2012 GMC Sierra 1500 Review

Pros & Cons

  • Smooth, quiet ride
  • comfortable seats
  • powerful V8 options.
  • Large turning circle
  • weak V6 engine
  • bland interior design on base trim
  • limited cabin storage.
List Price Range
$14,995 - $21,965

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Edmunds' Expert Review

The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 is a worthy competitor among fresher rivals, bolstered by a wide range of body styles, capable performance and a comfortable ride.

Vehicle overview

Although the current-generation GMC Sierra 1500 pickup debuted just four years ago, its more recently redesigned rivals have topped it in a few respects. But this doesn't mean the GMC is as stale as month-old bread. Far from it, actually. Thanks to its core strengths, the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 remains one of the top trucks in the light-duty, full-size pickup segment.

In terms of expected characteristics such as towing capacity and a wide range of body style and trim level choices, the Sierra 1500 is right up there with the competition. The Sierra provides a smooth, quiet ride and comfortable seating, traits that make it ideal for long road trips. The GMC isn't without faults, however. Compared to some of its competition (notably Dodge and Toyota), the base "Work" trim's cabin looks rather dull. And while other brands have stepped up the output of their base engines over the years, the Sierra's V6 struggles to motivate such a large truck. Lastly, maneuverability is hampered by a large turning radius.

Comparatively, the Ford F-150 has more innovative technology features available, the Ram 1500 has a much nicer interior and smoother ride quality and the Toyota Tundra is roomier in crew cab trim. Yet the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 remains a solid choice in our book and deserves attention when cross-shopping in this very competitive segment.

2012 GMC Sierra 1500 models

The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 is a half-ton full-size pickup that is offered in standard cab, extended cab and crew cab body styles. Standard cabs and extended cabs are available with either a standard 6-foot-6 bed or an 8-foot long bed. Crew cabs only come with a short 5-foot-8 bed.

Regular cabs can be had in base Work or midlevel SLE trims, while the extended and crew cabs are also available in the well-appointed SLT trim. An SL trim slots in between the Work and SLE models, but is only available as a crew cab, as is the range-topping Denali.

The Work trim comes with air-conditioning (for extended- and crew-cab versions), a trip computer, a tilt steering wheel, cruise control, OnStar telematics, vinyl seat upholstery, a 40/20/40-split front bench seat and a CD/MP3 stereo with an auxiliary audio jack and satellite radio. The SL adds full power accessories, keyless entry, cruise control, satellite radio and adjustable lumbar support for the driver.

The SLE trim adds seat upholstery in a more premium grade, a lockable compartment with a power outlet built into the center cushion of the split front seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The premium SLT piles on chrome-clad alloy wheels, a premium interior with a full center console and upgraded materials, a Bose audio system (with iPod/USB input), leather seat upholstery, remote engine start, an exclusive dash design with wood and metallic accents, 12-way power-adjustable/heated front seats and rear audio controls.

Sierra Denali models trump the SLT with a unique powertrain, suspension tuning emphasizing ride comfort, 20-inch cast-aluminum wheels, exterior styling enhancements, a heated steering wheel and a turn-by-turn navigation feature for OnStar.

Option availability varies with trim levels and body styles. It includes several towing packages, the Z71 Off-Road package (skid plates and an off-road suspension), special regional packages, the All-Terrain package (similar to the Z71 but with special interior and exterior enhancements) and the XFE (extra fuel economy) trim variant for the rear-wheel-drive 5.3-liter V8 crew cab. The XFE features aerodynamic enhancements and lightweight aluminum components that improve fuel economy.

Other options include 20- and 22-inch wheels, a rear back-up camera, upgraded audio systems, Bluetooth, a navigation system with real-time traffic, a rear-seat entertainment system, heated power-folding outside mirrors, a sunroof, a power-sliding rear window, a cargo management system, rear park sensors and ventilated front seats. An "EZ-Lift" tailgate is also offered and requires only about half the effort to open and close compared to the standard tailgate.

2012 Highlights

For 2012, the GMC Sierra 1500 receives only a few minor changes. Among them are an updated navigation system (now hard-drive-based) and the inclusion of trailer sway control as part of the stability control system.

Performance & mpg

The 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 is available with four different engine choices. In the Work trim level, the Sierra is powered by a standard 4.3-liter V6 that produces 195 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Buyers may upgrade to a 4.8-liter V8 that makes 302 hp and 305 lb-ft, or a 5.3-liter V8 that's good for 315 hp and 335 lb-ft. The SLE trims will have one of the two V8s as standard, while the SLT has the 5.3-liter engine as standard.

