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Road Warriors: GMC Sierra 1500 vs Toyota Tundra

Gray 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 driving towards camera on mountain woodland road

If you are looking at pickup trucks, unless you are only interested in heavy-duty models, at some point you will definitely come across the GMC Sierra 1500 and the Toyota Tundra. They are two of the leading pickups on the road when it comes to straightforward trucks that get the job done during the week and are still ideal for playing on the weekend. So, with that in mind, let’s pit them against each other: it’s the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 vs 2019 Toyota Tundra!

In order to keep this fair and comparable, we need a few ground rules – after all, these two trucks are not entirely on even ground. For one thing, the starting prices of both trucks are fairly different, so it’s important to look at what you get with just the baseline build for each of them. Then we will take a look at the engines available and what kind of power and performance we should expect from them. Finally, let’s take a look at the options and trim levels available on each – in particular the high-end levels so we know what we can get from each truck if money is no object.

Baseline Builds – Price and Features

To start off, let’s be fair, the baseline builds of the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 and Toyota Tundra are not entirely comparable. For one thing, they are available at pretty different starting MSRPs: the Sierra 1500 starts off at $37,800 while the Tundra starts off at an MSRP of $31,420. While that may not be the difference between something like a Sierra 3500HD and a Toyota Tacoma, it’s still worth noting and keeping in mind while looking at the baseline builds of these two vehicles.

So let’s start off with the baseline of each truck: the GMC Sierra 1500 and Toyota Tundra SR. The Sierra comes as a crew cab with a short box, with options for a standard box and double cab, 2WD, and a 4.3L EcoTec3 V6 engine that offers 285hp and 305 lb.-ft. of torque. By comparison, the Tundra SR comes as a double cab with either a standard bed or long bed, 2WD, and has a 4.6L V8 engine that provides 310hp and 327 lb.-ft. of torque. So the baseline Tundra gives you more power for less money, but what about other features?

The Sierra has a 7-inch touchscreen Infotainment system, available Wi-Fi hotspot functionality, and a standard rearview mirror. By comparison, the Tundra SR comes with a 7-inch touchscreen Infotainment system and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. The Sierra comes with a rear vision camera, available front and rear park assist, and available lane change alert. While the Tundra SR also has a rear vision camera, has available front and rear park assist, and comes with lane departure warning.

The Battle of the Engines

Blue 2019 Toyota Tundra in woods with two people hunting

Now that we’ve looked at what’s included with the baseline models let’s talk about what’s available. Straight comparisons between builds are nice, but I want to know what I can get if my options aren’t limited by money or reason. So let’s look at the engines and see which truck can give us the absolute pinnacle of power.

The 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 has five engines available, but some of them are only options for certain trim levels. With that in mind, the three that best represent the Sierra are the starting 4.3L EcoTec3 V6 engine with 285hp and 305 lb.-ft. of torque, the 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine that offers 355hp and 383 lb.-ft. of torque, and the impressive 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 that provides 420hp and 460 lb.-ft. of torque.

By comparison, the Toyota Tundra has two engines available, though both are options for 2WD and 4WD setups. There is a 4.6L V8 engine that provides 310hp and 327 lb.-ft. of torque, or a 5.7L V8 engine that offers up 381hp and 401 lb.-ft. of torque.

So what do we really have here? The Sierra starts with less power, but has more options, and tops out with a more powerful engine. While the Tundra starts with more power, has fewer options, and tops out with a bit less power than the Sierra. If you want the baseline model, then the 2019 Toyota Tundra will give you more power, but if you want the high-end trim level, then the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 is more impressive.

Towing Capacity Throwdown!

Towing capacity can change quite a bit depending on factors like the engine chosen and optional trailering packages for both the GMC Sierra 1500 and the Toyota Tundra. To keep things simple, however, I’m just going to look at the maximum towing capacity. I’ll assume that if towing is really important to you, then you’re probably going to pick packages and trim options that support that as much as possible.

The 2019 GMC Sierra 1500, when properly equipped, has a maximum towing capacity of 12,200 lbs. Considering the Sierra is not designed as a heavy-duty truck, that’s a pretty impressive maximum tow limit. The 2019 Toyota Tundra is pretty close to being right there with it and has a maximum towing capacity of 10,200 lbs. when properly set up. That’s about a 20% difference in maximum towing, but you’ll have to decide if 2,000 lbs. makes a difference, or if 10,000 lbs. is as much as you’ll ever need.

Trim Options and Luxury Features

Finally, I want to know what I can get if I choose the nicest trim options and really dive into the lap of luxury for these two trucks. For the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500, that means the Denali trim level, which starts off at an MSRP of $59,495; while the 2019 Toyota Tundra’s highest level of luxury is the Platinum edition, which starts off at an MSRP of $50,430.

The GMC Sierra 1500 Denali has all of the bells, whistles, and features I have come to expect from the Denali series over the years. From the standard 5.3L 355hp engine, and available 6.2L 420hp engine, to the integrated brake controller and numerous exterior touches. The Denali has an 8-inch Infotainment center with Navigation included, an 8-inch driver information center, a Bose premium sound system, and includes front and rear park assist, lane change alert, and a safety alert seat.

In an effort not to be outdone, the Toyota Tundra Platinum features a 5.7L 381hp engine, though there is no option for a more powerful engine. It has a 4-inch driver information center, which is only half the size of the one in the Sierra 1500 Denali, and a 7-inch touchscreen Infotainment center with JBL speakers. The Tundra has Toyota’s full suite of safety features, including lane departure alert, front and rear park assist, and blind spot monitor.

The Takeaway

So, in the battle between the 2019 GMC Sierra 1500 vs 2019 Toyota Tundra, is there a clear winner? Not really. They both do what they do very well and have numerous options that will keep just about anyone happy. With that in mind, the Sierra 1500 has slightly more options overall, particularly when it comes to the engine, and includes some nicer luxury options at the Denali trim level. While the Tundra can give you more for your money, especially at lower trim levels, but can’t compete with the power or opulence of the high-end Sierra trim levels.

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