When shopping for a heavy-duty truck, you generally come into the buying process with a standard that the truck needs to live up to or a certain job that it should be able to handle. For instance, it should be able to tow multiple loads of rock in a dump trailer, up a steep dirt road, to put in a 100-foot leach field you just carved out of the hillside. That’s the kind of work you expect from a heavy-duty truck. Though your standard might be different, the truck needs to be a workhorse. So let’s take a look at two workhorses and see how they stack up: 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 vs 2020 Ford F-250.
Both trucks have the capability to tow serious weight, so you know they are both up for the job. But what sets them apart? If they’re both nearly capable of towing enough weight to require you to have a commercial license, then what else should you be looking at when deciding which truck will be best for your lifestyle and needs? Heavy-duty trucks are more and more practical for the whole family, so wouldn’t it be nice to have a truck that can truly do it all? On the surface, the 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 would seem to have the advantage, especially since it is all-new for the 2020 model year, with the F-250 lagging behind in convenience and luxury amenities, but let’s take a more in-depth look and see what they each bring to the table beyond their impressive towing and payload capabilities.
Interior Features and Design
With the redesign, the 2020 GMC Sierra HD now features an impressive amount of headroom and legroom. The cabin also features exciting technology, such as a large head-up display (15 inches) and easy-to-use touchscreen. You’ll also find a rearview camera mirror, which is the perfect addition to a heavy-duty model. With your rearview mirror, you can now see a wide-angle view of what’s behind you. The rearview mirror literally transforms into a video screen with the flick of a switch. The GMC Sierra 2500 also features lots of luxury amenities—too many to name here—so the options to outfit your cabin are endless with the heavy-duty Sierra.
While the 2020 Ford F-250 is built for comfort, you won’t find the luxury amenities you are looking for until you get into the upper trim levels. And while luxury amenities are available, such as 10-way-power front seats that are heated as well as cooled and massaging, the quality of materials isn’t on the same level as the Sierra’s Denali trim. The Denali trim features premium leather and trim with open-pore wood, as well as HD surround vision, a bed-view camera, and a power sunroof.
If you’re looking for innovative towing technology, the GMC Sierra has two features that will be a big help for you on the road. With smart trailer integration, you can monitor and control the smart systems in your trailer. This includes the air conditioning, power slide outs, and water-tank levels. You will be able to monitor all the systems from the comfort of your truck or home and can share this information. This is controlled either by the myGMC app or via Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.
Another interesting feature is the diesel exhaust brake. This is a feature on the diesel engine that allows you to employ what semi-trucks use on downhill stretches when towing heavy loads. You can take a great deal of pressure off your braking system with the touch of a button. The engine’s back pressure will control your speed when going downhill. This can also be used with cruise control on variable terrain to maintain your speed.
The trailering system also features 15 camera angles, which include a transparent trailer view. By merging all of the different camera angles, you can see straight through the trailer. The trailer shows as an outline on screen, and you are able to see directly through to what’s behind you.
The Ford F-250 also emphasizes trailering tech and features hill-hold assist and an optional adaptive steering system that makes towing easier if you have trouble backing up a trailer, especially.
Both the 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 and 2020 Ford F-250 feature very similar powertrain options. The notable differences are the presence of a third option for the F-250—or a second gas engine—and the difference in the base engines. The Ford F-250 features two gas engines, with the second being a more powerful 7.3-liter V8. However, the 2020 GMC Sierra 2500 has the more powerful of the base engines, so if you are not looking to spend extra money on an engine, this is your best option. It’s a 6.6-liter V8 with 401 hp and 464 lb-ft of torque. The F-250 offers a 6.2-liter V8 as it’s base engine, and this engine underperforms the Sierra’s offering, with 385 hp and 430 lb-ft of torque. The next step up isn’t a huge improvement, offering only 11 lb-ft more torque and 29 more horses.
Both Ford and GMC offer excellent diesel engines, so you can’t go wrong with the earth-moving power they both possess. The Sierra HD Diesel can go 0-60 mph in 19.9 seconds, for example, while towing an 18,000-pound trailer, so you know these are engines that are not afraid of hard work.
AT4 vs Tremor Off-Road
This is a necessary comparison because both of these are capable off-roaders, but that isn’t necessarily their main function. These are trucks made to be taken off-road, but also trucks that can tow heavy. Most off-roaders suffer from low towing numbers, but the GMC Sierra 2500 can still tow 18,500 pounds from its bumper. For perspective, the Dodge Power Wagon can only tow around 10,350 pounds. So you are not sacrificing overall capability for off-road chops.
The AT4 brings Rancho shock absorbers, additional skid plates, and an Eaton automatic locking rear differential. You also get the Sierra’s new automatic four-wheel drive, which can be locked or left in automatic, and the Sierra AT4 also has a low range. 18-inch all-terrain tires are standard and 20-inch are optional. Inside a color head-up display shows vehicle information, including off-road data such as wheel articulation and an inclinometer.
The Ford F-250 Tremor Off-Road trim offers a lifted suspension, off-road shocks and springs, 35-inch tires, and a trail control system. The Tremor comes with either a gas or diesel engine, while the AT4 comes with the diesel engine.
Finding the Right Heavy-Duty Truck
Finding the right truck for your needs is not always easy with so many options now on the market. While the Ford F-250 has very similar numbers in terms of towing and payload (and off-road) capability, it seems the GMC Sierra 2500 offers too many intangibles, such as innovative trailer tech and a bigger standard engine, to overlook. Plus, it’s all-new for the 2020 model year, so it benefits from the latest engineering and technology. Unlike the Ford F-250, the Sierra 2500 features independent front suspension for improved ride comfort. The more you look at it, the more the GMC Sierra 2500 just makes more sense.