A 6.2-liter V8 is available on select models and produces 403 hp and 417 lb-ft. The 6.2 V8 comes standard on the Denali. A six-speed automatic transmission is standard on the two big V8s, while the 4.8-liter V8 and the V6 come only with a four-speed automatic. In a recent Edmunds test of an essentially identical Chevy Silverado equipped with the 6.2-liter V8, it accelerated from a standstill to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, which is quick for a full-size pickup. Properly equipped, a Sierra 1500 can tow up to 10,700 pounds.

Buyers have a choice of two-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and (Denali only) all-wheel drive. The Work and LS trims with 4WD have 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 it detects the tires slipping.

Fuel economy estimates range from 15 mpg city/22 mpg highway and 18 mpg combined for a crew cab XFE down to 12/19/14 mpg for the Denali.

Safety

Standard safety equipment includes antilock brakes (front disc, rear drum) and stability control. Front, side and side curtain airbags are also standard. Four-wheel disc brakes are available as part of the Max Trailering package. In Edmunds brake testing, a Silverado crew cab with four-wheel disc brakes stopped from 60 mph in a short 120 feet.

In government crash tests, the 2012 GMC Sierra received an overall score of four stars (out of five). It earned four stars for overall frontal crash protection and five stars for overall side crash protection. In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, a Silverado crew cab earned a top score of "Good" for frontal-offset crash protection and a second-best score of "Acceptable" for side-impact testing.

Driving

Just like most modern pickups, the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 is actually pleasant to drive. The steering is light but reasonably precise, and the truck's comfortable seats and smooth, quiet ride make road trips enjoyable. The Sierra's turning circle is a bit larger than you'll find in most other trucks, however.

Acceleration is sluggish with the base V6, while the 4.8-liter V8 provides adequate power. The 5.3-liter V8 feels brawny and the 6.2-liter V8 turns the Sierra into a veritable muscle truck. The six-speed automatic transmission that comes standard with the two bigger V8s does an admirable job of keeping power on tap, while the four-speed feels outdated by comparison.

Interior

On the whole, the Sierra's interior fit and finish ranks highly, though base models tend to look rather dull compared to their rivals. The fancy SLT and Denali trims dress up the cabin significantly, with a unique upscale dash and door panel treatment, a full center console and attractive wood grain and metallic accents. Crew cab models feature comfortable rear seats with flip-up seat cushions that provide a nearly flat load floor. Interior storage is merely adequate, with small cupholders and haphazard organization for the center console.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500.

Trending topics in reviews

Most helpful consumer reviews

2012 Sierra Denali
mpacker02,05/01/2012
Denali 4dr Crew Cab AWD 5.8 ft. SB (6.2L 8cyl 6A)
I just traded in my 2005 Silverado 1500 SS for the 2012 Sierra Denali. The Denali rides much better and is more luxurious. Performance is about the same, the SS accelerating a little harder, but I attribute that to a 4.11 rear end in the SS. The Denali on the other hand is getting better gas mileage than the SS. GMC did a great job on fit and finish, I’ve gone over it with a fine toothed comb looking for flaws and can find none. NAV and Stereo are easy to use, with great sound from the speakers. So far no complaints!
Amazing TRUCK!!!!!!!
bigguybob13,07/24/2012
SLE 4dr Crew Cab 5.8 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A)
This truck is the best choice I ever made, its my first truck ive ever bought, my brother and parents are having great luck with theirs so i thought id give it a shot. Could not have asked for more with this amazing vehical, im 6'4 and the shortes of 4 guys in my family, we all fit great in this truck, great for road trips or just driving around town, gas mileage is great for the size and safety!
Midnight GMC
Michael Davidson,08/23/2018
SL 4dr Extended Cab 4WD 6.5 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A)
Sadly we longer have this vehicle due to a very bad accident. We were sandwiched between two other vehicles at a stop light. Our 2012 GMC did everything it was expected to from a safety standpoint and saved us from sustaining much worse injuries. Thank you GM for a great product...
A joke
Birddog,01/06/2016
SLT 4dr Crew Cab 5.8 ft. SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A)
I have bought 8 new GM trucks over the years and the last 3 have been A Joke....the 2012 GMC Sierra being the biggest joke, truck looks good but here is a list of issues after 65000 miles... Transmission shifting issues, down shifting Rear end clunking, slack in gear train Noisey cab, Noisey bed, Noisey breaks 2 set of breaks in 65000 miles???????? Battery replacement after 40000 miles??? Using oil after 50000 miles.... Warranty covers nothing, GM said this is normal of a truck with that many miles 😉 Biggest piece of junk I have ever owned.... And I've owned several F150's so I'm qualified!!!

