Silver and Bronze: Two Redesigned Pickups Battle for Market Dominance
The Chevy Silverado and Dodge Ram are both all-new for the 2019 model year and enter one of the most competitive automotive markets in the world. In 2018, in the United States, close to 3 million light pickup trucks were sold.
Though Ford’s F-Series trucks are head and shoulders above the rest with 909,330 units sold, the Silverado and Ram are squarely in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. Chevy sold 585,581 trucks and Dodge sold 536,980. The big three American brands dominate the scene with these full-size trucks, with the mid-size Toyota Tacoma coming 4th with “only” 245,659 trucks sold.
Rising Tide: Luxurious Features and Strong Performance Equal Lofty Price Tags
The Ram Rebel and Silverado High Country offer some very nice looking interiors with lots of character.
The appeal of pickup trucks, apart from the less tangible style attributes, is pure practicality for work and play. Pickups can haul supplies with no sweat five days a week as needed, and then turn around for the weekend to tow horses and boats or carry dirt bikes and snowmobiles. While basic work trucks are still available at the bottom of the trim level ladder, the desire for lifestyle vehicles with modern technology and features has pushed prices into the stratosphere for some of these trucks...easily $70,000 or more. Though there are typically heavy discounts applied to the MSRP, this is still a considerable amount of money to the majority of Americans.
Despite the occasional (but vocal) calls for a more compact “wheelbarrow with an engine” model like the trucks of old, pickup buyers are speaking with their wallets and the message is clear. In fact, according to Kelley Blue Book, February 2019 new vehicle transaction prices were up nearly 3% over the previous year, and that jump has been “led by the strength in full-size pickup trucks.” KBB analyst Tim Fleming specifically alluded to the redesigned Silverado and Ram trucks as contributors in this trend. In fact, over the last decade, JD Power found that pickup truck sale prices have risen an incredible 61 percent, versus just 28 percent for vehicles overall. It’s not just your imagination or misplaced nostalgia...these trucks have gotten really pricey.
It’s clear then that the data shows consumers are clearly willing to take out that big auto loan. And manufacturers are fiercely competing for that cash. New technology and novel features are regularly added to differentiate each model from the competition. There is probably no car segment with stronger brand loyalty than pickup truck buyers, so it’s not always easy to sway buyers or even find an unbiased comparison between the different options. However, that’s exactly what we aim to do here with these two trucks that are vying for the number two sales slot. Check out our (mostly!) objective comparison between these new pickups to see which one is right for you, or just to maybe learn something you didn’t know. There are literally dozens of different configurations for each of these trucks so our comparison chart below looks at a well-equipped mid-level trim for each model. The ultra-basic trims of these trucks start at $29,795 for the Silverado WT (Work Truck) and $31,795 for the Ram Tradesman, but things rack up real quick when you start ticking boxes to add options and packages. To make things even more complicated, there are dozens and dozens of configurations that will affect towing and payload (92 total for the Dodge Ram). We can’t delve into all that here, so check the manufacturers’ respective websites for full details.
2019 Chevy Silverado vs Dodge Ram Mid-Level Trim Specs Comparison
|Specification||2019 Chevy Silverado 1500 RST 4WD 5.3L V8 Crew Cab 6’7” Box||2019 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie 4WD 5.7L V8 Crew Cab 6’4” Box
|Horsepower + Engine
||355 hp, 5.3L V8 VVT
||395 hp, 5.7L V8 HEMI eTorque
||8-speed automatic (8HP75)
||228.9”x 82.1”x 77.7”
||11,120 - 11,250 lbs
||1,680 - 1,780 lbs
||18/22/16 MPG (Comb/Hwy/City)
||19/22/17 MPG (Comb/Hwy/City)
|Fuel Tank Capacity
||23 gallons, 33 gallons (optional)
|Available Configurations (all trims)
||Regular Cab with 8’2” box
Double Cab with 6’7” box
Crew Cab with 6’7” or 5’10” box
|Quad Cab with 6’4” box
Crew Cab with 6’4” or 5’7” box
2019 Chevy Silverado vs 2019 Dodge Ram Exterior
The boxy and brutish look of the old Silverado has been significantly updated, with notable style updates including a distinct front fascia, smoother wheel arches, and an overall sleeker design. In appearance, the outgoing model looked about as aerodynamic as the broad side of a barn. The redesigned truck, on the other hand, stands out with a more swept-back look and modern lines. The prong-like headlights and double bar across the grille leave no doubt in the viewer’s mind as to what type of truck they’re looking at.
