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Before I compare the 2021 Ford F350 vs 2019 Chevy HD 3500 let me admit, I am mainly a Ford guy. Now that I have that out of the way, I may be a Ford guy but I will try the other brands from time to time. A few years ago Anna told me it would be OK to buy a diesel truck but when it came down to it, I couldn’t bring myself to part with another $10k extra for the motor so I ended up trying a couple trucks before making the plunge.
2016 F150 Crew Cab w/ 3.5 EcoBoost
We purchased a 2016 F150 with the 3.5 EcoBoost to pull our 2016 Keystone Premier 30 RIPR travel trailer which we were purchasing. I am amazed at how well the EcoBoost did as far as pulling power but two things made us decide later to upgrade. First, the F150 did not feel as stable as we would have liked in higher winds and secondly, the small engine does not provide much in the way of engine braking. The great thing about the EcoBoost is it makes peak power at lower RPMs so the engine isn’t screaming going up long grades.
2018 F250 Lariat w/ 6.2 gas engine
In 2018, I purchased a Ford F250 Super Duty Lariat with the 6.2 gasser to upgrade from the F150 we were currently towing with. It was definitely more stable but I was not a fan of the motor cranking high RPM’s when going up the hills. I actually felt like the F150 made more power than the 6.2 gasser.
We had always wanted to take a trip to Colorado but didn’t want to listen to the motor screaming in the mountains so in mid 2019 I decided to take the plunge and purchased a 2019 Chevy 3500 High Country Dually with the 6.6 Duramax. Being my first diesel I was sold. Tons of power, low RPM’s going up the hills, and double digit fuel economy when towing. So why did I switch back to a Ford? Let’s do a side by side comparison then I’ll get into it.
2021 Ford F350 vs 2019 Chevy HD 3500
2019 Chevy Silverado 3500 HD High Country DRW 4×4
2021 Ford F350 Super Duty Lariat DRW 4×4
Engine: 6.6L Duramax Diesel
Power: 445 HP / 910 ft. lb. Torque
Trans: 6 speed Allison
Axle: 3.73 Limited Slip
Fuel Cap: 36 Gallons
Towing: 20,000 Conv.
Towing: 22,700 5th Wheel
Engine: 6.7 Powerstroke Diesel
Power: 475 HP / 1050 ft. lb. Torque
Trans: 10 speed Torqshift
Axle: 4.10 Limited Slip
Fuel Cap: 48 Gallons
Towing: 21,200 Conv.
Towing: 32,500 5th Wheel
Both of these trucks are beasts. The Duramax never missed a beat and had more than enough power to get the job done as does the Powerstroke.
The 2019 Silverado was still equipped with the 6 speed Allison transmission. Allison is very well respected and the only issue we had with ours was when we disconnected from our trailer. The truck would hit very hard when downshifting shortly after we had been towing. It was very noticeable and one time Anna thought we had been rear ended as we came up to a stop sign. I talked with our dealer and was told this was normal although I never could get used to it.
The Ford has the new 10 speed Torqshift transmission. This thing is smooth as it jumps up through the gears quickly and you can’t even tell its shifting above 3rd gear. So far no issues on the Ford.
It seems like the Allison does better at grade shifting to maintain speed when going downhill. During our trip to Colorado it pretty much held our speed going down grades pulling our 8,200 pound TT without any additional braking. I haven’t had the Ford out West yet, but it didn’t seem to do as well with the smaller hills in the Ozarks so I can’t imagine it will improve in the Rockies. I will provide updates as we continue to tow with the Ford.
Diesel Exhaust Fluid
Both trucks stored an adequate amount of fuel. Yes the Ford does hold 12 gallons more, but when we are towing we usually have to stop every 2 to 3 hours so that is not a deal breaker. The DEF on the other hand was not fun to fill on the Chevy.
The engineers decided to put the filler on the fire wall on the passenger side of the engine compartment. I guess they thought it a good idea to keep someone from accidentally putting DEF into the fuel tank. I was not a huge fan of dragging the hose across my truck when trying to fill up at a truck stop. The new Ford has it in with the fuel fill where it should be and Chevy has since corrected this issue and moved it to the fuel filler door also on the 2020 models.
I did notice that the Duramax seemed to drink more DEF than I expected. I knew I would take a hit on DEF consumption when towing but I was averaging about a gallon of DEF for each 300 miles of towing on our 4,300 mile trip in 2019. The Ford does much better as after two 20,000 miles I have filled the DEF up only a few times. Also, a regen on the Chevy is very noticeable with a change in the sound of the engine and the mileage would plummet down to about 7 mpg around town. The Ford is not as noticeable during regen other than you can definitely smell it when you exit the truck.
