The GMC Sierra is essentially a rebadged version of the Chevrolet Silverado, and though there are certainly differences in trim as well as price, the trucks are identical from a functional standpoint. Both are good pickups, and choosing between them is a matter of personal taste. After a refresh for 2016, the Sierra enters the 2017 model year with a few significant updates, including active grille shutters to improve aerodynamics, low-speed automatic braking and a capless fuel filler. At its heart, this is still the same hard-working truck we've come to know and respect.
The Sierra can be had with three different engines, all designed to deliver strong low-end torque, which is exactly what a pickup truck needs to get those heavy loads moving. The base engine is a 4.3-liter V6 rated at 285 horsepower and 305 pound-feet of torque. An optional 5.3-liter V8 offers 355 hp and 383 lb-ft of torque. For those who want as much muscle as possible, GMC offers a big 6.2-liter V8 that delivers 420 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque. It turns the Sierra into one of the fastest-accelerating full-size pickups you can buy. All engines feature an automatic transmission and rear- or four-wheel drive. EPA fuel economy estimates range from a high of 20 mpg combined (18 city/24 highway) for the rear-wheel-drive V6 down to 17 mpg combined (15 city/20 highway) for the 6.2-liter V8 4x4. Tow ratings vary with configuration and top out at 11,800 pounds.
GMC offers a wide selection of bed and cab options. Regular-cab trucks can be had with a standard (6-foot-7-inch) bed or a long (8-foot) bed. Extended cabs come exclusively with the standard bed, and the four-door crew cab can be paired with either a short (5-foot-9-inch) bed or a standard bed. All cabs are nicely finished with broad, soft seats that offer good long-distance comfort, though overall cab space isn't as generous as some competing trucks. We like the quality of the interior and the easy-to-learn control layout, though we wish the side mirrors were bigger.
The Sierra is a pleasant truck to drive on a daily basis. The steering is reasonably responsive for a pickup truck, and the ride is quiet and smooth, if not quite best in class. Big trucks will always be ponderous on a curvy road, and the Sierra 1500 is no exception, but overall its responses are good. The 4x4 models get a low-range transfer case, and when equipped with the Z71 suspension package and more aggressive tires, the Sierra 1500 is an impressive off-roader.
GMC offers the Sierra in three trim levels: base, SLE, SLT and Denali. The base model is a commercial-grade work truck. We think most non-commercial buyers will be happy with the SLE or the SLT, which have more of the amenities we like to see in a daily driver. For those who want it all, the Denali trim turns the Sierra 1500 into a proper luxury truck. Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.