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Like a Rock: GM Trucks

A black 2019 GMC Sierra is shown driving through a puddle from behind in the woods.

 

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, the odds are higher than ever than you’re taking a hard look at a pick-up truck. Once thought of as tools for work and towing, trucks have gone fully mainstream. Helped by overall market shift from sedans to SUVs, trucks now occupy a solid space in the market and are looking to expand. When searching for trucks for sale, look no further than GM. GM practically wrote the book on the modern truck, and have four best-sellers between them to prove it. Whether you’re looking for a 4-cylinder efficiency champion or a brute capable of towing 12 tons, there is a GM truck for you.

The Market

If the market shift from sedans and SUVs was not complete before, 2018 slammed the final nails into the coffin. Cause of death – a combination of consumer preference and corporate slashing. When Fiat-Chrysler (FCA) cut the Dodge Dart/Chrysler 200 siblings, no one was surprised. The cars were average at best and the money FCA spent on the cars could be better spent on Jeep. Things really took a turn in late last year, when Ford cut all cars save the Mustang and GM cut six models across three brands.

The corporate cuts formally confirmed what we already knew – customers want SUVs and trucks. The tide changed rather quickly – cars accounted for 50% of vehicle sales in 2013. By 2018, that number sat at 31%. SUVs have enjoyed the bulk of the converts, but trucks are benefiting too. Total truck sales rose by 7.7% in 2018 as pick-ups inch ever closer to a 20% market share.

The current truck market is loaded, and it’s only going to get bigger. There are currently 13 trucks sold by eight different manufacturers. With a Hyundai pick-up, possible VW pick-up, and almost certainly a baby Ram, the market is going to grow the most on the mid-size and small end.

Much has been made about the level of luxury and sophistication found in top level trucks. All four of the domestic full-size trucks now offer luxury models that easily soar past $60,000. On the other end, few trucks sell for below $30,000. Each new generation of trucks brings more innovation, whether it be through weight reduction, fuel economy gains, or massive tow rating. It’s a great time to be a truck buyer.

The GM Lineup

GM offers four or six models, depending on if you count heavy-duty models as another category. The GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado fill the mid-size role while the GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado are the full-size options. At the very top, the GMC Sierra HD and Chevy Silverado HD are absolute monsters, especially in dually form.

GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado

A blue 2019 Chevy Colorado, one of the popular trucks for sale, is driving with a lake in the distance.

A big part of trucks gaining more market share has been the revival of the mid-size market. Just seven years ago, there were only two mid-size trucks available in the US. Now there are six with more on the way. The Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator joined the party this year, and Nissan is currently redesigning the ancient Frontier. They all have a lot of catching up to do considering the Canyon and Colorado have been on the market since 2014.

These twins offer a wide range of engine choices, with two different gas engines and a diesel mill as well. The baby of the group is a 200 horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. It’s designed for those who prefer good gas mileage over towing prowess. If you’re okay with the low towing capacity of 3,500 pounds. The V6 that many buyers will pick is a real winner – it packs a punch with 308 horsepower and can tow 7,000 pounds. The class-exclusive Duramax turbo-diesel takes the cake. Although rated at only 181 horsepower, it makes its mark where it counts. Towing maxes out at 7,700 pounds – plenty for towing a large boat or heavy trailer. When you aren’t towing, you’ll be getting great gas mileage, especially on the highway.

If you’re looking for a difference between these two, you’ll find the answers in price, luxury, and off-road ability. The Colorado starts at $21,300 which is surprisingly low for what it has to offer and is the cheapest GM truck available. Conversely, the Canyon, especially in Denali trim, offers a level of luxury not found in the Chevy. You can find the Canyon with a starting price of $21,500 and if you want the Denali trim it has a starting MSRP of $40,400. Its cabin is a beautiful mix of leather, chrome, and wood grain. While both cabins are well-equipped and quiet, the Canyon is just a step above. The Colorado, for the time being, offers two off-road variants not found on the Canyon. The Z71 and ZR2 both add off-road specialist equipment and the optional Bison package on the ZR2 transforms the Colorado into a rock-crawling master.

GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado

The Sierra and Silverado received a full redesign for the 2019 model year. The new exterior styling may be hard for some to swallow, but the interior is very much new and improved. Both cars received bigger cabins that allow more headroom and legroom for passengers in both rows of seats. Those same passengers will be more connected than ever, with the optional 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and standard Apple CarPlay & Android Auto.

These two trucks again offer the best selection of engines on the market. Customers have a choice between five shared engines: a 310-horsepower turbo four-cylinder, a 285-horsepower V6, and three different V8s rated at 385 and 420 horsepower. For the time being, only the Sierra is offered with 3.0-liter Duramax turbo-diesel. It should trickle down to the Silverado in the coming months. If there is a top-dog in the engines, it’s the 5.3-liter V8 with Dynamic Fuel Management technology.

Any differences between the two trucks can be found in advanced technology. On the outside, the Sierra offers an industry-first six-way tailgate. It utilizes three different openings and breaks to transform into a regular bed, a workbench, and a backstop for awkwardly-shaped objects. Inside, both trucks offer a 15-inch head-up display, but only the Sierra’s is in full color. The Sierra also offers a camera view in the rear-view mirror. It offers a clear view of what going on with the trailer and bed contents – no headrests or back seat objects will block the view.

At the top of the range are the HD trucks, the Sierra and Silverado 2500 and 3500 models. The stats, as one would expect are monstrous. 3500 models can tow over 20,000 pounds. Add all the modern technology of the 1500 models into these HD beasts, and you have a truck that stands above the rest. If you need to tow a boat, camper, or equipment, these are the trucks you should be purchasing.

The starting MSRP for the Chevy Silverado 1500 is a low $28,300 and if you opt for the Silverado 3500HD you will find a starting MSRP of $40,300. The GMC Sierra 1500 is a much more expensive option than the Silverado 1500, starting at $33,500. The Sierra 3500HD is only $500 more than the Silverado 3500HD at $40,800. For two trucks that are almost identical, you’d have to really think about what is the better price for your budget and what trim of the two trucks has the options for you.

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