2018 GMC Sierra 1500

2018 GMC Sierra 1500 Double Cab Review

Few vehicles offer as much luxury and utility in one package as the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500.
7.1 / 10
Edmunds overall rating
author
by Travis Langness
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 doesn't get any big changes this year, but it didn't really need any. The Sierra, which shares its design with the Chevy Silverado, is highly capable when it comes to towing and is an all-around impressive and luxurious truck.

Available with three different engines and with multiple body and bed configurations, the 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 is as customizable as any full-size truck on the road today. In the right configuration, it can tow more than 12,000 pounds. Yet the Sierra is also available with a long list of luxury and safety features and is very easy to live with on a daily basis. There are some drawbacks with the Sierra, including the slightly underwhelming base powertrain (a 4.3-liter V6 that we recommend replacing with one of the optional V8s) and the somewhat dated interior. But overall it's a strong offering from GMC in a highly competitive class.



What's new for 2018

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 is unchanged.

We recommend

With trucks like the Sierra 1500, there are so many options and configurations available that it's hard to recommend one setup that covers all the bases. But a good starting point for the Sierra is the SLT. Selecting the SLT gives you access to several desirable options packages, and it comes standard with the impressive 5.3-liter V8. What's more, you can add the more powerful 6.2-liter V8 to your options sheet if towing tops your priority list. Avoid the optional 22-inch wheels, though; they have a detrimental effect on the ride quality.




Trim levels & features

The 2018 GMC Sierra 1500 is available in four trim levels: base, SLE, SLT and Denali. They are available in various cab and bed configurations. The base is relatively sparsely equipped, though a few options are available. We recommend buyers look to the SLE trim level at a minimum because it has features beyond what you'd find in a work-only truck. The version that strikes the best balance between amenities and functionality is the SLT trim level, while the range-topping Denali's luxury will appeal to buyers who want it all.

Configurations are as follows: Regular cabs are offered with a standard bed (6 feet 7 inches) or an extended bed (8 feet); double cabs come only with the standard bed; and crew cabs are available with a standard bed or a short bed (5 feet 9 inches). Be aware that not all trim levels are available with all configurations. All cab configurations are available with four-wheel drive.

The base Sierra comes with a 4.3-liter V6 (285 horsepower, 305 pound-feet of torque), a six-speed automatic transmission, 17-inch steel wheels, automatic xenon headlamps, power locks, a locking tailgate, power windows, air conditioning, cruise control, a rearview camera, a tilt-only steering wheel, Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen interface, USB connectivity and a six-speaker sound system.

The Sierra Convenience package adds remote keyless entry, a remote-locking tailgate, heated power mirrors, a 110-volt AC outlet and LED cargo box lighting. The Elevation Edition includes those items plus special 20-inch black alloy wheels, LED foglights, body-color exterior trim and OnStar communications (with 4G LTE and Wi-Fi hotspot).

The SLE trim level adds 17-inch alloy wheels, a damped tailgate, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an upgraded 8-inch touchscreen.

Many more options are available on the SLE. The SLE's Convenience package adds rear parking sensors, a rear window defogger, a sliding rear window and power-adjustable pedals. The Preferred package adds remote start, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel (V8 only), an power-adjustable driver seat and dual-zone automatic climate control. The SLE Value package adds the same items plus trailering equipment and a rear locking differential. Other options include leather upholstery, a full center console, a power-adjustable front passenger seat and wireless smartphone charging.

Stepping up to the SLT, our trim level of choice, nets you the 5.3-liter V8 (355 hp, 383 lb-ft), an eight-speed automatic transmission, power-folding and heated mirrors, leather upholstery and heated front seats. A 6.2-liter V8 (420 hp, 460 lb-ft) is optional. Other options for the SLT include front and rear parking sensors, a power-sliding rear window, a heated steering wheel, full LED headlights, a spray-in bedliner, navigation, a sunroof and a seven-speaker Bose audio system.

GMC offers an Enhanced Driver Alert package for the SLE and SLT. It includes driver assistance features such as a forward collision warning system with low-speed automatic emergency braking as well as lane departure warning and intervention.

Available on the SLT crew and double cabs are two different off-road-focused packages called the All-Terrain and All-Terrain X. The All-Terrain package adds a few features mentioned above plus some exterior styling changes, an off-road suspension featuring Rancho shocks and an underbody shield. The All-Terrain X package is similar in theme but lacks the off-road suspension.

