Full 2008 GMC Sierra 2500HD Review
What's New for 2008
Other than satellite radio becoming standard across the line, the 2008 GMC Sierra 2500HD sees no changes.
Within the last decade or so, some long-standing things have just cried out -- no, make that shouted out -- for serious change. Donald Trump's hairstyle, for instance, or the eating habits of most Americans. In the automotive world, a lack of quality for the interiors of General Motors trucks has been on that same list.
Thankfully, GM did its own "Extreme Makeover: Truck Edition" just last year. As with its more common sibling, the Chevy Silverado 2500HD, the GMC Sierra 2500HD received a substantially better cabin with higher-quality materials, better fit and finish and a much more attractive design overall.
In addition to the attractive interior, last year's revamp also brought new styling, a more powerful engine lineup, a stronger frame and resulting higher payload and towing capacities. The latter are up to 3,458 and 13,000 pounds, respectively. If this truck isn't enough to move your stuff, you might want to consider a Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter.
Compared against its archrival in the heavy-duty arena, Ford's Super Duty, the 2008 GMC Sierra 2500HD edges out the Ford in work capacity and has an arguably nicer interior. Either way, you can't go wrong if you're looking for a comfortable heavy-duty hauler. But if neither the GMC nor the blue oval does it for you, there's also the Dodge Ram 2500. The Ram offers nearly equal towing ability and ride comfort but lags behind in payload capacity and available cargo bed configurations.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2008 GMC Sierra 2500HD is a 3/4-ton full-size pickup that's available in three body styles: regular cab, extended cab and crew cab. Regular cabs come with a long bed, while extended cabs and crew cabs can have either a standard or long bed. Regular cabs can be had in base Work or midlevel SLE trims, while extended and crew cabs can also be had in plush SLT form. The Work trim comes with the basics, including air-conditioning (extended and crew cab versions), a trip computer, an audio system with CD player and satellite radio, OnStar telematics, vinyl seating, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat and a tilt steering wheel.
The SLE trim actually consists of two subsets: SLE1 and SLE2. The SLE1 adds deep-tinted windows, chrome grille trim, foglamps, alloy wheels, a CD player, cruise control, full power accessories, cloth seating, keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Step up to the SLE2 (in extended and crew cabs) and you'll get dual-zone automatic climate control, six-way power front bucket seats and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls.
The top-of-the-line SLT adds leather seating, rain-sensing wipers (with heated washer fluid), a Bose audio system with six-disc CD changer, keyless entry/start, an exclusive dash design with wood/metallic accents, 12-way power and heated front seats, rear audio controls and a Homelink universal remote.
Options, depending on truck configuration, include a power-sliding rear window, a navigation system, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, rear park assist, a sunroof, the Z71 Off-Road package (skid plates, off-road suspension and locking rear differential), the Safety package (power-adjustable pedals and park assist), a snow plow prep package and a cargo management system (includes sliding tie-down hooks in the front and sides of the bed interior).
Powertrains and Performance
A 6.0-liter V8 (353 horsepower and 373 pound-feet of torque), matched to a six-speed automatic transmission is standard on all Sierra 2500HD trucks. Optional is the burly "Duramax" 6.6-liter turbodiesel V8, which boasts 365 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. The Duramax comes paired with an Allison six-speed automatic. Properly equipped, the 2500HD can haul up to 3,458 pounds and tow up to 13,000 pounds.
Buyers have a choice of either rear- or four-wheel drive. The Work Truck with 4WD has a traditional floor-mounted selector for the transfer case. All other 4WD trims have Autotrac, which features an automatic setting that shifts into 4WD when wheel slippage is detected.
Antilock disc brakes are standard, though stability control, front side and side curtain airbags are not available. A safety package that includes power-adjustable pedals and rear park assist is optional.
Interior Design and Special Features
Overall, the cabin's fit and finish is impressive. Simple, intuitive controls, comfortable seats, an abundance of storage cubbies, three power points and well-placed cupholders add to the user-friendly environment. There is also a one-touch, three-blink lane-change feature and standard satellite radio that make long trips more enjoyable. Rivaling the interior of a Cadillac, the plush Sierra SLT features a unique dash and door panel design with handsome wood grain and metallic accents that give this workhorse the feel of a premium luxury sedan.
Based on our experience with previous Sierras, we'd expect the 2008 GMC Sierra 2500HD to provide sprightly performance, especially with the now even stronger turbodiesel V8. On long trips, the 2500HD's supple suspension should swallow bumps (even with the heavy-duty towing option) while still allowing confident, no-slop handling with a minimum of body sway through the turns. The cabins of those previously tested Sierras were impressively quiet, a characteristic sure to continue with the latest heavy-duty lineup.