The Dodge Ram was also in need of significant changes, but it could be argued that the new model has more style in common with their predecessors than the Silverado. The crosspiece on the grille is no more, and the headlights have been greatly refreshed, but the same overall personality from previous generations remains steadfast. There are several new grille options, including a full billet-style and a one that features a bisecting double bar, similar to Chevy except that it does not connect in the middle. The most noticeable grille is that of the Ram Rebel. Looking menacing in all black, there’s a distinct swoop up as the bottom edge of the grille appears to be pulled up and over the large “RAM” logo in the center. It’s not for everyone, but it certainly stands out and adds a lot of rugged character to the off-road trim.
Every truck has a nifty bed-related feature that they like to tout, including Ford’s pop-out tailgate step and Chevy’s bed-extender. But particularly nifty are the Honda Ridgeline’s in-bed trunk and Dodge’s optional Ram Boxes, both of which are weather-proof and lockable. Though this will slightly reduce the usable in-bed area of the Ram, it’s still a popular add-on that gives the Dodge just a bit more cargo flexibility. If box length is most important to you, the standard bed of the Silverado offers a 3” advantage over the Ram, and there’s even a massive 8’2” box available with the regular cab, which Dodge does not offer. Chevy also offers their exclusive power-up/down tailgate to make loading just a bit easier. Finally, the Silverado boasts 12 tie-downs, which is advertised as being three times more than any competitor.
2019 Chevy Silverado vs 2019 Dodge Ram Interior
The Ram's optional 12-inch vertical touchscreen stands out compared to its competitors' offerings.
Even GM detractors will have to concede some credit to Chevy for their efforts towards the revised interior, as the higher level rich brown and black two-tone cabin is certainly an improvement over previous years. With an all-black interior, however, the odd panel fitment and cluttered look of the dashboard stand out a lot more. Many reviewers are also quick to criticize the subpar quality of the interior materials that GM is often known for. Some consumers will be willing to overlook this, especially if their primary purpose for the truck is as a work truck. However, others will argue that there is at least a certain amount of luxury that is to be expected for a vehicle this expensive.
The Ram’s interior is all new and adds a massive 12” touch screen. While this seems more like a marketing tool than a practical way to use an interface while driving, there are at least physical controls for all major functions (such as audio and climate). This leads to a much sleeker looking dashboard when stacked up against the Chevy. The Silverado still offers the Chevy MyLink 8” touchscreen, which should be plenty big for all of your infotainment needs.
Both trucks offer seating for up to six total people in a 3+3 setup, though many will opt for the 5-passenger configurations.
Both of these trucks can be dressed up to the nines if you add enough luxury packages and options. It all comes down to each driver’s tastes, but the efforts that Dodge has put into the new Ram’s interior have certainly not gone unnoticed.
2019 Chevy Silverado vs 2019 Dodge Ram Towing and Performance
When it comes to pickup truck performance, buyers are typically much less concerned with 0-60 times and more interested in towing and payload capabilities. The Silverado offers a litany of towing assistance features, such as Hitch Guidance with Hitch View, electric parking brake hookup assist, integrated trailer brake controller, and in-vehicle Advanced Trailering System. There’s a lot of technology designed to aid with safety, like Trailer Sway Control, Hill Start Assist, and auto grade braking.