At the top of the range is the Denali, which comes with most of the features available on lower trim levels and has all of the available driver assistance features. It adds exclusive adaptive suspension dampers, 20-inch wheels and unique interior appointments.



Trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions, although trim levels share many aspects.
The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2017 GMC Sierra 1500 Denali Crew Cab Short Bed (6.2L V8 | 8-speed automatic | 4WD | 5-foot-9 bed).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current GMC Sierra 1500 has received some very minor revisions, including the addition of optional upgraded brakes. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's GMC Sierra.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall7.1 / 10

Driving

7.5 / 10

Acceleration8.5 / 10
Braking7.0 / 10
Steering6.5 / 10
Handling6.0 / 10
Drivability8.5 / 10

Comfort

7.0 / 10

Seat comfort7.0 / 10
Ride comfort6.5 / 10
Noise & vibration8.0 / 10
Climate control5.0 / 10

Interior

7.0 / 10

Ease of use8.0 / 10
Getting in/getting out6.0 / 10
Driving position6.5 / 10
Roominess7.0 / 10
Visibility7.5 / 10
Quality5.0 / 10

Utility

7.5 / 10

Small-item storage7.5 / 10
Cargo space8.0 / 10

Technology

8.0 / 10

Audio & navigation7.5 / 10
Smartphone integration8.0 / 10
Driver aids7.5 / 10
Voice control7.0 / 10

Driving7.5

The powertrain in the Sierra Denali is nothing short of impressive. With 420 hp, 460 lb-ft of torque and an eight-speed transmission, the truck is never short on grunt. But the brakes and the steering show considerably less advancement. The 22-inch wheels do it no help either.

Acceleration8.5

There's stout performance from this 6.2-liter V8, so much so that the eight-speed automatic might seem a little much, but together they make for one of the best powertrains in the class. Power is plentiful at any engine speed, even though peak torque of 460 lb-ft is achieved at 4,100 rpm.

Braking7.0

Around town, the Sierra's brakes are friendly and capable. Panic-braking tests revealed a confident, stable truck with little dive, impressive for its size, though braking distances were a little on the long side at 141 feet. GMC offers a brake upgrade, which is a curious option we've never tested.

Steering6.5

Pinpoint accuracy and feedback are not its strong suits. Like the brakes, the steering is easy and gives you enough confidence to pilot this truck around town. Though it's accurate enough, the weighting never changes, leaving the driver feeling wholly disconnected from the front wheels.

Handling6.0

The 22-inch wheels and tires don't help the Sierra's cause. The tires' low-rolling resistance and all-terrain construction leave the Sierra with a lack of grip. The truck feels stable, but the tires howl in protest if asked to turn. Stability control is conservatively tuned if not a bit clumsy.

Drivability8.5

The Sierra makes having this much capability and power easy to handle. Key among the highlights is the transparent powertrain calibration. You rarely find yourself without enough power, and the system is quick to respond if you need more. Guiding this truck through most environments is a breeze.

Off-road6.5

Four-wheel drive (high and low) can be selected via a knob on the dashboard. There's an active electronic transfer case and hill descent control, but the off-road prowess of our test truck is muted by the big 22-inch wheels and power side steps. Multiple packages are available for more capability.

Comfort7.0

The Sierra has the basics down with decent ride control, comfortable seats, and low road and wind noise. But the optional 22-inch wheel and tire package does its best to erase most of those gains. The climate control system also failed to keep the cabin cool during a stint in extreme heat.

Seat comfort7.0

While the seats are wide and accommodating, there's nothing particularly special about them in the Sierra Denali. There's little support offered for anything other than highway cruising. The seats do benefit from being both heated and cooled.

Ride comfort6.5

With its Magnetic Ride Control, the Sierra Denali does a fairly impressive job of delivering above-average ride quality on smooth roads. Over rougher pavement the 22-inch wheels simply become too much to handle. The ride degrades noticeably, and the steering column shimmies and shakes constantly.

Noise & vibration8.0

The cabin is generally well-isolated from tire and wind noise, even over rough roads. The exhaust noise is a subdued burble, and wind noise is minimal considering the shape and size of the truck. Vibrations could only be felt through the steering wheel on rougher roads.

