1500 – is a question nearly identical to the one I asked earlier: Does the GMC Sierra 1500 have what it takes to be reasonably priced at over $3,500 more than Ford’s pickup truck? The answer is no and no. But why is that, you may ask?
Associating the value of a pickup truck to any one thing is utterly ridiculous, as multiple factors at play make a pickup truck an easy choice for the hard-working type. But when you think about it, what makes a pickup truck unique over something like a sedan or SUV? That’s right: power. The available powertrains for the F-150 and Sierra 1500 are contentious areas that call for debate because both manufacturers are taking wildly different approaches.
Starting with the base engines, the F-150 utilizes a 3.3L V6 engine, while GMC opts for the turbocharged route with a 2.7L TurboMax I-4 engine. Here, we see our first difference: the base Sierra 1500 comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission, while every F-150 powertrain – including the 3.3L V6 engine – is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The entry-level Sierra 1500 – the Pro – offers the 10-speed automatic transmission if you step up to a V8 engine, but at that point, you are looking at an extra couple thousand dollars. Remember, the 2023 Sierra 1500 already costs over $3,500 more. This means you are easily spending over $5,000 extra on the Sierra 1500 to secure a 10-speed automatic transmission. But what does the Sierra 1500 get you for that extra $3,500+ over Ford’s vehicle?
The base-level Sierra 1500 outputs 310 hp and 430 lb-ft torque. Along with maximum towing and payload capacities of 9,500 lbs and 2,240 lbs, respectively, the TurboMax engine in the Sierra 1500 is an impressive showing over the F-150’s V6’s 290 hp and 265 lb-ft of torque with a maximum towing capacity of 8,200 lbs and a payload capacity of 1,955 lbs. Both trucks come with RWD, but 4WD is better for added versatility. Aside from the 10-speed automatic transmission, the F-150’s V6 engine outperforms the Sierra 1500’s base engine in fuel efficiency.
The 3.3L V6 engine gets EPA-estimated ratings of 19 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway (21 mpg combined), while the 2.7L TurboMax I-4 engine in the Sierra receives 19 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway (20 mpg combined) with RWD. Do a 16% increase in towing capacity and a 14% higher payload capacity make the 10% price increase worth it? When that 10% price increase is thousands of dollars – remember, we are talking about pickup trucks here – it is not worth it. However, this is not the mindset of every driver, so forget all of this for a moment: What if you were not worried about the cost and are curious about which of the two trucks performs the best in their ideal configurations? That’s what I will talk about next.
The More Powerful Truck
If we forgo all sense of price – I have established how the F-150 can be the cheaper vehicle if you stick with the base model – what can these two trucks do when pushed to their limits? To find out, you need either the 6.2L V8 engine or the turbo-diesel 3.0L I-6 engine for the Sierra 1500. The best all-around performer for the F-150 is the turbocharged 3.5L V6 engine. With either of the two listed Sierra 1500 powertrains, the maximum towing capacity is 13,000 lbs. Still, the payload capacity suffers as a result, with the 6.2L V8 and turbo-diesel 3.0L I-6 engines having payload capacities of 1,820 lbs and 1,890 lbs, respectively. It is quite the drop from the 2,240 lb payload capacity the base TurboMax I-4 engine grants you. Horsepower and torque are decent between the two powertrains; however, with the V8 engine having 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque, the turbodiesel powertrain increases the latter to 495 lb-ft of torque.
Now for Ford’s pickup truck and its turbocharged 3.5L V6 engine. This powertrain produces 400 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque, which is more torque throughput than both the Sierra engines I have mentioned. It is also worth noting that the F-150 has a hybrid powertrain capable of outputting 430 hp and 570 lb-ft of torque – both of which are greater than any Sierra powertrain – but let’s keep focus on the turbocharged V6 engine. With this configuration, the F-150’s towing capacity is raised to 14,000 lbs, and its payload capacity is increased to 3,315 lbs. Unlike the Sierra’s best performer, the F-150’s turbocharged V6 engine has 82% greater torque output while also outputting a higher towing capacity than its other powertrains and all of the Sierra 1500’s.
You Should Buy This Truck
The GMC Sierra 1500 is a phenomenal pickup truck worthy of its spot as one of the more recognizable pickup trucks in the North American automotive market. Still, it is the Ford F-150 that takes the crown in this discussion. The Ford F-150 has a reputation that speaks for itself – millions and millions of Americans attest to that. I believe it rounds all the bases in what an American pickup truck should represent: performance, reliability, and the freedom of choice in how you customize your vehicle – do you want to save money or extra performance? Either way, it does better than the GMC Sierra 1500, but that is not to say GMC’s Sierra 1500 is a bad purchase. It just needs some extra tweaking, either in price or perhaps they could rearrange the powertrains and find a way to squeeze more power out of their platform. However, if you buy a pickup truck this year, get the 2023 Ford F-150.