Chevrolet Silverado vs. Ram 1500 Comparison

If money were no object, we would all own light-duty large pickup trucks. Few other vehicles on the road allow you to do so many different things at a moment's notice. Haul a load of mulch for your garden? Easy. Buy an entire bedroom set at an estate sale? No problem. Rent a travel trailer and tow it to a campsite? Yep.

Once you've decided that a full-size truck fits your lifestyle, you'll undoubtedly want to consider the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500, which offer ample utility and comfort in this class. They also come in an almost overwhelming number of configurations, but this 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 vs. 2021 Ram 1500 comparison should help you sort out the details that matter.

Price and Value

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country

You can buy a 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 in one of three cab styles. The regular cab is a throwback to earlier times when pickups were more about work than play: It has a single row of seating. The extended cab (known as Double Cab) has a compact rear seat and two forward-hinged rear doors. Finally, the crew cab has a full-size back seat with room for six-foot-tall adults and rear-facing car seats.

In addition, Chevy offers three cargo-bed lengths. The regular cab has the longest bed, while the extended cab and crew cab can have either a standard (medium) bed or a short bed. If you're buying a large light-duty pickup for family use, you'll probably prefer a crew cab with a short bed. However, trucks with longer cab/bed configurations require more attention when parking and maneuvering in tight spaces.

Chevy sells the Silverado 1500 in WT (Work Truck), Custom, Custom Trail Boss, LT, RST, LT Trail Boss, LTZ, and High Country trim levels. Most trims come in two-wheel-drive (rear-wheel-drive) and four-wheel-drive 4WD configurations. Pricing for 4WD varies by trim level.

Of all the engines available on the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado, the Duramax diesel 6-cylinder engine offers the best overall value in the eyes of our independent vehicle testing experts. It costs only $1,045 more than the 5.3-liter V8 that powers most Chevy Silverado 1500 pickups.

Consumers interested in access to connected services will find that most Silverado 1500 pickups include a 3-month trial subscription to Chevrolet's OnStar suite, which offers everything from automatic collision notification to a teen driver mode.

Chevy will provide one complimentary maintenance visit for the Silverado 1500, provided it occurs within 12 months of your purchase.

Configuring a 2021 Ram 1500 to meet your needs is slightly more straightforward. Ram no longer offers a regular-cab, long-bed configuration, so you need only select an extended cab (known as Quad Cab) or crew cab. In addition, there are two bed lengths: short (5 feet, 7 inches) and standard (6 feet, 4 inches).

The light-duty Ram pickup comes in Tradesman, Tradesman HFE (High Fuel Efficiency), Big Horn (sold as the Lone Star in Texas), Rebel, Laramie, Laramie Longhorn, Limited, and TRX trim levels. All 2021 Ram 1500 trims give you the choice of 2WD or 4WD, except the Tradesman HFE (2WD only) and TRX (4WD only).

Ram offers an assortment of V6 and V8 engines. The diesel V6 provides a solid blend of performance and efficiency, but it costs more than twice as much as Ram's gasoline-fueled 5.7-liter V8. So, unless lifetime fuel economy is a top priority, you may want the gas V8.

All 2021 Ram trucks come with a 1-year trial subscription to SiriusXM Guardian connected services. It includes remote access features, automatic collision notification, and rapid access to roadside help. There's also Wi-Fi, but you can only use 1 GB of data during the initial 3-month trial.

You can enroll in the Ram Care maintenance program on most versions of the 2021 Ram 1500. It provides complimentary oil changes and tire rotations for the first two years of ownership.

