Cars get you places, SUVs too, but when there’s work to be done nothing tops a pickup truck. Among that unruly crowd, the Americans reign supreme, though two — the Chevrolet Silverado and Ford F-150 take that competitive spirit to new heights.
Slow technological progress is one of the biggest criticisms to the American truck lineup, regardless of manufacturer. Still, durability and the ability to do hard labor are the more important factors here.
Staying on that vein, there weren’t many major updates to either the 2012 Ford F-150 or 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Both offer customers a no-frills V8 with plenty of power for hauling heavy equipment, which is what we’ll compare here.
|Vehicle||2012 Ford F-150||Advantage||2012 Chevy Silverado 1500|
|Engine||Gas/Ethanol V8, 5.0L||F-150||Gas/Ethanol V8, 4.8L|
|Horsepower||360 @ 5500 rpm||F-150||302 @ 5600 rpm|
|Max. Torque||380 @ 4250 rpm||F-150||305 @ 4600 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||15 MPG city / 21 MPG hwy||F-150||14 MPG city / 19 MPG hwy|
|Standard Towing Capacity||7,900 lbs||Silverado||8,900 lbs|
|Max Payload||1,180 lbs||F-150||1,714 lbs|
|Head Room (Regular Cab)||41"||Silverado||41.5"|
|Shoulder Room (Regular Cab)||66.6"||F-150||65.2"|
|Leg Room (Regular Cab)||44.1"||F-150||41.3"|
Still, there are differences worth discussing, especially because most truck buyers hang on to their vehicles for a long time, so market re-entry means a litany of updates, regardless of year-over-year change, or a lack thereof.
As for those few updates, Chevrolet gave the popular base V8 LS and LT models a new front fascia and grille, updated the navigation system and gave the stability control system a refresh by adding standard trailer sway control.
Ford also brought minor updates this year, which include new electronic locking rear axles that replace the previous limited slip option on many models including the 5.0-liter V8.
Power coming from that 5.0-liter Ford V8 is rated at 360 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque, capable of towing up to 11,300 pounds. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500’s 4.8-liter V8 only makes 302 hp and 305 lb-ft of torque and has a towing capacity of 8,900 pounds.
Even with the smaller engine, the base V8 Silverado gets poorer fuel economy than the F-150, claiming 14/19 mpg city/highway versus 15/21 respectively. That’s due in no small part to the F-150, and all Ford trucks, coming with a six-speed automatic transmission as standard equipment.
Chevrolet also offers a six-speed automatic, but only on the larger 5.3-liter V8, which delivers 315 hp and 335 lb-ft of torque at 4400 lbs, though a lower max tow rating of 9500 lbs. And of course, Chevy also offers the 6.2-liter V8 with 403 hp and 417 lb-ft of torque at 4300 rpm, plus a max tow rating of 10,600 lbs.
Standard equipment is sparse on both trucks, with 17-inch steel wheels on both and a standard AM/FM radio and CD player for the Chevrolet. Ford only offers an AM/FM radio, CDs cost extra.
There’s no doubt that the 2012 F-150 is a more functional truck from a technical standpoint, but the question becomes how much you really need. That’s because it’s also more expensive.
The 5.0-liter V8 F-150 with absolutely no nonsense-options starts at $24,300. A 2012 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 will drink a little more gas, tow a little less, offer a less spirited engine, and costs a little more at $26,545.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that Ford is moving quickly away from the V8 pickup truck in favor of its V6 EcoBoost with 365 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque and an 11,300 lb tow rating.
Chevrolet also offers a V6 engine for its truck, though they aren’t nearly as strong and will probably leave most customers wanting more.