2018 Ford F-150 vs Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Some buyers are so loyal to an auto brand, absolutely married to Chevy or Ford or Ram, that they won't even consider buying another brand. Most of us, though, are more worried about getting the best vehicle we can get for our money--and that should be especially true for someone who is ready to invest in a full-size light-duty pickup. The two most popular brands, the 2018 Ford F-150 and the Chevrolet Silverado 1500, are likely at the top of your list, so let's put brand loyalty to one side and take a practical look at which one of these two truck giants is best.

2018 Ford F-150 vs Chevrolet Silverado 1500

Capability: Ford F-150

While buyers choose the truck they buy for many reasons, it's likely that the truck's ability to tow and haul is at the top of the list. Payload probably comes second to towing capacity for most buyers, but that doesn't mean that trucks should just ignore payload either. Honestly, the best truck has to balance both the ability to tow and the ability to haul fairly equally in order to be successful.

Both the Ford F-150 and the Chevy Silverado 1500 do that well. The Ford can haul as much as 3,270 pounds, which is a lot for a light-duty pickup truck. The best the Silverado can manage is 2,250 pounds, which is good, but not enough in this company. The Chevy Silverado 1500 comes closer when it comes to towing capacity, but the F-150 still comes out on top with a class-leading maximum of 13,200 pounds to the Chevy's 12,500 pounds.

The Ride & The Drive: Ford F-150

Ford's decision to swap out the heavy steel for military-grade aluminum in some areas of the F-150 is a big help at the gas pump, but it also benefits the ride and handling. Because the F-150 is lighter, the Ford is responsive and the ride is pretty smooth and composed. Even with big wheels and low-profile tires, the F-150 is better to drive and ride in than you might imagine.

Don't get us wrong--the Chevy Silverado 1500 certainly isn't bad to drive and to ride in. The Silverado 1500 is actually surprisingly maneuverable for a vehicle of such size. However, the 2018 version is still heavier than the F-150 and so still falls a little short of the overall experience delivered by the F-150. But Chevy is on the move--rumors suggest that the 2019 version of the Silverado 1500 will also be significantly lighter, so we're excited to see how that changes the driving experience.

Reliability: Chevy Silverado 1500

Many trucks of this size are used as work vehicles, and reliability is a serious concern. Often, reliability questions are tied less to the years and more to the miles--serious mileage will cause wear and tear on any vehicle no matter how rugged it is. In this area, the Silverado 1500 has a historical edge.

Although hard data obviously isn't available for the newest versions of these two, in the US News reliability study for the 2017 model year the Silverado 1500 gets 3.5 stars out of five, while the F-150 gets a three-star rating.

Fuel Economy: Ford F-150

Fuel economy isn't usually at the top of the list for truck buyers, since most people understand that the larger the vehicle the more fuel it will consume. However, those who use their trucks for both work and play often consider the price at the pump before they buy. With the 2.7-liter V-6 engine, rear-wheel drive and the 10-speed automatic transmission, the most frugal version of the 2018 Ford F-150 is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg in the city, 26 mpg on the highway, and 22 mpg combined. Those numbers beat out some SUVs and minivans, making it a viable option for families as well.

If you think the hybrid version of the Silverado 1500 will have that beat then think again. A base Silverado with the V-6 engine and eAssist only delivers 18 mpg in the city, 24 mpg on the highway, and 20 mpg combined.

Learn More about the Ford F-150

If you had any doubt about the wisdom of the Ford F-150 being the biggest-selling vehicle in North America, just take a look at one up close and give it a drive. A truck doesn't become this successful by accident, and the F-150 is every bit as good as its sales suggest it must be.