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Head-to-Head: RAM 1500 vs Chevrolet Silverado

Chris Kaiser

The hotly contested full-size truck segment has a lot to offer. We compare two top picks in the RAM 1500 and the Chevrolet Silverado.

Work Trucks, Tradesmen, and TRXs

Comparing the half-ton truck offerings of both FCA and GM, it’s about more than just copious engine options, trick tailgates, and interior bells and whistles. To capture the attention (and dollars) of discriminating pickup truck buyers, you’ve got to be offering a complete package. Trucks are no longer just mechanical versions of the American workhorse. They also are expected to serve as a traveling office, daily commuter, and vacation vehicle capable of towing upwards of 7,500lbs. The 2021 RAM 1500 covers these bases and is, by all measures, an excellent pickup. The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado offers impressive towing, a healthy array of engine options, and plenty of modern conveniences. We compare them side by side to find the best truck for your money.

Specs – An Embarrassment of Engine Options

Both the RAM 1500 and Silverado offer lots of different engine options ranging from small displacement turbos to diesels to massive V8s. While we like the multitude of options, the V8s offer the best power and performance in both trucks.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 5.3L V8 engine - carsforsale.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado 5.3L V8 engine - carsforsale.com

The Silverado’s engines start with a 4.3L V6 making 285hp and 305lb.-ft. of torque paired with a six-speed automatic. There’s also a smaller 2.7L turbocharged I-4 that produces 310hp and 348lb.-ft. The available 3.0L turbo diesel offers 277hp and an impressive 460lb.-ft. along with 22 city and 33 highway mpg. There are two versions of the same 5.3L V8, one with Active Fuel Management, the other with Dynamic Fuel Management, both making 355hp and 385lb.-ft. of torque. The biggest of the bunch is the 6.2L V8 putting up 420hp and 460lb.-ft. of torque.

2021 RAM 1500 5.7L V8 - carsforsale.com
2021 RAM 1500 5.7L V8 - carsforsale.com

The RAM 1500 has a diverse list of engines as well. The base engine is a 3.6L V6 making 306hp and 269lb.-ft. of torque; a mild-hybrid version adds 90lb.-ft. to the torque rating. The diesel offering in the RAM 1500 is a 3.0L EcoDiesel with 260hp and a best-in-class torque rating of 480lb.-ft. It also gets nearly the same fuel economy as the Silverado’s diesel, at 22/32 mpg. There are also two different Hemi V8s both making 395hp and 410lb.-ft. one of which adds a mild hybrid system to improve fuel economy to 12/23 mpg. Biggest of the bunch is the supercharged 6.2L Hellcat Hemi V8 found in the RAM 1500 TRX.

With both trucks providing plenty of excellent engine options, this metric for comparison ends up even. Each truck can be configured with either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive.

Driving and Performance – Bigger, Stronger, Faster

2021 RAM 1500 - ramtrucks.com

2021 RAM 1500 – ramtrucks.com  |  Shop new RAM 1500 on Carsforsale.com

The RAM 1500 impresses with powerful engines and smooth shifting transmissions, but the driving experience is par for the course. Steering is light enough without feeling too disconnected. The pull, especially from the V8 engines, has a good, torquey quality aided by the smooth shifting eight-speed automatic transmission. The TRX boasts a 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds. You might imagine that pure speed shouldn’t matter to truck buyers, but it does. Where I come from in South Dakota, speed is relative and most stoplight street racing is done by competing full-size pickups. Max towing comes in at 12,750lbs. with the mild-hybrid 5.7L V8.

2021 Chevrolet Silverado - chevrolet.com

2021 Chevrolet Silverado – chevrolet.com  |  Shop new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 on Carsforsale.com

The Silverado drives like the half-ton pickup it is. Body roll is well controlled around corners and the Silverado feels smaller than it actually is. Acceleration is decent from the V8s, but the Silverado is slower than the competition, even before factoring in the Raptor or TRX. The 13,300lbs. of towing capacity, with the help of the 6.2L V8, is second only to the newest iteration of the F-150 (at 14,000lbs.).

The Silverado and RAM 1500 are closely equivalent when it comes to drivability and performance. Unless you really want to go fast (then lean toward the TRX) or really need the extra 550-ish pound of towing capacity (go with the Silverado), either option will serve you well.

