Exploring General Motors Full-Size Trucks: Chevy vs. GMC, Overlanding Rigs, and Off-Road Ready Options
FULL-SIZE Friday Blog: Week 5
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It’s that time of the week again…Full Size Friday! In this week's edition we are going to introduce General Motors options of full size trucks that they are currently bringing to the market. Let's first start with explaining the difference between Chevrolet (or Chevy as I will refer to it as) and GMC. Both these trucks are built by their parent company of General Motors. Both trucks are going to be mechanically identical but that's where their similarities stop. Chevy is going to be the cheaper and more affordable version of the same truck compared to the GMC lineup. GMC is going to be the premium variant of the same truck but you are also going to pay for the premium. As far as a better option for offroad and overlanding use I wouldn't say there is a better option but more of what options make the truck comfortable for you and your family. Remember gentleman, a happy wife is a happy life!
General Motors (GM) has been around since 1908. In its early life GM acquired Buick Motor Company and then Oldsmobile. After running manufacturing on these vehicles for a few years GM would acquire five more auto manufactures by 1910. GM has turned these acquisitions into one hundred plus years of successful car and truck manufacturing.
Chevrolet (Chevy) Trucks
Now that we have our history lesson out of the way I would like to begin with talking about Chevy. These trucks have been around since the early 1930’s but became very popular in the 1970’s. Chevy has kept that indestructible attitude since the 70’s and has never looked back. When it comes to modern Chevy trucks there are going to be three options for the ultimate overlanding rig. I will start with the ½ ton or 1500. This truck is going to rival the Ford F-150 and RAM 1500. This Chevy’s payload is going to be 1,480-2300 lb and will be the perfect option for holding a GODZ MFG bed rack paired with a 23 Zero roof top tent. The Chevy 1500 will come with multiple options from the factory for off road ready use. The Z71 is going to be the base model offroad trim level with a decent price point starting around $50,000. New for model year 2023 is going to be the ZR2 in the Chevy 1500. Any of you Chevy guys know that the Chevy Colorado has had the ZR2 option for many years but this is big news for the full size market. The new Chevy 1500 ZR2 Bison is going to have many of the same options the Chevy Colorado has and will also have many aftermarket parts from American Expedition Vehicles (AEV). As far as motor options in the 1500 you have three, the 2.7L I4 turbo paired with a 8 speed transmission, the 5.3L V8 EcoTec3 paired with a 10 speed transmission, and last but not least is the 3.0L Duramax Diesel paired with a 10 speed transmission. Chevy has been behind the game for many years when it comes to factory off road ready trucks but I believe they may have made the ultimate 1500 with the new ZR2 paired with a Duramax Diesel.
Next I am going to jump up to the HD lineup for Chevy. The 2500 and 3500 are going to be very similar in payload and towing capacity as the Ford and RAM but Chevy is going to have one major difference. Chevy is the only company to offer a HD full size truck with an independent front suspension (IFS). This may not sound like much but for those of you that understand suspension then you know this is big. Solid front axles definitely have their place in the off road world. In many cases a solid front axle will give you more capability on the trail but comes at a cost when driving on pavement. IFS is far superior on the highway and will also ride much nicer. If anyone has driven a solid axle truck and then jumped into an IFS then you know what I mean. For those of you who do not have a reference when it comes to solid axle vs IFS imagine driving a tank and then jump in a Porsche 911 GT3 RS (the greatest engineered vehicle ever). Obviously this comparison might be a little bit of a stretch but you get my point. The rear end of the Chevy is going to be leaf springs just like the Ford, but they more than make up for it with the IFS when it comes to ride quality. The Chevy 2500 will be great for a GODZ MFG bed rack and will also be a great truck for the smaller truck bed slide in campers. The Chevy 3500 will also be a great option just like the Ford and RAM trucks for the larger truck bed campers and will be the truck of choice for swapping the truck bed out for a flat bed option. Chevy is going to offer two engine options in 2500 and 3500. Option one is a 6.6L V8 gas motor and the second option is going to be the bigger brother of the 3.0L Duramax Diesel in the Chevy 1500, the 6.6L Duramax Diesel paired with a 10 speed Allison Transmission. As far as interior on the Chevy HD goes compared to Ford and RAM it will be lacking in comforts and new technology. If interior is a big concern then GMC will be the best option and will lead us into the next truck.
As previously discussed GMC is going to be mechanically identical so I won’t touch on those facts again and will focus on the trim levels. In the 1500 line the comparison to the new Chevy ZR2 Bison will be the GMC AT4X. Both trucks are very similar in looks but there are definite differences. I recommend looking at both websites of the manufacturers and do your due diligence on the differences. It's hard to say that these two trucks would be competition for the Ford Raptor or RAM TRX but GM is definitely upping their game and trying to penetrate the off road market.
GMC has a definite advantage in the 2500 and 3500 market over Chevy. GMC AT4 is a factory ready off road truck. It's going to come from the factory with better suspension and off road wheels and tires. The tow hooks are going to be red color matched and will also offer a nicer interior. One point I forgot to mention in the Chevy trucks section is the Multipro Tailgate. Chevy and GMC both offer this truck with this tailgate option. This tailgate has many different functions and I recommend watching some videos on all the things this tailgate can do. I never knew that I needed a tailgate of a truck to do these things but hey if that’s a deal breaker for you then GM could be the truck of choice.
I could write about Chevy/GMC for pages and the differences but for the sake of the argument I recommend you do some research on the differences.
In the coming weeks we are going to start discussing all the accessories and aftermarket parts these trucks can handle.I look forward to the next topics and hope that the accessories blog will help you make decisions on your future build.