If you know anything about trucks, you likely know practically everything about the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150 because they’re two of the best-selling vehicles in North America, hell, the world.
Fresh off a complete redesign for 2019, the Silverado is fresher than its arch nemesis by an entire presidential term. Remember, the F-150 was last totally overhauled in 2015 when it gained an all-aluminum body and bed. But newer doesn’t necessarily mean better.
The goal of this comparison is to find out which of these rigs has an edge or to discover if they’ve battled each other to a stalemate. We compared them in several important ways, evaluating things like real-world fuel economy, on-road performance both loaded and unloaded, plus we explored features and amenities. Has Chevrolet built a better full-size truck of have the folks in Dearborn managed to outfox them?
Closely Matched Opponents
Ensuring a fair fight, our competitors are as equally matched as we could get. Most importantly, both are powered by downsized, turbocharged, gasoline engines displacing an identical 2.7-liters. The Silverado features a brand-new, long-stroke inline-four while the F-150 brandishes a familiar EcoBoost V6.
The Chevy arrived in midrange LT trim with four-wheel drive, an extended-cab body and a 6.5-foot bed (technically 79.44 inches, but who’s counting?). Ford provided us with a mainstream XLT model also fitted with four-wheel drive, but prioritizing passenger comfort over payload capability, it featured a larger crew-cab body and a 5.5-foot cargo box.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Chevrolet Silverado Review – VIDEO
For the most part, these trucks stacked up well — neither were overly fancy and both offered similar features, though pricing is one place where they diverged slightly. Including destination, the Chevy checked out at $49,365. As for the Ford, it was worth $54,850. That was a difference of nearly $5,500, hardly chump-change. The F-150’s crew-cab body tacked a couple grand onto the sticker, plus there was a $995 upcharge for EcoBoost over the base, naturally aspirated engine.
Equal Lung Capacity
The F-150 in this test features a familiar and smooth-running 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6. Brandishing port and direct injection, an ultra-durable compacted graphite iron block, piston-cooling jets, a variable displacement oil pump and loads of other technology it punches well above its weight class, delivering an impressive 325 horsepower with a walloping 400 pound-feet of torque. Making the most of those kibbles and bits, it’s matched exclusively to a 10-speed automatic transmission.
Looking at the rear-end, our F-150 has an electronically locking differential with a 3.55 axle ratio. As for efficiency, the EPA says this rig is good for 19 miles per gallon around town, 24 on the highway and 21 mpg combined. Helping inflate those numbers, the engine also features automatic stop-start, which kills combustion when the truck isn’t moving. And all this high-tech goodness runs just fine on regular-grade gasoline.
Obviously, the Chevy in this shootout is down two cylinders compared to the Ford, but the displacement of each truck’s powerplant is the same. Making up lost ground, GM engineers threw every technology they had at the Silverado’s engine to make it one of the most cutting-edge four-bangers available today.
It features cylinder deactivation, variable valve lift, direct fuel injection, and a quick-spooling dual-volute turbocharger. There was also an electric water pump and active thermal management, which warms certain parts of the engine up first for improved efficiency. The block and head are cast of aluminum, there are piston-cooling jets and a variable-displacement oil pump. Of course, the connecting rods and crankshaft are forged.
Likely helping generate a skosh more low-end torque, this mighty four-cylinder also featured a lengthy 102-millimeter stroke. That’s a whisker more than four inches! Engines with lengthy crankshaft throws like this one often have more internal friction because of greater piston side-loading. Reducing this issue, GM engineers cleverly offset the crankshaft from centerline slightly.
The result of all that technology is 310 horsepower and 348 pound-feet of torque, a little less of each than the F-150. This 2.7 was matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission and an automatically locking 3.42 rear-end. Expect 19 miles per gallon around town, 22 on interstate drives and 20 MPG combined with this combo. Just like the Ford, there it has automatic stop-start and runs happily on 87-octane fuel.
The Chevy may be down slightly down on power, torque, and gears, but it still has some important advantages. For instance, this Silverado can haul more weight, up to 1,893 pounds. The F-150 is only rated at 1,690, however, Ford does offer an optional payload package that boosts that figure to 1,950 pounds.
One ace up the Silverado’s sleeve is cargo volume. Its new “Durabed” offers far more storage space than other trucks. Engineers pushed the side walls out and made other changes to increase overall volume. The one on our test truck offered 72 cubic feet of space. Models fitted with the shorter 5.5-foot bed still offers 63, which is far more than the F-150’s 52.8 cubes. The box also has a high-strength steel floor and 12 fixed tie-down points.