Advantage: Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Reliability and Quality

2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition

The Chevrolet Silverado ranked second among large light-duty pickups in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study but did not rank among the top three in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles (5 years or 100,000 miles with diesel engine)
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years or 60,000 miles (5 years or 100,000 miles with diesel engine)

The Ram 1500 ranked third among large light-duty pickups in the J.D. Power 2021 Vehicle Dependability Study but did not rank among the top three in the 2020 Initial Quality Study. The 2021 Ram 1500 comes with the following warranty and roadside assistance coverage:

  • Standard warranty: 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty: 5 years or 60,000 miles (5 years or 100,000 miles with diesel engine)
  • Roadside assistance: 5 years or 60,000 miles (5 years or 100,000 miles with diesel engine)

Advantage: Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Performance and Efficiency

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country

Selecting an engine is one of the most challenging parts of configuring a large pickup truck. For example, the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has a vast engine lineup that includes everything from a turbocharged gasoline 4-cylinder and a naturally aspirated V6 to a turbocharged diesel inline 6-cylinder and a pair of naturally aspirated V8 engines. The engines range in output from 277 to 420 horsepower and 305 to 460 pound-feet of torque.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), fuel economy in combined city and highway driving ranges from 15 mpg to 27 mpg. Chevrolet's diesel 6-cylinder is by far the most fuel-efficient option in the Silverado 1500 lineup.

Four-wheel-drive trucks almost always consume more fuel than 2WD trucks. In addition, the Silverado's Trail Boss trims have all-terrain tires and a suspension lift that is great for off-roading but a drag on fuel economy compared to trucks with all-season tires and the standard suspension setup. Keep in mind that the EPA rates trucks with the standard rear axle ratio. If you add a tow package, your truck will usually have a shorter (numerically higher) axle ratio, which lowers real-world fuel economy.

Consumers shopping for a 2021 Ram 1500 can select from a gasoline V6 with Ram's eTorque mild hybrid technology, a naturally aspirated gasoline V8 that comes with or without the eTorque system, and a turbocharged diesel V6. There's also a potent, supercharged V8 available only on the extreme-performance Ram 1500 TRX.

Output on the regular Ram 1500 engines ranges from 260 to 395 hp and 269 to 480 pound-feet of torque. The TRX pumps out 720 hp and 650 pound-feet of torque.

Depending on the configuration, fuel economy ranges from 12 mpg to 26 mpg on most 2021 Ram 1500 pickups. The diesel consumes the least fuel, while the TRX gulps down the most and has a taste for premium octane. These numbers are for Rams with the standard axle ratio and all-season tires, except the TRX, which has all-terrain tires.

If you're trying to decide which version of the naturally aspirated 5.7-liter V8 to get, note that the eTorque mild hybrid system adds a full 2 mpg to the Ram 1500's combined fuel economy ratings. ETorque is a worthwhile option unless you find its regenerative braking and start/stop system bothersome during your test drive. And in 2021, Ram isn't charging extra for it.

Advantage: Neither

Chevy offers more choices, including a value-priced diesel, but Ram's 5.7-liter V8 is awfully good, too. My advice? Pick a few favorites and schedule some test drives.

Tow Ratings and Trailering Equipment

If you're planning to tow with the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, you'll see the highest ratings with the 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V8 engines. With either V8, a Silverado 1500 crew cab is rated to tow over 11,000 pounds (11,900 with the 6.2-liter) when equipped with Chevy's Max Trailering package.

Consumers who tow a smaller trailer regularly will probably find more value in the diesel engine. It gives the Silverado a 9,000-pound tow rating and will return better mileage while towing.

Much the same is true on the 2021 Ram 1500. Again, you'll see the highest tow ratings with the 5.7-liter V8. Properly equipped Ram 1500 crew cabs with this engine have tow ratings as high as 11,540 pounds. Meanwhile, Ram crew cabs with the diesel V6 are rated to tow nearly 10,000 pounds and will squeeze out more mpg while pulling your trailer.

Note that the hugely powerful Ram 1500 TRX is not your best bet for towing. With its specialized off-road hardware and hefty curb weight, this truck has just an 8,100-pound tow rating.

You won't need to go farther than the factory options list to find an integrated trailer brake controller for either the Chevy or Ram. And both trucks offer rear camera angles specific to hooking up a trailer.

