From the off, let’s get one thing clear – we think the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado interiors are just fine if these two and the Ford F-150 were the only three light-duty pickups on market. If that were the case, then no one would have any issues with the the cabins from the two GM trucks. The problems begin to arise when comparing the Sierra and Silverado interiors against the latest Ram 1500, specifically the mid- to high-range trim levels. Do that, and two issues arise associated with design and materials.
Yes, the interiors of both trucks are highly functional, but they lack the “wow factor” of the Ram, specifically as it relates to the design of the center console and the integration of the center screen. Lacking the “wow factor” negatively impacts perceived quality. What’s more, the high-end trims (LTZ and High Country on Silverado, Denali on Sierra) don’t have the materials to go toe-to-toe with the the Ram truck. While the lower trims are fine, the higher trims don’t offer the same doses of contrast stitching, colors, or high-quality touch points to keep pace. Now, there are those who think that, just because these are trucks, they don’t need to have high-quality interiors. But that kind of thinking does not line up with the market, since today’s pickup trucks are not only purchased for work. Instead, they are as much personal vehicles for the owner and the family as they are workhorses.
Looking ahead, GM will give the Sierra and Silverado interior a refresh in the near future, but how did we get to this point in the first place?
Some publications have stated that GM rushed the new Silverado and Sierra to coincide with the release date of the all-new Ram 1500 for the 2019 model year. These publications have suggested that interiors of the new GM trucks suffered as a result of that push.
We’re here to tell you that this notion is nonsense.
For starters, it doesn’t actually take much longer to develop a vehicle with a high-quality interior than to create one with a sub-par cabin, especially not for vehicles for first-world markets like the Sierra and Silverado. That rings even more true when said vehicles are developed over the course of several years.
No, the real reason the new Sierra and Silverado interior is less impressive than that of the Ram 1500 is quite simple: GM thought it would be fine.
To fully understand the mindset of the project managers, we must go back in time a few years to when the new T1 Silverado and Sierra were being planned. At that time, the F-150 was already out, with Ford’s big selling point being the switch to an aluminum body. Meanwhile, the interior of the aluminum-bodied F-150 wasn’t substantially better than that of the last-generation, K2 Silverado and Sierra, which were selling rather well and were liked in the marketplace.
So, GM’s thinking was along these lines: why make substantial changes to a cabin that already competes very favorably against the competition, while also being highly functional? The logical decision is to not mess with the formula too much, playing it safe to improve on the basics that would be liked by everyone – more space, more modern technologies (keyless entry, push-button start, new infotainment systems), more active safety tech (Rear Camera Mirror), improved in-cabin storage (cubbies in the rear seat-backs) along with great levels of comfort (like rear-seat A/C vents).
Who would possibly complain about all these improvements? No one. In fact, these features were already desired on the K2 trucks. GM added them, but played it safe when it comes to the overall interior cockpit design, staying close to the successful formula set out by the K2 models.
But what GM didn’t take into account was that the Ram would totally up-end the game. By not playing it safe to its prior formula, the 2019 Ram 1500 delivered eye candy galore via an all-new cockpit design, huge screens, a rotary shift mechanism, a panoramic sunroof, and some really impressive attention to details via striking colors, trim bits, and materials, particularly on higher-end trim levels. All these things pushed the “wow factor” – the thing that enables the very first impression when someone climbs inside of a vehicle – to new heights for the Ram. Meanwhile, the Silverado and Sierra remained roughly the same as the last-gen K2 models from a “wow factor” standpoint.
Had the Silverado and Sierra been the only trucks on the market today, they would have been perfect matches against the F-150 (which itself will be completely overhauled for the 2021 model year with an all-new exterior and interior). But Ram truly kicked things up
a notch to a whole new level, while GM played it safe. Hence, a refresh to the Sierra and Silverado interior is coming, which has been described to GM Authority as being “top notch” by those familiar with the updates. Here’s to hoping that will truly be the case.