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2003 GMC Sierra 1500

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$19,150

starting MSRP

Key specs

Base trim shown

Pickup Truck

Body style

3

Seating capacity

203.2” x 73.8”

Dimensions

Rear-wheel drive

Drivetrain

Overview

11 trims

Starting msrp listed lowest to highest price

Wondering which trim is right for you?

Our 2003 GMC Sierra 1500 trim comparison will help you decide.

See also: Find the best Pickup Trucks for 2024

2003 GMC Sierra 1500 review: Our expert's take

By Cars.com Editors

The 2003 GMC Sierra Denali AWD four-door pickup may be the world’s most expensive work truck, with an as-tested price of $45,370.

While such features as four-wheel steering, a roomy rear cabin and a whopping 6.0-liter V-8 make it quite capable, this top-of-the-line pickup does not display world-class quality — certainly not befitting its luxury-car price tag, according to Paul.

On the other hand, Anita thinks the Sierra Denali is the best truck money can buy, and gives it her highest rating.

She: Here’s how I spent my weekend in the Sierra Denali. I went to every nursery in town, loaded up on mulch, topsoil and flats of impatiens. Every single person who waited on me would say, ‘Hold on a minute while I get some newspaper to protect your vehicle.’ And I’d always tell them, ‘No, I have a truck.’ But that’s only half of the story. Not only do you get the traditional truck benefits of haulability and hoseability, you get a vehicle with state-of-the-art steering — all four wheels turn when you’re cornering or parking — and you get a luxury cabin. Why is this not a five-star vehicle to you? Is it because you were laying on the couch while I was working?

He: OK, Farmer Anita, you’ve demonstrated your agricultural credentials. Now let’s talk nuts and bolts. You’ll get no argument from me about the capability of the Sierra Denali. The four-wheel steering is a truly remarkable innovation. Anybody who’s ever tried to back up a boat or horse trailer will be simply amazed at how easy that chore is with this new system. And that big 325-horsepower V-8, which makes 370 pounds-feet of torque, gives this truck more muscle than most of its competitors. I also think the exterior look is just about perfect — not tacky like the Chevrolet Avalanche or grotesque like the Cadillac Escalade EXT. It’s inside the cabin where the Sierra Denali starts to fall apart.

She: To call four-wheel steering a remarkable innovation is an understatement. It’s one of the seven wonders of the world, right up there with the Cuisinart. If this truck only had four-wheel steering and nothing else, it would still be worth five stars. I actually got emotional in parking structures. I was able to whip this 20-foot-long, 5,800-pound vehicle in and out of tight spaces as if it were a compact car.

He: Again, no argument. General Motors Corp. deserves major credit for that feature. I just wish the designers and engineers would have paid more attention to the cabin, where you spend an awful lot of your time. Granted, with the sole exception of Toyota vehicles, the interiors of GMC’s major competitors in the full-size truck segment have been equally weak. But that’s no excuse, especially on a vehicle that’s priced like a BMW 5-Series. I know you liked that gray woodgrain material; I thought it looked artificial and cheap. And there were other pretty noticeable flaws that would be unacceptable to anyone spending this kind of money on a luxury sedan. For instance, the plastic housing was pulling away from the outside edge of the driver’s seat. There were exposed screw heads in the rear armrests, and ripples in some plastic trim and rubber moldings. Sorry, but that’s just not acceptable.

She: My only problem was with the gigantic pickup bed and the overly heavy tailgate. The brainiac engineers at GM didn’t account for couch-potato husbands when they designed this truck. Surely, there’s an easier way to shut the tailgate than getting underneath it and heaving your shoulder against it or asking your lazy husband for help. And did I really need to crawl up under the fixed tonneau cover to retrieve my flats of flowers? I would like to see a cargo storage system that used the last third of the truck bed, so if you don’t have a full load, everything doesn’t slide too far forward and out of reach. I should also mention that, while the Sierra Denali is easy to park, that long bed makes it difficult to see when backing up.

He: When Ford brings its new F-150 trucks out this summer, with all the money and attention to detail they’ve spent on the interiors, I think the cabin in the Sierra Denali will look even cheaper than it does now. GM needs to spend some money and give its designers free reign to give this fine truck the equally high-quality cabin it deserves. Then the Sierra Denali will truly merit a five-star rating.

