2021 Tundra vs. Sierra Comparison

Whether you need to trek over land or haul your workload, the Tundra and Sierra have the space and capability to do it all.

With a powerful standard V8 engine, the 2021 Tundra is a force to be reckoned with.

This brute force is paired with the sensitive safety technology of Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P). You'll notice that the Sierra doesn't come with quite as many standard safety features on the base model.

Throughout this review, we'll take a look at the Tundra vs. Sierra and their reputation for not only safety and performance, but reliability too.

Published Date: 08/27/2021

Interior of 2021 Tundra

Safety

  • The Tundra and the Sierra both received 4-Star Overall Safety ratings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with 5-Star Overall Side Crash ratings
  • All models of the Tundra come with Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P).
  • GMC's comparable active safety features are available for purchase, but what you get depends on the model you buy.

Safety is important, especially for trucks that give drivers the opportunity to go exploring. You never know what might happen, but the Tundra and Sierra can help keep you safe on your adventure.

Standard Active Safety Features

Don't just take our word for it. Both the 2021 Tundra and 2021 Sierra received 4-Star Overall Safety ratings by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with 5-Star Overall Side Crash ratings.

Although the safety ratings may be similar, the Tundra comes with a whole suite of active safety features standard. Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) includes a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), and Automatic High Beams (AHB). The Platinum and 1794 trims also include Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) with Rear Cross-Traffic Alert (RCTA).

GMC offers comparable active safety features but they require an added safety package that’s available for purchase depending on the trim level. To get Forward Collision Alert, Automatic Emergency Braking, Cruise Control, and Front Pedestrian Braking on the base model Sierra 2WD Regular Cab, Long Box you'd have to add the 1SA Safety Confidence Package for an additional $615.

More advanced features like Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, Automatic Emergency Braking, Front Pedestrian Braking, Forward Collision Alert, Adaptive Cruise Control, and IntelliBeam® headlamps are only available with the Driver Alert Package II.

This package is offered for the SLE, SLT, AT4 4WD, and Denali but does not come standard. The Denali does come standard with the Driver Alert Package I, which includes Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

2021 Tundra parked on a dirt road overlooking a rugged mountain trail

Performance

  • The base model Tundra has more horsepower than the base model Sierra.
  • The Tundra base model can tow more than the base model Sierra.
  • If you're looking for features for the optimal off-roading experience, the Tundra TRD Pro has what you need.

Performance features aren't lacking in either of these trucks. The Sierra and Tundra have different configurations depending on whether you're looking to tow more or go off road.

Power for Off-Roading and Towing

The Tundra can take on challenges with its standard 5.7L V8 engine, 355 horsepower, and 401 lb.-ft. torque. In comparison, the GMC Sierra comes standard with a 4.3L EcoTec3 V6 engine with only 285 horsepower and 305 lb.-ft. torque. The Sierra's more powerful 5.3L EcoTec3 V8 engine, with comparable 355 horsepower, is available on the base model, but it will cost you roughly $2,000 more.

More power under the hood makes it easier to tow things like boats and trailers. The Tundra SR 4x2 Double Cab 5.7L V8 with a 6.5-ft. bed can tow up to 10,200 lbs. On the other hand, the 2021 Sierra 2WD Double Cab, Short Box with a 5.3L V8 engine can only tow up to 9,700 lbs. For increased towing capacity on the Sierra SLE, Elevation, or SLT, you can opt for the available Max Trailering Package.

If you're looking to get down and dirty, the Tundra offers the TRD Pro, which can handle your adventures. Thanks to its 10.6 inches of ground clearance, you can traverse easily over rough terrain. Plus, its Independent TRD coil-spring high-mounted double-wishbone front suspension adds a 2-in. lift and features a stabilizer bar for more support. Even the TRD FOX® shock absorbers with piggyback reservoirs were designed to provide a smoother ride. Bundled all into one truck, the Tundra is equipped for more rugged terrain.

On the other hand, the Sierra can't compete. Only the Denali 4WD comes close with its 8.09 in. of ground clearance and Denali Premium Suspension with Adaptive Ride Control. All other Sierra trims only have 7.89 in. of ground clearance. The Sierra also has a larger turning radius than the Tundra which might make maneuvering in tighter spaces more difficult.

Tundra driving through the mud

Reliability

  • All models of the Tundra come with a ToyotaCare maintenance plan for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. The GMC Pro Grade Protection maintenance plan only covers drivers for their first year of ownership.
  • The Tundra received the Best Resale Value: Full-Size Pickup Truck award in 2020.

Built on the basis of quality, durability, and reliability, the Tundra offers drivers a ride that will last.

Award Winning Reliability

To help keep things running smoothly, all new 2021 Tundra models come with ToyotaCare. This factory-scheduled maintenance plan lasts for two years or 25,000 miles, whichever comes first. It also includes 24/7 ToyotaCare Roadside Assistance, which lasts for two years and unlimited miles.

In comparison, GMC offers a five-year/60,000-mile roadside assistance package for drivers with an active OnStar subscription starting at $24.99/month. The GMC Pro Grade Protection maintenance program covers the first maintenance visit within the first year of lease or purchase.

Looking past the numbers, both trucks have received top reviews from trusted sources. Kelley Blue Book® (KBB®) awarded the 2020 Tundra the Best Resale Value: Top 10 and the 2019 Tundra the 5-Year Cost to Own Award. The 2020 Toyota Tundra also received the Best Resale Value: Full-Size Pickup Truck.

People getting dirt bikes out of the truck bed of the Tundra

Conclusion: Tundra vs. Sierra

  • While the Tundra and the Sierra are great full-size truck options, the Tundra offers a lot on the base model.
  • All Tundras include Toyota Safety Sense P (TSS-P) and the ToyotaCare maintenance plan.
  • For a truck that can do it all and more, the Tundra is our pick.

Both the 2021 GMC Sierra and Toyota Tundra offer competitive full-size truck options. However, the Tundra has standard features that make it the better choice for those wanting to get more in safety, performance, and reliability.

For a starting MSRP of $34,025, Tundra drivers get a full suite of active safety features, including a Pre-Collision System with Pedestrian Detection (PCS w/PD), Dynamic Radar Cruise Control (DRCC), Lane Departure Alert (LDA), and Automatic High Beams (AHB) standard. The 2021 GMC Sierra 2WD Double Cab starts at a higher base price of $35,695 and requires additional purchases for these more advanced features.

Looking at performance, the standard V8 engine of the Tundra SR is also more powerful than the standard V6 engine of the Sierra. You not only get more horsepower in the Tundra, but more torque power for help when towing or climbing steep ascents.

On top of all of that, the 2021 Tundra also comes with the ToyotaCare plan which includes a factory-scheduled maintenance and roadside assistance. GMC also offers roadside assistance, but it requires an On-Star subscription. Plus, maintenance is only covered for a year.

It's clear that the 2021 Tundra provides optimal performance and great safety features as well. Compared to the 2021 Sierra, the Tundra checks the boxes in every category.