The GMC Sierra 1500 and Chevrolet Silverado share the same platform, but the GMC product is often positioned as a more upscale offering. Mechanically, the trucks are the same. There might be slight differences in curb weight and payload, but they share the same powertrain and chassis components. Versions of the Sierra seat up to six people. Competitors include the Ford F-150 and Ram 1500.
The Sierra comes in regular, extended and crew-cab forms. Standard (6-foot-6-inch) and long (8-foot) cargo beds are available on regular and extended cabs, while the crew cab gets a short (5-foot,-9-inch) bed. All configurations are available in two- or four-wheel drive. The Sierra comes in five trim levels: Work Truck, SL, SLE, SLT and Denali.
Most V-8 models are rated to tow around 9,000 pounds, but some models get more than 10,000 pounds with an enhanced trailering package.
The heavy-duty versions of the Sierra give buyers significantly more towing capacity — up to 23,000 pounds — when properly equipped. They also offer an optional 6.6-liter Duramax diesel engine.
The Sierra Hybrid is a half-ton pickup that achieves better overall fuel economy than a gas-powered Silverado, but it can still pull a 6,100-pound trailer. Available exclusively in the crew-cab body style, the Sierra Hybrid is expected to use one-quarter less gas than a regular Sierra. The Sierra Hybrid is covered separately in the Cars.com Research section.
(Skip to details on the: Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD)
There are a few minor changes for 2012, including a new three-bar chrome grille on SLE and SLT models. A hard-drive-based navigation radio is now available for Denali and SLT models, and the SLT can also have heated and cooled seats. The stability system adds electronic trailer-sway control and hill start assist. Plus, the high-end Sierra Denali gains heated and cooled front seats, a leather-wrapped heated steering wheel and a backup camera.
While GM is trying to differentiate the Silverado and Sierra, the common silhouette is hard to overcome, even with unique front fenders, grille, bumpers, headlamps, cargo box and taillamps. The upscale Denali trim features a unique chrome grille and wheels. Exterior features include:
- Very wide rear-door openings on extended cab models to load passengers, cargo
- Range of 17-, 18- and 20-inch wheels
- Available EZ Lift tailgate
- Available power moonroof
The Sierra showcases two different interior designs. Lower-end trucks are more utility-minded, with large door handles that can be operated while wearing gloves.
The SLT offers upgraded materials and a different dash design. The Sierra’s cab is inviting, spacious and well-organized. Leather seating is available on the SLE and standard on the SLT. The SLT also gets a Bose stereo and a 10-way power-adjustable driver’s seat. The Denali trim is the most luxurious of any GM pickup truck with upgraded trim and materials. Interior features include:
- Stadium-style rear seating
- Cruise control
- Available power-sliding rear window
- Available navigation system
- Available rear-seat entertainment system
- Available integrated trailer-brake control
- Available leather-wrapped heated steering wheel
- Available backup camera
The Sierra offers five available suspensions, including an off-road-oriented Z71 package and the NHT enhanced trailering package. The 5.3-liter V-8 features fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation technology. Mechanical features include:
- 195-horsepower, 4.3-liter V-6 with iron block and cylinder heads, cam-in-block, two valves per cylinder and 260 pounds-feet of torque
- 302-hp, 4.8-liter V-8 with iron block and aluminum cylinder heads, cam-in-block, two valves per cylinder and 305 pounds-feet of torque
- Flex-fuel 315-hp (gas) or 326-hp (E85), 5.3-liter V-8 with iron block and aluminum cylinder heads, cam-in-block, two valves per cylinder and 335 pounds-feet of torque (gas) or 348pounds-feet of torque (E85).
- Flex-fuel 315-hp (gas) or 326-hp (E85), 5.3-liter V-8 with aluminum block and cylinder heads, cam-in-block, two valves per cylinder and 335 pounds-feet of torque (gas) or 348 pounds-feet of torque (E85)
- Flex-fuel 403-hp, 6.2-liter V-8 with aluminum block and cylinder heads, cam-in-block and two valves per cylinder that makes 417 pounds-feet of torque
- Four-speed or six-speed automatic transmission
The Sierra’s standard electronic stability system includes rollover mitigation technology. GM says its seat belt pretensioners activate during rear-end impacts. Safety features include:
- Four-wheel antilock brakes
- Traction control
- Side curtain airbags
- Front-seat side-impact airbags
- Available OnStar alerts authorities after a crash
- Available rear parking sensors
- Available backup camera
The heavy-duty Sierra is the towing and hauling workhorse, with the ability to tow up to 23,000 pounds with a fifth-wheel hitch. Maximum payload capacity is 7,215 pounds. The heavy-duty Sierra’s suspension and structure have been strengthened for 2012, enabling the stout capacities. With a conventional trailer hitch, towing capacity is 18,000 pounds.
The Sierra 2500HD and 3500HD are available with a 6.0-liter gas V-8 or a 6.6-liter Duramax diesel V-8 engine. A 36-gallon fuel tank is standard and gives trucks with the diesel engine a driving range of up to 680 miles, according to Chevrolet. An available smart exhaust brake provides greater control on downward grades and reduced brake-pad wear.
New features for the 2012 heavy-duty Sierra Denali include heated and cooled front seats, a backup camera and a heated leather-wrapped steering wheel. A hard-drive-based navigation system with satellite radio and a USB port is available. Additional features include:
- Regular, extended or crew-cab body styles
- Standard or long bed
- Rear- or four-wheel drive
- Fully boxed high-strength-steel frame
- New chrome grille on SLE and SLT
- Available dealer-installed Wi-Fi system for mobile internet access
- Available high-idle switch
- Trailer-sway control and hill start assist
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