Redesigned for 2015, the GMC Sierra 2500HD offers an improved interior, updated styling, new safety features and a new double-cab body style.
GMC has long been known as the dedicated truck division of General Motors. But pretty much everybody also knows that its vehicles are platform twins to various Chevrolets models, differing chiefly in styling and as such sharing the same strengths and weaknesses. Thus, the 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD is very similar to the Chevy Silverado 2500HD. Nothing wrong with that, as it means there's plenty of good and not much bad to speak of with this rig. This year's fully redesigned Sierra brings new styling, a new double cab model (which slots in between the regular and crew cabs) and an improved cabin, both in terms of quality and features. Unchanged are the formidable powertrain options.
As with its Chevy cousin, the Sierra 2500HD neatly splits the difference between the 1500 light-duty pickup and the more capable 3500HD heavy-duty workhorse (which can be had in a dual-rear-wheel configuration). With potent power plants and a wide range of body styles, trim levels and options, the Sierra 2500HD can serve as anything from a basic work truck to a plush six-passenger tow vehicle for your luxury RV or horse trailer. With maximum hauling and towing capacities of 3,760 and 17,900 pounds, respectively, this Sierra should be able to handle most tasks with ease. And features such as integrated cruise control, automatic grade braking, trailer sway control and, on diesels, diesel exhaust braking, all help make towing smoother and easier.
Choosing among the mainstays in the heavy-duty pickup truck segment can be tough, but in a good way. They are all solid choices and probably all have quite a bit more capability than you'll ever likely need. As such, the 2015 Ford F-250 Super Duty and 2015 Ram 2500 are worth checking out as well. Still, you won't go wrong choosing the 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD, as it earns our praise for its compliant ride, smooth powertrains, solid build quality and strong overall performance.
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Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD is offered in regular cab, double cab and crew cab body styles with a choice of two- or four-wheel drive. The regular cab is available only with a long bed (8 feet), while the double cab and crew cab models can be mated to either a standard bed (6.5 feet) or a long bed. Unlike its 3500 big brother, the Sierra 2500HD is not available with a dual-rear-wheel (DRW, or "dually") axle.
Trim levels start at the base Work Truck and climb to the SLE, SLT and range-topping Denali. The SLT trim is available only on the double and crew cabs, while the Denali is available only as a crew cab.
The Work Truck comes standard with chrome bumpers, 17-inch steel wheels, rubber floor covering, a choice of cloth or vinyl upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench with a fold-down center armrest, power door locks, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel, a 4.2-inch color display and a four- or six-speaker sound system with USB/iPod integration and an auxiliary audio jack.
Stepping up to the SLE adds alloy wheels, tinted rear windows, cargo box illumination, keyless entry, an automatic locking rear differential, a heavy-duty trailering package (with integrated trailer brake controller), a rearview camera, full power accessories, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, carpeting, an 8-inch touchscreen with the GMC IntelliLink interface, 4G LTE WiFi, smartphone integration, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, voice controls (cell phones and music), OnStar and an upgraded audio system with a CD player and satellite radio.
The SLT trim level further adds 18-inch alloy wheels, added chrome trim, foglights, power-folding mirrors, an upgraded tailgate, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote ignition, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery, eight-way power front seats (with power lumbar), heated front seats, driver memory settings, a rearview camera and a 110-volt power point.
On top of the SLT features, the Denali will get you more chrome exterior accents, chrome side steps, a spray-in bedliner, a power-sliding rear window with defogger, a locking tailgate, front and rear park assist, a navigation system, a Bose audio system, a configurable gauge cluster display, front bucket seats, ventilated front seats and a heated and telescoping steering wheel.
Some of the upper trims' extra standard features can be added to the lower trim levels as options. Other option highlights, depending on trim level, include 20-inch wheels, different axle ratios, a bed storage box, various tonneau covers, trailering mirrors, a sunroof, a Driver Alert package (includes front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, forward-collision alert and a safety alert driver seat) and a rear-seat entertainment system.
Also available is the Z71 Off-Road package, which includes 18-inch polished alloy wheels, hill descent control, skid plates, specially tuned shock absorbers, a different front stabilizer bar and unique styling tweaks. The Sierra All Terrain HD package (for 4WD SLE and SLT) bundles the Z71 package with aluminum underbody shields and special exterior graphics.
