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A blue 2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali is on a bridge.

How the GMC Sierra 2500HD Compares to the Ram 2500HD

For a lot of truck-lovers, the GMC Sierra 2500HD holds a special place in their hearts—it’s a hard-working pickup that can handle about anything and can be packed with all the features you could want. Although Ram’s heavy-duty trucks have not always stacked up against the competition, the redesigned 2500HD definitely looks impressive. Looking at the 2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD vs 2019 Ram 2500HD shows that Ram has a lot to be happy about.

In terms of pure power, Ram has been bragging about their new Cummins Turbo Diesel engine that breaks the 1,000 lb-ft threshold for torque, but that is only available on the 3500HD, not the 2500HD. The GMC Sierra 2500HD’s best engine beats what Ram has to offer, though the Ram 2500HD’s starting engine is a bit more powerful. To be fair, the Ram 2500HD can tow more weight behind it than the GMC offering and has a higher maximum payload, but these differences don’t matter if you don’t take advantage of them.

While bigger numbers look great and are certainly flashy, it does ask the question: will anyone really notice the difference when driving them? If you need to haul weight in an amount that falls within that difference, then this could be a big deal. But most drivers really won’t take advantage of a relatively small difference in terms of maximum payload. The interior and safety features of the 2019 Ram 2500HD look great, but word is that most of them are available options that will quickly drive the price tag up.

The Difference in Horsepower and Torque

When comparing heavy-duty pickup trucks, a lot of people start with the numbers—cold, quantitative comparisons that are simple and straightforward. We may as well start at the same place because it is easy to see how these two trucks stack up in this department. The engines in trucks designed to do a lot of work are essential since it impacts the work they can do.

The 2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD has two engines available: starting with a Vortec 6.0L V8 engine that offers up to 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque. Then there is an available Duramax 6.6L Turbo-Diesel V8 engine that provides up to 445 hp and 910 lb-ft of torque for truly remarkable performance.

By comparison, the 2019 Ram 2500HD also has two engines available with fairly similar stats on them. The starting engine is a 6.4L HEMI V8 that provides up to 410 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. Then there is an available 6.7L Cummins Turbo Diesel engine that offers up to 370 hp and 850 lb-ft of torque.

So the best choice really comes down to whether you want the starting engine or if you plan on springing for an upgrade. The Ram’s starting engine is more powerful than the one that comes with the GMC Sierra, by about 50 hp and 50 lb-ft of torque. However, if you go for the upgraded engines, then the Sierra’s offering is significantly more powerful, with about 75 hp and 60 lb-ft of torque to offer beyond what the Ram can do.

You might have seen mention of Ram’s heavy-duty pickups having an engine with 1,000 lb-ft of torque—that’s true, but that engine is only available on the all-new Ram 3500HD.

Maximum Towing and Payload

You would expect the all-new design of the 2019 Ram 2500HD to be able to haul more weight than the 2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD, and you would be correct. The maximum towing capacity of the Sierra 2500HD is 14,500 lbs, and its maximum payload is up to 3,276 lbs. On the other hand, the Ram 2500HD can pull up to 21,560 lbs behind it and has a maximum payload of up to 4,050 lbs.

To be fair, the numbers for the 2019 Ram 2500HD are impressive and beat out what the GMC Sierra 2500HD can do—as you would expect since the Ram is an all-new model designed to beat out the current generation of competitors. But let’s be honest about this: that difference in payload is pretty slim less than 800 lbs. So unless you are actually going to take advantage of that margin, then you won’t see any real difference there.

Similarly, the difference in towing capacity certainly seems impressive on paper. In reality, however, unless you’re towing something that weighs more than 15,000 lbs but less than 20,000 lbs you won’t really see that difference. If that applies to you, then the 2019 Ram 2500HD is definitely going to be attractive, but otherwise, the numbers are just minor bragging points—what matters is the application.

Interior Options and Technology

The brown and tan interior of the 2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD Denali is shown. Check out interior features when comparing the 2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD vs 2019 Ram 2500HD.

Since the 2019 Ram 2500HD is an all-new model designed to beat what’s already on the market, I expect it to have some great features inside the cabin. And in that department, I’m not disappointed. It’s important to remember that these options are going to be expensive.

The 2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD has some great features at the highest trim level, the Denali, including an 8-inch touchscreen display with Navigation, a Bose sound system, and wireless charging area. The leather-appointed seat, steering wheel, and other interior details all look great, plus there is an 8-inch driver information display. The GMC Sierra 2500HD also has a tilt and telescopic steering column for better overall customization and adjustment while driving.

On the other hand, the 2019 Ram 2500HD has some next-generation features, which you would expect, on its highest trim level: the Limited. This includes options for a 12-inch touchscreen display, a Harmon Kardon sound system, and wireless charging area. There are leather and wood details all throughout the cabin and Ram has finally joined its competitors with active noise cancellation for a better overall experience. Word is there’s no telescopic function on the steering wheel, which seems like a strange oversight considering all its other impressive features.

Safety Features

In terms of safety, these are both impressive pickup trucks with a solid suite of included and available modern safety features. The biggest negative going around about the Ram’s features is that too many of them are optional, even at high trim levels, rather than becoming standard.

The 2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD, at the Denali level, includes front and rear park assist, a forward collision alert, and lane departure warning. It has an auto-dimming rearview mirror, multiple airbags, and a teen driver system designed to help teach young drivers safe habits. Many of the alerts on the Sierra 2500HD include a visual indicator as well as an audio warning.

The 2019 Ram 2500HD has an impressive array of available safety features including a forward collision warning with active braking, an adaptive forward lighting system, and blind spot monitoring. You can also get front and rear park assist, adaptive cruise control, and it has numerous airbags in case of a collision. These are great features overall; but considering the high price of the better trim levels, I expect more of them to be included.

My Conclusion?

In terms of raw performance numbers, particularly towing capacity and payload, the 2019 Ram 2500HD certainly can’t be beat. However, you have to consider whether your needs for your pickup will actually fall within those ranges, or if the difference would be pointless. While the starting engine in the Ram is more powerful, the 2019 GMC Sierra 2500HD has a better high-end engine.

It’s still a bit early to go point-by-point between trim levels and compare what they have to offer between these two trucks. Based on what we know so far, however, it seems like the Sierra will have better standard features, even if there are some impressive available options with the Ram 2500HD. The 2019 Ram 2500HD will be rolling out soon, at which point we’ll have a better picture overall; but for now, I’d probably stick with GMC.

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