Comfort and Interior – There Are Levels to the Game

When it comes to which truck is the better to live with and drive in on a daily basis, the RAM 1500 clearly distinguishes itself from the Silverado. The use of coil as opposed to traditional leaf springs grants the RAM with a much smoother ride around town. The RAM absorbs the shocks and jolts of rougher roads with ease and the optional air suspension only enhances this ability. Not only does the RAM best the Silverado when it comes to ride comfort, it’s clearly ahead of the rest of the half-ton pack as a whole.

The Chevy Bolt Gets a Refresh and a New, Lower Price

That smooth ride is complimented by arguably the nicest interior in the segment. Materials are high quality, the finish is solid, and the design modern and thoughtful. It’s interiors like the RAM’s that increasingly blur the line between luxury vehicles and modern full-size trucks. Space is plentiful, too. There are lots of cubbies and interior storage and passenger room is laughably generous.

The Silverado rides much more like a traditional pickup. Uneven surfaces tend to upset it, producing a notably bouncy experience. While the seats in the Silverado are decent, the RAM’s are more comfortable, especially the back seats which are rather stiff in the Silverado. The interior of the Silverado is one of its glaring weak points. The large swaths of hard plastic diminish the overall quality and the design feels dated when compared to the RAM or F-150.

Once you’ve experienced both from the inside, the differences between the RAM 1500 and Silverado become clear. The former’s refinement makes it not just a strong choice compared to the Silverado but makes a strong case for itself as the best half-ton pickup on the market.

Trims and Features – Are Laundry Lists Even This Long?

As the modern American prestige vehicle, today’s pickups rival the likes of Porsche in their distance between a spartan base models and fully loaded examples. Starting from bare bones work trucks, all manner of luxury amenities can be added across half a dozen trim levels culminating in vehicles that truly rival their luxury counterparts.

Silverado – $28,600 – $58,795

2021 Chevrolet Silverado - chevrolet.com
2021 Chevrolet Silverado - chevrolet.com

The base Work Truck trim comes standard with a 7-inch touchscreen and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the top trim High Country sports options like heated front seats, navigation, wireless charging, and leather upholstery. In between you’ll find features like LED headlights, remote start, bed lights, an 8.0-inch touchscreen, and cruise control.

RAM 1500 – $32,245 – $56,250 (with the TRX starting at $70,095)

2021 RAM 1500 - ramtrucks.com
2021 RAM 1500 - ramtrucks.com

The RAM’s Tradesman trim offers a rather puny five-inch touchscreen with FCA’s Uconnect system and Bluetooth. Four-wheel drive can be added at a cost of $3,500. The fully loaded Limited model features an upgraded air-suspension, wireless charging and safety features like blind spot monitoring. Other options along the way up the trim ladder include adaptive cruise control and parking assist, an 8.4-inch or 12-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, heated and ventilated front seats, and a 19-speaker Harmon Kardon premium stereo. The beefy TRX comes with a Hellcat supercharged V8.

Conclusions – Bringing Your A-Game

2021 Chevrolet Silverado - chevrolet.com

2021 Chevrolet Silverado – chevrolet.com  |  Shop new Chevrolet Silverado 1500 on Carsforsale.com

When you’re aiming to dethrone the king, you best not miss. The 2021 RAM 1500 improves on an already stellar truck from last year with features like a 360° camera view, trailer reverse steering, and the 702hp TRX model. GM saw fit to port their multifunction tailgate over to the 2021 Silverado from the Sierra and moved safety tech features like automatic emergency braking and forward collision warnings down to lower trim levels. And while those are decent improvements, it not nearly enough to knock the RAM off its pedestal.

2021 RAM 1500 - ramtrucks.com

2021 RAM 1500 – ramtrucks.com  |  Shop new RAM 1500 on Carsforsale.com

A top-notch interior, a bevy of great engine options, and a seemingly inexhaustible list of features and options put the RAM 1500 in the rarified air of best half-ton trucks on the market. And that’s before you consider the totally bananas TRX.

WINNER: 2021 RAM 1500

2021 RAM 1500 - ramtrucks.com

2021 RAM 1500 – ramtrucks.com  |  Shop new RAM 1500 on Carsforsale.com

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Chris Kaiser
Chris Kaiser

Chris’ greatest passions include topiary, spelunking, and pushing aging compact cars well past 200,000 miles on cross-country road trips. His taste in cars runs from the classic and esoteric to the deeply practical with an abiding affection for VW Things, old Studebakers, and all things hybrid-crossover.

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    Anonymous November 6, 2020

    Awesome. Thank you for the information.

    1. Carsforsale.com Team
      Carsforsale.com Team November 6, 2020

      Of course, thanks for reading our blog!

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