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The hottest new story in electric trucks may be the arrival of two cousins from GM: theand the . Those nameplates have huge followings that can move the American driving needle, alongside the Ford F-150 Lightning. The Sierra and Silverado are known for their similarity, but here’s a look at how their electric versions will be different.
The Silverado arrives first in the spring of 2023 as the WT or Work Truck edition, with the full-boat RST model coming in the fall of 2023. Many of the top features and specs I talk about will be on that truck. The GMC Sierra EV arrives in early 2024 as the high-end Denali Edition 1, though other trims will likely be announced closer to launch. That delay is less notable when you remember that the GMC division was first out with the Hummer EV.
While the underlying body shapes are very similar, the details laid over those lines make it easy to spot one from another. The face of the Sierra is dominated by a narrow, full-width horizontal light line, while the Sierra boasts a big brand plate where the grille used to be.
The body of the Sierra is more chiseled than the Silverado, which has smoother lines.
Both will offer a fixed panoramic glass roof and only come in Crew Cab editions, at least at first. Note that shortening or lengthening an electric truck is trickier than with a conventional truck, since it involves the huge central battery that forms the base of the vehicle.
Range and charging
Both trucks have a max range of 400 miles, as you might expect sharing the same. Both trucks support DC fast charging at up to a 350kW rate, which can add 100 miles in 10 minutes. That’s especially important for vehicles that may be used as work-site power banks, maybe too much so to make it all the way home without a quick charge.
This one’s interesting: At first, the top-trim Sierra was promising 90 more horsepower and 5 more pound-feet of torque than a top-trim Silverado, but in October, Chevy revised its specs to match those of the Sierra: a maximum of 754 hp and 785 lb-ft of torque. It can get either of these big boys to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds using a special power mode that Chevy calls WOW — Wide Open Watts — and that GMC simply refers to as Max Power Mode.
Both trucks can power your 120-volt AC gear in the field via built-in household outlets, or power at least part of your home if it’s properly wired for backup. In either case, the trucks’ max electrical output is 10.2 kilowatts. For reference, a typical household outlet is nominally rated at 1.8 kilowatts. Many EVs tout power-export ability, but a 400-mile full-size electric truck has a particularly large battery that makes the proposition more interesting.
There’s an interesting difference in how these trucks steer: Both have four-wheel steering, which radically reduces turning radius and makes a truck feel shorter, but the Sierra goes one step further with an exclusive Crab Walk mode, as seen on the Hummer EV. Crab Walk lets the truck scuttle in a diagonal line while pointing straight ahead. Cool, but four-wheel steering is the most important feature and both trucks offer that.
The Silverado will offer a max tow rating of 10,000 pounds in a properly specced trim, while the Sierra maxes out at 9,500 pounds, though I suspect that may change before launch. Chevrolet promises a follow-on version of the Silverado EV that will tow up to 20,000 pounds, eclipsing even the huge 14,000-pound rating of thethat is due in 2023 alongside the Silverado.
Each truck will offer a version of the Swiss army knife tailgates that are all the rage in pickups lately, serving as steps, work tables, bed fences and more.
More interesting is a new midgate that can take over part or all of the second row of the crew cab, turning it into temporary bed space.
This is a more elegant execution of an idea I checked out on the 2007 Cadillac EXT and Chevrolet Avalanche. GM’s “convert-a-cab” idea didn’t take off then, but that was a much clunkier execution and before “utility” had become the dominant kind of car among American buyers.
There’s a big difference between these two new trucks once you get behind the wheel. The Sierra has a 16.8-inch central screen in portrait mode and a smaller horizontal display in front of the driver as the instrument panel. Both are distinctly squared off and mounted in a way that says “tablet.”
But I prefer the Silverado’s dash with its more elegant, organically shaped screen arrangement: 17 inches in the center and 11 in front of the driver, but all in a horizontal layout that keeps everything at or above the line of the steering column for what I suspect will be easier glazing.
Each truck has a solid set of physical knobs and buttons for things that should always be controlled that way, unlike the overly screen-centric philosophy of Tesla.
Both trucks will offer GM’s excellent Super Cruise, with additional ability to adapt to the weight of what you’re towing. This is critical, as driver assists that are out of calibration can be worse than no assists at all. Also note that SuperCruise was recently expanded to work on 400,000 miles of roads in the US and Canada, a doubling of its previous applicability map.
Now that you think you know the lay of the land for full-size electric pickups, don’t forget that the Ram electric truck will debut at CES in January, and the Tesla Cybertruck is now promised to arrive later next year. Alongside the cult-classic Rivians, it’s a great time to be in the market for a truck — if you’re well-heeled and patient.