The Chevy did not have a DEF gauge but would provide a warning when it projected you had less 30% remaining. I believe they added a gauge to the Chevy in the 2020 model year. The Ford has a DEF gauge as well as an estimated miles to empty.
When it comes to fuel economy, the Chevy did better empty. I would see upwards of 21 mpg empty on the highway and we averaged 13.2 mpg overall on our trip to Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, and South Dakota this summer pulling our travel trailer. So far I haven’t seen better than 17.5 mpg empty on the Ford but I did manage 13.2 mpg on a 550 mile trip back from Arkansas pulling the travel trailer.
I attribute some of the difference because we went to a 4.10 axle ration from the 3.73 in the Chevy but I had hoped the Ford’s 10 speed transmission would mitigate that some. The Ford just hit 20,000 miles so I will see this summer if mileage improves now that it is broke in.
I went with the Chevy initially because I thought that the independent front suspension would give a better ride than the Ford’s solid front axle. I made this assumption and bought the Chevy without every test driving the Ford at the time. The Chevy did have moments where some bumps would jolt you enough to wish you could go back to a half ton. I do think that the Ford rides slightly better but Anna said it is significant so I will have to go with the bosses review.
This is one thing that is really noticeable between the two trucks. I do feel like the Ford needs more steering correction while pulling the TT whereas the Chevy was solid and just hold the wheel steady and she would drive straight as an arrow. The Chevy was equipped with digital steering which most people won’t appreciate unless you know it’s there. Mike Symons, global vehicle performance manager for GM trucks was interviewed about the system and below is an excerpt on how it works. You can read the full interview by clicking here.
“The system gets its data from multiple sensors in the truck, including wheel speeds and in the steering wheel, that sense if it’s being pulled over time in one direction or another. That data shows how much effort the driver is putting on the steering wheel and how fast or slow the truck is moving. The algorithms within the Digital Steering Assist make continuous changes accordingly so the driver isn’t constantly fighting with or needing to provide the same inputs into the steering wheel.“
The Chevy was equipped with a two tone brown leather interior that was just gorgeous. The fit and finish on the truck was good with no complaints on my end. The Ford interior is nice but not quite as nice as the Chevy.
Part of this is the fact the I am comparing a Lariat to a High Country which is not apples to apples. A Ford Platinum interior would be up there but it comes with quite a hefty price tag. As of the time of this article the pricing is comparable between a Ford F350 Platinum and the Chevy 3500 High Country.
I will say that the seating is more comfortable in the Ford. In 19,000 miles, the Chevy did not pick up any rattles in the interior but the Ford had already got a couple starting with just 4,500 miles on it.
Both trucks had seating for 5. Both had plenty of room for your rear passengers but the Ford has slightly more leg room so you should never have to shift your front seats forward to accommodate larger rear passengers. I do like the fact that rear passengers have two AC vents in the Ford where the Chevy did not.
Both trucks were equipped with a power slide rear window, rear window defrost, heated and cooled front seats, and remote start. Both trucks could be unlocked and started from an app on your phone but you have to pay to have the service in the Chevy through OnStar where it is included for free on the Ford. Ford also gives your 5 years of traffic and weather through Sirius XM but Chevy only came with a limited trial.
The Chevy is equipped with a Bose Audio system and the Ford has the B&O which replaced the Sony systems used in earlier years. I can’t say one is better that the other because they both had different areas where they shined. The Bose had the subwoofer mounted in the front center console and seemed to reproduce lower notes better than the B&O although you could not get the volume out of it like the B&O can. Overall the Bose system could go much louder while maintaining quality. Sound quality is good in both but I think the Bose has a slight edge in overall quality.
Both trucks have rear park assist and backup cameras. The Chevy also had front parking sensors to help you navigate around objects. The Ford lacks the sensors but does have the 360 degree cameras. I would like to see both on the truck as the camera doesn’t give you great depth perception and the sensors would just add the extra security when maneuvering in tight places.
The Ford has blind spot detection as well as cross traffic alert that will alert you if a vehicle is coming from either side as you back out of a parking space. The blind spot detection on the Ford also can be configured to extend back 33′ when you are pulling a travel trailer which is nice. I was disappointed that this wasn’t even an option on the 2019 Chevy. They did add these features in the 2020 Chevy model.