Focus on the Features
Focusing our attention inward, you probably won’t be surprised to learn these two trucks have a lot more in common than just engine displacement. Both feature advanced infotainment systems with 8-inch touchscreens, they’ve got blind-spot monitoring, power-sliding rear windows, cargo-box lighting, power outlets, spray-in bedliners, both four- and seven-pin connectors plus integrated trailer brake controllers, there are 18-inch aluminum wheels, running boards, tilt-and-telescoping steering columns, plus much more.
Setting the Silverado apart, it has a power-lowering tailgate, leather seating surfaces, dual-zone climate control, and keyless entry.
As for the F-150, it counters with things like adjustable pedals, a HUGE twin-panel moonroof, and Pro Trailer Backup Assist. But it also has an old-fashioned metal key, unacceptable at 55 grand.
Neither of these trucks are going to win any awards for their interiors. The new Ram 1500 has each one beat in this department. Both cabins are made largely of hard plastic, but the Chevy’s is particularly disappointing since it’s brand new. The climate-control assembly is creaky and there are sharp mold part-lines on the door handle, door trim and steering wheel.
The Silverado does have a buckety sort of bench seat with a flip-up center console for six-person hauling, which is nice. But behind the wheel, I didn’t fit very well. I felt too low, the interior too wide. Plus, compared to the F-150, its seats are hard as slate and flatter than a bowling lane.
Since the Chevy here only has an extended-cab body, it’s not as spacious as the crew-cab Ford. But the good news is it’s still quite roomy and six-footers should have no trouble being comfortable for hours at a stretch.
The first thing I noticed about sitting in the Ford is just how much better the seats were. Plush but supportive, they proved to be just about perfect, for my body at least.
As for the crew-cab body, it offers miles of legroom, plus the floor is basically flat, which makes it easy to slide cargo into the truck. But no, the F-150’s cabin isn’t perfect, either. There’s plenty of low-rent plastic and questionable elements here and there, but overall it does feel a touch nicer than the Silverado’s.
Now, to make this comparison more worthwhile, we wanted to include some numbers, things like zero-to-60 performance and real-world fuel-economy. Accordingly, here’s an explanation of our methodology. If you don’t care, skip ahead to the next section,
For our estimated zero-to-60 times we clocked these trucks on the same day, on the same section of road, with the same driver. We put them in sport mode, left traction control on, brake-torqued them and took off.
SEE ALSO: Ford F-150 Power Stroke Review – VIDEO
For the loaded zero-to-60 times, we added about 1,000 pounds of ballast to the beds. In this case, five flathead V8 engine blocks. These lumps of iron weigh around 190 pounds each, which equates to 950 in total. Two passengers on board pushed things well past the half-ton mark. For reference, 1,000 pounds of cargo uses up about 53 percent of the Chevy’s rated-hauling capacity and roughly 59 percent of the Ford’s.
Next, we took each truck on a 100-mile fuel-economy loop at the same time in the same conditions. Before setting out, we filled the gas tanks and reset the trip computers. This route included country two-lane driving and time on the highway, though we also threw in urban, dirt-roads and a bit of idling as well. Halfway through, we switched drivers and headed back, filling up at the same gas station again.
Putting these trucks in motion revealed their respective strengths and weaknesses. They way they feel on the road is surprisingly different.
Going into this comparison I didn’t have high hopes for the Silverado. Two-point-seven liters is huge for a four-cylinder and at that displacement, I figured its engine would vibrate like a cement mixer and sound like an overworked bulldozer. But I was totally wrong.
The Chevy’s turbo-four is silky smooth, quiet and far more potent than ever imagined. No, it doesn’t respond with quite the same immediacy as the Ford, taking a second or two to catch its breath, but it still hustles this truck with ease.
Our testing revealed this engine can push the Silverado from zero to 60 in about 7.9 seconds, a more-than-respectable performance. After we tossed half a ton in the bed that time grew to around 9.2, an increase of 1.3 seconds.
Speaking of loads, when hauling freight, this Silverado’s normally starchy ride settles down beautifully. That added mass really smothers the harshness.
Unfortunately, empty or laden, this Chevy’s eight-speed transmission is not particularly well sorted. It feels busy, like it’s always doing something. This gearbox also seems indecisive. Up or down it just doesn’t change ratios as quickly as the Ford’s 10-speed. Also, shift quality proved to be a major concern.
