Full 2010 GMC Sierra 3500HD Review
What's New for 2010
For 2010, the GMC Sierra 3500HD gets a more powerful 6.0-liter V8 as well as some minor equipment changes. Highlights of the latter include newly standard air-conditioning for the regular-cab Work Truck and a USB port for the uplevel sound systems.
If you're looking for the vehicular equivalent of a Budweiser Clydesdale -- a heavy-duty pickup truck that doesn't shy away from massive hauling and towing chores -- there aren't a whole lot of breeds to choose from. The competition is stiff, and choices are limited to four models. And when you consider that two of the four are platform mates, the actual number of entries in this important niche segment is essentially three. The 2010 GMC Sierra 3500HD is one of the corporate twins, as it shares pretty much everything but its sheet metal and grille with its Chevy Silverado 3500 relative.
Whether you opt for the GMC Sierra 3500HD or its Chevrolet twin, you can't go wrong. That said, there are a few worthy rivals to consider. The Dodge Ram 3500 has been redesigned this year, bests the GMC in all-out towing capacity and arguably has the nicest cabin in the segment. The Ford F-350 is right in the mix as well, but the Sierra offers a bit more hauling and towing capability and a more welcoming cabin, (particularly in SLT trim). However, Ford offers a step up from these bad boys with the F-450, the only choice for those who need to tow a truly massive 24,500 pounds. As long as you're well under that lofty requirement, this stout steed makes for a smart choice.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 GMC Sierra 3500HD full-size pickup is available in three body styles with two rear-axle designs. Regular, extended and crew cabs can each be had with either a single or dual rear-wheel setup (the two-wheel-drive regular cab only gets the single). All have a long bed. All body styles are offered in base Work Truck and midlevel SLE trims, while the extended and crew cabs can also be had in plush SLT form.
The Work Truck comes with 16-inch steel wheels, air-conditioning, a trip computer, OnStar, vinyl upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat, a tilt steering wheel and a stereo with just an AM/FM radio.
The SLE adds keyless entry, rear tinted windows, chrome wheels, full power accessories, a CD player, cloth upholstery and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Some of these features are optional on the Work Truck.
The SLT adds a locking rear differential, a heavy-duty trailering package (with an integrated trailer brake controller), alloy wheels, leather upholstery, rain-sensing wipers, remote engine start, upgraded interior design with wood trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, foglamps, 12-way power front bucket seats, heated seats, rear audio controls, Bluetooth and an upgraded audio system (with a USB port, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls and a Bose speaker system). Some of these features are optional on the SLE.
Other options available on the upper trims include a power-sliding rear window, a sunroof (SLT only), a navigation system with real-time traffic updates, a rearview camera, rear parking assist sensors, power-folding exterior mirrors, power-folding and -extending camper mirrors, a Z71 off-road package (skid plates, off-road suspension, bigger stabilizer bar), the EZ-Lift tailgate, power-adjustable pedals and a rear-seat entertainment system (SLT only).
Powertrains and Performance
The standard engine in the 2010 GMC Sierra 3500 is a 6.0-liter gasoline-fueled V8 making 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Optional is a 6.6-liter turbodiesel Duramax V8 that boasts 365 hp and 660 lb-ft of torque. It gets a different six-speed automatic and is the go-to choice if you require a burly tow vehicle (it also gets better fuel economy). When properly equipped, the Sierra 3500 with the Duramax can haul 4,500 pounds and tow 16,500 pounds (with a fifth-wheel trailer).
Rear-wheel drive is standard across the board, with four-wheel drive optional. Although the Work Truck 4WD gets a traditional floor-mounted transfer case, the two other trim levels available on the Sierra 4WD get Autotrac, a knob-controlled electric transfer case that features an automatic setting that engages 4WD when wheel slippage is detected.
Antilock disc brakes are standard, but front side and side curtain airbags as well as stability control are not available. A Safety package that includes power-adjustable pedals and rear park assist is optional, as is a rear parking camera.
Interior Design and Special Features
The 2010 GMC Sierra 3500HD features two different interior designs depending on trim level. The Work Truck and the SLE feature a more utilitarian trucklike dash design with an open lower center portion to accommodate the standard three-person front bench (a center console is added with the optional bucket seats). The SLT, however, gets the same upscale design as the Yukon SUV, lending the Sierra's cabin a classier feel with its wood and metallic accents. With either design you get straightforward controls within a relatively easy reach. However, the available dual-zone climate control buttons are small and difficult to operate with gloves.
The front seats are quite comfy, but some editors found the pedals placed too far apart and the tilt-only steering wheel located too close to the dash. Space in the crew cab's backseat is very roomy, and most average-size adults should find the extended cab acceptable. We strongly suggest springing for the available rearview camera, which not only makes parking the behemoth 3500 much easier but also reduces the guesswork when hitching up a trailer.
A notable strong point is the Sierra 3500's well-weighted steering that provides the driver with a greater sense of vehicle control. This is a particular benefit on tight country roads. Although a heavy-duty pickup and its taut rear suspension will never offer a Cadillac ride, the 2010 GMC Sierra 3500 is surprisingly comfortable over long distances. Both engines are strong, but if you can swing the price premium, the hefty performance and reasonable fuel economy of the Duramax diesel make it a very tempting choice.