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    Overall4 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    Overall5 / 5
  • Side Barrier Rating
    Overall5 / 5
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front Seat5 / 5
    Back Seat5 / 5
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of Rollover19.1%
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Acceptable
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Acceptable
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test
    Good

More about the 2012 GMC Sierra 1500

Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 Overview

The Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 is offered in the following submodels: Sierra 1500 Crew Cab, Sierra 1500 Regular Cab, Sierra 1500 Extended Cab. Available styles include SLE 4dr Extended Cab 4WD 8 ft. LB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), SLE 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 5.8 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLE 4dr Crew Cab 5.8 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLE 4dr Extended Cab 8 ft. LB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), SLT 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 5.8 ft. SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), Work Truck 2dr Regular Cab 6.5 ft. SB (4.3L 6cyl 4A), Denali 4dr Crew Cab AWD 5.8 ft. SB (6.2L 8cyl 6A), SL 4dr Extended Cab 6.5 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLE 4dr Extended Cab 4WD 6.5 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), Work Truck 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 5.8 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLT 4dr Extended Cab 4WD 6.5 ft. SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), SLT 4dr Extended Cab 8 ft. LB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), SL 4dr Crew Cab 5.8 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLT 4dr Extended Cab 6.5 ft. SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), Work Truck 4dr Crew Cab 5.8 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLT 4dr Extended Cab 4WD 8 ft. LB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), SLE 4dr Extended Cab 6.5 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SL 4dr Extended Cab 4WD 6.5 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLE 2dr Regular Cab 4WD 8 ft. LB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLE 2dr Regular Cab 6.5 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), Work Truck 2dr Regular Cab 4WD 8 ft. LB (4.3L 6cyl 4A), Work Truck 2dr Regular Cab 4WD 6.5 ft. SB (4.3L 6cyl 4A), Work Truck 2dr Regular Cab 8 ft. LB (4.3L 6cyl 4A), SLE 2dr Regular Cab 4WD 6.5 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SL 4dr Crew Cab 4WD 5.8 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLE 2dr Regular Cab 8 ft. LB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), SLT 4dr Crew Cab 5.8 ft. SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), Work Truck 4dr Extended Cab 4WD 6.5 ft. SB (4.8L 8cyl 4A), Work Truck 4dr Extended Cab 8 ft. LB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), Work Truck 4dr Extended Cab 6.5 ft. SB (4.3L 6cyl 4A), Work Truck 4dr Extended Cab 4WD 8 ft. LB (5.3L 8cyl 6A), Denali 4dr Crew Cab 5.8 ft. SB (6.2L 8cyl 6A), and XFE 4dr Crew Cab 5.8 ft. SB (5.3L 8cyl 6A). Pre-owned GMC Sierra 1500 models are available with a 5.3 L-liter flex-fuel (FFV) engine or a 4.8 L-liter flex-fuel (FFV) engine, with output up to 315 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 comes with four wheel drive, and rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed shiftable automatic, 4-speed automatic. The Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 5 yr./ 100000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500?

Price comparisons for Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 trim styles:

  • The Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 SLE is priced between $17,000 and$26,444 with odometer readings between 54142 and169411 miles.
  • The Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali is priced between $19,654 and$31,998 with odometer readings between 115075 and180761 miles.
  • The Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 Work Truck is priced between $14,995 and$14,995 with odometer readings between 118825 and118825 miles.
  • The Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT is priced between $22,995 and$22,995 with odometer readings between 139844 and139844 miles.

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Which used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500s are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2012 GMC Sierra 1500 for sale near. There are currently 13 used and CPO 2012 Sierra 1500s listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $14,995 and mileage as low as 54142 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500.

Can't find a used 2012 GMC Sierra 1500s you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used GMC Sierra 1500 for sale - 10 great deals out of 24 listings starting at $17,340.

Find a used GMC for sale - 12 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $9,114.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC Sierra 1500 for sale - 7 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $7,600.

Find a used certified pre-owned GMC for sale - 1 great deals out of 12 listings starting at $16,839.

Should I lease or buy a 2012 GMC Sierra 1500?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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