Here’s something that’s not a news flash for most: if you’re a Chevy, Ford, or Dodge Ram enthusiast, probably nothing new in 2019 is going to change your mind. There won’t be any brand-flipper surprises here. However, when it comes to full-sized trucks, the ones we Americans use most often to haul our toys around, there are some startling changes this year.
When you look at all three brands, which truck comes out on top? Here are some quick comparisons and opinions, about everything from engines to interiors and price.
Base price to top tier
When it comes to cost, these trucks are pretty evenly matched. Base models for Ford and Chevy start at around $28K while the Ram starts at a beefier $31,995. All three truck manufacturers top out at around an eye-watering $70,000 for their top of the line, best-appointed, crew cab, four-wheel drive models. Fortunately, there are models in between to satisfy nearly any desired luxury level. What do you get for all of that scratch though? Here are some key features.
Every one of these trucks went on a diet this year, but some slimmed down more than others. First of all, the Ford is the weight loss leader, sporting all-aluminum body panels. This change actually happened first in 2015 and numbers have been dropping since, leaving it 732 pounds lighter than its predecessor.
The Silverado comes in second, having lost 450 pounds from its previous iteration. Why not more? Chevy went with only some aluminum body parts, including the hood, doors, and tailgate. The Ram only sheds 225 pounds because the aluminum and tailgate are now aluminum.
Still, the weight loss is good for all of these trucks and pairs nicely with engine and transmission options.
Under the hood and beyond
We can talk all day about horsepower and torque, and even fuel economy, but when it comes down to it, these trucks only have a little overlap for engine choice.
The Chevy and Ram offer similar top-end V8 motors, putting up similar numbers of around 395 hp for the Dodge and 420 for the Silverado. The differences come when you start looking at secondary motor options. Both offer V6 options, but Chevy also offers a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, the most economical of the Chevy engine choices. Ford, on the other hand, weighs in with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo six cylinder that boasts 375 hp and 470 ft-lbs of torque. A high-output version of the engine, standard equipment on the Raptor and available as an option on other trucks offers 450 hp and 510 ft-lbs of torque.
Ford also offers two lower-end engines, a 3.3-liter V6, and a 2.7-liter turbocharged V6, which is the most economical engine in its class.
Transmissions vary from a six-speed transmission for the lower end engines in the Chevy lineup to the eight-speed gearboxes that comes with every Ram. Chevy and Ford also both offer 10-speed options in their high-end trucks, and the transmissions are nearly the same thanks to a Ford/GM partnership on the project. There are differences between the two though, which we’ll touch on in a moment.
The Ford interior stands up well even four years into its reign as king. With the latest version of Ford Sync and a previously well-appointed infotainment system, the rich detail and simple-to-operate controls set this one apart, but the other trucks are catching up. Still, the top-of-the line massaging front seats are hard to beat.
The Dodge and Chevy have improved their interiors for sure, upgrading to the latest tech, but unfortunately for the Silverado, the comfort and detail don’t match up with its competitors. While the fully loaded Ram looks like a Mercedes-inspired cockpit, the fit and finish of the Silverado are lacking. It seems like a throwback to the days of simpler trucks when they weren’t expected to transport families comfortably, only GM used cheaper and flimsier plastics than they did in their glory days.
And that’s the second biggest complaint we have about the Silverado. More on that in a moment. Think of it this way. These top line trucks around the $70,000 range mean testers want luxury, and anything less, like the Silverado offerings, just won’t do.
Even the most comfortable seats in the world can’t hide a poor suspension and rough ride quality. When it comes to towing with these trucks, those things really become evident, as does traveling off-road. Once on a rough Idaho road in a Chevy truck, OnStar interrupted our travel to ask if we’d been in an accident. Unfortunately, this year’s model doesn’t do much to counteract this issue. The 22-inch wheels, along with the other suspension and structural problems, make the Chevy a rough ride.
On the other hand, both the Ford and the Dodge, with or without a trailer behind them, perform well on and off the road. Suspension damping is good on both, although the Ram feels a little better, following in the footsteps of its well-behaved predecessor.
The same thing is true when it comes to the 10-speed transmission. Ford did a better job of dialing it in, as the Chevy sometimes seems to be searching for the right gear, and there’s even a hesitation in shifting from time to time while it makes up its mind. On the other hand, the Ford seems to get it right every time.
The only major complaint about the Dodge is really a pretty minor one for this class. While no one expects a sports car, the Ram is the slowest of the bunch, probably due in part to weight, and in part to the engine/transmission combo. Sometimes it feels a little sluggish off the line.
On the other hand, the Ford is the clear winner in this category with the high-output V6, the top pick of test drivers everywhere. Still, there’s some question about some of the middle of the line motors and how they’ll stack up, since we haven’t had a chance to test those yet. Ford seems to stand out in both the motor and transmission area, at least in performance off the line and overall torque.
Is there a clear winner here? If we had to rate overall experiences, the rankings would be Chevy last, Ford second, and Dodge at the top of the pack. However, break it out by category like performance and comfort, and those rankings could shift a bit. When it comes down to it, you’ll have to weigh all the factors based on what you plan to do with your truck.
Let’s face it. If you’re a die-hard Chevy fan, the Silverado, despite its weaknesses in comparison to the other two in this test, is still a solid truck, and you probably won’t be driving a Ford or a Dodge by next year anyway. The same if you’re loyal to Ford or Dodge.
Overall, there are some game changers here, but for 2019, these trucks are all fairly comparable. The final decision between them comes down to your taste and application.