The Ram offers similar features, typically by different names, but also boasts higher towing capability (when properly equipped)...12,750 lbs vs the Silverado’s 12,200 lbs. If it’s payload your after, however, the Chevy edges out the Dodge with 2,500 lbs vs 2,320 lbs. These are pretty close overall, and the huge number of configurations means that you’re likely to find the average numbers between these two trucks very similar. However, neither holds a candle to the F-150’s max numbers of 13,200 lbs and 3,270 lbs respectively.
All of the V6 engines that Dodge is using for 2019 Rams actually use the eTorque battery hybrid system, a technology that is now used in the Jeep Wrangler as well. It’s also available on the Hemi V8, and while it doesn’t offer massive MPG benefits, it’s enough to edge the Ram to be named the most efficient truck in its class. Though it’s considered a mild hybrid system, Dodge doesn’t seem to like using the “H-word”, so we’ll just call it “eTorque.”
Despite some GM fans decrying Ford’s EcoBoost four-cylinder, the Silverado now has one of its own, a 2.7 liter dual-volute turbocharged motor that features some pretty nifty technology. It boasts better torque and city MPG than the 4.3 liter V6 it is replacing as standard on LT and RST trims. The powerband means that it has more horsepower and torque than Ford or Dodge’s V6 offerings, and you’ll feel that power more quickly. It seems like a fine replacement for the old V6, even if many drivers will want to opt for the V8. There are 6-speed, 8-speed, and 10-speed automatic transmissions available, depending on your engine choice.
For V8s, Chevy will give you the 5.3 liter EcoTec3, with or without DFM. Or, you can opt for the massive 6.2 liter Ecotec3 that will give you 420 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. Dodge naturally prides themselves in their HEMI engines. The 5.7-liter engine on tap can be had with or without eTorque, and all engines are paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission.
A 3.0-liter diesel option is confirmed to be on the way for the Silverado, while the Ram does not have a diesel engine slated as of yet (both trucks have diesel options for the 2500 and 3500 variants).
Off-Road Trim Variants: The Rebel vs The Trail Boss
The Ram Rebel and Silverado Trail Boss offer some modest off-road outfitting, but not enough to match Ford's F-150 Raptor.
Though the Dodge Ram Rebel and Chevy Silverado Trail Boss give increased off-roading capability, neither are as beefed-up as Ford’s F-150 Raptor. You can get closer to that with Chevy’s compact Colorado ZR2 Bison, but its bigger brother doesn’t come outfitted so ruggedly.
If you’re deciding between the Rebel and Trail Boss, serious off-roaders may be swayed towards the Chevy. It gets a 2-inch lift, Rancho shocks, extra skid plates, off-road tires, and improved approach angle. You’ll also look the part with some equipment from the Z71 off-road package.
The Ram Rebel gets Bilstein shocks that are a bit better for on-road comfort, and you can also get the optional air suspension to further customize the way the truck drives. The off-road tires will also help out, but the approach angle of 23.1 degrees can’t hold a candle to the Trail Boss’s 28.7 degrees. In general, cross-shoppers will want to select the Rebel if they’d like a bit more luxury in their off-road trim, and the Trail Boss if they want just a bit more trail-blazing capability. For the most hardcore rock-hoppers, however, the choice is clear...the F-150 Raptor is still the king of the hill.
If you’re a die-hard Ford truck loyalist who would normally turn up their nose at either of these trucks, let’s just say this: The Dodge Ram has made more progress with their 2019 redesign than any other pickup we can think of. It’s worth a good hard look as a competitor now, even if we couldn’t say that for the previous generation. As for the Chevy, it’s also been thoroughly modernized with tons of features and is as extremely capable as you would expect. It has to be, in order to compete in this cutthroat market. But it doesn’t quite match the new Ram or the F-150 in terms of features and comfort. What it comes down to is the primary purposes of your pickup and which trim levels you're looking at. From there, it's about how much you’re willing to sacrifice in terms of luxury vs power vs price. As with any vehicle, the compromise has to come from somewhere.
Sources: JD Power, MotorTrend, Kelley Blue Book, TFL Truck
Image Credit: Ram Trucks | FCA | Chevrolet