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2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4WD Crew Cab High Country Turbo-Diesel.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Shopping for a fuel-efficient truck? Among full-sized options, the Ford F-150 has been Canada’s best-selling truck for 55 years straight. Not far behind is the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Arch enemies for decades, the rivalry keeps intensifying.

For 2021, the F-150 gets a new hybrid powertrain, dubbed PowerBoost by Ford – it’s the only full-hybrid truck currently on the market, which is capable of traveling short distances on electric power alone — while the Silverado adds a turbo-diesel engine to the mix. But which is better – a hybrid or a diesel? Here’s how both stack up, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 turbo-diesel against the Ford F-150 PowerBoost hybrid.

2021 Ford F-150 Hybrid.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Looks

When it comes to looks, it’s a tie. Both trucks are big, brawny and impossible to miss. Not as menacing or aggressive as the RAM 1500, they’re pleasant and tasteful in appearance. One design detail worth noting is the power retractable side steps on both trucks, which provide a much-needed boost into the cabin. Ford’s running boards are longer, extending past the rear doors, making it easier to access the box, too. They cost $1,300; the Silverado’s side assist steps are $1,140.

But really, the design of both vehicles takes a back seat to other features, such as technology, innovation, smart work solutions and towing/payload capabilities.

Interior

The Silverado boasts a spacious, comfortable and upscale interior with a large display screen.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The Ford F-150 edges out the Silverado on the inside with unique features such as a mini makeshift work station and lockable storage under the seats.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

Both trucks are impressive inside – spacious, comfortable and upscale. Both have large centre touchscreens, dual glove boxes, big grab handles on the A-pillars, and multiple storage compartments, including a centre console box that can accommodate a tablet or small laptop.

But Ford edges out the Silverado with unique features such as a mini makeshift work station. Press a button and the beefy gear shifter folds flat. Then, lift and lower the top portion of the centre armrest over the gear shifter and cupholders, and voilà. There’s a flat surface for working on your laptop or grabbing lunch on the go.

Other cool features in the F-150 include lockable storage under the rear seats, a large panoramic roof that extends over the rear and front seats, and a new on-board electric generator. The Pro Power Onboard generator comes in three power ratings: 2.0 kilowatts, 2.4 kilowatts, and 7.2 kilowatts for the hybrid powertrain. It can generate up to 7,200 watts with outlets in the side of the box and in the cab that can power everything from heavy-duty tools to small kitchen appliances.

Performance

At the heart of Ford’s PowerBoost system is 3.5-litre turbocharged V-6 engine mated to an electric motor, which delivers 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque, making it the most powerful F-150 in the family. It can run on electric power part- or full-time. The system self-charges by using regenerative braking to capture lost energy to charge the battery. There’s no need to plug it in. The hybrid reduces carbon dioxide emissions by 19 per cent while maintaining a maximum towing capacity of 5,772 kilograms and a payload capacity of approximately 830 kilograms. On the road, the F-150 is powerful and soaks up bumps and potholes nicely. The transition from electric to gas engine is seamless too. Ford’s hybrid powertrain ranges from $2,200 to $5,750, depending on the trim. On my Lariat tester, it cost an extra $4,850.

The Silverado is powered by a Duramax 3.0-litre turbo-diesel inline six-cylinder engine, which delivers 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. It can tow up to 4,309 kilograms and has a payload capacity of about 935 kilograms. The Silverado is composed, the steering is responsive and the diesel engine is smooth and fairy quiet — a big improvement over diesel engines of old. The turbo-diesel engine costs $3,245.

But it’s not just about the performance; it’s also about fuel economy. According to Natural Resources Canada, the F-150 four-wheel-drive hybrid averages 9.8 litres per 100 kilometres in the city and 9.7 on the highway. The Silverado’s turbo-diesel rates 10.6 litres per 100 kilometres in city driving and 9.2 on the highway.

In real-world tests, I averaged 9.9 litres per 100 kilometres in the Silverado, driving more than 650 clicks – impressive for a full-size four-wheel-drive truck. Unfortunately, the F-150 hybrid didn’t fare as well. After driving nearly 400 kilometres, I averaged 12.7 litres per 100 kilometres. Even more disappointing – a meagre 22.2 kilometres of the 391.5 kilometres driven was on electric power alone.

Technology

The F-150 comes loaded with technology, including Trailer Reverse Guidance and Pro Trailer Backup Assist as well as Active Park Assist 2.0.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The Silverado 1500 comes with 15 cameras for improved visibility.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

There’s no shortage of technology in either truck. Both have Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and wireless charging. The F-150 has Trailer Reverse Guidance and Pro Trailer Backup Assist as well as Active Park Assist 2.0, which is handy for helping manoeuvre this big beast. Silverado adds new trailer technology, too, including an upgraded system with 15 cameras that allow you to see behind and even inside your trailer.

Cargo

Accessing the Silverado's cargo bed is easier thanks to a new multi-flex tailgate.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The F-150 has a built-in tailgate step with a grab handle.Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

The Silverado’s cargo bed volume is 1,781 litres on my tester. And accessing the bed is easier thanks to a new multi-flex tailgate, which can be configured six ways. Corner steps carved in the rear bumper simplify the task of stepping inside the box, which also has several tie-down points. A hard-folding tonneau cover keeps items secure, dry and hidden. It costs $1,425.

The F-150′s cargo bed volume is 1,495 litres. The F-150 has a built-in tailgate step with a grab handle. Etched inside the tailgate is a ruler with imperial and metric markings. There are also two recesses for C-clamps to secure items to the tailgate as well as two new tie-down loops that act as bottle openers.

The verdict

Both trucks are excellent – powerful, capable and upscale for work or play. But if you’re focused on fuel economy, the Silverado turbo-diesel is the way to go.

Tech specs

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

2021 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 turbo-diesel
  • Base price/as tested: $67,498; $81,828 (plus destination charge of $1,900)
  • Engine: 3.0-litre turbo-diesel inline six with 277 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque
  • Transmission/drive: 10-speed automatic/four-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 kilometres): 10.6 city/9.2 highway
  • Alternatives: GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, Jeep Gladiator, Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra, Honda Ridgeline

Petrina Gentile/The Globe and Mail

2021 Ford F-150 Lariat HEV
  • Base price/as tested: $61,845; $81,765 (plus destination and delivery fee of $1,950)
  • Engine: 3.5-litre PowerBoost full-hybrid turbocharged V6 with 430 horsepower and 570 lb-ft of torque
  • Transmission/drive: 10-speed automatic/four-wheel drive
  • Fuel economy (litres/100 kilometres): 9.8 city/9.7 highway
  • Alternatives: GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, Jeep Gladiator, Chevrolet Silverado, Toyota Tundra, Honda Ridgeline

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