2003 GMC Sierra Denali AWD

Type: Front-engine, all-wheel drive, five-passenger, four-door pickup

Price (Includes $790 destination charge.): Base, $44,255; as tested, $45,370

Engine: 6.0-liter V-8; 325-hp; 370 lb-ft torque

EPA fuel economy: 12 mpg city/16 mpg highway

Where built: Oshawa, Ontario

Key competitors: Cadillac Escalade EXT, Chevrolet Avalanche, Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram, Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra

12-month insurance cost (Estimated by AAA Michigan. Rates may vary depending on coverage and driving record.): $1,492

Paul’s rating: Acceptable

Likes: Same monster 6.0L V-8 as Hummer H2. Big-time towing capacity. Lots of room in rear bench seat.

Dislikes: World’s most expensive work truck unfortunately does not have world-class quality. Fake wood looks cheap, inferior. Lousy fuel economy. Plastic housing pulling away from outside edge of driver’s seat. Exposed screw heads in rear armrests. Ripples in some plastic trim and rubber moldings.

Anita’s rating: World Class

Likes: Classy-looking gray woodgrain material in cabin. Best of both worlds — a true workhorse with the interior of a luxury SUV. Nicely equipped rear compartment, with cupholders, vents, audio controls. Four-wheel steering makes parking amazingly easy. Love the no-nonsense truck styling.

Dislikes: No adjustable pedals. Tailgate is too heavy. Difficult to see when backing up. Had to crawl up under fixed tonneau cover to retrieve flats of flowers.

Consumer reviews

Rating breakdown (out of 5):
  • Comfort 4.5
  • Interior 4.3
  • Performance 4.0
  • Value 3.9
  • Exterior 4.5
  • Reliability 3.9
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Most recent consumer reviews

5.0

Am I the only one that has had the instrument panel

Am I the only one that has had the instrument panel completely fail? Mine did YEARS ago. So why is my reliability rating 5? The computer still works, I know how fast I'm going, the Miles remaining on the fuel economy is accurate, and it runs. Everyday. Replaced one hub and bearing, water pump, starter, ignition. A/C doesn't work, but I've got windows (which work if you know exactly where to push the button.) Oh, and the Engine light is always on, because the throttle body really needs a thorough cleaning or replacing. Motor and transmission have been crazy reliable for 20 years on truck bought new October '0 3. Nothing a few hundred dollars wouldn't fix. Though there are several of those, they don't keep me from getting from A to B.

5.0

Best truck, so good I’ve got second one

Bought truck brand new with 9 miles on it other than two water pumps and one fuel pump which were my fault for running on fuel. I haven’t had any complaints other than the guy on the dash peeled off minimal 53 runs great at 200,000 miles reprogrammed truck at 500 miles gets 20 to 22 miles a gallon down the highway as long as you’re on supreme runs great never left me stranded best truck I’ve ever owned I’m in search of another one similar same body style, but a three-quarter ton now but plan on keeping this is long as I can just purchased a brand new 5.3 to put in it when this one wears out it’ll keep going had minor issues with the dash gauges, light one out and a couple of gauges. No big deal, I also have an 03 Chevy Tahoe but it had all of the problems in the Insta rebel had panel replaced $600. No other issues. Great track Holly

3.0

Hated this truck

Nothing but issues. Owned for less than a year and 30L60E Trans went out. Spend $2000 to replace that. Then a bunch of wiring issues, including the dash. Dash stopped working so I would have no idea how much gas I had, how fast I was going, etc. Got a speeding ticket from the stupid thing because I wasn't sure of my speed. 4x4 switch had issues. Nothing but problems. Worst vehicle I had ever owned.

See all 19 consumer reviews

Warranty

New car and Certified Pre-Owned programs by GMC
New car program benefits
Bumper-to-bumper
36 months/36,000 miles
Corrosion
72 months/100,000 miles
Powertrain
60 months/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance
36 months/36,000 miles
Certified Pre-Owned program benefits
Maximum age/mileage
5 model years or newer/up to 75,000 miles
Basic warranty terms
12 months/12,000 miles bumper-to-bumper original warranty, then may continue to 6 years/100,000 miles limited (depending on variables)
Powertrain
6 years/100,000 miles
Dealer certification required
172-point inspection
Roadside assistance
Yes
View all cpo program details

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