The Ram 1500 also offers an autonomous steering function that simplifies the task of backing up with a trailer. Further, Ram's optional air suspension allows you to lower the truck's ride height while hitching up your trailer.

Chevy has added the Advanced Trailering package to the Silverado 1500's options sheet for 2021, and it includes a trailer length indicator to help with lane changes and a jack-knife alert feature. But, as of June 2021, this option package wasn't available to order.

Advantage: Ram 1500 

Safety and Driving Assistance

2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition

Most advanced driving-assistance aids ADAS cost extra on the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, but Chevy recently expanded availability down to the Work Truck trim level. In addition, a new option package for 2021 includes forward-collision warnings (FCW) with pedestrian detection and automatic emergency braking (AEB). A blind-spot monitoring (BSM) system is offered separately, though as of June 2021, it wasn't available to order.

Blind-spot warning is standard on the LTZ and High Country trim levels, but FCW and AEB remain optional. They're part of a package that bundles lane-departure warnings (LDW), lane-keeping assistance (LKA), adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beam headlights.

In National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) testing, the 2021 Silverado 1500 earned four stars out of five for overall crash safety. In testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the Chevy earned a Good rating for side-impact protection. It also rated Good for small-overlap, frontal-offset crash safety on the driver side, but only Marginal on the passenger side.

You can have FCW, AEB, LDW, LKA, and BSM on all versions of the 2021 Ram 1500, save for the Tradesman HFE. Even on the high trims, you will have to pay extra for them, though. Farther up the line, you'll have access to adaptive cruise control and automatic high beams.

In crash tests conducted by the NHTSA, the Ram 1500 earned a 5-star rating for overall crash protection. In IIHS testing, the Ram earned Good ratings in both the small-overlap frontal offset and side-impact crash tests.

Advantage: Ram 1500

Infotainment and Technology

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 High Country

The standard infotainment interface in the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 will likely meet your basic requirements. It includes a 7-inch touchscreen display with standard Android Auto and Apple CarPlay smartphone integration. Higher trims upgrade to an 8-inch touchscreen interface and offer rear-seat USB ports. A factory navigation system is available with the premium interface.

The entry-level infotainment interface in the 2021 Ram 1500 is a basic 5-inch display with Bluetooth capability. If you want Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, you'll want to step up to at least the Big Horn so you can upgrade to Ram's 8.4-inch touchscreen interface. Other add-ons include rear-seat USB ports, a premium 12.0-inch touchscreen interface, and factory navigation.

Advantage: Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Comfort and Utility

2021 Ram 1500 Limited Longhorn 10th Anniversary Edition

For buyers who prioritize cargo-bed capacity, the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 has the edge. The short bed offers 62.9 cubic feet versus 53.9 cubic feet for the short-bed Ram 1500. If you opt for the standard (medium-length) bed on a crew cab or extended cab, the Chevy provides 71.7 cubic feet versus the Ram's 61.5 cubic feet.

Chevrolet has added a reconfigurable tailgate option for 2021. Called Multi-Flex, it allows you to transform the tailgate to provide step-up access to the cargo bed, a bed extender so you can haul longer items even if your truck has a short bed, and even a mobile tabletop so you can use a laptop at a job site or campground.

If comfort is a priority, the 2021 Ram 1500 is unmatched in the large truck class. Its seats ranked first in the mass-market truck/van category in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study. The Chevy Silverado 1500 ranked third in this category.

In addition, the Ram 1500 surpasses all other full-size trucks when it comes to ride quality. It remains the only large pickup with coil springs (rather than leaf springs) for its rear suspension. The result is a highway ride so composed that you might forget for a moment that you're piloting a vehicle of such significant proportions.

Advantage: Neither. Do you need to carry a lot of gear in the bed? Get the Silverado. Do your family members have high expectations for comfort? Then you'll want the Ram 1500.