by Adam Lynton
Those who loved the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 will be happy to know that the 2019 Sierra 1500 Limited is essentially a carryover of that model. It's cheaper than the all-new Sierra 1500 that came to the US this year and is available only in extended-wheelbase double-cab form and in two trim levels only. Now rumbling beneath the hood of the Sierra 1500 Limited is a sole powertrain option, a 5.3-liter V8 engine that powers either the standard rear-wheel or available all-wheel-drivetrain with outputs of 355 horsepower and 383 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission services both models. The Sierra 1500 Limited carries an appeal in that it's moderately comfortable, capable, and without the overabundant option checkboxes typical of the class - but those can be pitfalls too, with the only slightly more expensive all-new Sierra 1500 and its core class rivals, including the Toyota Tundra and RAM 1500, offering more overall modernity and refinement. Some would argue that there's no real reason to opt for the Limited over the latest iteration, while others might say the Limited represents true bang for your buck.
The Sierra 1500 Limited is fundamentally a carryover model of the 2018 model year Sierra 1500. Its configurations have been reduced to just two trims, to offer buyers the option of the base-spec or top-spec model of the old version at a lower price than previous years, and in comparison to the all-new Sierra 1500.
See trim levels and configurations:
When driving the Sierra 1500 Limited, it actually feels more car-like than it does a truck, at least on straight roads. With its powerful engine countering its heft, it moves about the streets with conviction and competence. It's only around corners and sharp bends where it exhibits body roll like one would expect from a full-size truck, along with slow steering. It doesn't maintain its composure very well at all and inspires very little driver confidence; mid-corner bumps easily unsettle the chassis and taking turns or initiating passing maneuvers on the highway call for a lot of care. Nevertheless, the Sierra 1500 Limited feels more composed and gathered than the Chevrolet Silverado, even considering that more prominent road imperfections and typical undulations do resonate throughout the cabin. The brakes are at least a little more confidence-inspiring as they're capable and easy to modulate around town; the stopping distance from a higher speed isn't exceptional, but the truck remains stable and exhibits no notable nose-dive. The Sierra 1500 Limited carries decent approach and departure angles, a relatively high ground clearance, and has available 4WD - making it a fairly capable off-roader.
The Sierra 1500 Limited is a simple truck offering suitable everyday usability, moderate work-horse capability, and reasonable ride and passenger comfort. The simplification of its trims and body configurations for this year may also appeal to some, but to others, the restriction of options may turn them away. Of course, being a runout of the 2018 year model Sierra 1500, the Limited won't have the latest design, technology, and safety equipment that'll be found in the all-new model and its redesigned rivals. It does, nevertheless, have an appealingly rugged aesthetic, an intuitive and highly functional infotainment system, and a reasonably comfortable cabin - along with an affordable price tag. It's an ideal vehicle for someone who will be using it as a daily workhorse or as a fleet buy, as it is capable, frugal, and affordable. It's not ideal for a family though, as its utter lack of active safety and advanced driver-assist features, mediocre safety ratings, and questionable handling dynamics all don't do much for driver confidence, let alone safety.
The Tundra has occupied the segment for a venerable amount of time, but over the years it's become clear that it hasn't managed to keep up with the Joneses in many regards. In comparison with the Sierra, the Tundra delivers a rougher ride quality, has fewer base-level features, and lower gas mileage. The powertrain is more powerful than the Sierra's, which accords the Tundra with considerably greater capability in towing, 700 lbs more than the Sierra, but is significantly less fuel-efficient with EPA returns of 13/18/15 mpg. The Tundra didn't get great safety ratings but does come with more driver assists at the base level. However, with the Sierra 1500 Limited being a runout model, it's available only in one configuration - there are numerous body styles, trim levels, and greater feature availability within the Tundra lineup. There's a whole lot more value in the Sierra's standard infotainment setup, however, and standard features in general, the Tundra may suite those who require more of the capability and ruggedness of a pure work-horse truck while the Sierra offers more civility on the road.
The base model of the 2019 Ram 1500 is around $3,000 more affordable than the Sierra, while the top-spec model is around $7,000 more expensive. However, it's equipped with a more powerful and more refined 5.7-liter V8 engine that's more fuel-efficient too, returning 17/23/19 mpg on the EPA cycles. The Ram rides better than the Sierra, too; it's more comfortable and quieter and has a more spacious cabin on top of that, thanks to its ten-inch longer wheelbase. While the Ram is capped with a max payload capacity of 1,820 lbs, about 300 lbs less than the Sierra's, it boasts the segment's best maximum tow capacity of 11,430 lbs which is 2,000 lbs on the Sierra. The Ram is also rated as the safer vehicle by both main authorities and comes with more driver assists. There are a lot more body styles, trim levels, and feature options available for the Ram 1500 as well, which may prove favorable to some, but even in base guise the Ram out-specs and surpasses the Sierra in feature quality and value.