The Chevy has a Lane Departure Warning system that will vibrate the seat on either side if it detects you straying out of your lane. The Ford also has this but it signals a warning by a vibration in the steering wheel. I was eventually annoyed by this on both trucks and disabled the option.
The Chevy and Ford both have a forward collision warning but the Ford has it with emergency braking. The Chevy will warn you on the dashboard as well as a red light that will flash onto the windshield if it thinks a collision is eminent. One thing that annoyed me was that the Chevy was fooled randomly by parked cars along the street and a couple of times when the sun was on the horizon shinning directly in front of the truck. The Ford activated once as a bicyclist was coming down a side street to the right of me but did not get to the point of breaking the vehicle. Honestly, I am not a fan of emergency braking on a heavy duty truck as I am not sure how it will do with a 36′ travel trailer on the back.
When I purchased the Chevy I had every option available on the truck minus the LED bed lights. I was quite surprised at how few upper level options there were on a High Country HD vs what you would see available on the half tons. They did get the message and a lot more was added during the redesign in 2020 but so far I just haven’t gotten into the look of the new Chevy HD trucks.
I got the Lariat Ultimate Package on the Ford which had some things that both trucks shared: heated and cooled front seats, drivers seat memory, navigation, and remote start. The Ford also added: keyless entry (just touch the door handle to unlock), keyless pushbutton start, tailgate step, LED bed lights, electric telescoping steering wheel (automatically retracts to get in and out easier), automatic high beam headlights, and power release tailgate.
2021 Ford F350 vs 2019 Chevy HD 3500 Quality Issues:
14,000 Miles – The Chevy had a wheel sensor short out while we were travelling through Wyoming. The truck felt like it was slamming on the brakes and did it about five times then several warning indicators illuminated. It showed faults in the stabilitrak, trailer brake controller, anti lock brakes, we lost cruise control, and the rear sensing would not work. The truck was in the shop for about 10 days and no more issues occurred once the sensor was replaced up till the time we traded it in.
150 miles – TPMS system fault. Dealer ordered and replaced the sensor on repair visit #2. The new sensor would not read and the other rear wheel also went out after the replacement. They did make the repair good on the 3rd visit to the dealer. No issues since.
6000 miles – Sirius XM Traffic and Weather does not always work. I am getting ready to make an appointment for this. I did find some talk on the internet that the system may need to be reprogrammed. Sometimes it will work but mostly not. I have had XM reset the system twice and it wouldn’t work again after a day so I believe this is a Ford issue. Update: I did find that the truck was not pulling down updates automatically. I was able to force a download and one of the patches corrected the issues with the traffic and weather and have not had a problem since.
8500 miles – Super Duty went in for first oil change in rotation. They must not have installed my center cap on the rear wheel properly as it came spinning off as I was going down the interstate. Called the service manager and was told they would order another to replace. Rubber between dash and windshield is curling up at the ends. Dealer did not seem to want to replace because the dash will have to be pulled back to correct but I insisted. Part was not in at time of the oil change so it is scheduled to go back in for the work. I also have noticed a new ticking noise coming from the engine compartment. Not constant like the RPM of the motor and doesn’t always happen. This will get checked next visit.
10,000 miles – Truck started pulling to the left during a camping trip in Southern Illinois. Dealer repaired at no cost. Truck is again pulling to the left and scheduled for the dealer to checkout on 3/31/2023.
2021 Ford F350 vs 2019 Chevy HD 3500 Conclusion
One problem that made me worry about long time ownership of the Chevy was the quality of the paint on the truck. I noticed early on that there were several chips on the front of the truck as well as the fronts of the rear fenders. It seems to be something in the paint as I did see two other 2019’s like mine and both had paint chips all over them. I could not stand the thought of a $70k dollar truck that might start rusting after just a few years of ownership.
I also thought I was OK without some of the features I lost when going to the Chevy but soon missed them. The 360 degree cameras come in handy when you are trying to back into a campsite and you are dodging obstacles near the truck. You get used to having blind spot detection and take it for granted. The little things like the power extending side mirrors which have small spotlights on each side that is great when looking for campsites in the dark and puddle lights that help illuminate around the truck at night when entering/exiting the vehicle.
So did I do it because I think the Ford is better than the Chevy? Not really. I just think that the Ford was more what I wanted and would be more likely to hold on for the long haul. I will continue to add to this article to give updates on the F350 as well as any quality issues I have.
Please comment on your experience with either. Thanks for reading!