|23/33||Diesel Fuel Economy (city/hwy mpg)||20/27|
|43.03||Front Headroom (in)||40.8|
Comparing the 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 vs 2021 Ford F-150 makes for a very interesting run down. The F-150 has a litany of new technologies and firsts, while the Silverado takes the tried and true truck formula to its limits. Both of these approaches are compelling, but for many customers, the old-fashioned and tried-and-true nature of the Silverado will win out. In terms of their powertrains, the F-150 now has a litany of small-displacement turbocharged options while retaining the 5.0 Coyote V8. Meanwhile, the Silverado continues to have the best V8 engines available in any truck while maintaining a turbo-diesel offering.
The F-150 really has become a technological showcase, while the Silverado remains a stalwart truck emphasizing dependability and known-quantity engineering. On paper, the F-150 does have some advantages, but in the real world, the Silverado is not to be trifled with. Plus, with features like the Multi-Flex Tailgate, the 2021 Chevy Silverado has a few tricks up its sleeve to outshine the F-150 when it comes down to it.
Under the hood lies a large difference between the Ford and Chevy full-size truck offerings. Overall, the Chevy Silverado has simple and straightforward engine options, while the F-150’s are increasingly technically complex, with layers of overlapping systems. There are simple engines in the F-150’s five engine lineup, namely the 3.3 Liter base V6 and the Coyote V8. But the only engines capable of competing with their Chevy counterparts are those that use large amounts of turbocharging, hybridization, or both. While these systems do dramatically enhance engine performance, the complexity and cost they also attach to the engine are not something to be taken lightly. On the other hand, the simple naturally aspirated engines Ford does offer do not compare particularly well.
The 3.3 Liter base V6 and the Coyote V8 both lack displacement compared to their Chevrolet counterparts and thus lack a noticeable amount of torque. The 4.3 Liter V6 and the legendary Chevy small block engines simply outperform their naturally aspirated Ford counterparts. The 4.3 Liter V6 is the ultimate iteration of an engine design that goes back almost half a century but is updated with the latest materials and streamlined technology. It is fully aluminum, equipped with active fuel management, and easily capable of producing 305 pound-feet of torque.
The engines that almost define high-performance Chevrolets are, of course, the 5.3 Liter and 6.2 Liter V8s, in all their old-school pushrod glory. These engines themselves are available with active fuel management systems, which can selectively turn off cylinders when they aren’t needed, and then instantly turn them back on when power is required. This improves fuel efficiency markedly, especially on the highway. At the same time, the Silverado’s V8 engines produce the substantial torque and horsepower one would expect from them, with up to 420 horsepower delivered from the 6.2 Liter V8.
With all the old-fashioned but not outdated equipment hanging around the 2021 Silverado, one might be surprised to hear that Chevy did not neglect upcoming technology. In a surprising twist, one of the engines available in the Silverado is a turbocharged inline-four, generating 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque. All of this is coaxed out of 2.7 Liters by dual overhead camshafts, continuously variable valve timing, variable valve lift, and Active Fuel Management. It’s a serious bit of kit that does not even have a direct counterpart in the F-150 engine lineup. Small and lightweight for a truck engine, this little monster is more than capable of providing all the power you need in a Silverado.
Another engine option the Silverado and F-150 both provide is a 3.0 Liter diesel. Diesel engines are important to a truck’s lineup as they are frequently used by farmhands whose other equipment is also diesel-powered. Not to mention diesel engines offer much lower running costs than gasoline engines when running over long distances. The 3.0 Liter Powerstroke Diesel engine offered in the F-150 is a decent competitor to its Silverado counterpart, but it still falls behind.
The Silverado offers a 3.0 Liter inline-six turbo diesel capable of around 33 miles per gallon on the highway, according to the EPA. This torquey powerplant offers a staggering 460 pound-feet of pulling power while at the same time remaining very affordable. That combination of the low purchase price, low running cost, and high performance showcase why diesel engines make a lot of sense for a significant chunk of the truck market. The F-150 3.0 Liter Power Stroke turbo diesel engine produces 250 horsepower, but it only gets an EPA-estimated 27 miles per gallon on the highway.
On the inside, both the Silverado and F-150 share many similar available features. Both the Silverado and F-150 feature the latest infotainment systems from each brand. These systems include features such as vehicle-based apps, voice recognition, and seamless integration with your phone. That integration is made possible through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which both of these trucks support.
Both the F-150 and Silverado have interiors that facilitate a network of exterior cameras that dramatically aid in trailer maneuvering. The Silverado also has systems such as jackknife alert and a trailer angle indicator to help the driver keep their trailer completely under control.
One of the best available features of the Silverado is its ability to produce a 4G LTE hotspot. This allows the truck to provide internet access virtually anywhere, any time, reliably, and with high data speeds. This feature makes life considerably easier, especially when away from the city.
Both trucks offer extensive comfort features like heated and ventilated front seats, and the Silverado also has available heated rear seats. Wireless charging of devices is also available in both vehicles, which pairs very well with the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. This is because one can simply hop into the truck and set the phone on the charging pad. After that, the phone begins to charge wirelessly, and music along with other functions such as phone calls can be accessed hands-free. No need to mess with a tangle of cables or to plug anything in.
More connected and convenient than ever before, both the Silverado and F-150 offer incredible interior experiences that would have been pure fantasy just twenty years ago. Even lower-end models provide ride comfort only cars and crossovers used to be able to provide.
Even the F-150, with its focus on new methodology and technology, has opted to maintain the same basic pickup truck layout that the Silverado still maintains. The ladder frame design used by pickups is tougher than the unibody type of construction that underpins modern cars and crossovers. This is thanks to the ladder frame part of the truck being solely dedicated to supporting the rest of the vehicle structurally, without the need to also handle body panels themselves. Loads such as those in the bed or those towed behind the vehicle can be directed straight into the frame itself rather than through the thin stamped metal or composites that make up a unibody shell.
While both the Silverado 1500 and F-150 use the same type of underlying backbone, the Silverado’s suspension has something the F-150’s does not. The Silverado’s High Country trim levels come equipped with adaptive dampers, similar technology to that which was pioneered in road cars by the Corvette and is now used in applications from Porsche and Ferrari. Unlike those higher-priced systems meant for lesser loads, however, the Silverado’s Adaptive Ride Control system uses valves placed in the shocks themselves to alter the characteristics of the dampers instead of magnetorheological fluid. The system is still capable of providing incredible ride comfort over many different types of terrains by returning the shocks hundreds of times every second.
While the F-150 applies layers of technology to its drivetrain and powertrain components, the Silverado instead builds streamlined and simple tech into areas that can be easily improved. Adaptive Ride Control is one example of that. The overarching difference between the Silverado 1500 and the F-150 remains the difference between taking advantage of technology and being taken advantage of by technology.