Climate control5.0

The functionality of the controls is hard to fault, but we found the airflow and performance in hot weather to be subpar. The driver's air vent placement is poor, delivering most of the air to your hands. During one stint in 95-plus degree heat, the Sierra was unable to cool the cabin adequately.

Interior7.0

Most of the interior is a study on how to do a truck interior correctly. Switches are big and easy to use, access is good, and there's plenty of space. Some options proved to be more annoying than helpful, and the inexplicable misalignment of the center of the steering wheel is a nagging annoyance.

Ease of use8.0

There are no real ergonomic gaffes in the Sierra Denali. Most controls fall readily to hand; the exceptions are the unusually small power rear window and sunroof rocker switches located on the headliner-mounted console. Screens and menus are clear and easy to navigate.

Getting in/getting out6.0

The usually easy entry into a Sierra is upset by the optional power step rails. The truck isn't high enough to make them of any use to passengers over 5-foot-5, and their auto deployment caught out many a taller driver. Curiously, a driver's front roof pillar grab handle is optional at this price.

Driving position6.5

Twelve-way power seats, adjustable pedals and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel make it easy to get situated, but the off-center steering column spoils the driving position. You either lean against the door to center the wheel in your chest or accept the mildly infuriating misalignment.

Roominess7.0

As with any full-size crew-cab truck, there's ample room for both front and rear passengers. Up front, hip and shoulder room are generous, and rear seat passengers will find no room to complain about space.

Visibility7.5

All in all, the Sierra has good visibility. Even with the big square hood, the only sight-line restrictions come from the large base of the front roof pillars and the much too small outside rearview mirrors. The backup camera is clear and has a good field of vision.

Quality5.0

At first glance, the build quality is up to par with that of other luxury trucks in the segment. But upon closer inspection, the notion of anything being very luxurious disappears. Many interior plastics feel similar to those on the back of a television, and the fake wood trim is a poor choice.

Utility7.5

If you can't haul a lot or store a lot, you're not doing the full-size truck game right. The Sierra Denali excels at both and proves useful for personal and professional needs.

Small-item storage7.5

Like any good full-size truck, there's a ton of space inside the Sierra. The center console has room for cans, oversized drink bottles, multiple phones and a laptop. There's plentiful door pocket storage as well, but door pockets are all the rear passengers will get.

Cargo space8.0

The 5-foot-9 short bed came lined and proved easy to access. Intrusions from wheelwells are minimal, and the bed height isn't as high as that of some other trucks in this class. Rear bumper steps are a help, as are the power side steps, which can be adjusted to aid front of the bed access.

Child safety seat accommodation7.0

The LATCH anchors are easy to get to, and with the power side steps deployed, reaching in to hook up a car seat is much easier on your back.

Towing8.0

GMC rates the 6.2-liter V8 4x4 Sierra to tow 11,700 pounds. That's competitive with the Ford F-150 and more than a Ram 1500. The Denali comes with trailer sway control as well as a trailer brake controller. A trailering package upgrades the rear axle, rear springs, shocks and cooling systems.

Hauling8.0

The 6.2-liter V8 gives the 4x4 Sierra Denali 2,120 pounds of payload capacity. That puts it behind the F-150 (both the EcoBoost V6 and 5.0-liter V8 versions) but well ahead of the Ram 1500.

Technology8.0

The Denali is brimming with modern technology. From the easy to use and fast-acting 8-inch touchscreen to the comprehensive safety suite to the Wi-Fi hotspot, this Sierra is a truck for modern times.

Audio & navigation7.5

The 8-inch touchscreen display gives clear and quick access to most functions. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are supported, but the GMC's native system isn't wanting for much except perhaps better navigation graphics. The Bose audio system is loud enough but could have offered a bit more clarity.

Smartphone integration8.0

Whether pairing via Bluetooth or connecting through Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, connecting a device is straightforward. Once a Wi-Fi connection is established, the truck automatically connects to your device upon startup.

Driver aids7.5

The Sierra isn't lacking for much. There's a forward collision warning system, a driver's seat that vibrates for various alerts, low-speed automatic braking, lane keeping assist and automatic high-beam control. The stability control system has been bolstered with rollover mitigation technology.

Voice control7.0

The GMC's voice controls could prove frustrating from time to time, and with many controls so close at hand, they're almost unnecessary. Of course both the Apple and Android options are available and have better voice recognition.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.