Powertrains and Performance
A 6.0-liter V8 engine that produces 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque is standard, as is a six-speed automatic transmission. Buyers can add a bi-fuel option to this engine, allowing the truck to run on either gasoline or compressed natural gas (CNG). When operating with CNG, power output drops to 301 hp and 333 lb-ft of torque. An optional turbocharged 6.6-liter diesel V8, also paired to a six-speed automatic, produces 397 hp and 765 lb-ft of torque.
Rear-wheel drive is standard for all models, with four-wheel drive optional.
Properly equipped, a 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD can haul up to 3,760 pounds of payload. It can tow up to 13,000 pounds with its standard ball hitch and 17,900 pounds with a fifth-wheel hitch. At the Edmunds test track, a Chevy Silverado 2500HD LTZ Crew Cab 4WD, which is very similar to a Sierra 2500HD SLT Crew Cab 4WD, sprinted from zero to 60 in just 6.6 seconds. That's impressively quick for a heavy-duty pickup, let alone one that's a crew cab with 4WD.
Standard safety features include antilock disc brakes, traction and stability control (with trailer sway control), front-seat side airbags and full-length side curtain airbags. Also standard is OnStar (includes automatic crash notification, on-demand roadside assistance, remote door unlocking, stolen-vehicle assistance and turn-by-turn navigation). Upper trims also include power-adjustable pedals, a rearview camera and front and rear parking sensors.
Optional safety equipment includes the Driver Alert package (includes lane-departure alert, forward-collision alert, safety alert seat and front and rear park assist).
During Edmunds' testing, the similar Silverado 2500HD LTZ Crew Cab 4WD came to a stop from 60 mph in 135 feet, which is about average for this segment.
The government gave the Sierra 2500HD regular cab and double cab models three out of five stars for overall crash protection, with just two stars for total frontal protection and five stars for total side-impact protection. The crew cab version did better, with four stars for overall crash protection, with four stars for total frontal protection and five stars for total side-impact protection.
Interior Design and Special Features
The overall quality and design of the Sierra 2500HD's cabin is noticeably improved over the previous generation's. Materials are of high quality, and the gauge cluster's crisp graphics are a snap to read day or night. The design is attractive, and top trim levels boast handsome accent stitching atop the dash. Frequently used controls, such as those for the radio's volume and tuning as well as those for adjusting the cabin's climate, are large and well-placed.
The central information display located between the tachometer and the speedometer is intuitive to navigate, and its graphics are simple and easily interpreted. On the center stack, both the 4.2- and 8-inch IntelliLink color infotainment displays feature sophisticated (and in some cases reconfigurable) graphics options. Unfortunately, IntelliLink can sometimes be slow to respond to your touch inputs.
The Sierra's front seats are amply sized, supportive and fairly comfortable. The lack of a telescoping steering wheel option in the base trim, however, may make it harder for some people to get an ideal driving position. In the crew cab, there's no need to call "shotgun," as the comfortable backseat is well-bolstered and angled appropriately for solid leg and back support. Although most of our staffers found the seats, front or rear, to be very accommodating, those of slighter builds may find them a bit too wide.
The 2015 GMC Sierra 2500HD manages to provide a comfortable ride along with its strong work capacity, thanks to its stiff frame and a suspension that can not only handle higher loads but also smooth out rough roads. Compared to the Sierra 1500, there's a bit more road noise from the HD's beefier tires and wind noise from its larger mirrors, but overall the cabin is quite serene.
When towing a trailer, the strong diesel engine helps accelerate this big truck with authority. And while it's descending a grade, the exhaust brake also works with well-timed downshifts from the transmission to help out with vehicle stability. Also minimizing stress on long trips with a trailer in tow is the Sierra's cruise control system. Linked into the transmission calibration, it does a fine job of holding your target speed as downshifts happen more readily on descents, providing additional engine braking and keeping speed in check.
Around turns, the big truck's steering has a light, precise feel, and body roll is decently controlled. Tight maneuvering situations, such as when parking or negotiating a multi-point turn, can take a hefty amount of wheel turning. But this isn't unexpected from a heavy-duty pickup.
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