The current truck marketplace is perhaps as diverse as it has ever been. On one end, there are multiple mid-size trucks with 4-cylinder engines proven to achieve well over 20 miles per gallon. In the middle, an unparalleled selection of full-size trucks, from spartan single cabs to luxurious crew cabs that regularly retail for over $70,000. And on the high end of the spectrum there are heavy-duty trucks packed with torque-loaded diesel engines and the option of six wheels. Although discussed far less than their mid-size and full-size brethren, heavy-duty trucks serve as the backbone of many industries and stretch the limits of capability every day. The heavy-duty market doesn’t offer as many options as the other truck classes, which means many customer’s final decision will come down to 2019 GMC Sierra 2500 HD vs 2019 Nissan Titan XD. Let’s take a look at the facts and figures to see which of these behemoths you should be driving off the dealership lot.
The title here is not hyperbole. Heavy-duty trucks are extremely powerful – even base models are capable of towing over 10,000 pounds. While probably not capable of pulling the Rocky Mountains closer to the Mississippi River, heavy-duty trucks exist to tow and haul objects of considerable size. If you’re looking for fuel sipping 4-cylinder and V6 engines, you’re in the wrong vehicle category – heavy-duty pickups are all about V8 and diesel mills. In fact, one of the easiest ways to identify a heavy-duty truck is by the sound of its strong engine.
Despite being distinct from smaller trucks in power and capability, the luxury bug has come heavy-duty trucks with equal force. Ford recently made news when the MSRP for a top-of-the-line F-450 crossed over $90,000. Reach for high-end versions of the Titan XD and Sierra 2500 HD (especially the 2500 HD Denali) and you might find yourself forgetting that you’re in a pick-up. These trucks truly rival the materials, ambiance, and road manners of a flagship luxury sedan. Despite all of this luxury, these trucks have not forgotten their roots and can still be found with sticker prices closer to $50,000 than $100,000.
The truck segment is in the middle of a renaissance. There are currently 11 models and seven brands to choose from, with Ford and Jeep adding two more models to the list this spring. While the collection may be intimidating, the intense competition between brands has put trucks at the leading-edge of technology, efficiency, and capability – all to the benefit of the buyer. There has never been a better time to buy a new truck, and heavy-duty models are no exception.
Know Your Truck
The basic timeline of the Sierra 2500 HD mirrors that of the Sierra 1500 and Chevy Silverado. The Sierra and its Chevy Silverado twin were introduced in August 1998 as 1999 models. Since then, the Sierra has gone through three generations with the Sierra 1500 being fully redesigned for 2019. The Sierra 2500 HD, however, currently maintains the older design and is currently offered with one cab style and two box lengths:
- Crew cab with standard box (78.86 inches or roughly 6.5 feet)
- Crew cab with long box (97.76 inches or roughly eight feet)
The Sierra can seat five or six. This is dependent on if your trim choice offers the 40/20/40 split bench in the front row. On the sales end, heavy-duty trucks will never be huge sellers because they are a niche product; unit sales are often just combined with the full-size models. Therefore, the Sierra has been a wide commercial success – sales numbers have exceeded 100,000 every year since 2010 and 200,000 from 2014 forward.
Like it’s competition in this comparison, the Titan XD largely follows the lead of the far more popular Titan. The Mississippi-built Titan made its debut in 2003. and it has seen one full redesign since, coming in the 2015 model year. The Titan XD is currently offered with three cab styles and two box lengths:
- Single cab with eight-foot bed
- King cab (double cab) with 6.5-foot bed
- Crew cab with 6.5-foot bed
The Titan XD can seat three, five, or six depending on trim and cab size. When taking a look at the sales numbers, it’s clear that customers thought Nissan waited too long before completing the 2015 redesign. After easily clearing the 50,000 hurtle between 2004 and 2007, sales cratered and did not begin to rebound until 2016.
Power and Fuel Economy
All trucks are made to be used. Yes, a few truck owners may simply like the style and rugged image a truck brings, but the vast majority of trucks will see some kind of work in their lifetime. Whether pulling a boat or putting in hours at the job site, heavy-duty trucks excel when a task calls for power. The Sierra 2500 HD and Titan XD both offer the tools of the trade – V8 and diesel engines bringing plenty of horsepower and torque.
The Sierra 2500 HD is offered with three different engines:
- 6.0-liter V8 – 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft torque
- 6.0-liter V8 DFM – 360 horsepower and 380 lb-ft torque, with the ability to run on compressed natural gas or liquid natural gas
- 6.6-liter turbo diesel V8 – 445 horsepower and 910 lb-ft torque at 1600 rpm
If you plan on towing heavy weight amounts with regular frequency, the turbo diesel is for you. The V8 with the ability to run on natural gas is appealing for fleet vehicles (compressed) and long-range hauls (liquid).
The Titan XD comes with two engine choices:
- 5.6-liter V8 – 390 horsepower and 394 lb-ft torque
- 5.0-liter turbo diesel – 310 horsepower and 555 lb-ft torque
The choice here should probably come down to the turbo diesel, although the V8 does offer more standard horsepower and torque than the Sierra 2500 HD. The winner of this round has to be the Sierra 2500 HD, because it offers more options and a strong turbo diesel.
Those truly concerned with fuel economy should look for a smaller truck – these beasts need to eat, especially when at work. Vehicles the size of the Sierra 2500 HD and Titan XD actually aren’t rated by the EPA, but most drivers should expect to get around 14-17 miles per gallon. Expect that number to drop closer to 12 miles per gallon when towing or hauling.
Price and Warranty
heavy-duty trucks, when new, are not for the budget conscious. Both the Titan XD and Sierra 2500 HD start above $30,000. A basic single cab Titan XD will come in just shy of $33,000. A bare-bones Sierra 2500 HD will cost customers $34,940. At the top of the range, a Titan XD Diesel Crew Cab Platinum Reserve with all the boxes checked will end up near $70,000. A Sierra 2500 HD Denali will be about the same. The choice here has to be the Denali, which offers the most when it comes to technology and luxury.
The Titan XD’s warranty edges out the Sierra for total coverage. Nissan owners will get 5 years/100,000 miles basic and 5 years/100,000 miles powertrain. New GMC owners would get 3 years/36,000 miles basic and 5 years/60,000 miles powertrain.
We don’t necessarily believe that it is up to us to push you towards either truck. Both are quality vehicles made by respected manufacturers. Both have attractive combinations of features that appeal to slightly different buyers. What we covered here is by no means the exhaustive list of standard or available features for either vehicle. However, based on the attributes examined here, the Sierra 2500 HD is the better truck. It’s combination of power, engine options, towing ability and luxury available make it the clear winner.