On more than one occasion during the week-long loan, I experienced hammering upshifts, gearchanges so harsh they sent shockwaves through the truck’s body. In one instance, it even threw my noggin forward and slammed it back into the headrest. For a brief second, I thought I’d been rear-ended. When these horrifying upshifts occurred, I wasn’t doing anything unusual. They all took place in normal driving with between one-third to one-half throttle.
Out and about, the Chevy generally feels livelier than the Ford, if a 5,100-pound pickup could ever be sporty. Its ride is firmer and steering a bit sharper. It also seems to have less body roll in turns.
On our fuel-economy loop, the Silverado clocked 102.5 miles. At the gas station – using the same pump as before – we topped it up with 5.243 gallons of fuel. Doing the math, that resulted in 19.55 miles per gallon. In comparison, the truck’s trip computer said it averaged 20.5 MPG. Either way, that’s right in line with its 20 mile-per-gallon combined rating.
Climbing behind the Ford’s wheel, the first thing I noticed about the F-150 is how much softer and gentler it felt than the Silverado. Its steering ratio seemed slower and it had a bit more body roll while negotiating turns. The ride is noticeably more compliant as well.
Another benefit to the Ford, its EcoBoost V6 has torque everywhere in the rev range. It pulls like a freight train from idle to redline. This makes the F-150 noticeably more responsive at all speeds than the Silverado. This was reflected in its zero-to-60 performance. Unloaded, we clocked it at around 6.7 seconds. It’s the same story when loaded with half a ton of scrap metal. That time only increased by 1 second.
SEE ALSO: 2019 Ram 1500 eTorque Review – VIDEO
Not surprisingly the soft Ford felt even squishier when loaded, its nose seeming to point higher in the air than the Chevy’s when equally burdened. The F-150’s brakes definitely aren’t as confidence inspiring as the Silverado’s, which has a much firmer pedal, though it is uncomfortably high relative to the accelerator causing ankle strain during long trips.
The F-150’s 10-speed transmission is also pretty much unflappable. It upshifts seamlessly and drops down as many ratios as you need in just about the blink of an eye, with none of the Chevy’s bewilderment. The only complaint is that occasionally you’ll feel it downshifting while rolling to a stop.
Finally, we come to our fuel-economy results. Back at the gas station this Ford registered 101.3 miles and drank 4.855 gallons of petroleum distillates. On paper, that works out to 20.87 miles per gallon, damn close to what the computer claimed at 20.9 MPG and, more importantly, to its EPA combined rating of 21.
As for efficiency, I’m calling it a wash. On different days, with different drivers it could have easily gone the other way. The Ford was only 1.3 miles per gallon ahead of the Chevy, which is not that big a difference.
The Verdict: 209 Ford F-150 vs Chevrolet Silverado
Recapping things, the Silverado’s valiant four-cylinder engine is praiseworthy, it handles loads with ease, offers surprising dynamics and has the most versatile bed in the business. As for the F-150, that EcoBoost V6’s performance is astounding, its transmission is on point, the seats and cabin comfort are stellar and it offers a decently smooth ride.
But now for the downsides. Chevy’s interior needs work, its ride is a bit harsh when empty, the transmission absolutely needs improvement, its front seats ain’t great and the overall performance is a hair off the pace set by Ford. As for the F-150, its interior isn’t much better, it lacks keyless entry and push-button start, has a squishy-feeling brake pedal and dull steering.
At this point, you can probably guess which truck impressed us more. In this comparison test at least, with these two trucks and their equally sized engines, we’re giving the win to the Ford, an outstanding performance for a significantly older product.
Chevrolet Silverado LT
- Engine: 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder
- Output: 310 horsepower, 348 pound-feet of torque
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- U.S. Fuel Economy (MPG): 19 city, 22 highway, 20 combined
- CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 12.5 city, 10.8 highway, 11.7 combined
- U.S. As-Tested Price: $49,365, including $1,495 for delivery
- CAN Estimated Price: $57,730, including $1,895 for delivery
- Engine: 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V6
- Output: 325 horsepower, 400 pound-feet of torque
- Transmission: 10-speed automatic
- U.S. Fuel Economy (MPG): 19 city, 24 highway, 21 combined
- CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 12.7 city, 9.8 highway, 11.4 combined
- U.S. As-Tested Price: $54,850, including $1,595 for delivery
- CAN Estimated Price: $60,000 including $1,900 for delivery
Check out more comparison tests